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“Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?”

March 25, 2009

My dad was visiting with one of our Mormon relatives who was expressing his view that all the Christian denominations are so different from one another – that was why Joseph Smith needed to restore the church of Christ on earth.  He was going on about all the differences between the denominations when my dad started sharing with him the good news of salvation by grace through faith.  Our Mormon relative paused and then said, “That’s exactly what the Methodist minister has been trying to tell me.”  He then went on to name 3 other local pastors of different denominations who had tried to share with him that salvation is by grace through faith.

When it comes to the essential doctrine of salvation, maybe all the various denominations aren’t so very different from one another after all? 

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195 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2009 3:32 am

    I think it depends, Jessica. One thing that’s important to remember is that the evangelical movement is much more tolerant and enlightened today than it was back in Joseph Smith’s day and denominational divides were a much more serious deal back then. It’s taken me a while to understand that because I’ve had such a good interdenominational experience myself, but Joseph Smith came out hard on establishing a single, true denomination because things among Protestants back then were not what they are now.

    Some Mormons run into problems with that today because their view of us seems stuck in Joseph Smith’s day. To them it’s like evangelical history in the 20th century didn’t happen.

    Are we united today? Yes and no. We all deeply emphasize personal conversion, we have that much in common. We tend to emphasize some form of the five Protestant solas, Biblical inerrancy, and we accept some form of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments. Most evangelicals are classical theists, though open theism is gaining some ground.

    After that though, we’re all over the map. To some of us those issues aren’t a big deal, and to some of us they are. Personally I’m very tolerant of, say, complementarian cessationist Calvinists in the sense that I’m content to let them stay in their church and practice what they want, and I’m fine working with them on social issues and greeting them at conferences. If someone left my church for theirs, I wouldn’t freak out. But let’s just say I’d have a hard time making their church home my church home.

    If we feel really good about each other as we drive past each other’s churches on our way to our own, is that “united”?

  2. March 25, 2009 4:13 am

    For one thing most Protestants in 1800s America were pretty big fans of salvation by works. The whole grace-alone movement is a fairly recent innovation at the popular level of churchgoer. Back then, only guys with the equivalent of a PhD talked about grace-alone and really meant it. For everyone else, you were going to hell unless you started making some definite BEHAVIORAL changes.

    A lot of our Evangelical friends on this blog today probably would have been kicked out of 1800s Protestant congregations as dangerous degenerates, or heretics.

    Same is likely true of modern Mormons going back to the old Mormon times.

  3. March 25, 2009 4:22 am

    The pro-polyandry Mormon is talking about dangerous degenerates, that’s funny.

    j/k. I think serious behavioral changes are still required in most churches today. The evangelicals who talk with Mormons tend to put so much weight into talking “grace alone/faith alone” because they believe Mormonism has erred too far into “works alone” and they’re reacting against that. It’s that thing about how we see Mormonism going east, so we go west.

    You’ve said elsewhere that if evangelicals are just talking amongst themselves about grace & works and not discussing Mormonism, they’ll sound a lot more like Mormons, and I think you’re right on that. It’s why I never, ever do grace v. works discussions anymore.

  4. March 25, 2009 4:33 am

    I’m not convinced it’s a non-issue. Until I stop meeting LDS and former LDS whose lives changed when they finally came to an understanding of salvation by grace I’m not going to believe this is a non-existent issue.

    This is still one of the key differences that divides us – we use similar words but they mean different things. Somehow we have to get to the heart of those differences in meaning…

  5. March 25, 2009 1:54 pm

    Problem is Jessica, I don’t think Evangelicals – as a group – have any better self-esteem issues or feelings of self-assurance (regarding salvation status) than Mormons do.

    Internet warrior Evangelicals are a much, much different breed than the standard Evangelical on the streets.

    This is why I frankly don’t see much of a comparative advantage in the self-esteem department between Mormonism and, say… Berean Baptists.

  6. March 25, 2009 4:56 pm

    Jessica,

    Grace versus works is a major issue IMO… so I agree with you. Especially when one considers that in order to get to The Celestial Kingdom in Mormon Theology one must obey a laundry list of commandments (works), pass 2 interviews about your behavior (works), go through a temple ritual (works) and then live worthy the rest of your lives (works). This is all in addition to having enough faith to believe in a church that has no evidence to back up it’s claims.

    Leaving Mormonism after coming to the knowledge of grace through faith alone changed my entire families lives. The joy I see on my wifes face today compared to 3 years ago is amazing.

    Darrell

  7. March 25, 2009 5:05 pm

    “I don’t think Evangelicals – as a group – have any better self-esteem issues or feelings of self-assurance (regarding salvation status) than Mormons do.”

    What evidence do you have to support this claim, Seth? I can tell you from my personal experience of being on BOTH SIDES of this issue, this is not the case. I did a little poll while still LDS and asked MANY, MANY LDS this question…

    “If you were to die today, do you believe you will go to the Celestial Kingdom?”

    Not one of them said yes… almost every one gave the exact same answer… “Well, I can’t say for sure. I hope I have lived WORTHY ENOUGH, so I hope so.” They all tied works into it by saying they hoped they “lived worthy enough”.

    I did the same thing by asking members of different Christian denominations the same question – although I changed Celestial Kingdon to Heaven. The answers were very different. The majority expressed the heartful belief they were going to HEAVEN, not because of what they have done, but because of what Christ did for them.

    So, in my personal experience, there is a major difference. I would love to see a national poll done on this question. I would be willing to bet you would find the results much in line with my personal poll.

    Darrell

  8. March 25, 2009 8:24 pm

    I consider myself one of those people whose life was changed by a more correct understanding of salvation by grace.

    Before I discovered this truth, I had tremendous problems with anxiety and perfectionism. I still have those problems, because they’re part of my nature, but it’s so different now, I can’t even describe it to you.

    My husband and I have gone the rounds on this. I think this fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of Christ’s grace is a prevalent problem among Mormon women and drives us into depression and anxiety. He thinks I’m projecting my own experiences onto everyone else, and that most Mormons get it.

    I’m sure that to a certain extent, we’re both right. But there are enough of us out there that I don’t think the importance of teaching people about the grace of Christ can ever be overlooked. It really is the heart and soul of the gospel.

  9. March 25, 2009 8:36 pm

    Katie,

    Thanks for sharing. I would agree that this is a problem among Mormon women. My wife feels very strongly about this as well.

    In addition, it does help to explain the heavy anti-depressant use in Utah.

    Have a great day!1

    Darrell

  10. March 25, 2009 8:42 pm

    “If you were to die today, do you believe you will go to the Celestial Kingdom?”

    Utterly artificial, and theologically self-serving question Darrell.

    That question has nothing, zip, nadda to do with a person’s self-esteem.

    In fact, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that your brand of self-assurance can actually lead to a degrading of human worth and an INCREASE in lower self-esteem.

  11. March 25, 2009 8:46 pm

    I mean seriously guys, you act like that question is a magic talisman to ward away werewolves or something.

    Do you want to know how it sounds to me?

    Try this:

    “Do you acknowledge that your life and its actions have zero meaning and value?”

    That is how your magic silver bullet sounds to me Darrell. You must think I have a pretty low self-image to buy into that kind of defeatism.

  12. March 25, 2009 9:15 pm

    Darrell, thanks for the warm wishes. 🙂

    All, I know I kind of opened the door for this, so I want to clarify something real quick. I’m not a psychologist or anything, but I have thought and read a good deal on this issue. I think mental health issues are complex enough that we need to be careful about blaming the Mormon church for depression and anxiety issues among its members.

    While I do believe the pressures and demands of being a Mormon can exacerbate the problem in people who are already prone to mental health challenges, I want to be clear that I don’t think “Mormonism causes depression” or anything like that. Nor do I think “Jesus will take it all away” when what people really need is professional help.

    But I DO think that in many cases, the burdens of guilt, stress, and anxiety can be eased dramatically by a correct understanding of grace.

    Hopefully that makes sense…

  13. March 25, 2009 9:44 pm

    When I attended BYU, I went to visit one of my professors in his office so that I could get to know him and tell him about what I was doing there. He in turn told me his own story. He had been raised LDS in the southern United States, descended from polygamists and all that, but growing up he regularly attended Young Life and Baptist youth group with his Baptist friends. He would go to LDS sacrament meetings Sunday mornings and Baptist youth groups Sunday evenings, and he said that he felt like he was never taught about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in the LDS church.

    One day he answered an altar call at the Baptist youth group to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. And he said that was the point in life when he felt Christ come into his heart and knew God.

    My eyes got really wide when he told me that. There was no doubt in my mind as to his “Mormon-ness.” He was a former bishop and a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and he regularly attended the temple. Our later conversations would cover his experiences with speaking in tongues and things God had revealed to him in the temple. I had never met a Mormon with such an “evangelical” conversion experience, and at that point in time I was not sure that I believed Mormons could be Christians. I was blown away.

    As I came to know this professor, I had a hard time figuring out where he fit in my views of salvation and Christianity. I don’t know how exactly to explain this: the Spirit of God was on him. He exuded it. I couldn’t deny it and I could not rationalize away what I was seeing. I have no problem saying with confidence that he is one of the godliest men I have ever met. But he’s still Mormon and not likely to change that. I began to call him an “evangelical Mormon.”

    Kevin Barney and I were discussing him this weekend because his name had come up on the Bloggernacle with some people concerned about the fact that he switched from a more secular department to teaching in the religion department with no formal religious training. I laughed and said he has more right to teach in the BYU religion department than anyone else I knew there. Kevin asked me why he had switched, and I said “Because he felt like God told him to.” “Wow,” said Kevin, “Maybe he really is an evangelical Mormon.”

    Yes, I think there are Mormons who have things wrong on salvation and works, and I even think the church’s doctrine and set-up has lent itself to that problem. But I also think there are Mormons who have things very, very right.

  14. March 26, 2009 1:03 am

    “That question has nothing, zip, nadda to do with a person’s self-esteem.”

    “In fact, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that your brand of self-assurance can actually lead to a degrading of human worth and an INCREASE in lower self-esteem.”

    Seth,

    Maybe I am misunderstanding you but these two comments seem contradictory. On the one had you say that a person’s view of their salvation has “zip, nada, nothing” to do with self-esteem. Then you follow by saying my view of salvation is degrading to human worth and can lower self esteem. Which one is it in your view? You cannot have it both ways.

    Jack,

    As a former Mormon I really struggle with the idea of one who chooses to remain Mormon and yet is a genuine Christian. The Mormon view of the nature of God, Jesus and Man are simply so off I just don’t see it happening. I have seen those who become Christian and continue to go to the LDS Church just to keep family happy. But I have never witnessed one who chooses to stay in the Church who has no issues with the theology. Did this man indicate in any way that he struggled with the theology? Or, were you even close enough to him where he would admit as much?

    Darrell

  15. March 26, 2009 1:03 am

    “But I DO think that in many cases, the burdens of guilt, stress, and anxiety can be eased dramatically by a correct understanding of grace.”

    Dittos ten times over.

    Darrell

  16. March 26, 2009 1:06 am

    I don’t think God cares half as much about correct theology as you do Darrell.

  17. March 26, 2009 1:10 am

    Seth,

    JS would not agree with you… he said having the correct view of the nature of God was very important. On this limited point, I agree with him.

    Worshipping a spirit born son of another God versus worshipping the One, True, Eternal, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Only God who ever was, is or will be… big difference.

    Darrell

  18. March 26, 2009 3:02 am

    Yeah, it’s just Joseph had a little more generous view of who would have the opportunity to learn that view than you do Darrell.

  19. March 26, 2009 4:05 am

    Darrell,

    I can’t say whether or not he struggled with the theology. He did say that after his conversion at the Baptist church, he was ready to leave the LDS church, and that to his amazement God told him to stay. He seems to have accepted LDS theology over the years. He wouldn’t be teaching at the BYU religion department if he had a problem with it.

    I guess that what the problem comes down to is, do Emeths exist? Is it possible to believe false things about God and still be saved? I think that it is.

    And besides, I would much rather see Mormonism reform to orthodoxy from the inside. Outsiders like you and I can only do so much. People like my professor friend, I think they’re capable of making big changes within Mormonism.

  20. MadChemist permalink
    March 26, 2009 4:26 am

    Jack. Wow, I’ve never heard that much detail about his experience. Warms my heart.

    Jessica: “Until I stop meeting LDS and former LDS whose lives changed when they finally came to an understanding of salvation by grace I’m not going to believe this is a non-existent issue.” And until I stop meeting current LDS, former Catholics, protestants, and non-Christians whose lives are changed and improved by learning about the covenant relationship of discipleship and grace that the LDS church teaches, and is the only authorized church to practice the priesthood ordinances, I’m not going to believe that your side of the issue is cut-and-dried.

    I honestly think, if Evangelicals would put 1% of the effort into improving their own faith movements that they do into tearing down the Church of Jesus Christ, they might have awesome churches. At least LDS put some effort into building up their own faith tradition, and we officially look down on tearing down someone else’s faith tradition. I’m not saying you can’t ask hard questions, but I’m suggesting that all Evangelicals should have this as a minor portion of their life, rather than the major portion.

  21. March 26, 2009 5:25 am

    I’m suggesting that all Evangelicals should have this as a minor portion of their life, rather than the major portion.

    MC, I know you spend a lot of time talking to Evangelicals online so it might appear that way to you, but consider that the vast majority of them don’t spend the “major portion of their life” tearing down our faith.

    Most of them, like most of us, are just trying to do the best they can with the understanding they have.

  22. March 26, 2009 5:43 am

    Not if you’re talking about the subset of them with online ministries Katie.

  23. March 26, 2009 5:50 am

    Well yeah, there are those who are out for blood. But MC wasn’t referring to a subset–at least, that’s not what I gathered from his comment. I could have misread him, though. (Did I misread you, MC?)

  24. March 26, 2009 6:22 am

    I hate to break it to you guys but “most Evangelicals” are in the don’t-know-don’t-care camp on Mormonism, especially when you consider that organized evangelical anti-Mormonism is largely an American phenomenon and the evangelical movement is much bigger outside of the United States than it is within.

    You are not that special. And we do have awesome churches.

  25. Anonymous permalink
    March 26, 2009 10:51 am

    I think it’s definitely possible to be saved with incorrect views of God. None of us is 100% correct in our assumptions and beliefs about God, no matter how hard we try to interpret scripture correctly.

    Let’s not forget that! We are all imperfect in our actions and understanding and should remember that before we rush to judge others.

    If we are honestly seeking truth and we get a few things wrong – even big things – I think God will be merciful. We’re all trying to do the best we can with what we have (at least I hope we are).

  26. March 26, 2009 1:13 pm

    The church I attend has about 1000 in attendance on Sunday. Of those 1000, including myself, there are only 4 people that I know of who care anything about Mormonism and/or spend any time working in the countercult ministries. Countrary to what chapel Mormons believe, Ev’s don’t spend every waking minute in their church’s preaching against the horrors of Mormonism. There are many, many, many other ministries our churches are involved in.

    And yes, we do have some awesome churches!!

    Darrell

  27. March 26, 2009 1:23 pm

    “I guess that what the problem comes down to is, do Emeths exist? Is it possible to believe false things about God and still be saved? I think that it is. ”

    Jack,

    I do believe only God will choose who is saved and who is not. Is it POSSIBLE there are Mormons who know Christ? Perhaps. However, I tread lightly when proclaiming that people can believe and practice false doctrines on the essentials and still know Christ. I don’t want to give anyone who believes something as inerrant about Christ as LDS do a false sense of security in their beliefs. The issue of salvation, to me, is simply to important to leave up to a POSSIBILITY. Instead, I choose to preach the truth in hopes of winning people over to Christ where their salvation is guaranteed and not left up to a possibility.

    Darrell

  28. March 26, 2009 1:29 pm

    Obviously in my above comment where I said “inerrant” I meant “errant”… it is too early in the morning!!

    Darrell

  29. March 26, 2009 1:31 pm

    MC: don’t want to make too big a deal of this, but at our ev. church, 500 to 600 adults, apologists are freaks and counter-cult apologists are super-freaks. that’s how it is. JACK is exactly right. It’s really to the point where I don’t say much to my own peeps, they just aren’t that interested (most of the time) this ratio might be a little different in some churches, but in more liberal (theologically) churhces, I’d probably be asked to shut up or leave.

    Just thot I’d throw this in the mix.

    Finding myself super-freaky….but loved by GOD anyway
    GERMIT

  30. March 26, 2009 1:56 pm

    It’s not much different at LDS wards. Most of them don’t care about the “big debates” either. People like me who actually bother with interfaith debate are aberrations.

    So, take home point today – all of us here on this website are freaks?

    Should we throw a pizza party or something?

  31. March 26, 2009 2:26 pm

    I like pizza.

  32. March 26, 2009 3:16 pm

    I attended a denominational conference for NewFrontiers last August, and since I figured my husband didn’t want to hang out with a bunch of evangelicals, I took our daughter and went without him. That made me look and feel like a single mother there, so I mentioned to almost everyone I met that my husband was not attending the conference because he is Mormon. I was genuinely curious to see how people would react and if they would say anything unkind about Mormons.

    I got not a single bad word about Mormons. Plenty of raised eyebrows and a few people saying they would pray for him, but that’s it.

    I think a pizza party sounds fun. Maybe we’ll have our Polygamy Jesus Assassin board game marketed by then and we can all play it.

    Darrell ~ I don’t blame you for being cautious. I feel like I’m walking on knives with this, and I’m very hesitant to say who I think is saved and who isn’t. I don’t even know if my own husband is saved, and he knows I feel that way. Still, the good side of it is that I have had Mormons who were more willing to talk to me about my faith because I did not automatically think they were going to hell. I think that sometimes, the rush to correct theology throws the baby out with the bathwater.

  33. March 26, 2009 3:35 pm

    Jack,

    I completely agree. We need to make sure that when we speak to LDS it is done out of love and not unrighteous judgement. The truth should always be spoken and we should never avoid speaking it out of a fear of offending. However, it should always be done in a spirit of love.

    Darrell

  34. Tom permalink
    March 26, 2009 5:02 pm

    This is not an accusation, just something to think about and for both LDS and evangelicals.

    No matter what words come out of your mouth (or your keyboard), you can’t fake love.

  35. May 3, 2009 6:15 pm

    Darrell: I believe that you fundamentally misunderstand grace and works both for evangelicals and for Mormons (at least the way you have expressed it here). Let me put it this way: it is easy to do.

    LDS believe that we are saved by bending the knee and confessing that Jesus is the Christ. It isn’t about getting the words right, but about a changed heart that accepts Christ’s love and expresses whole-hearted willingness to enter into relationship with God through Christ. We are saved from hell, death and captivity to the devil. Such a view of salvation is laid out in D&C 76. Virtually every believing Mormon has accepted Christ as Savior. It is a gift and it is by grace.

    However, there is more to Christian life than salvation by grace. There is also a process of sanctification culminating in glorification, as evangelicals term it, or sanctification leading to exaltation as Mormons term it. We are judged and receive reward in the judgment according to our works. That includes the kind and degree of glory that we will enjoy.

    No Mormon believe that anyone who has accepted Christ truly in his or her heart is going to hell or will be left in darkness. Each who confesses Christ (and eventually that will be all except those who put him to open shame) is saved in a degree of glory.

    There are further issues here. Do you believe that a person can fall from being in Christ (i.e, you reject eternal security)?

    Do you believe that falling from grace depends on what we do or our works?

    Do you believe that the goal is to be presented perfect before God the Father having the mind and image of Christ?

    Do you believe that we can enjoy the fullness of the Godhead to indwell within us in fullness of divine glory?

    As I said in another thread on this site — LDS tend to focus on the process of sanctification leading to exaltation and deification and thus to the synergistic works that purify us to be just as the Son is — and that is just as the Father is. Evangelicals (including your comments on this post) seem to focus only on the first step into Christianity and thus on faith and the gift of salvation. Yet confessing Jesus as Lord and accepting salvation by grace are a commitment that we share, not one that divides us.

  36. May 3, 2009 6:38 pm

    For those who claim most evangelicals don’t treat LDS like enemies to Christ, take a look at the side-blog on this site under History and Mormons and Freemasonry. Mormons don’t engage in that kind of really inaccurate and hateful assassination of other traditions.

  37. May 3, 2009 7:13 pm

    “LDS believe that we are saved by bending the knee and confessing that Jesus is the Christ. It isn’t about getting the words right, but about a changed heart that accepts Christ’s love and expresses whole-hearted willingness to enter into relationship with God through Christ. We are saved from hell, death and captivity to the devil. Such a view of salvation is laid out in D&C 76. Virtually every believing Mormon has accepted Christ as Savior. It is a gift and it is by grace. ”

    I am curious about how you define “saved”. Do you mean simply avoiding outer darkness (Telestial and Terrestrial Kingdoms) or do you mean entering the celestial kingdom? Under Mormon Theology one does not have accept Jesus Christ as Savior to avoid outer darkness. D&C 76:82 defines those in the Telestial Kingdom as those who “received not the gospel of christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.” Therefore, if you are defining saved as simply avoiding outer darkness you are incorrect in your assertion that “LDS believe that we are saved by bending the knee and confessing that Jesus is the Christ”. However, if you define “saved” as only the celestial kingdom then only those who accept the mormon faith (either in this life or vicariously in the spirit world) are saved. For under LDS Theology only those who are baptized and receive the gift of the holy ghost by one holding authority can enter the celestial kingdom.

    Darrell

  38. May 3, 2009 7:25 pm

    “For those who claim most evangelicals don’t treat LDS like enemies to Christ, take a look at the side-blog on this site under History and Mormons and Freemasonry. Mormons don’t engage in that kind of really inaccurate and hateful assassination of other traditions.”

    Blake,

    The connection between Mormonism and Freemasonry is a well-established fact. I’m all about providing true information and “informed consent” for anyone who is investigating Mormonism or for Mormons who are re-thinking their paradigm. That is the purpose of the information in my side-bars. If you have some information to refute the Freemasonry connection I would be interested in hearing about it.

    Thanks

  39. May 3, 2009 7:42 pm

    Darrell: It appears, at least from our short interchange here, that you don’t read carefully. I already defined what D&C 76 (and indeed the Book of Mormon) mean by being saved or redeemed: to be saved from death, hell and the devil. It also means being saved from the wrath of God.

    You also haven’t read D&C 76 carefully. First, all are “saved” (D&C 76’s term) except for the sons of Perdition (76:44). So I use “saved” in this sense. The term “redeemed” means the same thing in 76 (see 76:38). So no one who accepts Christ will be damned — just as I said.

    Those who are in the telestial kingdom haven’t received Christ in this life, but they are saved from death and hell after this life, but only after the first resurrection when they acknowledge Christ as Lord and bend the knee in recognition of his Lordship. (See D&C 76:85, 110-111). So you are just in error when you say that one doesn’t have to accept Christ to avoid outer darkness or damnation according to D&C 76.

    Now I agree that there are different uses of the words “save” and “salvation” in Mormon sources (as there are in the genuine and pseudo-epistles of Paul). For instance, the Lectures on Faith used the term saved to mean to be like God — essentially deification. But it makes no sense to conflate these two different meanings to try to create problems for grace and works that really just don’t exist. I acknowledge that exaltation requires baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost — just as does sanctification and glorification in evangelical thought.

    I also note that you avoided my questions entirely. Are you going to answer them?

  40. May 3, 2009 7:46 pm

    Jessica: I’d be happy to discuss this issue with you. I don’t deny that Freemasonry had some influence on the endowment (just like the view of mental illness as caused by demons influenced early Christians). I deny that it even partially begins to explain the endowment or that the endowment is just a rip off the masonic rituals as your side-bar claims. There is a world of difference between the two. Instead, the endowment is a genuine ritual ascension of the type common in early Christianity. You can start here: http://byustudies.byu.edu/shop/pdfSRC/22.1Ostler.pdf

    I stand by my accusation of false witness and hateful sidebar. That is a rather serious accusation jessica.

  41. May 3, 2009 8:33 pm

    Blake,

    I think if you read my “About Me” page and “Comment Policy” you will see more clearly where I am coming from. I make no apologies for my belief that Mormonism was inspired in the occult activities of Joseph Smith. Mormons used to deny that there was any occult influence. Now that this has proven an untenable position historically, the focus has shifted to defending occult activities and claiming they were part of early Christianity (which appears to be the basis of the article you linked to). If that is your world view, there is little I will be able to say to change your mind. I simply disagree with that position.

    Instead, here is my view, if you are interested in hearing it:

    Mormonism rode on the heels of the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840). One of the prominent preachers in the Second Great Awakening – Charles Finney – was a contemporary of Joseph Smith. He was a former Mason who became an outspoken critic of Freemasonry after becoming a Christian and he wrote a book exposing their practices, claiming that Freemasonry was not compatible with Christianity. He was a prayer warrior, a spiritual seeker, and a powerful evangelist. Over half a million people were converted to Christ under his ministry (during a time when we didn’t have tools for mass communication). I love his writings – they offer powerful insights on how to pray more effectively. I personally believe that Joseph Smith, as a member of a Masonic family, was influenced by various social and spiritual factors to create a religion that put a “Christian” face on Freemasonry. While membership in Freemasonry was declining with the Anti-Mason efforts of the 1800s, a “Christianized” form was soon blossoming under Joseph Smith and his followers.

    If you have not read it, Charles Finney’s book against Freemasonry is available online at this link:

    The Character, Claims, and Practical Workings of Freemasonry

    You obviously disagree and you have presented your link for interested readers.

    Have a great day!

  42. May 3, 2009 8:51 pm

    Blake,

    I see what you are pointing out about vs.110-111. Thanks for pointing that out. It helps me to understand where you are coming from.

    Couple of questions, if EVERY tongue shall confess why did you claim in your previous comment that all will “except those who put him to open shame”? Are you saying not ALL will confess? Revelations clearly teaches that EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW. If all claim Him as Savior and that is all that is required for being “saved” why wouldn’t everyone at a minimum go to the Telestial Kingdom? Why would anyone go to outer darkness?

    Another problem as I see it… The Bible speaks of death for the Believer as being in the presence of Christ. Yet in Mormon theology nearly everyone is going to be saved from outer darkness by confessing Jesus as Savior yet not all are going to be in the presence of the Savior? Some are only going to be in the presence of the Holy Ghost. The glory we now have as the Temple teaches.

    “Now I agree that there are different uses of the words “save” and “salvation” in Mormon sources (as there are in the genuine and pseudo-epistles of Paul). For instance, the Lectures on Faith used the term saved to mean to be like God — essentially deification. But it makes no sense to conflate these two different meanings to try to create problems for grace and works that really just don’t exist”

    I will have to disagree with you on this point. To me, this is a problem for Mormon Theology. The restoration was supposed to stop all of the “confusion” created by apostate Christianity. However, as I see it, the prophets have changed their position on numerous points. What Mormon Theology is seems to be more dependent upon who the current prophet is than anything else. For example:

    Blacks are the son of cain/now they can hold the priesthood

    Temple ceremony ridicules preachers and teaches they are the servants of satan/post 1990 they are not

    Adam is God/Now it is a heresy to teach this – God was once a Man/Now we “jsut don’t know a lot about that”.

    What you see as “different meanings” used at different times regarding saved and salvation I see as confusion among supposed prophets and evidence that Mormonism is a manmade religion.

    Your questions:

    Do you believe that a person can fall from being in Christ (i.e, you reject eternal security)? and Do you believe that falling from grace depends on what we do or our works? I am still working this one out in my mind but I will share my current thoughts. The Bible tells us there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It is totally based upon confessing Jesus Christ as Savior. Thus, no, I do not believe my salvation is based upon my works. What I am working out on this is can someone, once they confess Jesus Christ as Savior, turn around and decide they DON”T want to accept Him as Savior. In other words, completely deny Jesus Christ? My current position is no, they cannot. Once someone genuinly comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ, I do not believe they will ever walk away from Him. As Christ tells us, NOTHING can snatch us out of The Fathers Hand.

    Do you believe that the goal is to be presented perfect before God the Father having the mind and image of Christ? I believe all of us who are saved will be sanctified by God and will be brought back into the relationship that was originally intended before the fall.

    Do you believe that we can enjoy the fullness of the Godhead to indwell within us in fullness of divine glory? Please explain a little more about what you mean by this. Are you talking in this life or the next? How do you define divine glory?

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  43. May 3, 2009 10:07 pm

    Darrell: First to your questions about all bending the knee and all confessing Christ. First, it is a question you ought to be asking yourself since D& 76 it merely reflects the teachings of Isaiah 45:23 and Phil. 2:10-11. It is also supported by the statement in John 17:12 that the Father saves all given to Christ (and that’s everyone).

    Within the Mormon context, tho all confess Christ at some time, some who have confessed Christ later put him to open shame as both Hebrews 6:6 and D&C 76 clearly teach. When they reject Christ, they fall from grace and are damned as sons of Perdition. So you see, this is just not a problem for LDS as you seem to think. It is a problem for someone who accepts eternal security as you do — especially since you imply that believing that one can fall from grace means rejection of salvation by grace.

    You’ll have to show me (rather than merely assert) that everyone who confesses Christ will be in God’s immediate presence for eternity. However, you’ll also have to deal with the implications of Isaiah 45:23 and Phil 2:10-11 to avoid the problems of your own view that everyone who confesses Christ is somehow in God’s immediate presence. I don’t believe you’ll be able to support your assertion.

    With respect to change in some eternal gospel truth, I am impressed by the naivte of your view. You make the same kind of complaint that the so-called “christians” made who rejected Peter’s revelation about table fellow-ship and Jewish dietary laws! But it’s in the bible and cannot change! But let me bite on your challenge anyway:

    The Priesthood. Give me a source that I am bound to accept that Blacks could not have the priesthood because they are descendants of Cain (assuming for the sake of this argument only that they are). However, you shouldn’t have any problem with this view because you believe that, before Christ, God was perfectly justified in limiting his priesthood to one small tribe of Israelites — don’t you?

    Preachers as Pawns of Satan: Nothing has changed about preachers who oppress the people of God being pawns of Satan. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good preachers as well and, remember, all of these preachers are saved in the Mormon view unless they put Christ to open shame. In contrast, on your view I suppose that Mormons will go to hell? (Frankly, this is just really unpersuasive as a change in some eternal truth).

    Adam God: I’ll tell you what — if you’ll tell me why the scriptures call David a God and son of God, and Moses God, then I’ll fully answer your question about Brigham Young’s Adam God doctrine. Explain to me why Job 1 calls Satan a son of God. Until you’ve grasped that, I don’t believe any further conversation with you on this issue would be fruitful. While you’re at it, perhaps you could explain whether you believe that the early 1st century Christians who wrote the Life of Adam & Eve were justified in calling Adam God because he bore the divine image and was exalted by God?

    With respect to falling from grace, maybe you could tell me your view of Gal. 5:6 and Hebrews 6:6. If you believe that once a person is “in Christ” then they cannot fall from grace, then I believe you reject this rather clear teaching. It makes our continuing in Christ or in grace dependent on what we do in some sense. That must be a clue to you that what you think salvation by grace means must call for a great deal more thought on your part. My take is that you’re just way too influenced by erroneous evangelical ideas about what being saved by grace through faith in Christ really means.

    BTW the only place that “salvation by faith alone” appears in the Bible as a phrase is in James 2:24 where the writer of James (who I actually believe was James the brother of Jesus) rejects that teaching.

    If you believe that all who are saved (i.e. justified) are also sanctified,then you believe something that virtually no evangelical theologian that I know of has believed.

    By fullness of glory I mean that the fullness of the Godhead indwells in us just as it indwells in Christ in God. Do you believe that? I mean at any time — do you believe that we can share in a fullness of Godhead the same way that Christ does?

  44. May 3, 2009 10:24 pm

    Darrell said: “God was once a Man/Now we “jsut don’t know a lot about that”. (sic)

    Darrell, I saved this one for special comment because it demonstrates a great deal of misunderstanding and naivte. It is true, as Pres. Hinckley stated, that we don’t know a lot about God being a man once, because he is referring to the Father’s mortal sojourn. The fact is that not a lot has been revealed about it. However, that is not a rejection of the belief that God (the Father) was once a man. No change there.

    Now let me point out that you also believe that God was once a man. God became flesh as Jesus and was a man on a particular planet at a particular time. Now I’ve read on your web site that you believe that God doesn’t change in any respects. So you attempt to dodge the obvious problem for your view when it is pointed out that God the Son changed drastically when he became a man. In response, you rely on the view that Christ has two natures and you believe (without argument or even explanation) that solves this problem. God doesn’t change and in, fact, on your view is timeless. There are two very big issues there.

    With respect the utterly non-scriptural doctrine of the two nature theory of Christ’s divinity and humanity, I believe that you’ve bitten off a doctrine that is not merely unscriptural, but actually incoherent and contra-scriptural. To that extent I believe you have rejected the revelations of the living Christ for this philosophical view of Christ having two natures — a view that is contrary to what Jesus actually taught. The Word was God. The Word became flesh. What is so difficult about that?

    Since I have written at length demonstrating the logical and scriptural problems with the two-nature theory of Christ that you espouse, I will simply ask for just one scripture that remotely says that Christ had two natures, one human and one divine.

    However, I can prove that it is possible and scriptural that God was once man. God the Son became human. Therefore, so could God the Father. At least that is what many traditional theologians have taught. How do you respond to that?

  45. May 4, 2009 1:23 am

    Blake,

    “But it’s in the bible and cannot change!”

    So God changes His Word? His truth is not eternal? He can say one thing today and then tomorrow say “No, that was not right.”? Well then, what is to stop Him from just throwing out the whole plan of salvation? Perhaps He will change His mind on that one tomorrow. Afterall, if he condemned the black man to never hold the priesthood and now has decided it is ok why can’ t He change His mind on this as well? Contrary to your claim about me, I believe you are the one demonstrating naivete on this issue.

    First, to use the change in the Law of Moses to support the fact that God can change is absurd. Even the Mormon believes the fulfillment of the law was prophesied. God did not change… His word was fulfilled.

    Second, you point to Isaiah 45:23 (which BTW I see no connection to your use of it to support “falling from grace”. You will have enlighten my “naive” mind on this one.) which specifically shows He does not revoke His word. In addition, for God to change His Eternal Word goes against what He has told us about Himself. It violates His very nature. You are then delving into dangerous territory by claiming God’s nature changes. If His nature changes He is not immutable and therefore cannot be omniscient or omnipotent. Each of these attributes are tied together. Lose one and you lose them all. You will also have to deal with numerous other verses which specifically show He doesn’t change. James 1:17, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Numbers 23:19, Matthew 5:18 to name just a few.

    Back to my point… if the Lord does not change, why all the changes in Mormonism? Did the prophets get it wrong? Or, perhaps they are not really talking with God the way you claim? Or, better yet, perhaps the Mormon God is not really the God of The Bible who says He does not change?

    “Give me a source that I am bound to accept that Blacks could not have the priesthood because they are descendants of Cain (assuming for the sake of this argument only that they are).”

    I guess if you have no problem saying your prophets got it wrong for years you are not bound. Of course, admitting that only creates issues for you, not me. You will have to take that up with Brother Brigham.

    “My take is that you’re just way too influenced by erroneous evangelical ideas about what being saved by grace through faith in Christ really means.”

    I am glad you consider yourself qualifed based upon 2 or 3 exchanges to pass judgement on my “naivety” and how easily I can be led astray by “false evangelical ideas” (false that is in your opinion).

    “I’ll tell you what — if you’ll tell me why the scriptures call David a God and son of God, and Moses God, then I’ll fully answer your question about Brigham Young’s Adam God doctrine.”

    Obfuscation. You answer first then I will answer. Why did Brigham Young espouse this doctrine which was later declared heresy?

    “BTW the only place that “salvation by faith alone” appears in the Bible as a phrase is in James 2:24 where the writer of James (who I actually believe was James the brother of Jesus) rejects that teaching.”

    If your reading of The Bible is so narrow that you are looking for that particular phrasing then perhaps you correct. If, on the other hand, you are trying to garner what God is revealing in the entire Biblical text I tend to disagree. Perhaps you should also consider Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:9-28, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 8:1-3 and Galations 3 to name just a few.

    As for my interpretation of James, I have no issues with it. He is correct in saying that any real faith in Jesus Christ will manifest itself in good works. Nevertheless, it is not the works that save it is the faith. Not sure why you are attacking my on this one. You appear to be building a straw man.

    “If you believe that all who are saved (i.e. justified) are also sanctified,then you believe something that virtually no evangelical theologian that I know of has believed.”

    Sanctification is a process that happens over the course of a person’s life and is completed when one enters God’s presence. Everyone who accepts Christ and goes to heaven will be sanctified. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is a standard Ev position. Check out the Baptist Faith and Message if you would like to better understand the Ev position on this. Their message is right in line with what every Ev I have talked to (Baptist or not) had to say on the subject.

    As to the manner in which you handled the contradictions between what President Hinckley espoused and what JS espoused on theosis, mere obfuscation. You did a classic FARMS move by bringing something else into the conversation to talk about. Instead of dealing with the issue you turn it around and attack the Christian position. Tell you what. Why don’t you finish what JS said he was going to do. You prove to me me in a clear and concise way from The Bible that God The Father was once a man, JUST LIKE YOU AND ME AS JS CLAIMED, and then we will delve into the Hypostatic Union. One thing at a time. I do have a family and need to spend time with them you know! 🙂

    While doing this I would like for you to consider a few scritures which clearly demonstrate that there was, is and will always be only ONE God. Please keep in mind that if God the Father was once a man like you and me, then He had to have a God to actualize Him. This is a major problem for your position. Here are just a few scriptures to think about. If this conversation continues I may provide some more.

    Isaiah 43:3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
    43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
    43:11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
    43:12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.”
    Isaiah 44:6 This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
    44:8 You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.
    Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
    45:6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
    45:14 ‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.’ ”
    45: 18 I am the LORD, and there is no other.
    45: 21 And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
    45:22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
    Isaiah 46: 9 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
    Deut 6:4 The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
    Mark 12:29 The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”
    Deut 4: 35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
    Deut 4:39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
    1 Cor 8:4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.
    Psalms 86:10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

    Have a good night!!

    Darrell

  46. May 4, 2009 1:49 am

    Darrell: I admit that I have a devil of a time following your arguments — if that can fairly be said to rise to that level. However, the irony of charging me with obfuscation must be evident to anyone who reads your post above.

    I cited the revelation to Peter to demonstrate that what was once required by God can change. It shows that without any question. I didn’t cite it to suggest that God himself changes — I cited the change in God becoming man to show that.

    How did you respond? You misconstrued what I said about Peter’s revelation and ignored everything I said about Christ becoming a man or mortal.

    Darrell asserts: “Please keep in mind that if God the Father was once a man like you and me, then He had to have a God to actualize Him. This is a major problem for your position.”

    Really? No it isn’t. Christ was once a man like you and me. Did he have someone actualize him? Is he created? You see, you ignored the real problem: Christ is both God and man. What you mean by God is so foreign to anything that a man could ever be that it is literally impossible on your view for any man to be God. Of course, such a view makes non-sense of Jesus and his entire message. The problem is with your view, not mine.

    Here is how screwed up your response is: you say – “you point to Isaiah 45:23 (which BTW I see no connection to your use of it to support “falling from grace”. You will have enlighten my “naive” mind on this one.)”

    I didn’t cite Isa. 45:23 to support the assertion that a person can fall from grace at all. I cited it to show that all shall bow the knee at the name of Yahweh and recognize him as God, and that Phil. 2 says that all shall bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord. I say nothing about falling from grace at all with respect to these two scriptures. However, I implied that if all confess Jesus, then your view that all those who confess Jesus live forever in God immediate presence must be false unless universalism is true.

    Further, I didn’t say that I could or would prove that the Father was once mortal or a man. I can’t even prove that Jesus existed. I stated that I would prove that it is possible that God the Father become a man if you accept that the Son of God became a man. I did that. I don’t have to prove to you that the Father was once a man. I acknowledge that it is extrabiblical. I also assert that any person who believes that the Son became human cannot have any rational basis for not believing that the Father could become a man or mortal.

    I will simply observe that once again you don’t read very carefully as shown by your irrelevant diatribe above.

    As for sanctification, I know that the standard EV view is that it is a process that takes a lifetime and also that it is dependent on our synergistic works. Just as I said, no EV theologian has ever maintained that every person who is justified is also necessarily sanctified. It may be that the works will not be forthcoming, or that the person dies before the process is begun or culminated — or that the justified person will fall from grace as Gal. 5:6 expressly states.

    I’d be happy to show that God changes. Look at this: http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2007/01/hermeneutical-assumptions-and-open-theism/319/

    It is my own scriptural demonstration that God changes and ain’t timeless as you assert. I challenge you to read it and respond.

  47. May 4, 2009 2:40 am

    Blake,

    Please explain to me how you can hold the position God the Father was once a man like us who grew to become a God and still hold the position that He did not need an outside agent to actualize Him. For, if there was a time when God was not fully God than He had to have been actualized by something greater than Him.

    Demonstate to me how this is consistent with God being Self Sufficient, Ominiscient and Omnipotent. If God grew to become an exalted Man, He is most certainly not self sufficient. If He is not self sufficient He cannot be Immutable, Omnipotent or Omniscient.

    Blake, you demonstrate a vaste misunderstanding of the Hypostatic Union. It is not that God became a man… it is the second person of the Triune God added a human nature. His divinity did not change. He did not need someone to actualize Him in this process. The Christian teaching on Christ is that He has always been God. He has always been self sufficient.

    On the other hand the Mormon teaching on the nature of Christ is vastly different. Under your theology Jesus was once an intelligence which was spirit born/formed by an outside agent (Elohim) into the pre-mortal Jesus. Therefore, there was a time when Jesus was not fully God… that is unless you hold that as an intelligence He was still fully God. Do you hold this position? If so, I must say it is illogical. For if He was fully God as an intelligence, why did Elohim have to form Him? Was He not self sufficient? In addition, by definition there is nothing God lacks. Yet, as an intelligence He must have lacked something. Otherwise, why did The Father have to form Him into something else? In addition since God is immutable how could Jesus as a fully God intelligence be formed into anything else anyway. That would mean as God he was mutable!

    Thanks for the link to Open Theism. I have read some on it and wholeheartedly disagree with their assumptions that God can change. I recommend Norm Geisler’s critiques on Open Theism to you. He does a great job dealing with their errors.

    Darrell

  48. May 4, 2009 3:21 am

    One more thing before bed. Blake, you said,

    “However, I implied that if all confess Jesus, then your view that all those who confess Jesus live forever in God immediate presence must be false unless universalism is true.”

    It appears you are being disingenuous here. I am sure a man of your intelligence and experience understands the Ev Christian position that one must come to Christ in this life in order to go to heaven. Are you trying to build another strawman by asserting that I hold the view that someone who confesses Christ at the Great White Throne Judgement is going to Heaven?

    God Bless and have a great night!

    Darrell

  49. May 4, 2009 11:50 pm

    Darrell: I have read Geisler’s response to Open Theism. If that is the best such Calvinists can do, then those who adopt your views are in big trouble. It is just t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e. But it isn’t Geisler I need to respond to — I have cited clear scriptural statements that show that God changes his mind, repents and plans one thing and then decides another. Your response? You just punt by citing Geisler’s mediocre response. Fair enough, i’ll take that as the best that you can do.

    I’m going to focus on your belief in the hypostatic union. Let me begin by observing that I find it beyond ironic that you reject Mormonism because it isn’t scriptural, and then you adopt a view of the so-called hypostatic union. I challenged you above to give me just one citation to show that Jesus claimed to have two natures — one human and one divine. Your response? Absolutely 0 – nada – nothing. Now I’m going to challenge you to just give me one scripture that speaks of a hypostatic union. I know already that I’ll get the same evasion for a simple reason — there’s absolutely zero about it in scripture about a hypostatic union. In fact, it is contrary to scripture. So here is the irony and the complete tragedy — you leave your commitment to Mormonism because it is supposedly unscriptural and then you adopt a view that gives us philosophical crap like the hypostatic union that is so far beyond scripture it is literally four centuries away — adopted at Chalcedon in 421 A.D..

    The problem isn’t that I don’t understand the hypostatic union. The problem is that I understand it all too well — at least as far as outright contradictory nonsense can be grasped. Jesus became human, but he remained fully divine; but what is divine cannot be anything like what a human is. The problem is that you understand divinity to be absolutely timelessly unchanging, but taking on a human nature must be the greatest change imaginable in your view. He became human, but no human is omniscient. He became human, but no human is omnipotent. A timeless being simply cannot be in hypostatic union with a temporal being like Jesus of Nazareth.

    The problem is that your view entails both the Nestorian and Docetic heresies. Here is why. Jesus, as God, is omniscient, incorporeal, unchanging, timeless, omnipotent and so forth. Yet humans are essentially limited in knowledge, embodied, changing, temporal and limited in power on your view. So we have a single person, Christ, who is both of these contradictory things at the same time. Your view is not only heretical, it is a logical mess. Let me spell it out:

    (1) God the Son is essentially omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and unchanging in all respects.
    (2) Christ is both God the Son and human.
    (3) Necessarily no human is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent or unchanging in all respects.

    These premises create an inconsistent triad. Acceptance of any two of them logically entails the denial of the third. So here are the nonsensical problems of your on-scriptural gibberish: Christ is both omniscient and not omniscient. The Son doesn’t know the date of the second coming, but the Father knows that date according to the scripture. An omniscient being would know that date. Thus, the Son isn’t omniscient — but God is.

    Your position also entails that God the Son is incapable of sinning. Yet Jesus was tempted and learned from the things that he suffered according to Hebrews. However, if Christ is unable to sin, then he wasn’t truly tempted. Nor is he omniscient if he can learn from things that he suffers.

    You see, you have abandoned the living Christ and accepted the philosophical gibberish of the EV tradition. It gives us a Christ that wasn’t truly human because he is omniscient and omnipotent. He didn’t truly suffer in the way that humans do because he could have dispatched the Romans who placed him on the cross at any time. The greatest pain of human suffering is that we don’t know when it will end and we cannot stop it at will. Not so your false god.

    Further, Christ had to be able to suffer to be able to atone. But you believe that God cannot suffer. Yet in order to atone, Christ must not only suffer, but he must suffer as God — that is, he must suffer in his divine nature. Yet that is impossible on your view because the divine nature cannot suffer. So atonement is impossible on your view. That is a very big problem.

    So you see, I’m not very impressed with your challenge to my view. If you’ll define what you mean by self-sufficient and show me the scriptures you believe that say that God is self-sufficient, then I’ll respond to your questions above.

  50. May 5, 2009 1:17 am

    Blake,

    “I have read Geisler’s response to Open Theism. If that is the best such Calvinists can do, then those who adopt your views are in big trouble.”

    Your opening statement proves you have not thoroughly read Geisler. If you had you would know he is not a Calvanist.

    “You just punt by citing Geisler’s mediocre response.”

    Blake, anyone can simply assert his reponse is mediocre. How about providing some substance and not a mere assertion. Your fans might be ok accepting something simply because you say it. Not me.

    “I’m going to focus on your belief in the hypostatic union.”

    Blake, you obviously did not read my response last night. I specifically told you I was not going to discuss the Hypostatic Union (beyond telling you that you don’t understand it) until you finish out our conversation about “God once being a man just like you and I”. Here is what I said…

    “As to the manner in which you handled the contradictions between what President Hinckley espoused and what JS espoused on theosis, mere obfuscation. You did a classic FARMS move by bringing something else into the conversation to talk about. Instead of dealing with the issue you turn it around and attack the Christian position. Tell you what. Why don’t you finish what JS said he was going to do. You prove to me me in a clear and concise way from The Bible that God The Father was once a man, JUST LIKE YOU AND ME AS JS CLAIMED, and then we will delve into the Hypostatic Union.”

    You continue to use FARMS like tactics by throwing a red herring into the conversation in an attempt to side track it away from the issues with Mormonism. You said you cannot PROVE that God was once a man (even though JS himself said he was going to prove it from The Bible. Guess he fell short on that one). Fair enough. Tell you what… I will settle for you simply demonstrating from The Bible with clear logic that it is possible for God the Father to have been a man JUST LIKE YOU AND I without violating the teachings of The Bible. I supplied several scriptures you must consider and overcome in this process. I am glad you are willing to admit that this doctrine is “extra-biblical”, however, I will submit it also VIOLATES many teachings of The Bible.

    In addition, please do not forget my questions on this subject…

    1. Please explain to me how you can hold the position God the Father was once a man like us who grew to become a God and still hold the position that He did not need an outside agent to actualize Him. For, if there was a time when God was not fully God than He had to have been actualized by something greater than Him.

    2. Demonstate to me how this is consistent with God being Self Sufficient, Ominiscient and Omnipotent. If God grew to become an exalted Man, He is most certainly not self sufficient. If He is not self sufficient He cannot be Immutable, Omnipotent or Omniscient.

    As for the definition of self-sufficiency… “God exists in and of Himself. There is nothing He needs or has ever needed. He has everything He needs contained within Himself. He can receive nothing that He has not first given.” See Deut 10:14, 1 Chron 29:14, Job 22:2-3, Job 35:6-7, Ps 24:1, Ps 50:10-12, Isaiah 40:13-14, 28, Romans 11:35-36 for just a few references.

    You must also consider God’s Self Existence in this process. For if God was once a man who grew to become a God He is NOT self-existent. Ps 90:2, John 1:1,3, Acts 17:25, Rom 11:36, Col 1:17, Heb 1:2, Heb 2:10, Rev 4:11 are just some of the verses that deal with this attribute.

    I look forward to your response.

    Once we finish this conversation out, I will be happy to move on to the Hypostatic Union. All I will say at this point is your objections to the Hypostatic Union continue to demonstrate your complete misunderstanding of it.

    In addition to the above, when you have some time I would also like to hear your response to my question about Christ being spiritually born/formed. Another blogger mentioned you believe Jesus was not formed/spiritually born or created but has ALWAYS existed as Fully God. Is that true? Here was my question…

    “Therefore, there was a time when Jesus was not fully God… that is unless you hold that as an intelligence He was still fully God. Do you hold this position?”

    Have a good night!

    Darrell

  51. May 5, 2009 3:02 am

    I would like to point something out for everyone to see. In his post on May 3, 2009 at 6:38 PM Blake accused Jessica of attacking Mormonism unjustly regarding their link to Freemasonry. To Blake’s dismay Jessica is able to back her claim up. Nevertheless, Blake went on to say…

    “Mormons don’t engage in that kind of really inaccurate and hateful assassination of other traditions.”

    After Blake put himself and Mormonism on the high horse take a look at some of the things Blake has to say about the Evangelical Faith…

    “…philosophical crap like the hypostatic union…”

    “…philosophical gibberish of the EV tradition…”

    “…Not so your false god….”

    These three very kind comments in just a handful of posts. It certainly sounds to me like Blake was slightly mistaken when he placed himself and Mormonism on such a high pedestol.

    Blake, I am fine if you want to have a conversation and believe me your comments don’t offend me. However, please be more careful next time. It certainly doesn’t look good when you start off a conversation placing your own faith on a pedestal and then use words like gibberesh and crap (Love that one by the way. You were certainly thoughtful in your choice of language.) to describe another’s faith.

    Darrell

  52. May 5, 2009 3:46 am

    Darrell: I will only say this once: Not only is Giesler a traditional Thomistic Calvinist (as he styles himself), you continue to avoid the discussion and my challenges. I’m not surprised. I am very familiar with Geisler’s works (tho I don’t find him persuasive in the least) — and it is obvious to me that you are the one who has no clue about his background or philosophical assumptions. I believe that the philosophical nonsense of the Hypostatic Union is the issue. I won’t apologize for calling it crap — that is what it is and I calls them as I sees them. It is up to you to show that my characterization of this non-scriptural nonsense is somehow inaccurate — so far I’ve only seen weaving, dodging and refusal to engage the issues. I’m still waiting for a response.

    Here is what I suggest. Instead of citing Giesler, explain to me how you believe his argument works in respect to the scriptures that I cite that say that God repents and changes his mind. I won’t waste time responding again to Geisler after having assessed his arguments in print already. I’m still waiting for a response.

    Show me the words “self-sufficience” in the scriptures you cite. They don’t say anything you suggest. You give me a philosophical definition and then you you cite scriptures as if they say what you state. However, the scriptures you cite are inapposite. They don’t refer to self-sufficience as you define it in the least. So I suggest that you actually read the scriptures you cite and don’t treat them as mere proof-texts as if they were self-interpreting. So show me scriptures that say that God is self-sufficient or that say anything remotely like what you assert. I’ll be waiting.

    However, we can agree to this extent: God existence is self-sustaining. He exists eternally as an individual. Further, I believe that the Father has always been divine, as have the Son and the Holy Ghost. So you’re presenting a view of God that I don’t espouse and I don’t believe that Joseph Smith espoused. I don’t believe that God the Father grew into being divine at some first time.

    However, I do believe that at a particular time God emptied himself of the fullness of his divinity and became mortal, died and took up his life again to become fully divine thru resurrection. I also claim that Phil. 2 and John 17 support such a kenotic view of Christology. I also claim that you have no reason to believe that if the Son can become mortal that the Father couldn’t also become mortal. If you have some argument to the contrary, I’d like hear it. I’ll be waiting.

    I don’t believe that Jesus was formed as an individual at some first moment. He is eternally himself and eternally divine. However, he was free in all morally significant respects and therefore was free to reject the Father’s love for him if he so chose. His greatness consist in his freely chosen love from all eternity.

    Finally, if you call sound argument, deductive logic and demonstrations that your view is non-scriptural to be “FARMS-like tactics,” then pray tell what is the problem with that?

  53. May 5, 2009 3:52 am

    Darrell said: “Blake accused Jessica of attacking Mormonism unjustly regarding their link to Freemasonry. To Blake’s dismay Jessica is able to back her claim up.”

    lol. This is hilarious. How did she back up what she said … by referring to her side panel? She stated that masonry had influence on Joseph Smith. I agree with that — but so what, the notion of an earth supported by pillars influenced the bible. Just like such a cultural influence hardly begins to explain the bible, so the influence of masonry doesn’t begin to explain the endowment. Jessica claims it is the sole explanation. That is just laughable in my view and if you think she has backed that up, then I suggest that your ability to assess evidence is very questionable.

  54. May 5, 2009 1:58 pm

    “Not only is Giesler a traditional Thomistic Calvinist…”

    Redefining what you said… good to see. Yes, Geisler is Thomistic in many of his viewpoints. However, to state he is outright Calvinist (as you did in your previous comment) is misleading. It appears you were trying to pigeon hole him so that you can discount his viewpoints altogether. He is not a 5 point Calvinist and does not give up any of the traditional ideas of man having free choice. For those who want a clear understanding of Geisler’s position (rather than Blake’s caricature) I recommend “Chosen But Free” by Norm Geisler.

    “I won’t apologize for calling it crap…”

    I am not asking for one. As I mentioned, I am not offended in the least. I am, however, waiting for you to resort to calling Geisler a “poopy head” as your language does appear to be heading in that direction. 🙂

    “…so far I’ve only seen weaving, dodging and refusal to engage the issues.”

    Correction… what you have seen is a desire to stick to the point and a lack of willingness to follow your red herring away from the issue we have been discussing. Stop the 5 year old crying and finish out the current conversation and then I will be happy to discuss the hypostatic union.

    “Show me the words “self-sufficience” in the scriptures you cite.”

    This is the second time you have challenged me to find “specific words” in The Bible to support a theological position. Is your view of The Bible really so narrow as to require a word search to prove doctrine? I am certain you understand that certain doctrinal positions contained in The Bible are described through specific word/words in modern language. The absence of such word/words in The Bible does not mean the doctrine/attribute is not contained within the teachings of The Bible. Or perhaps you are willing to give up the Mormon belief in Free Agency. For those words do not exist in The Bible.

    “However, I do believe that at a particular time God emptied himself of the fullness of his divinity and became mortal, died and took up his life again to become fully divine thru resurrection.”

    You are finally getting to the point. Thank you. I would like to ask a few questions to make sure I fully understand your viewpoint. I don’t want to mischaracterize you.

    1. Are you saying that God the Father emptied himself of the fullness of His divinity at some time OR are you referencing the Son in the above statement?

    2. If you are referencing the Son, who resurrected Him?

    3. You state that He became fully divine thru ressurection. Was He fully divine PRIOR TO COMING TO EARTH? You appear to be stating otherwise.

    “I also claim that you have no reason to believe that if the Son can become mortal that the Father couldn’t also become mortal.”

    Are you saying it is possible The Father emptied Himself of all divinity at some point?

    “I don’t believe that Jesus was formed as an individual at some first moment. He is eternally himself and eternally divine.”

    Did Jesus exist as an intelligence at some point in the premortal world? Or, are you saying that Jesus never existed as an intelligence?

    Thanks in advance for answering my above questions.

    Have a great day and God Bless!

    Darrell

  55. May 5, 2009 3:20 pm

    No Darrell: It is becoming more than obvious that you are just avoiding the issues. I indulged you and answered your questions. Now it’s time to put up or shut up. Respond to my posts. You can get my books and read them on these issues that I have addressed at length where I address all of your questions — and you can see also why I believe that Geisler’s view is incoherent and nonsensical. Frankly, the Catholic expositors of Aquinas do a far better job than Geisler — and they are still incoherent (not to mention miles from anything that could be supported by scripture).

    However, because it is easy, here are the answers to your questions. 1 & 2 – both. 3. Before. Yes. Intelligences are uncreated and eternal and all are essentially eternal intelligences. The only thing to keep in mind is that with respect to some divine attributes perfection consists in dynamic growth because there are no intrinsic maxima for such attributes.

    The way you treat scripture is horrorific. You cite a string of texts as if they all said what you say and then you assume that I will see that they are self-interpreting the way you seem to read them. Now you admit they don’t say what you say but somehow I’m supposed to see your view in them thru some theological gyration — and they don’t say anything like what you say. The Hebrew scriptures that you cite don’t even have a notion of self-sufficience. It is a very complex philosophical term that has many meanings and many problems. One thing is sure, none of what you cite supports a notion of self-sufficience the way you have defined it . .. and you seem to be unaware that there are other definitions and concepts of self-sufficience and eternal existence.

    Unless you are willing to engage the issues I have raised in this discussion and insist on controlling what can and can’t be discussed, I will not engage with you anymore. I refuse to deal with controlling people. I refuse to deal with people who refuse to engage in dialogue in good faith. Do you deal in the same controlling way with everyone this way?

  56. May 5, 2009 3:38 pm

    Blake,

    Thanks for your answers.

    You missed a couple of questions.

    Did Jesus exist as an intelligence at some point in the premortal world? Or, are you saying that Jesus never existed as an intelligence?

    “Unless you are willing to engage the issues I have raised in this discussion and insist on controlling what can and can’t be discussed, I will not engage with you anymore.”

    Continuing to wine about my lack of willingness to follow you down the rabbit hole. Sorry if you take that as controlling. As I have said multiple times, I am happy to engage with you regarding the hypostatic union AFTER we have finished this discussion.

    I look forward to your answers and thanks again for answering the ones you did. It is helping me to understand where you are coming from.

    Darrell

  57. May 5, 2009 10:59 pm

    Darrell: I answered that question. I will not play this control game with you any longer. When you decide to grow up and stop controlling, then I will be willing to dialogue with you — but only on the condition of good faith where you demonstrate even a smidgen of accountability for what has been said. I have engaged in good faith with lengthy demonstrations as to why the so-called hypostatic union is non-scriptural non-sense.

    At this point, you’re simply dodging — and I don’t blame you. But know this, you have traded a true birthright of eternal value for a mess of pottage my friend.

  58. May 6, 2009 12:51 am

    Blake,

    I have read your response to my questions multiple times and for the life of me I cannot find an answer to my last 2 questions. I asked 5 separate sets of questions and I only see four answers.

    1. Are you saying that God the Father emptied himself of the fullness of His divinity at some time OR are you referencing the Son in the above statement?
    Your answer – Both

    2. If you are referencing the Son, who resurrected Him?
    Your answer – Both

    3. You state that He became fully divine thru ressurection. Was He fully divine PRIOR TO COMING TO EARTH? You appear to be stating otherwise
    Your answer – Before

    4. Are you saying it is possible The Father emptied Himself of all divinity at some point?
    Your answer – Yes

    5. Did Jesus exist as an intelligence at some point in the premortal world? Or, are you saying that Jesus never existed as an intelligence?
    This is a yes or no question and I see no answer. Please point one out to me if I missed it.

    Blake, it is painfully obvious to me you REALLY like to have control of a conversation. All I was trying to do here was finish out the conversation that we started about God once being a man. You made the assertion that you can prove from The Bible that IT IS POSSIBLE that God the Father was once a man LIKE US. Yet all you provide for evidence is to state that Jesus became a man. Sorry but that does not PROVE anything. When I start to challenge you on this point you cry foul because I won’t follow you down a completely unrelated path to talk about the Hypostatic Union. Sorry Blake, I am not going to allow you to just make a blanket assertion about such an important issue and then move on as if you have proved something. Your publisher and your fans may cow tail to your power control trips but not all of us will.

    Now, I will be more than happy to finish this conversation with you if you would like and when we are done I will be happy to answer every single one of your challenges regarding the Hypostatic Union. In reality, I was looking forward to finishing both conversations. I know you are an extremely intelligent and educated man and was hoping to learn something from you. Although I don’t agree with your theology I realize that there are many things I can learn about your faith and worldview. I am sorry you have chosen to take your ball and go home. Nevertheless, life goes on.

    As far as me giving up a true birthright nothing could be farther from the truth. My family and I have been so eternally blessed by God since leaving the LDS Church. Leaving was very hard… we have been shunned by old “friends”, accused of being sinners, and even had parents tell their kids they aren’t allowed to play with our children anymore. Imagine that… my 9 year old came home from school where one of her best friends had told her “my mom says I can’t play with you anymore because you left the true church.: Sad.

    As far as our life now we are extremely happy. Joyful may be the better word as it was so lacking in the legalistic confines of Mormonism. Our marriage is better, we feel the eternal peace of God in our lives and what is more amazing than anything is how we see God moving in our lives everyday. The Bible has come alive to us and our church is amazing. The peace that comes from a real relationship with the real Jesus Christ of The Bible is nothing short of indescribable. Blake, I have not given up anything… I have gained salvation and peace with The One and Only True God.

    God Bless!!

    Darrell

  59. May 6, 2009 2:16 am

    Blake,

    Looking back on your comments I can see how you may have purposely skipped answering my 4th question as your answer to number 1 was “both”. So, perhaps the “Yes” answer I was attributing to number 4 is actually your answer to number 5? If that is the case please let me know… that is “unless you are still staying home with your ball”. I am trying to be very careful here as I don’t want to mischaracterize your position in any manner.

    Have a great night.

    Darrell

  60. May 7, 2009 1:45 am

    Blake has bailed on our conversation but I would like to respond to his attempt to “prove” The Bible allows for the possibility God the Father became a man. The proof Blake provided is to state Jesus “emptied himself of all divinity” during His mortal sojourn and therefore, it must be possible for God the Father to have done so. There are several problems with Blake’s supposed proof and I will touch on just a few. First, he has not yet proven Jesus “emptied Himself of all divinity” and therefore, his foundation to make the claim it is possible for God to have done so is baseless. Had he stuck around we would be venturing into this discussion; however, at this point he has provided nothing to back it up. Nevertheless, let’s assume for a moment he is correct and Jesus did empty himself of all divinity while on earth. Why does this necessarily make it possible for The Father? Think about this for a second, if Jesus emptied Himself of all divinity only to take it up again upon resurrection, as Blake asserted, who resurrected Him? Remember, Jesus had no divinity at this point so He could not have resurrected Himself without the authority, divinity and power to do so coming from someone else. Under Mormon theology as Blake describes it the divinity, power and authority resided with The Father. Jesus, while on earth, was merely acting under Divine Investiture of Authority and was reliant upon The Father’s divinity, power and authority to resurrect Him. Therefore, if there was time in the past when The Father came to “an earth” to die and resurrect, who resurrected Him? Who held the divinity, power and authority while The Father had emptied Himself of it? There had to be an outside agency, another God beyond Himself, who held this during this time. Who was this God? Unfortunately, this creates a funny problem for those Mormons who hold this position. What is very interesting is the solution to their problem lies in what JS really taught and believed on this subject… a point Mormon apologists and theologians steer clear of today. JS and BY taught God the Father PROGRESSED THROUGH A MORTALITY JUST LIKE OURS TO BECOME A GOD. This process is called Eternal Progression and is the process by which all Gods have become Gods. In fact, it is the same process many Mormons believe they are on today. Under JS’s teachings there was a God who could have resurrected The Father… namely, His God. Here are some quotes by Mormon leaders which back up what I am saying…

    “…the Father, after He had once been in the flesh, and lived as we live, obtained His exaltation, attained to thrones, gained the ascendancy over principalities and powers, and had the knowledge and power to create—to bring forth and organize the elements upon natural principles. This He did after His ascension, or His glory, or His eternity, and was actually classed with the Gods, with the beings who create, with those who have kept the celestial law while in the flesh, and again obtained their bodies.” Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, pp. 217-218)

    “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . . I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. . . . He was once a man like us…” Joseph Smith Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976)

    “God the Father was once a man on another planet who ‘passed the ordeal we are now passing through. . .” Brigham Young, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1997), 29.

    “…you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you. . . .” Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976)

    Bottom line, the idea of God emptying Himself of all His divinity necessitates the existence of another God. Unfortunately for Blake this is where his “proof” runs into problems for The Bible does not allow for the existence of other true Gods. Therefore, there could not have been a God to raise God the Father. There are multiple verses in which God specifically says He was, is and will always be the ONE AND ONLY GOD. I cited several for Blake to address in my above comment at

    May 4, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Bear in mind this is just ONE of the major problems with the idea of God the Father having been a man who progressed to become a God. There are countless other philosophical and theological problems with this belief. I will submit this is one of the reasons the Mormon Church shys away from revealing or discussing this teaching today. While the teaching is very much alive in the halls of the Mormon Church, they do not like to discuss it in public… thus the outright half-truth (dare I say lie) President Hinckley shared with Larry King when he said “I don’t know that we teach that…”

    Darrell

  61. Brad permalink
    May 7, 2009 4:33 pm

    Boy, it sure got quiet while Blake and Darrell battled it out.

    Funny thing is, these always end up in pissing matches, which nobody ever wins. Blake will never convince Darrell, and I doubt Darrell will ever convince Blake. That’s the way it goes. Those lurking and reading, who see what is going on, have to draw their own conclusions.

    The Mormon and Christian worldviews are completely different. Under a Christian worldview, many many many more will go to hell than under a Mormon worldview, where a lesser level of heaven will be the destination for many. Sure, that changes each group’s outlook on the urgency of the situation, and the urgency to know Christ.

    As I say frequently, at the end of the day, Mormons and Christians can’t both be right, as what we each believe about many things – nature of God, nature of man, sin , salvation, heaven, hell and creation, among other things – is very different. There’s only 3 options:

    Christianity is right, and Mormonism is wrong.
    Mormonism is right, and Christianity is wrong.
    Both are wrong.

    That’s it – there’s no 4th option, b/c both can’t be right. So each reader must ask themself – what is my basis for belief in one vs. the other, and am I comfortable staking my spiritual eternity on it? Some will undoubtedly come down on the Christian side and say “yes”, as I would. Some will undoubtedly come down on the Mormon side and say “yes”, as Blake would. Some may not know, some may say they don’t believe in anything at all.

    One day, EVERY knee will bow and confess that Jesus IS Lord – but at that point, for many, it will be a realization that has come too late, as their point to choose to follow Christ will have come and gone.

    I firmly believe Mormons will be in that group – I don’t say that to offend you (and truly am not worried about whether that happens or not), but b/c I don’t want anyone to experience that.

    If you disagree, for whatever reason, God gives you the free will to do so. But every decision has a consequence to it. I thank God it is NOT my responsibility to convert, only to tell. What a burden that has removed!

  62. faithoffathers permalink
    May 7, 2009 7:25 pm

    Brad,

    You are correct that there is an urgent need to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. And you are right that each person must decide for themselves.

    It seems to me that evangelical critics are so anxious to exclude LDS from the “saved” group. And it is hard for me to see any other motivation in such exclusion other than that side of us all that is small and desires to lift ourselves above others. Of course, I cannot see into people’s hearts and have limitations in my capacity to discern such things.

    But from my imperfect perspective, the methods, approaches, spirit, and tone from evangelical “ministries” directed toward LDS clearly are inconsistent with their stated motivation. In other words, they say they love mormons, but nothing in what they do or say would confirm that. It is honestly hard to listen to them and not conclude that they are phoney and insincere.

    I do not say this because I need the acceptence of critics or have thin skin. I say this because methods reflect the message. I just do not think the methods of evangelical critics are inspired by Christ- at least in a pure sense. Such Evangelical “ministries” are more consistent with Jihadists than the humble, enduring, meek, and loving followers of Christ..

    For the most part, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are good people who love God and Jesus Christ, have accepted the atonement into their lives and try to follow Christ and His commandments. Most are known as good neighbors, citizens, and servants. Somehow, many in your shoes have convinced themselves that LDS are doomed to hell because of our religion (I may be doomed, but not for the reasons you think). This is all based on a very, very narrow interpretation of selected verses in the Bible and seasoned with pride (in my opinion).

    In the end, I do not think a person can justify thinking or saying that mormons are going to hell or do not accept Christ. Of course you have the legal right to say such things. But it is just silly. Everything I read in the Bible screams that Christ is interested in what we do with the truth that we have moreso than militant religosity.

    fof

  63. Brad permalink
    May 7, 2009 9:45 pm

    It seems to me that evangelical critics are so anxious to exclude LDS from the “saved” group. And it is hard for me to see any other motivation in such exclusion other than that side of us all that is small and desires to lift ourselves above others. Of course, I cannot see into people’s hearts and have limitations in my capacity to discern such things.

    While I can’t speak for all EV’s, I can speak for myself and those I know, and unequivocally say we’re definitely not “anxious” to exclude LDS, or anyone for that matter, from the “saved” group. Anyone with a proper understanding of hell, why it’s there, and what it means with respect to eternity wouldn’t wish even their worst enemy to go there. Are there some EV’s who are different? Probably.

    But from my imperfect perspective, the methods, approaches, spirit, and tone from evangelical “ministries” directed toward LDS clearly are inconsistent with their stated motivation. In other words, they say they love mormons, but nothing in what they do or say would confirm that. It is honestly hard to listen to them and not conclude that they are phoney and insincere.

    Again, anyone’s mileage may vary, but I’ve seen it from BOTH sides of the aisle, with BOTH LDS and EV’s engaging in what we’ll call “spirited dialogue” that could easily be mistaken for hatred. It’s not just one-sided. And often, people can confuse “disagreement” with “dislike.” Happens all the time. I can agree with someone and dislike them, just like I can disagree with them and like them. Some people, however, when another person is disagreeing (vehemently) with them, project the “disagreement” as “dislike”, and then there’s nothing you can do. That’s the fault of the person who’s making the projection, not the person who is talking to them.

    I do not say this because I need the acceptence of critics or have thin skin. I say this because methods reflect the message. I just do not think the methods of evangelical critics are inspired by Christ- at least in a pure sense. Such Evangelical “ministries” are more consistent with Jihadists than the humble, enduring, meek, and loving followers of Christ.

    And since you would readily acknowledge that you can’t know people’s motives, you’d have no way to be sure. And since I know people who this would most certainly not be applicable to, I can say that everyone isn’t this way. Again, disagreement doesn’t equal dislike or hatred.

    For the most part, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are good people who love God and Jesus Christ, have accepted the atonement into their lives and try to follow Christ and His commandments. Most are known as good neighbors, citizens, and servants.

    I’m not debating the morals of Mormons – that’s not what’s at issue here. The word “good” is also pretty relative – especially when you consider whether “good” is in comparison to other people, or to God!

    Somehow, many in your shoes have convinced themselves that LDS are doomed to hell because of our religion (I may be doomed, but not for the reasons you think). This is all based on a very, very narrow interpretation of selected verses in the Bible and seasoned with pride (in my opinion).

    As I’ve said many, many times FOF, one of us is wrong – we can’t both be right. Do I believe Mormons are wrong in what they believe, and that it will have eternal consequences? Yes, I do. Do I necessarily expect Mormons to believe that? Nope, not by my convincing. I believe, as do most EV’s, that our interpretation of the Bible is correct, and that the LDS is incorrect. You would naturally think the opposite. It’s a stalemate.

    In the end, I do not think a person can justify thinking or saying that mormons are going to hell or do not accept Christ.

    Of course you wouldn’t, as a Mormon. Just as I wouldn’t think anyone could justify saying that an EV will go to hell, since I am an EV. But you must remember, as I know you know – we believe drastically differently, and those different beliefs naturally lead to different outcomes.

    Of course you have the legal right to say such things. But it is just silly.

    From your viewpoint, that may be. From mine, not so much. I could say that YOUR beliefs are just “silly” as well. Both of use our current beliefs (and each of us believe the other is wrong) as our basis for that statement. Again, stalemate.

    Everything I read in the Bible screams that Christ is interested in what we do with the truth that we have moreso than militant religosity.

    Is Christ interested in our lives, in what we do with truth? Yes, absolutely. Does Christ command us in Scripture to tell others about what we believe the truth is? Yes, absolutely. If others view that as “militant religiosity”, so be it.

  64. faithoffathers permalink
    May 8, 2009 12:44 am

    Brad,

    One of my points (one of many in my long, painful post) is that based on your own theology, Mormons should be considere saved just like your precious self. It is inconsistent to say otherwise.

    Do you not believe that to be saved a person must believe in Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world and the only means of salvation? If yes, than LDS are saved. But it doesn’t work that way I hear. What I am saying is that the reason it doesn’t work from EVs perspective is basically man-made manipulation and boundary formation.

    Not only does a person have to accept Christ as the Savior of the world- a person must also not disagree with EVs’ ontological definition of the Trinity- and whatever other arbitrary constructs they come up with. To me, it ends up sounding a lot more like the Pharisee’s claims than those of Christ Himself- qualifying and judging where everybody stands in relation to your definition of salvation- or Law.

    It is understandable, but childish.

    Thanks,

    fof

  65. Brad permalink
    May 8, 2009 12:56 pm

    One of my points (one of many in my long, painful post) is that based on your own theology, Mormons should be considere saved just like your precious self. It is inconsistent to say otherwise.

    Completely wrong – there is nothing in my theology that would consider a Mormon to be saved. I can worship a goat, whose owner named it Jesus – can I then say I worship and believe in Jesus, and am saved? Nope – same way with the Mormon contrived God – different than who I believe in.

    Do you not believe that to be saved a person must believe in Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world and the only means of salvation? If yes, than LDS are saved.

    Yes, I believe that is what is necessary for salvation. However, under that criteria, LDS aren’t saved – they worship a different Jesus, one that is NOT the same as that of the Bible. You knew this was where the conversation was going, FOF, and I’m fine with that. I believe it, and won’t back down from it. You disagree with it, and look for the inclusion. It won’t happen.

    But it doesn’t work that way I hear. What I am saying is that the reason it doesn’t work from EVs perspective is basically man-made manipulation and boundary formation.

    No, it has to do with complete misinterpretation of Scripture, reliance upon human prophets and a founder who himself was not saved.

    Not only does a person have to accept Christ as the Savior of the world- a person must also not disagree with EVs’ ontological definition of the Trinity- and whatever other arbitrary constructs they come up with.

    You can call it anything you want, FOF. As I said before, it still comes down to a pissing match, where we simply believe differently, and neither will convince the other. While I don’t like that, and wish all could come to the same beliefs, I won’t give mine up so that can happen. I imagine you wouldn’t either. Problem is, we’re both not right – we can’t be.

    To me, it ends up sounding a lot more like the Pharisee’s claims than those of Christ Himself- qualifying and judging where everybody stands in relation to your definition of salvation- or Law.

    You can call it anything you want, FOF – we’re still back at the same point of a theological impasse. I don’t like it, but I accept it.

    It is understandable, but childish.

    Opinions vary.

  66. Tom permalink
    May 8, 2009 2:05 pm

    How do you know Mormons aren’t saved? How do you know Joseph Smith wasn’t saved? You don’t know our hearts and you certainly don’t know Joseph’s.

  67. Brad permalink
    May 8, 2009 5:51 pm

    I know, Tom – I’m magic like that.

  68. faithoffathers permalink
    May 9, 2009 2:37 am

    Different Jesus. Different Jesus. The holy grail of evangelical critics of Christ’s own church.

    Brad, with all due respect, I do not seek your “inclusion” or anybody elses. I respectfully ask that those outside the LDS faith allow those in the faith to speak for themselves. I ask that people who consider themselves Christians not bare false witness against LDS. You can call that inclusion or whatever you want. But you do not stand at the door of Christianity authorizing who will enter. I don’t attempt to asurp that role from Christ. Hope you don’t either.

    fof

  69. May 9, 2009 10:14 am

    “Not only does a person have to accept Christ as the Savior of the world- a person must also not disagree with EVs’ ontological definition of the Trinity- and whatever other arbitrary constructs they come up with. To me, it ends up sounding a lot more like the Pharisee’s claims than those of Christ Himself- qualifying and judging where everybody stands in relation to your definition of salvation- or Law. It is understandable, but childish.”

    FOF,

    I understand where you are coming from but very much disagree with your conclusions. Having seen both sides of the fence (former LDS now Christian), I am of the opinion the LDS Christ is not the Christ of the Bible. You may consider that childish but allow me to point out I think it is no more childish than the LDS assertion no one but those who accept the LDS Gospel including Baptism and Gift of the Holy Ghost (either in this life or vicariously in the spirit world) will be in the Father’s presence in the afterlife (The Celestial Kingdom).

    Darrell

  70. May 9, 2009 11:35 am

    Darrell,
    While it may or may not be childish, our approach offers salvation to a lot more people than your approach does (unless, of course, you are Lutheran; in which case we’re all saved, right?) If nothing else, our understanding of God indicates that he actually cares about all of His children, not just some portion thereof.

  71. May 9, 2009 7:48 pm

    “…our approach offers salvation to a lot more people than your approach does…”

    Think about what God has done in the past… killing all the first born in Egypt who did not put a mark on their doorpost, commanding the Israelites to slay thousands of people, etc. Don’t forget about God’s wrath. Any picture, image or belief in God which doesn’t take into account His wrath is incomplete.

    If you are looking for a notion of God and Salvation that “tickles your ears” and completely disregards the teachings of The Bible on several counts then you can easily make God in your own image as JS and the LDS Church has done. It might make you feel good… but it is not true.

    Darrell

  72. faithoffathers permalink
    May 9, 2009 7:56 pm

    Is it possible for God to have a lesser version of justice, mercy, and fairness than man’s? I am not saying we have to understand everything. But in the end, when all things are made known, shouldn’t God’s justice and mercy be more perfect than man’s.

    I have often thought that the LDS version of God is so much more reasonable, merciful, just and sensible than what He is made out to be by some. The restored Gospel provides context to make sense of those times in the Bible when God seems cruel to some readers.

    No other church I know of can explain how God handles people who never had a chance to accept Christ. If they are thrust into burning flames, then I can imagine a more mercify and just God than God. And I don’t think that should be possible.

    fof

  73. May 9, 2009 9:38 pm

    “If they are thrust into burning flames, then I can imagine a more mercify and just God than God.”

    First, the key word there is “if”… the LDS Church is not alone in teaching there is a chance for those who never hear the name of Jesus. IMO, nature testifies of God and God will reward those who turn to Him based upon what they see in nature (what we call “General Revelation). Romans Chapter 1 says “God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – HAVE BEEN CLEARLY SEEN, BEING UNDERSTOOD FROM WHAT HAS BEEN MADE, SO THAT MEN ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE.” All of nature cries out there is a God. I believe God will reward those who turn to Him based upon how they react to General Revelation. Now, mark my words, God has commanded us to spread the word so I will not hesitate to share the Gospel because I do not want to risk someone’s eternal salvation to this.

    Second, even if it is the case, please bear in mind “My ways are not your ways” and “My thoughts are not your thoughts”. I do not mean this to sound mean but think about it… just because a man thinks something is unjust does not necessarily make it so. Who is the ultimate determiner of what is just and unjust? Man of God? Who is man to council God by saying “so and so” deserves “such and such”. That is the clay counciling the potter.

    Have you read Romans Chapter 9? Sounds like God was pretty cruel (at least by your standards) with Caeser… He raised him up and hardened his heart ON PURPOSE. In addition, Romans Chapter 1 lays it out pretty clear that ALL are unjust. So, why does ANYONE deserve anything more than eternal hell? I know I for one definately deserve it. All glory be to my God for saving me.

    Darrell

  74. faithoffathers permalink
    May 9, 2009 10:39 pm

    Darrell,

    Do you think it just to condemn a soul for not accepting Christ when he or she never had a chance?

    fof

  75. May 10, 2009 12:49 am

    FOF,

    You are completely missing the point… it doesn’t matter what you or I think is just. We are imperfect, finite beings with limited capacity to understand. God is INFINITE in His understanding. In addition, what is JUST is DEFINED AS what God decides. He does not have a set of rules He must obey… He creates the rules. Whatever He decides is what is just.

    Again, I ask you, think about what God has done in the past. Killing all the firstborn in Egypt… those “innocent” babies in Egypt (BY OUR STANDARDS NOT BY GOD’S). Would you by your limited understanding say that is just? How about poor Pharoh (I said Ceaser in my last comment… my mistake) when God created him and hardened his heart. Was that just? If not, are you going to council God and tell Him He is wrong? Or, would it be better to take a step back, realize He is in control and not try to create a God after our own image and understanding of what is just.

    If you want a religion that really conforms to man’s understanding of justice there are religions out there even better than Mormonism… New Age stuff comes to mind. If however, you are wanting a faith which is concerned solely with what is true and not “tickling the ears” I submit Biblical Christianity is the way to go.

    Darrell

  76. May 10, 2009 4:12 am

    Darrell,
    quite frankly, who are you to speak for God? Why should I adopt your interpretation of Biblical passages over anyone else’s?

  77. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 4:21 pm

    Different Jesus. Different Jesus. The holy grail of evangelical critics of Christ’s own church.

    Just b/c you don’t agree with it, doesn’t make it untrue. It means you don’t believe a difference that many people see to be true, even if you don’t. I’m not looking for your approval of the difference – I’m telling you about the difference I see.

    Brad, with all due respect, I do not seek your “inclusion” or anybody elses.

    That’s good, b/c I’m not offering inclusion. I could care less about inclusion.

    I respectfully ask that those outside the LDS faith allow those in the faith to speak for themselves. I ask that people who consider themselves Christians not bare false witness against LDS.

    I’m not bearing false witness, and will continue to say what I say, including about LDS, b/c I know it is true. You are free to disagree. “You’re lying about us” – the holy grail of the LDS.

    You can call that inclusion or whatever you want. But you do not stand at the door of Christianity authorizing who will enter. I don’t attempt to asurp that role from Christ. Hope you don’t either.

    Gee, I never said I did stand at that door.

  78. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 4:26 pm

    While it may or may not be childish, our approach offers salvation to a lot more people than your approach does (unless, of course, you are Lutheran; in which case we’re all saved, right?) If nothing else, our understanding of God indicates that he actually cares about all of His children, not just some portion thereof.

    What a ridiculous line of thinking – b/c your “approach” (meaning we agree there are different approaches, which inherently implies there are 2 different Jesus we are talking about, unless, of course, you say that the same Jesus offered 2 completely different “approaches”) offers salvation to more people, it’s right? Hogwash. But that’s exactly the appeal it has, and probably the appeal it had to JS. If you don’t like what you hear, create something you do like, and go with that. Also known as the “head in the sand” approach.

    Completely ignores God’s judgment, and the numerous Scriptures that deal with the fact that all will NOT have salvation.

  79. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 4:29 pm

    Do you think it just to condemn a soul for not accepting Christ when he or she never had a chance?

    This question only works, of course, if you operate under the premise that there are those who’ve never had a “chance” for God’s salvation.

    Why do you think those people exist, when Romans 1 makes it clear they don’t?

  80. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 4:31 pm

    quite frankly, who are you to speak for God? Why should I adopt your interpretation of Biblical passages over anyone else’s?

    John C., who are YOU to speak for Him? Why should we adopt YOUR interpretation, or Joseph Smith’s interpretation, for that matter, of Biblical passages over anyone else’s? B/c that’s the opposite side of the argument, isn’t it, that the interpretations YOU use are correct? Why is that – how do you know??

  81. faithoffathers permalink
    May 11, 2009 4:36 pm

    Brad,

    So do you think every soul who has lived on the earth has had the opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ? That would be an amazing claim.

    fof

  82. May 11, 2009 4:50 pm

    I think the “different Jesus” argument is a load of crap and I’m embarrassed for my fellow evangelical Christians every time I hear it.

  83. May 11, 2009 5:23 pm

    Brad,
    Dude. I’m just an internet nuisance. Of course you don’t have to find what I say authoritative (or interesting, for that matter). My point was that Darrell is just as much of an internet nuisance as I am. When he says, basically, “Mormonism is wrong and I am right” but doesn’t provided definitive proof one way or the other, then I get to ask him why I should value his ideas and notions above my own.

    Now, as to why you should value my ideas above your own, it’s because, generally speaking, I’m nicer and prettier than you. Also a better dancer. So you know.

  84. May 11, 2009 5:25 pm

    Shoot, Brad. I missed the other comment. I prefer my approach because it doesn’t turn me into a Zoramite. Have fun on your Rameumptom, brother.

  85. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 5:33 pm

    So do you think every soul who has lived on the earth has had the opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ? That would be an amazing claim.

    I believe every person who has ever lived has had the opportunity for God’s salvation. Absolutely.

  86. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 5:35 pm

    I think the “different Jesus” argument is a load of crap and I’m embarrassed for my fellow evangelical Christians every time I hear it.

    While your criticism of that position doesn’t bother me, I’d be curious of 2 questions:

    1) Do you believe Christians and Mormons worship the same Jesus?

    2) Why or why not?

  87. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 5:37 pm

    Dude. I’m just an internet nuisance. Of course you don’t have to find what I say authoritative (or interesting, for that matter). My point was that Darrell is just as much of an internet nuisance as I am. When he says, basically, “Mormonism is wrong and I am right” but doesn’t provided definitive proof one way or the other, then I get to ask him why I should value his ideas and notions above my own.

    It’s all in the word “definitive”. I believe that Christianity has definitive proof it is correct, and Mormonism isn’t. Mormons would believe they have definitive proof that Mormonism is correct, and Christianity isn’t. Square one.

    Now, as to why you should value my ideas above your own, it’s because, generally speaking, I’m nicer and prettier than you. Also a better dancer. So you know.

    You are correct about the better dancer part.

  88. May 11, 2009 6:04 pm

    Brad,
    I believe that I have definitive proof that Mormonism is correct for me. I also believe that it is the most correct religion on earth (for whatever value of correct that makes sense with). That said, I don’t have a problem with you being an Evangelical and I believe that you can commune with God as an Evangelical. I do believe that some strains of Evangelicalism tend to lead folk away from rather than to God, but I believe that there are some strains of Mormonism that do the same. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that some such ideas flourish within Mormonism and that I am likely as prone to them as anyone.

    As to the definitive proof, it is revelatory in nature. I believe that God chose me to be a Mormon. I don’t expect other people to get that (or even to necessarily believe it), but it is the best way for me to describe my experience with God.

  89. faithoffathers permalink
    May 11, 2009 6:52 pm

    Brad,

    You said:

    “I believe every person who has ever lived has had the opportunity for God’s salvation. Absolutely.”

    I’m stunned. Do you think everybody who has lived on the earth has been taught of Jesus Christ? If not, then are you saying one does not have to hear about and accept Jesus Christ to receive “God’s salvation?”

    There have likely been billions of people who lived on the earth and never heard of Christ.

    Brad, please explain how this works.

    fof

  90. May 11, 2009 7:35 pm

    Brad ~ Do you believe Christians and Mormons worship the same Jesus?

    Absolutely. Both groups worship Jesus of Nazareth who was born in Bethlehem sometime around 4 BC and died at Golgotha outside Jerusalem around 33 AD. Both groups maintain that same historical figure rose from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven.

    Why or why not?

    Because there’s only ever been one Jesus of Nazareth to worship.

  91. Tom permalink
    May 11, 2009 7:47 pm

    *Pops popcorn and takes a seat”

    This thread is awesome.

  92. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 8:12 pm

    I’m stunned. Do you think everybody who has lived on the earth has been taught of Jesus Christ? If not, then are you saying one does not have to hear about and accept Jesus Christ to receive “God’s salvation?”

    There have likely been billions of people who lived on the earth and never heard of Christ.

    Brad, please explain how this works.

    Is there something magical in saying the name “Jesus” that saves? Does everyone who utters that name automatically gain eternal salvation? No. Further, how did the OT saints receive salvation? Through believing in Jesus Christ – who at that point, wasn’t born yet on Earth, and certainly didn’t have the earthly name “Jesus” yet? Clearly not, else nobody BEFORE the time of Jesus could have been saved right? Yet, the OT saints DID receive salvation – how was that?

    Through faith – not in the person they had to have physically met or heard of, but in God, who said He would send a Savior. Everything in the OT looks forward to the cross – everything in the NT looks back to it.

    As has been said, Romans 1 speaks clearly of the fact that all are without excuse, as the general revelation speaks clearly of the fact that God exists. And he who seeks (in this sense, who follows the general revelation and asks for more knowledge), will find.

    Of course, a DIFFERENT understanding of God, Jesus and salvation will, of course, lead you to a different answer than this. So I don’t expect you to believe to nor embrace it, since you hold to a DIFFERENT understanding of God, Jesus and salvation.

  93. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 8:14 pm

    Absolutely. Both groups worship Jesus of Nazareth who was born in Bethlehem sometime around 4 BC and died at Golgotha outside Jerusalem around 33 AD. Both groups maintain that same historical figure rose from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven.

    Do you believe each group ascribes the same basic attributes to Jesus? If so, how do you explain the differences? If not, how do you say they’re the same?

    Because there’s only ever been one Jesus of Nazareth to worship.

    Would you agree that the Jesus, as described throughout the Bible, both implicitly and explicitly, is the ONLY Jesus that has EVER lived, and that unless you believe in THAT Jesus, you don’t believe in the same one?

  94. May 11, 2009 8:53 pm

    Brad ~ Do you believe each group ascribes the same basic attributes to Jesus?

    Depends on how you define “basic attributes,” but I think the case can be made that they don’t.

    If not, how do you say they’re the same?

    I say Mormons believe different things about Jesus. This “different Jesus” business is rhetorical nonsense that needs to die.

    Let me illustrate. If I believe Barack Obama was born outside the country and is therefore not a US Citizen and his Presidency is an illegitimate one, and you believe he was born in Hawaii just as he says and is a valid US Citizen and President, well that sure sounds like we disagree on his “basic attributes,” but that doesn’t mean we believe in two different Barack Obamas. If you went around ranting about how we believe in different Barack Obamas, people would tell you that you’re nuts. We’re both talking about the same man sitting in the same Oval Office, even if we’re coming to very different conclusions about him.

    (Disclaimer: I do not believe Barack Obama is a non-citizen or anything of the sort.)

    Would you agree that the Jesus, as described throughout the Bible, both implicitly and explicitly, is the ONLY Jesus that has EVER lived,

    Yes.

    and that unless you believe in THAT Jesus, you don’t believe in the same one?

    No. A person could:

    (a) disagree with my interpretation of what the Bible says about Jesus
    (b) reject some or most of what the Bible says about Jesus
    (c) think that what the Bible says about Jesus paints an incomplete picture

    and still believe in the same Jesus. I think most Mormons would contend their disagreements with historic Christianity come down to (a), with a large helping of (c) and an occasional spattering of (b). They do believe that the Jesus described in the Bible is the only Jesus who has ever lived; they just disagree with how most of Christianity has interpreted what the Bible says about Jesus and believe that important details about His life and person were lost.

  95. Brad permalink
    May 11, 2009 9:34 pm

    Depends on how you define “basic attributes,” but I think the case can be made that they don’t.

    You’re right, “basic attributes” would have to be defined. By that, I don’t mean place of birth, height, weight, eye color, etc… I mean the spiritual attributes assigned. Is Jesus God, and the Son of God? Created, or eternal? Body and spirit, or just one? Omniscient? Omnipotent? The ONLY God? These are the “basic attributes” of which I’m speaking – and yes, I think a case can most definitely be made that Mormons DON’T believe the same basic attributes as Christians.

    I say Mormons believe different things about Jesus. This “different Jesus” business is rhetorical nonsense that needs to die.

    Here’s where what you call “rhetorical nonsense” is what I call a big deal. If we don’t agree on the same “basic attributes”, then the Jesus we each talk about is not the same – He can’t be, for we speak of a Jesus that is, in some cases, vastly different than the other party.

    Let me illustrate. If I believe Barack Obama was born outside the country and is therefore not a US Citizen and his Presidency is an illegitimate one, and you believe he was born in Hawaii just as he says and is a valid US Citizen and President, well that sure sounds like we disagree on his “basic attributes,” but that doesn’t mean we believe in two different Barack Obamas. If you went around ranting about how we believe in different Barack Obamas, people would tell you that you’re nuts. We’re both talking about the same man sitting in the same Oval Office, even if we’re coming to very different conclusions about him.

    I think a lot depends on how you define “different”, as well as the “basic attributes.” If I believe in Jesus as fully God, yet fully man, who has never set that aside, saves by His grace alone, was never created, and has always existed co-eternally as 2nd person of the Trinity, and I find a Mormon who, although they believe that Jesus was born in Nazareth, does not believe those things about Jesus at all, then I believe we’re talking about a “different” Jesus, b/c the most basic attributes – who Jesus is at His very being – are different. While you might say I am influenced by my EV point of view, I would also probably say you have been heavily influenced by a Mormon husband and Mormon university.

    A person could:

    (a) disagree with my interpretation of what the Bible says about Jesus

    Of course, at that point, since you’ve already said that the Jesus as depicted, explicitly and implicitly, in the Bible is the ONLY Jesus that’s ever lived, 2 people with alternate interpretations of verses that describe Jesus’ nature or attributes CANNOT both be right. There’s no room to say that Jesus has different attributes for different people, or that the attributes change. He either is, or He isn’t – there’s no in between. Now the argument is usually then made that it’s JUST an interpretation, and who is anyone to say who’s is right? That then, assumes that truth isn’t knowable, that we cannot come to the correct interpretation. If that’s the case, throw the Bible out now, b/c it would all just be a crap shoot if that were true.

    They do believe that the Jesus described in the Bible is the only Jesus who has ever lived; they just disagree with how most of Christianity has interpreted what the Bible says about Jesus and believe that important details about His life and person were lost.

    And while you may not see that as a big problem, I see that as the biggest problem there is.

  96. Tom permalink
    May 11, 2009 9:58 pm

    Jack, I’d say for me it’s A and C.

    Brad, you may see it as a problem but we’re then arguing about interpretation and the completeness of the Bible, not the divinity of Jesus or His saving grace.

    The way I see it, what you’re really saying is it’s a problem that I disagree with you. That has nothing to do with Jesus. I don’t ask you to accept my interpretation of the Bible, but I won’t tolerate people running around telling me I believe in the wrong Jesus or that I’m damned because I was born again under somebody other than the true Jesus of Nazareth. It’s absolute baloney because there’s only one Jesus of Nazareth, who is God and has power to save whoever believes in Him.

    I’ve been born again, and although I may have some misconceptions about the doctrine in the Bible, don’t we all? Why would I be damned for getting some things wrong if it truly is only through grace that I’m saved? Who among us can perfectly interpret God’s word? It’s not theology that saves – just our relationship with Jesus Christ.

  97. May 11, 2009 10:30 pm

    “…because there’s only one Jesus of Nazareth…”

    I don’t believe Brad is claiming (correct me if I am wrong Brad) there are multiple Jesus’s who have existed. Rather, he is saying there are people who preach FALSE Jesus’s… which really is no Jesus at all. To be exact Paul talked about this possibility in 2 Cor 11:4.

    “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”

    In order to determine if a person is preaching the true Jesus of The Bible their attributes must be compared with those taught in The Bible. When you begin throwing out certain attributes saying they don’t matter you have started down a dangerous path. For then the question becomes where do you draw the line? As Brad said, to assume the attributes are just interpretations is to assume truth is unknowable and doesn’t matter. If that is the case, you may was well throw the whole Bible out and leave it all up to chance. Then I could just pick up a rock, call it The Jesus of Nazareth as taught in The Bible, worship it and say I am saved.

    Darrell

  98. Tom permalink
    May 11, 2009 10:40 pm

    OK, but I’m not picking up a rock. I’m picking up the Bible and striving to follow the Jesus described therein. I have received Christ’s grace and I have been saved. So I am quite comfortable with where I am at theologically.

  99. May 11, 2009 10:53 pm

    Brad ~ If we don’t agree on the same “basic attributes”, then the Jesus we each talk about is not the same – He can’t be, for we speak of a Jesus that is, in some cases, vastly different than the other party.

    So are you saying you think two different men named Jesus were born in Bethlehem around 4 BC, grew up in Nazareth, and died at Golgotha around 33 AD? If not, sorry, but there’s no such thing a “different Jesus.” We’re simply attributing different things to the same historical figure. The “different Jesus” only exists in rhetoric. And yes, 2 Cor. 11:4 is just that: rhetoric.

    While you might say I am influenced by my EV point of view, I would also probably say you have been heavily influenced by a Mormon husband and Mormon university.

    Ad hominem, Brad. I don’t care what your influences are and you shouldn’t care about mine. All I care about is your position as articulated on this thread and I expect you to do the same for me.

    2 people with alternate interpretations of verses that describe Jesus’ nature or attributes CANNOT both be right.

    Of course. But that’s why we need to engage Mormons on why their interpretations of the Bible are incorrect. Leave the offensive and puerile rhetorical diversions about “different Jesuses” in the kiddie pool where they belong.

    And while you may not see that as a big problem, I see that as the biggest problem there is.

    I never said that I don’t see Mormonism’s teachings on who Christ is as a “big problem.” However, the bigger problem, in my book, is evangelical Christianity’s failure to engage the depth of the topic for what it is. We hide behind our dichotomous assertions (“Mormonism is a cult,” “Mormons aren’t Christians,” “Mormons believe in a different Jesus”) which, in addition to offending Latter-day Saints and shutting off dialogue, oversimplify the subject matter and excuse us from serious interaction with the issues. We accuse Mormons of turning off their brains and just trusting their feelings when we’re the ones who are so complacent about our course that we won’t open our eyes and consider how ineffectual and pathetic our campaign against Mormonism has been, how maybe it’s time to re-think our approach.

    I’m not trying to get Mormonism accepted within orthodox Christianity as it is, I’m just trying to get evangelicals who interact with Mormons to quit acting like Stepford Christians, parroting the programming and proof-texts of the counter-cult ministry without thinking. And this “different Jesus” nonsense? Well, that’s just so Stepford.

    Darrell ~ When you begin throwing out certain attributes saying they don’t matter you have started down a dangerous path. … As Brad said, to assume the attributes are just interpretations is to assume truth is unknowable and doesn’t matter.

    Not my position. See my latest reply to Brad.

  100. May 11, 2009 11:20 pm

    “2 people with alternate interpretations of verses that describe Jesus’ nature or attributes CANNOT both be right. ”

    No but they can both be wrong or incomplete. I would argue that this is what we are in fact dealing with (the incomplete part, I mean) in our various denominations. The issue here is that you think you are right, but you refuse to justify that stance, to offer some reason why I ought to prefer your stance to another. I told you (on this thread or another) why I think my interpretation is better (it gives you a loving god who is actually a loving god). You’ve yet to give me a single reason to prefer yours.

  101. May 12, 2009 12:05 am

    “We hide behind our dichotomous assertions (”Mormonism is a cult,” “Mormons aren’t Christians,” “Mormons believe in a different Jesus”) which, in addition to offending Latter-day Saints and shutting off dialogue, oversimplify the subject matter and excuse us from serious interaction with the issues.”

    I am curious about your position on this…

    Do you believe Mormons (those who believe in the Mormon Version of Christ) are saved?

    Darrell

  102. May 12, 2009 12:20 am

    I’ve answered that question on my blog, Darrell. The short answer is, I believe it’s possible that some of them are saved. It’s really for God to judge, not me.

  103. May 12, 2009 1:37 am

    Thank you for the link. I read it and found one comment interesting. You said…

    “I still think it’s vital to teach Mormons and other Christians why LDS theology is false, and I maintain that LDS theology is a distortion of the gospel that can lead a soul to hell.”

    I agree with you that it is really up to God to judge who enters Heaven not us. That being said if you truly believe LDS theology is a distortion which can lead a soul to hell, don’t you believe we have an obligation to say as much? One of the greatest distortions in LDS theology is the nature of Jesus Christ. Believing He, the One and Only True God, is a spiritually born being of another God is utterly false and IMO leads to many of the other errors of Mormonism. I have always found it interesting how everything in a religion starts with who God is. If you get God wrong everything that follows will likely be wrong in some for or fashion as well.

    I personally believe it would be unloving of me to avoid telling someone this in order to avoid offending them. In addition, I would never risk someone’s salvation to the POSSIBILITY they might be saved while worshipping a drastic distortion of the Jesus Christ of The Bible. As I mentioned earlier, Paul himself mentioned about “different Jesus’s” being preached. So I think it is wrong to say that since only one Christ really existed it is not possible for someone to be worshipping a false Christ. Was Paul wrong in his characterization?

    Now, I will agree we need to be careful with how we share this message. We need to do everything within our power to share it in a loving, kind and gentle manner. Personally, I could do better in this area. I spent quite a bit of time in prayer last night about this. Sometimes when I coverse with people on-line, especially when people personally attack me, I can become short tempered and irritable and in turn lash out. Nevertheless, I have an obligation to share the truth in love… to do anything less, while it might appear more loving in the here and now, would be the height of being unloving.

    Darrell

  104. faithoffathers permalink
    May 12, 2009 1:52 am

    Brad,

    Not everybody has heard of Christ. Do we both agree?

    If a person has not heard of Christ, that person has not accepted Christ?

    Do you not maintain that a person must accept Christ and believe in Him to be saved?

    Your answers are not adding up my friend.

    If what you are saying is correct, a person does not have to accept Christ to be saved.

    I find it interesting that you would suggest that a person who simply trusts God and believes Him without knowing of Christ can be saved. Yet LDS who dedicate their lives to Christ are not saved.

    This is an extremely important point here that you really seem to be dodging, no offense.

    fof

  105. May 12, 2009 1:59 am

    Darrell,
    I will agree that LDS theology can lead someone to hell if you will agree that Evangelical theology can do the same. With that, let’s all do what we can to avoid that outcome.

  106. May 12, 2009 2:48 am

    Darrell ~ That being said if you truly believe LDS theology is a distortion which can lead a soul to hell, don’t you believe we have an obligation to say as much?

    I do say as much. That’s kind of why it’s on my blog.

    As I mentioned earlier, Paul himself mentioned about “different Jesus’s” being preached. So I think it is wrong to say that since only one Christ really existed it is not possible for someone to be worshipping a false Christ. Was Paul wrong in his characterization?

    Two problems with that use of 2 Cor. 11:4:

    (1) The text doesn’t actually say what Paul was condemning when he rebuked these people for proclaiming a “different Jesus.” It’s nice to think he was condemning people who were preaching different essential attributes about the historic person Jesus of Nazareth, but the text just doesn’t say that. Different Jewish sects throughout history have literally proclaimed other men to be the Messiah. He may have been rebuking an actual, historical false Messiah, and that’s just one of many possibilities I can think of. He may have been rebuking them for preaching false things about what Jesus taught which had nothing to do with His essential nature. We don’t know.

    (2) Mormons know that they preach a “different gospel.” Most of them aren’t nearly as offended by the implication that they preach a different gospel than by the “different Jesus” label. The question isn’t, do they preach a different gospel, it’s whose gospel is correct?

    My solution is to cut out the middle man. Let’s quit talking about who has the correct Jesus and the correct gospel and get down to why our theology is correct, what its merits are, and to what extent Mormonism is different from it.

    I’m not saying that there’s never a time where Christians need to say, “These people are teaching a different Jesus.” I can even think of examples within the evangelical community where I would say that about certain preachers and speakers, and it isn’t because they deny the Trinity or anything about the essential nature of Christ. But my experience with Mormonism is that the “different Jesus” assertion does little more than offend them, and has too often been tossed out in lieu of explaining why our interpretations of the Bible are the correct ones.

    John ~ I will agree that LDS theology can lead someone to hell if you will agree that Evangelical theology can do the same.

    Darrell is merely quoting me, so I’m the one who will take responsibility for that statement. I don’t think the opposite question is to ask, “Can evangelical theology lead a soul to hell,” I think the counter-question is, “Can evangelical theology lead a soul to one of the lesser kingdoms and cause them to miss out on exaltation.” The answer should be a resounding “of course;” in fact I’ve heard Mormons very directly state that they think the evangelical version of heaven sounds an awful lot like the terrestrial kingdom. The point is, we each teach that the other’s theology is potentially insufficient for true salvation.

    I think it’s just one of those necessary disagreements between our faiths and shouldn’t be offensive.

  107. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 2:05 pm

    So are you saying you think two different men named Jesus were born in Bethlehem around 4 BC, grew up in Nazareth, and died at Golgotha around 33 AD? If not, sorry, but there’s no such thing a “different Jesus.” We’re simply attributing different things to the same historical figure. The “different Jesus” only exists in rhetoric. And yes, 2 Cor. 11:4 is just that: rhetoric.

    No, I don’t believe there were 2 different people that pertain to the facts you state above – but I’ve also defined “basic attributes”, which you said we needed to do, and none of the above qualified as a “basic attribute” under how I defined it. This is geography and history, not the essence of Jesus. Big difference. Further, it’s really too bad to hear you call it all “rhetoric” – it’s important, and what arguments like yours do is give the Mormons ground to say “see, we’re more alike than you think, look at other EV’s who don’t think like that.” It starts smacking of a watered-down version of the truth, meant more to NOT offend than to be accurate. I’ll not do that.

    Ad hominem, Brad. I don’t care what your influences are and you shouldn’t care about mine. All I care about is your position as articulated on this thread and I expect you to do the same for me.

    Not at all. Influences have a great effect on what we believe. Your position (and mine) on this thread are both the results of “influences” we’ve had in our lives, and sometimes the influences can override truth. To not give them creedence is silly.

    Of course. But that’s why we need to engage Mormons on why their interpretations of the Bible are incorrect. Leave the offensive and puerile rhetorical diversions about “different Jesuses” in the kiddie pool where they belong.

    Sorry to hear that you think the differences (as great as they are) we have in our beliefs about Jesus are for the “kiddie pool.” Nothing could be further than the truth. And further, I’ve found that when you attempt to engage Mormons in honest dialogue, especially online, issues like this inherently come up, b/c we end up talking – surprise, surprise – about the nature of God, b/c everything flows from a proper understanding of that concept. No matter how much you, or anyone, might want to not talk about it, it will always be there. It has to be – it’s the reason why we have differences.

    I never said that I don’t see Mormonism’s teachings on who Christ is as a “big problem.” However, the bigger problem, in my book, is evangelical Christianity’s failure to engage the depth of the topic for what it is.

    And as I said above, our ability to “engage” Mormons on this is contingent on the Mormon’s willingness to “engage” in like fashion. Many of them, including most I’ve met online, don’t want to. Each party brings pre-conceived notions to the table, and unless we can talk about those BEFORE we discuss the issues, we’ll always be at an impasse, b/c it’s those very notions that drive us to interpret and reason from a certain point of view.

    We hide behind our dichotomous assertions (”Mormonism is a cult,” “Mormons aren’t Christians,” “Mormons believe in a different Jesus”) which, in addition to offending Latter-day Saints and shutting off dialogue, oversimplify the subject matter and excuse us from serious interaction with the issues.

    Sometimes people get so worried about “offending”, that we are afraid to speak the truth. Now personally, I’ve never had a Mormon do that – I’ve always seen them say what they wish. And honestly, no matter what they said, it wouldn’t offend me, b/c I’m just not like that. However, I will see them get up in arms about being offended, and I will see EV’s do the same, when talk turns tough about salvation and eternal destination. Who wants to hear that they might be going to hell, right, even if they don’t believe it? Getting into the “serious subject matter” is always fine, but when doing so, I’ll never mince words or skirt around the truth. I’ll say it as nice as I can, but I firmly believe the Mormons are lost, firmly believe they are heading for an eternal hell, and the WORST thing I can do is NOT tell them! Is there truly a “nice” way to tell them that? Perhaps not, especially from their perspective – but that shouldn’t stop it from happening.

    We accuse Mormons of turning off their brains and just trusting their feelings when we’re the ones who are so complacent about our course that we won’t open our eyes and consider how ineffectual and pathetic our campaign against Mormonism has been, how maybe it’s time to re-think our approach.

    I’m always open to a different approach, but never at the expense of controverting the truth, or flat out ignoring what I feel I need to say. Never.

    I’m not trying to get Mormonism accepted within orthodox Christianity as it is, I’m just trying to get evangelicals who interact with Mormons to quit acting like Stepford Christians, parroting the programming and proof-texts of the counter-cult ministry without thinking. And this “different Jesus” nonsense? Well, that’s just so Stepford.

    Now you’re making sweeping assertions and assumptions about how the interactions take place – impossible to do with certainty. Frankly, I’m tired of the “Stepford” Mormon act myself, but I don’t care if it’s used or not – doesn’t change the issues.

    Further, since you seem to dislike so much of what DOES happen, how do YOU want the conversations to happen?

  108. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 2:18 pm

    No but they can both be wrong or incomplete. I would argue that this is what we are in fact dealing with (the incomplete part, I mean) in our various denominations. The issue here is that you think you are right, but you refuse to justify that stance, to offer some reason why I ought to prefer your stance to another. I told you (on this thread or another) why I think my interpretation is better (it gives you a loving god who is actually a loving god). You’ve yet to give me a single reason to prefer yours.

    John, as I know you’ve seen on other blogs, the point of “whose interpretation is right” has been argued many times. It will never be fully decided this side of heaven – generally, we’re not inclined to believe something we don’t already believe. To say that I, or anyone, has “refused to justify” our stance is just wrong – it’s been done on other blogs many times before, by many different people, both Mormons and Christians. However, you could give all your justifications for why you believe what you do, as could I, and at the end of the day, neither of us will convince the other. The good thing, as I often say, is that it’s not my job to convince, only to tell. The Holy Spirit is responsible for conversion, albeit He usually works through others to accomplish that. But I personally am not held accountable for whether anyone comes to Christ or not – I’m only held accountable for telling. You can say that your interpretation allows for a more “loving” God – I would disagree. But then, you expected that, right? It’s a no-win situation, my friend.

  109. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 2:36 pm

    Not everybody has heard of Christ. Do we both agree?

    It’s not that easy to answer, FOF. I don’t know – I couldn’t know – what all people have heard of, so it’s impossible to say. Further, I don’t know what God has revealed to each, so I can’t say from that perspective, either. While I would say that it is probably likely that some may not have heard the NAME of Christ, I would say that all have had general revelation of God, as Romans 1 makes clear.

    If a person has not heard of Christ, that person has not accepted Christ?

    I would think you’re premise would be true, but we are trying to answer questions that can’t be answered, b/c we don’t have perfect knowledge. I don’t know what God has revealed to all people everywhere, especially if they’ve sought Him further, even though I do know that all people have general revelation of God.

    Do you not maintain that a person must accept Christ and believe in Him to be saved?

    Yes, I would say that is true, according to what the Bible has said. However, keep in mind that the OT saints were “saved”, and they didn’t yet know the NAME of Christ, b/c it hadn’t even been revealed yet. They did, however, trust and have faith in God for the coming promise, and that faith was the basis for their salvation. I don’t think it would work any different for anyone in deepest darkest Africa, which is where you’re going with this.

    Your answers are not adding up my friend.

    I would disagree, but I assume you expected that, right? I would say you have the wrong perspective, but you would disagree, right?

    If what you are saying is correct, a person does not have to accept Christ to be saved.

    We know they do, b/c of the Bible. We also know the OT saints were saved, b/c of the Bible. Therefore, they must fit together. How do they fit together, FOF? You think it’s causing a problem – I think they fit together. Faith in God.

    I find it interesting that you would suggest that a person who simply trusts God and believes Him without knowing of Christ can be saved. Yet LDS who dedicate their lives to Christ are not saved.

    OT saints addresses your first comment. The fact that I do not believe we are trusting in the same God (which is currently being debated) addresses the 2nd.

    This is an extremely important point here that you really seem to be dodging, no offense.

    I haven’t dodged it – I’ve answered all your questions. You may not like the answers, but they’ve been given. In fact, I’d answered it in a previous post when I said: “I believe every person who has ever lived has had the opportunity for God’s salvation. Absolutely.”

  110. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 2:38 pm

    I will agree that LDS theology can lead someone to hell if you will agree that Evangelical theology can do the same. With that, let’s all do what we can to avoid that outcome.

    While I don’t know Darrell’s answer for sure (though I can guess – I’m magic like that), I could never agree with this. I would agree that LDS theology can, and is, leading people to hell. I would not agree that EV theology is doing the same. Of course, the caveat would be that one must have a proper grasp of what they’re talking about, and not have been misled.

  111. May 12, 2009 3:37 pm

    Brad ~ Further, it’s really too bad to hear you call it all “rhetoric” – it’s important, and what arguments like yours do is give the Mormons ground to say “see, we’re more alike than you think, look at other EV’s who don’t think like that.”

    Mormons and evangelicals are more alike than most people think, and what arguments like mine do is give Mormons grounds to see that someone is acknowledging the intricacies of the issues instead of blindly trying to paint black-and-white dichotomies which aren’t there.

    Not at all. Influences have a great effect on what we believe. Your position (and mine) on this thread are both the results of “influences” we’ve had in our lives, and sometimes the influences can override truth. To not give them creedence is silly.

    It isn’t that my influences don’t affect my point of view, that’s a “duh.” It’s that your subjective interpretation of how my influences have affected my point of view are irrelevant to the conversation. You’ve tried to set up yet another dichotomy where you = influenced by evangelicals = good, me = influenced by Mormons = bad, just because I disagree with you and I’m not giving you the answers you want to hear, as if I don’t have plenty of evangelical influences in my life—or did you miss the fact that I was just accepted to one of the top evangelical colleges in the country? If I were going around saying “Mormonism is a cult & Mormons believe in a different Jesus!”, I’d be the darling of the counter-cult ministry and everyone would say, “She knows what she’s talking about because she was trained by Mormonism’s best, and she puts up with it every day of her life through her husband.”

    In any case, I don’t have the slightest interest in what you think of my BYU education or my marriage, so take it somewhere else.

    I’m always open to a different approach, but never at the expense of controverting the truth, or flat out ignoring what I feel I need to say.

    I’m not anti-truth, Brad, I’m anti-stupid-presentation-of-the-truth. And that’s what “ZOMG Mormons believe in a different Jesus!” is. Stupid.

  112. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 4:06 pm

    Mormons and evangelicals are more alike than most people think, and what arguments like mine do is give Mormons grounds to see that someone is acknowledging the intricacies of the issues instead of blindly trying to paint black-and-white dichotomies which aren’t there.

    They’re less alike than you think. That’s the problem with the argument you make – you attempt to draw them in, instead of clearly delineate the differences. Dangerous ground. I acknowledge the “intricacies of the issues” – but I do so without ever becoming ecumenical about it, trying to include what should rightly be excluded. The “black and white dichotomies” ARE there – I don’t believe you choose to see them.

    It isn’t that my influences don’t affect my point of view, that’s a “duh.” It’s that your subjective interpretation of how my influences have affected my point of view are irrelevant to the conversation.</b.

    Maybe, but I tend to disagree. Would you argue the same way you do had you NEVER been exposed to your influences? Impossible to answer with certainity, but I would say no. For me, I would also say no. That’s how important they are to each of our POV, and why they ARE relevant to the conversation. I don’t have a problem leaving them out, should you not want to discuss them, but to say they’re not relevant is wrong.

    You’ve tried to set up yet another dichotomy where you = influenced by evangelicals = good, me = influenced by Mormons = bad, just because I disagree with you and I’m not giving you the answers you want to hear,

    We all do that. Mormons think are right, and EVs are wrong, just b/c we disagree with them and don’t give them the answers they want to hear and think are right. No different. It’s not a dichotomy, it’s the reality we all operate in, including you.

    as if I don’t have plenty of evangelical influences in my life—or did you miss the fact that I was just accepted to one of the top evangelical colleges in the country?

    While I did know that, in and of itself what does that guarantee? Not much. Heck, Bart Ehrman is the head of the religion department at UNC. That there proves that religious schooling, while it can be beneficial, doesn’t guarantee anything.

    If I were going around saying “Mormonism is a cult & Mormons believe in a different Jesus!”, I’d be the darling of the counter-cult ministry and everyone would say, “She knows what she’s talking about because she was trained by Mormonism’s best, and she puts up with it every day of her life through her husband.”

    I’d say that if you said that, you would be correct in what you were saying.

    In any case, I don’t have the slightest interest in what you think of my BYU education or my marriage, so take it somewhere else.

    I’m just saying I suspect it has greatly influenced the way you think. I’m not hear to discuss it (clearly you are touchy about it and don’t want to), but I’ve only noted that it has had great influence.

    I’m not anti-truth, Brad, I’m anti-stupid-presentation-of-the-truth. And that’s what “ZOMG Mormons believe in a different Jesus!” is. Stupid.

    Opinions vary – I disagree with yours. I believe it’s accurate.

  113. faithoffathers permalink
    May 12, 2009 4:30 pm

    Interested to know if other evangelical people here agree with Brad that all people who have lived on earth have had a chance to receive salvation-which you would define as accepting and believing in Christ.

    Brad- from your comments, I come away with the understanding that you believe that people have had different degrees of understanding of Christ and salvation. Yet all have had the opportunity for salvation. So, this would by necessity mean that God, in some measure, has different standards of judgement for people with different levels of knowledge. Am I correct in saying this?

    Are you saying that God takes into consideration how much a person knows in His judgement of them?

    Thanks,

    fof

  114. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 4:46 pm

    Interested to know if other evangelical people here agree with Brad that all people who have lived on earth have had a chance to receive salvation-which you would define as accepting and believing in Christ.

    FOF, just be careful when you quote me, not to twist it or put words in my mouth. For the 3rd time, here’s verbatim what I said to address your overall question: “I believe every person who has ever lived has had the opportunity for God’s salvation. Absolutely.” I have expounded on it a bit in my previous answer to you, as far as what that entails and how Christ fits into that, which you are trying to jump on. That’s OK – but be sure that if you attribute something to me, you quote me correctly, both in verbage and in context.

    Brad- from your comments, I come away with the understanding that you believe that people have had different degrees of understanding of Christ and salvation. Yet all have had the opportunity for salvation. So, this would by necessity mean that God, in some measure, has different standards of judgement for people with different levels of knowledge. Am I correct in saying this?

    Impossible to expound on this shortly, but I’ll briefly sum up. We are responsible for the light we have received. General revelation has been revealed to all (Romans 1) – does that guarantee that a missionary will set foot in the African plains or the South American jungle, and physically utter the word “Jesus” to everyone who has ever lived? No, I don’t believe it does, although it could – I don’t know what has happened for sure, and God works in mysterious ways. If we know that “all men are without excuse”, then there MUST be the opportunity for them to be saved, else the Bible isn’t true. If the Bible is true, and I believe it is, then that must mean that there is a way for all men to be saved. Again, I take you back to the OT saints – did they hear the name of Jesus physically uttered to them, and become saved based upon that? No. Were they saved? Yes.

    We know that God saves through His Son Jesus’ death on the cross, and our acceptance of Him as our Savior. HOW that’s revealed to us, to what level, and to what degree, are things we just can’t answer definitively.

    Are you saying that God takes into consideration how much a person knows in His judgement of them?

    How could I possibly answer that, FOF? God’s ways are not mine. Further, I think you may be confusing the issue. There’s a difference between how much a person “knows”, as far as their knowledge of God, theology, etc…, and how much they have been “exposed to.”

  115. May 12, 2009 4:54 pm

    FoF: great questions, as usual

    I’m in the “GOD uses different standards” camp based on what kind of opportunities and knowledge a person has been given; this may not really even be a different standard so much the same standard applied different ways depending… Romans (ch. 1 ??) talks about being judged according to one’s conscience, so SOME kind of judgment will be in operation not matter what.

    My confidence is in a GOD who knows what HE is doing, and knows how to determine who belongs to HIM and who does not; if HE accepts someone who has not ‘prayed the sinner’s prayer” for reasons that HE understands much better than I, I can only celebrate…..yeah….another place setting at the banquet table; I say let HIM decide, and keep preaching the gospel in the meantime, because that certainly IS HIS will

    thanks for letting me ramble
    GERMIT

  116. psychochemiker permalink
    May 12, 2009 4:56 pm

    Brad,
    I’m having a hard time seeing how FoF has twisted any of your words. He said, “Brad’s said that everyone who has ever lived has received an opportunity for salvation.” And then you (Brad) say, “I believe every person who has ever lived has had the opportunity for God’s salvation.” I don’t see the difference.

    Please don’t accuse people of twisting your words when they’ve paraphrased you succintly, remember the story of the boy who cried wolf, you lose credibility, and sound like someone with a persecution complex.

  117. May 12, 2009 5:00 pm

    Jack wrote:

    But my experience with Mormonism is that the “different Jesus” assertion does little more than offend them, and has too often been tossed out in lieu of explaining why our interpretations of the Bible are the correct ones.

    ZING: we could make a list of “lazy ways to cut out meaningjul coversation”
    another headliner is “You know , Bob, that you’re in a cult and going straight to hell….” Both of which may very well be true, and yet a relationship/conversation killer if ever there was one.

    why must we be jerks in order to uphold truth ??
    GERMIT

    PS: and oooops, the unbelievers CAN spot a jerk without using the H.S. …..dang…..

  118. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 5:02 pm

    Psycho,

    1) I wasn’t “accusing” FOF of doing anything, I was warning him not to, as discussions such as this invariably turn to using quotes of people, so I wanted to make sure I re-quoted myself and said I did not want to be mis-quoted (not meaning I had, but that to be careful not to).

    2) Totally irrelevant to you – you were neither addressed nor included

    3) After this message posts, it will be my last to you. I simply don’t like the way you operate, which I’ve seen on other blogs, and do not wish to converse with you. You, of course, are free to write whatever you want to, or about, me – it will not be read or answered.

  119. May 12, 2009 5:04 pm

    Brad,
    You have a perfect grasp of Evangelical theology?

  120. psychochemiker permalink
    May 12, 2009 5:08 pm

    Brad,
    If you can’t defend your exaggerations, fine. I’m fine with you quitting.
    I understand that you don’t like losing in an argument, or looking like someone riding the short bus. But, I also write for the lurker, and those who google this page, so it doesn’t go un-answered. You can continue to ignore data, I expect nothing less.

  121. May 12, 2009 5:11 pm

    Brad ~ They’re less alike than you think.

    Or they’re more alike than you think. I can play that game, too.

    Maybe, but I tend to disagree. Would you argue the same way you do had you NEVER been exposed to your influences?

    I thought the “different Jesus” argument was stupid long before I attended BYU and married a Mormon, so I would say “yes.”

    While I did know that, in and of itself what does that guarantee? Not much. Heck, Bart Ehrman is the head of the religion department at UNC. That there proves that religious schooling, while it can be beneficial, doesn’t guarantee anything.

    You’re correct: religious schooling has no guarantees on how a person’s religious views will turn out. Now you see why your mention of my BYU education is irrelevant. It isn’t that it hasn’t influenced my views, it’s that you can’t possibly quantify the ways in which it has influenced my views.

    faithoffathers ~ Glenn Miller at the Christian Think Tank has an article discussing the fate of the unevangelized here. I agree with his views.

  122. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 5:14 pm

    You have a perfect grasp of Evangelical theology?

    Far from it – but just curious, where did I say I did?

    This is kind of my point about not wanting to be misquoted…

  123. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 5:32 pm

    Or they’re more alike than you think. I can play that game, too.

    Yes, so we’re back to, as I put it, the great pissing match.

    I thought the “different Jesus” argument was stupid long before I attended BYU and married a Mormon, so I would say “yes.”

    Good enough, you don’t like that argument. I still believe it is quite valid, and true, and will continue to use it as appropriate. If the other side is truly interested in discussing, rather than just arguing, it can be used as a good stepping-off point to talk about the nature of Jesus. If not, the other side usually gets offended. Most get offended.

    You’re correct: religious schooling has no guarantees on how a person’s religious views will turn out. Now you see why your mention of my BYU education is irrelevant. It isn’t that it hasn’t influenced my views, it’s that you can’t possibly quantify the ways in which it has influenced my views.

    My point wasn’t to quantify it, rather to note that it occurred, which you have agreed it did.

  124. May 12, 2009 5:38 pm

    Brad: this is admittedly just a TINY snippet from your post , but

    Most get offended.

    Is this the offense of the cross….which we offer no apology (the “I’m sorry” kind) for….or some other kind of offense ?? IF there is some other approach that engages conversation that gets somewhere that does NOT offend, why not use THAT instead ?? I’m , of course, aware that there is a flexibility of style when it comes to anything….even evangelism.

    GERMIT

  125. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 5:52 pm

    Germit,

    If I say “I think you believe in a different Jesus, and here’s why…”, and proceed to try to outline why, only to be met with “no, you’re crazy, we don’t”, to which I say “what about this and this and this? those are certainly huge differences in the nature of the being we’re talking about”, to which they say “no, you’re crazy, we don’t, in fact we’re offended you even say that” – you tell me, what kind of offense is it?

    The intent, from my side, can be there to have a good dialogue as to WHY. But if the intent, on their side, is not, and they’re bent on being “offended” by it, who’s issue is that? I will not water it down, just so they won’t get offended.

    Believe me, I’ve used different approaches over the years, all with different results. The fact that if offends Bridget, or some Mormons, doesn’t mean I will or won’t use it. It depends on the conversation and the person I’m conversing (or attempting to converse) with.

  126. May 12, 2009 6:03 pm

    It depends on the conversation and the person I’m conversing (or attempting to converse) with.

    I can certainly go with this….. know the audience.

    GERMIT

  127. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 6:17 pm

    Brad,

    All I hear you saying is “Mormons aren’t saved because they believe in a different Jesus.” You haven’t given one shred of indication that you care to do anything other than repeat that line ad nauseum. If you want to discuss theology, hop to it, but let’s not have any more patronizing nonsense about a different Jesus.

    As I’ve said before, I’m not picking up a rock and calling it Jesus. Or worshiping a goat named Jesus. I’m reading the Bible and doing my best to worship the Jesus described therein.

    All I can say is I have studied the New Testament carefully and have been born again through Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the only one that ever lived. Yet you still condemn me to hell because I may have some of the details “wrong?” What if you got some of them wrong? Are you then going to hell too? The only logical conclusion is that in your approach there is something more than being born again that is required for salvation – perfect theology. So whose theology is perfect?

  128. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 6:27 pm

    At which point, Tom, we can delve into endless debate about why I think what you believe is wrong, and why you think that what I believe about you is wrong, and it will continue infinitely. Nothing will get solved. For everything I might present, for every verse I might present and say “here’s the interpretation”, if you disagree, won’t you just come back and say “your interpretation’s wrong, here’s what I believe it says”? And then we’ll go down the path of discussing how we can know who’s interpretation is right, which will devolve into me discussing what the LDS church has said, at which point you’ll tell me things have changed or it’s not really doctrine, which will land us no further down the road than if we’d never started.

    As I mentioned, there’s a difference between those who want to argue, and those who truly want to discuss. At some point, it’s just pointless to argue, don’t you think?

  129. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 6:45 pm

    Well, I’m not here to argue and I don’t think I’ve given any indication that that is my intent. So do you want to have a discussion on doctrine or not? Or do you just want to sit there shouting “different Jesus?”

  130. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 6:46 pm

    Tom, do you believe Jesus is God?

  131. May 12, 2009 7:00 pm

    Brad, here’s a sincere question for you.

    Why, if you’re trying to legitimately convince someone to take a long, hard look at their belief system, would you say something that you know has a high probability of offending them? If “a different Jesus” is a term that makes someone who would otherwise listen to you shut you out, it seems terribly counter-productive to use it when engaging someone in sincere dialogue–even if you believe it.

    FWIW, Brad, I’m your ideal prospect. I’m a Mormon who has seriously considered changing faiths. And I gotta say, approaches like yours turn me off every single time.

    And yes, I understand Mormons do it too. Doesn’t make it right.

  132. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 7:04 pm

    Katie,

    Your question also assumes the other party (the Mormon) would “otherwise” listen to me. In many cases, that simply isn’t true.

    Further, I’m sure God knows exactly what “type” of person you need to talk to you, in order to properly minister to you. If that’s not me, and evidently it’s not, then I have no doubt God will put that type of person in your life.

    Different things offend different people. Some aren’t offended at anything, some are offended at everything, some are in between. There’s no pleasing everyone.

  133. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 7:07 pm

    Brad,

    Yes.

  134. May 12, 2009 7:11 pm

    Katie wrote:

    Why, if you’re trying to legitimately convince someone to take a long, hard look at their belief system, would you say something that you know has a high probability of offending them?

    this was the point I was trying to make, written so much better..
    Katie: you do NOT want to share my brain……trust me…

    GERMIT

  135. May 12, 2009 7:11 pm

    NOTE: I feel the need to clarify my comment above. I am always seeking after truth, but I remain an active Mormon and feel as though it’s where God wants me to be.

  136. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 7:24 pm

    Tom, do you believe that Jesus, while on Earth, was fully man, while still fully God?

  137. May 12, 2009 7:27 pm

    Katie: as an interfaith gesture of good will, I’m willing to eat the cupcake that you apparently don’t want….

    see…..ev.’s CAN be helpful….

    GERMIT

  138. May 12, 2009 7:30 pm

    Katie: as an interfaith gesture of good will, I’m willing to eat the cupcake that you apparently don’t want….

    Oh heck Germit. You have no idea what you just offered to do

    Can’t… stop… giggling…

  139. May 12, 2009 7:59 pm

    Just to throw my 2 cents in (and that is being generous as to the value of my opinion!) 🙂

    While I was active LDS I was approached by people on-line who told me the Mormon Jesus was a different Jesus and it never once offended me. Of course I did not agree with them (at least at first) but I sincerely believed they were sharing what they believed in a spirit of love and never harbored any resentment towards them. Of course, I might be weird because I am not easily offended in general. When people tell me I am crazy for being a Christian (as Atheists will do on our blog occasionally) it never offends me. In reality the countercult ministry helped me and my wife immensly. In my old ward (about 50 families) there are, including my wife and myself, about 8 people who have come to see the light due to the counter cult ministries. They do help a LOT of people. Different approaches for different people and to make the blanket statement that any approach is “bunk” or “crap” is simply not true.

    I will agree completely that we need to tailor our approach to the person. Some are more easily offended and you will never please everyone. That is one of the reasons it is so vitally important to be in prayer about how to approach people.

    The concern I have with the approach of telling Mormons they are worshipping the same Jesus as Christians is it might give them an unwarranted sense of security in their beliefs. Jack, as you freely admitted last night (what seems like forever ago given the number of comments on here today… I am a little late to the show today!) you believe Mormon theology can lead people to Hell. If so, why would you want to give someone a sense of security by telling them they are worshipping the same God you worship? They believe DRASTICALLY different things about Christ so much so that IMO it CANNOT be the same being. You are essentially telling them they are ok where they are when you yourself admit they very well may not be.

    In addition your argument against using the 2 Cor 11:4 “different Jesus” is somewhat self defeating. You say we don’t know what Paul meant by “different Jesus” and therefore, we cannot apply it to the Mormon Jesus having different essential attributes. Problem is by saying we can’t apply it to the Mormon Jesus you are assuming Paul is NOT using it to describe a Jesus being taught with different essential attributes which you specifically claim we don’t know. Logically speaking , if Paul was referring to Jew’s teaching a different Messiah (rather than different things about the historic figure Jesus) it would make sense for him to refer to this other Messiah by name. He would have said something like “When people teach you that ‘so and so’ was really the Messiah and not Jesus of Nazerath you put up with it well enough”. Why would he have said “different Jesus” when speaking about a different historical figure? That makes no sense. The only logical conclusion, in my opinion, is he was speaking specifically about different teachings being circulated about Jesus of Nazerath… things which were not true.

    Darrell

  140. May 12, 2009 8:16 pm

    Katie: the appropriate (I’m hoping) mea culpa is over on your blog…..sorry for the confusion….it’s afternoon and I have obvious food issues…

    JACK: you are sooo evil.

  141. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 8:27 pm

    Brad,

    I suppose there might be some differences extant about what is meant by “fully” but I’m pretty sure we agree on this one.

  142. Brad permalink
    May 12, 2009 8:30 pm

    Tom, do you believe that Jesus the Son has always existed – that there never was a time when He didn’t exist?

  143. psychochemiker permalink
    May 12, 2009 8:39 pm

    Tom,
    Since Brad’s playing a pitty party,
    Ask him where the Bible says

    that there never was a time when He didn’t exist?

    Which of course he won’t be able to provide, because that’s not what the Bible says.
    The Bible says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    Which does not have to logically equal his interpretation.

  144. May 12, 2009 8:40 pm

    “Tom, do you believe that Jesus the Son has always existed – that there never was a time when He didn’t exist?”

    Brad,

    I would further qualify…

    Do you believe Jesus has always existed FULLY AS GOD or was there a time when He was not FULLY GOD? In other words, when Jesus was an intelligence, prior to being Spirit Born/Formed, was He fully God?

    Darrell

  145. May 12, 2009 8:50 pm

    Darrell,

    I believe that Jesus has always existed as fully God; the Father, and Holy Spirit as well. Just thought I’d share my LDS Christian view.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  146. May 12, 2009 8:56 pm

    YD,

    So as an intelligence Jesus was fully God?

    Darrell

  147. May 12, 2009 8:58 pm

    Darrell,

    I believe that Jesus has always existed as fully God.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  148. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:07 pm

    Germit – BTW good to see you again. It’s always a better conversation when you’re around.

    TYD and PC – thanks for the help. Glad to see I’m not alone in here.

  149. May 12, 2009 9:08 pm

    From your perspective then it is possible for God to be lacking in something? For, if Jesus was Fully God and there was nothing He lacked, why did He need to be actualized by an outside agency (The Father) into something better, a Spirit Child? How can we have faith in a God who is not the ultimate being but is instead lacking in something?

    Darrell

  150. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:29 pm

    Why did He need to be actualized as a mortal?

  151. May 12, 2009 9:30 pm

    Tom: back at ya…

    well i’m at least good for comic relief . Yes, i laugh at myself…why waste the bizarro aftermath of unintentionally offering to make out with a married LDS mom…..on a blog called “I LVOE MORMONS”. they don’t write this stuff as screenplays……hey, then again…

  152. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:45 pm

    Don’t worry germit, we’re all laughing at with you…

  153. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:45 pm

    Hmmmm….

    “at” was supposed to be strikethrough text. Oops.

  154. May 12, 2009 9:54 pm

    Germit ~ We love you and we know it was an innocent mistake. We’re laughing at with you. (That’s how it’s done, Tom. N00b.)

    Darrell ~ I’ve never said that the counter-cult ministry doesn’t occasionally help people within the LDS church come to know Christ. But for every ex-Mormon like you that I’ve run across who successfully came into a relationship with Christ because of counter-cult efforts, I have met dozens and dozens of Mormons who want absolutely nothing to do with the evangelical Christian message because of the way they were treated by counter-cult evangelicals. And yes, I know for a fact that they’re more willing to listen if they aren’t approached with, “You’re a cultist, you believe in a different Jesus, and you’re going to hell.” Are those casualties necessary for the gains? I don’t think they are.

    I also don’t believe that Mormonism is so far removed from what could be considered orthodox Christianity. Folks like you and Brad seem to have the goal of pulling people out of Mormonism one by one. My goal is different. I’m not opposed to people leaving Mormonism, but what I really want is to see Mormonism reform to orthodoxy, and I want to encourage people to have an evangelical understanding of God and salvation within Mormonism.

    I’m also not alone in my belief that Mormonism isn’t very far removed from EV Christianity and could reform. My friend JP Holding at Tekton writes, “A variant on orthodox Christianity that I consider very much ‘on the edge’ — would be nice to see an internal reformation among these folks leading to orthodoxy.” Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary also wrote (in his afterward to Bob Millet’s A Different Jesus?, “[R]eading this book has made it even clearer to me that many—not all but many—of the arguments that I as a Calvinist evangelical have with Mormons are not too far removed from the arguments that I have pursued with theologians who represent traditions that are clearly in the Christian mainstream.” That’s exactly how I feel about it.

    If so, why would you want to give someone a sense of security by telling them they are worshipping the same God you worship?

    I don’t tell them that they are worshiping the same God, Darrell. I tell them that I’m open to the possibility that that they are. You and Brad seem certain that false theology = worshiping the wrong God = damnation. I refuse to make that judgment because no one’s understanding of God is perfect. Who am I to say how much you’re allowed to get wrong before you’re disqualified?

    I would like to say more on the “why” that is, but come to think of it, I think it’s something I’d like to do my own blog post on, probably within the next two weeks.

    Logically speaking , if Paul was referring to Jew’s teaching a different Messiah (rather than different things about the historic figure Jesus) it would make sense for him to refer to this other Messiah by name.

    Not necessarily. He could have been using “Jesus” as a general messianic title. I can go into all the other ways he could have been using “different Jesus” without talking about people who were teaching false things about the essential attributes of Jesus of Nazareth, but I think it would be beside my point.

    My point isn’t that a case can’t be made that Mormonism teaches a “different Jesus” in some metaphorical sense and therefore 2 Cor. 11:4 can apply, my point is that the blanket manner in which it’s almost always employed by counter-cult evangelicals is harsh, abrasive and turns people off to any subsequent interest in the evangelical Christian message. It ignores and undermines their sincere efforts to understand the Christ of the Bible to the best of their ability and doesn’t give them any credit for whatever spiritual experiences they may have already had with God. How many Mormons on this very thread have said as much only to be brushed off and told, “You wouldn’t listen to our message anyways”? I guess I beg to differ.

  155. May 12, 2009 9:58 pm

    grew up with 5 brothers and 3 sisters…..laugh whatever way revs the engine… just keep laughing.

    this will not be a good week for dessert… I guess….

    GERMIT

  156. May 12, 2009 10:05 pm

    Who am I to say how much you’re allowed to get wrong before you’re disqualified?

    JACK: that’s nothing but net (almost said “nylon”, but I’m walking just a little more careful for a day or two) this is a great point, and there is a world of difference between what any given SYSTEM or RELIGION (generally) teaches and what some individual adherent believes, and most importantly, the vast love of GOD that delights in loving IN SPITE OF….all kinds of bullshit…both theological and moral.. this is why statements about whether Tom , Tony, or Kimball going to heaven or hell are so deceptive..

    does even our APPROACH tell people that what we have is GOOD NEWS ??

    no sweets for me,
    GERMIT

  157. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 10:15 pm

    Jack,

    It ignores and undermines their sincere efforts to understand the Christ of the Bible to the best of their ability and doesn’t give them any credit for whatever spiritual experiences they may have already had with God. How many Mormons on this very thread have said as much only to be brushed off and told, “You wouldn’t listen to our message anyways”? I guess I beg to differ.

    I agree. I have been so used to evangelicals treating me this way that I was floored when Jessica wrote this. Honestly, I was deeply touched. Thanks again, Jessica.

    If someone is in a rush to discount my spiritual experiences, I’m not going to listen to them. Period.

    PS – Sure, call me a noob and don’t tell me how to actually do it. You’re such an HTML elitist – you probably don’t think I’d believe you if you did tell me because I believe in a “different HTML.” But I assure you, it’s the same HTML, I just got my tags wrong. Here’s the proof. 😉

  158. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 10:20 pm

    Germit –

    Nothing but nylon, brotha!

  159. May 12, 2009 10:27 pm

    Tom ~ I really do think that you’re going to start seeing a shift in evangelical attitudes towards Mormonism. Mouw, Blomberg, Johnson, Owen & Mosser have just been the beginning.

    Sure, call me a noob and don’t tell me how to actually do it. You’re such an HTML elitist – you probably don’t think I’d believe you if you did tell me because I believe in a “different HTML.”

    But have you ascended to the higher kingdom of HTML symbol codes? ♥

  160. Tom permalink
    May 12, 2009 10:37 pm

    Jack,

    By name or number? C’mon, that’s CS 100 stuff.

    ♬♬♬♬

  161. May 12, 2009 10:59 pm

    “Why did He need to be actualized as a mortal?”

    I appreciate what you are trying to get at here. However, the comparison is not accurate. When Jesus came to earth He CONDESCENDED Himself. However, when The Father formed/spirit birthed Jesus He actually took something which was inherently less (intelligence) and “clothed it in spirit” as leaders of the Church have said. Once He gained this “spirit clothing” it has been said that “He grew in grace and power there until he stood as one like unto God” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles pg. 21). Now, you may not agree with the last part (as YD apparantly doesn’t) but this has been taught in the Church. The general idea as I see it is that Jesus lacked something as an intelligence. He needed needed this something in order to be as God. So my question is, under your theology can God (Fully God) be lacking in something? If not, why did The Father have to clothe Him in spirit?

    Darrell

  162. May 12, 2009 11:03 pm

    Ok, I am really a amateur on all of this code stuff… how are you guys doing that? The only one I know how to do is a 🙂

    Darrell

  163. Tom permalink
    May 13, 2009 12:06 am

    Darrell – don’t tell Jack but anyone can google an HTML tutorial (real, legit HTML, not that “different HTML” that we all get accused of from time to time.) In like 30 minutes you’ll know some basics. Actually, if I forget something, I just google “How to make text bold in HTML” or whatever it is.

    I can’t recommend a good one because it’s been too long.

    I’ll try to put together a pdf tutorial and link it here.

    I’ll have to check out that Life And Teachings Book – from what I remember it relies VERY heavily on Talmage who has some pretty liberal interpretations with which TYD, PC, and I would disagree. Essentially there are two camps on Jesus “progressing” to become God. The different camps emerge because prophets have said almost nothing about intelligence.

  164. May 13, 2009 12:07 am

    Darrell,

    If I recall correctly, I believe that I already told you on your blog that I do not believe in the notion of a literal “spirit birth.” I believe the relevant conversations may be viewed here and

  165. Tom permalink
    May 13, 2009 12:35 am

    Here’s a mini HTML tutorial.

    One thing I forgot to add is that if you ever want to see how someone does something you can hit Ctrl + U to view the HTML for the page you are viewing. Or go to View –> Page Source.

  166. May 13, 2009 12:40 am

    … and here.

    I would also like to note that your comment sounds far more like Plato or Anselm than anything that I have ever read in the Bible. I just thought that that was…curious, to say the least.

    Also Tom, what do you think of Hebrews 5.8?

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  167. May 13, 2009 12:57 am

    Tom,

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I will print it and practice at it before I use it here. I don’t want to create a mess on Jessica’s blog!

    YD,

    I remember our conversation and just went back to refresh my memory on your position. So is fair to say that you take the position that Jesus Christ…

    1. Has always existed fully as a person
    2. Never existed as an intelligence
    3. and consequently was never spirit born/formed from an intelligence into a pre-mortal spirit
    4. Therefore, He always existed as a pre-mortal spirit

    In addition, is it your position that the rest of mankind never existed as intelligence and was never spirit born/formed from an intelligence into pre-mortal spirits? That we all always existed as pre-mortal spirits?

    I don’t want to mischaracterize you and answering the above will help me to further understand your position.

    Thanks!!

    Darrell

  168. Tom permalink
    May 13, 2009 1:27 am

    Spotted a an error. The tag for underline is <u></u> not <ul></ul>.

    I updated my tutorial.

  169. May 13, 2009 2:46 am

    Germit: LOL! Thank you for a wonderful laugh on an otherwise-stressful day. That was AWESOME. 😀

    Just a thought on this whole “different things offend different people” concept. Not to be indelicate or anything, but I sort of think that’s bullcrap.

    Because there’s nothing mysterious or inconsistent about it. The same things that offend you offend others: treating people like they’re stupid or lesser. Ignoring or minimizing their experiences. Labeling them simplistically. Treating them as “other.” Accusing them of having ignoble motives. Not listening to what they’re really saying. Twisting their words. Making assumptions based on incomplete information. Being insincere in your communications.

    These are things that UNIVERSALLY OFFEND…because they are offensive. Now, let’s be honest, we all have done and said such things–but the idea that “different things offend different people” and so therefore we don’t have an obligation to choose our words more carefully is ludicrous.

    I may not know much about God, but if there’s one thing I think I have a pretty good handle on, it’s human nature. And, almost universally, if you will show people that you respect them, like them, and think their experiences and thoughts are valid, they will be thousands of times more responsive to you.

  170. germit permalink
    May 13, 2009 2:58 am

    Katie: very well said; this is along the lines of what Seth said a few weeks ago: we earn the right to be heard. I couldn’t agree more.

    Glad you could get some REALLY cheap laughs and not have to drive to an improv to get them.

    GERMIT

  171. May 13, 2009 2:59 am

    Brad,

    I said, “I will agree that LDS theology can lead someone to hell if you will agree that Evangelical theology can do the same. With that, let’s all do what we can to avoid that outcome.”

    You said, “I would not agree that EV theology is doing the same. Of course, the caveat would be that one must have a proper grasp of what they’re talking about, and not have been misled.”

    I then said, “You have a perfect grasp of Evangelical theology?”

    I wasn’t quoting. I was asking what seemed like an appropriate question. From your response, it seems like you don’t feel that you do have a perfect grasp. So, at least, we appear to be in equal danger of hellfire. It’s these little commonalities that matter to me. 🙂

  172. May 13, 2009 3:28 am

    “Just a thought on this whole “different things offend different people” concept. Not to be indelicate or anything, but I sort of think that’s bullcrap.”

    Katie,

    While I respect your opinion on this matter I must submit I disagree. Some people are by nature thin skinned while others could care less what you say about them. Still others walk around with a chip on their shoulder looking for reasons to be offended. I have worked in the public sector as a salesperson for over 15 years and if there is one thing I have learned it is that no two people are alike. You must pay very close attention to people in order to garner how to treat them so as to get your message across appropriately. As I mentioned earlier, I was told multiple times while I was LDS (active and wholeheartedly believing it all) that the Jesus I was worshipping was a “dfferent Jesus” than the Christian Jesus. I would venture to say the counter cult ministries have helped with this. Not once did that message every offend me. Now, saying this someone else may very well offend them. I can easily see how that is possible.

    As for the effectiveness of the counter cult ministries… I personally know of about 8 people in my old home ward who have been helped by them. In an interview with John Dehlin last year Grant Palmer reported he had been told by someone inside the church offices that 100,000 people are leaving the LDS Church each year (we will never know for sure if that is true but given the way the growth rate has slowed in makes sense).

    My point in this whole exchange is to say that we need to tailor our message to the individual and try to find methods to get the message across without giving up the truth. I sincerely do not think we should seek for non-offensiveness at the expense of truth. However, I believe we should find a method that works FOR THE INDIVIDUAL we are speaking to.

    To make the wholesale assumption that the different Jesus method is crap and should be completely disgarded is, IMO, extremely short sighted BECAUSE IT WORKS WITH SOME PEOPLE and IMO, a case can be made that it is TRUE (I personally VERY MUCH believe it is). However, I do not think this same method should be used with everyone. I personally DO NOT use it with everyone…. especially when I am talking to people in person. I try my best to understand where they are coming from and tailor my approach to THEM. I am still working on how to do this over the internet… it has it’s limitations and own set of challenges.

    This conversation reminds me of one we had on this blog a few weeks back about Kirk Cameron’s approach. There were some on here who called his approach all kinds of derogatory names and said it should never be used. Again I think this is short sighted… simply because his approach does work for some people. If you don’t like his approach that is fine… but to say it should be chunked and that it doesn’t work for some is to say that everyone is like you and they aren’t. Different things work for different people.

    We serve a big God and let us not forget He is working through all kinds of different ministries and approaches to reach people. He created us all with different personalities and we need to appreciate that fact.

    Darrell

  173. May 13, 2009 3:40 am

    YD,

    “I would also like to note that your comment sounds far more like Plato or Anselm…”

    Genetic fallacy

    “…than anything that I have ever read in the Bible.”

    Empty assertion.

    I am looking forward to your answers to my earlier questions as I really do want to understand where you are coming from.

    Have a good night and God Bless.

    Darrell

  174. May 13, 2009 4:02 am

    Darrell,

    This may surprise you, but there is very little of what you said that I disagree with.

    In an individual setting, once you’ve felt a person out and have established a relationship of trust with them, it may be very appropriate to say things that could be construed as offensive if you were saying it to a veritable stranger.

    For example, I’ve become pretty good friends with both Jack and Jessica over the past few months. If either one of them told me they thought I worshipped a “different Jesus” or were concerned because they thought I was gravely in error on point of doctrine or another…you know what I would do?

    I would listen.

    If some random joe who doesn’t know me from Adam (Eve?) came and said the exact same thing, I’d tell them off or tune them out. Germit is on to something when he (and/or Seth) said we earn the right to be heard.

  175. May 13, 2009 10:46 am

    Katie,

    “If some random joe who doesn’t know me from Adam (Eve?) came and said the exact same thing, I’d tell them off or tune them out. Germit is on to something when he (and/or Seth) said we earn the right to be heard.”

    I totally get that. I believe there is a saying that goes something like this… “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    Darrell

  176. May 13, 2009 11:27 am

    Darrell,

    “I was told multiple times while I was LDS (active and wholeheartedly believing it all) that the Jesus I was worshipping was a “dfferent Jesus” than the Christian Jesus.”

    By whom? I’ve never heard that in an LDS chapel or church setting. I’ve only heard that in an evangelical setting. I personally don’t find it offensive; I find it dumb. But we all get to participate in border maintenance, I guess.

    “I personally know of about 8 people in my old home ward who have been helped by them.”

    I’m curious, Darrell. Define help here. At the end of the day, are these folk attending a church? an evangelical church? or not attending church at all? I believe that there is some research indicating that most people who leave the church over doctrinal issues go atheist. Is this a better outcome than being Mormon in your view?

    Regarding spirit birth, we don’t know what it means. We believe that we are co-eternal with the Father and the Son (and the Holy Ghost) but what that means is also obscure. You are trying to nail down people on doctrines that are entirely up in the air. Which you know, so that is just weird. If you are interested in a poll asking Mormon internet denizens on the subject, Here is one (the poll is gone but you can tell from the comments that there ain’t no clear doctrine on this point; also, Darrell, I wouldn’t comment on that blog if I were you, unless you dial the anti-Mormonism down to zero (you’ll just get banned)).

  177. Tom permalink
    May 13, 2009 12:05 pm

    TYD –

    I think Heb. 5:8 refers to the fact that Jesus was in a very real sense mortal and subject to temptations. From the perspective of the flesh He had to learn obedience. I’ve always viewed this verse and the “grace for grace” passage in DC as referring to Christ’s mortality.

    Do you have any further insight to add? I confess I haven’t had time to follow all your links, but I’ll get to them.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  178. Tom permalink
    May 13, 2009 12:19 pm

    I’ve been thinking of these verses in connection with my last comment:

    11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
    12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
    13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

    Alma 7:11-13

  179. Brad permalink
    May 13, 2009 12:43 pm

    I wasn’t quoting. I was asking what seemed like an appropriate question. From your response, it seems like you don’t feel that you do have a perfect grasp. So, at least, we appear to be in equal danger of hellfire. It’s these little commonalities that matter to me.

    John C.,

    I never said I have a “perfect” grasp – I’m not sure anyone does. However, I also never said anyone must HAVE a “perfect” grasp, only a “proper” grasp. There’s a difference. Proper implies right, but not necessarily perfection. The opposite would be improper, which would be a wrong grasp, as opposed to a non-perfect grasp. Again, big difference.

    And yes, I think a proper grasp matters, and yes, I believe that some people have a proper grasp, and some do not.

  180. May 13, 2009 1:36 pm

    Katie and Darrell: seems like you guys METAPHORICALLY kissed and made up……. let me add that I thoroughly agree with both of you and the points of agreement you had are mine also. My “trailing thot” would only be that often we as ev.’s use the “different things offend different people” as an easy out to NOT do the hard work of getting to know people and establish a relationship. It’s much easier to just show them where they are not biblical. Not having the relationship, more often than not, will thoroughly sabotage any discussion that is merely theological. Back to Darrell’s “knowing that you care…” reference.

    Does our evangelism look, sound, taste, and smell like Jesus ??

    GERMIT

  181. May 13, 2009 2:27 pm

    Brad,
    Got it. Thanks. I see my error. So, do you have a proper grasp on evangelical theology?

  182. May 13, 2009 2:43 pm

    “By whom? I’ve never heard that in an LDS chapel or church setting. I’ve only heard that in an evangelical setting.”

    You misunderstood me. I heard it from Christians trying to prostyletize to me not in LDS meetings.

    “I’m curious, Darrell. Define help here. At the end of the day, are these folk attending a church? an evangelical church? or not attending church at all?”

    Good question. Here is my personal experience thus far…

    3 have come to Christ

    5 are still questioning and trying to decide what they want to do. They no longer believe in the LDS Church and are researching, studying and praying. 4 of these 5 have faith in Christ but are just in the midst of deciding what they are going to do. There are many different circumstances involved… spouses who are LDS, family who is LDS, etc. 1 of them I am a little worried about. He believes he has been lied to by the LDS Church and therefore has little trust for organized religion all together. He has not professed to be an atheist but he is very un-trusting of religion right now.

    Darrell

  183. Brad permalink
    May 13, 2009 2:50 pm

    John,

    Yes, I would say that I do.

  184. May 13, 2009 3:04 pm

    “Regarding spirit birth, we don’t know what it means. We believe that we are co-eternal with the Father and the Son (and the Holy Ghost) but what that means is also obscure. ”

    It is only obscure to a point. The LDS Church has taught and continues to teach that our pre-mortal spirits were formed or birthed from intelliegences. I can provide mutliple quotes to support this teaching. It has been taught that these intelligences have always existed (eternal) but these intelligences needed to be formed or spirit birthed into pre-mortal spirits. If one believes that Jesus Christ has always existed as FULLY GOD then one must hold the notion that as an intelligence Jesus Christ was Fully God but lacked something… to use the words of some past LDS Leaders He needed to be “clothed in spirit”.

    TYD said he does not believe in literal spirit birth. I find that position a hard one to hold given the multiple references by LDS Leaders on the subject but I do find it interesting. My questions to him are fair ones given his position and are for clarification purposes. I am simply trying to restate what he appears to have said on my blog and this blog. I don’t want to mischaracterize him.

    Darrell

  185. May 13, 2009 6:18 pm

    Just on a quick lunch break and don’t have much time, but am catching up on reading comments. Have a question for you John:

    You said,

    I believe that there is some research indicating that most people who leave the church over doctrinal issues go atheist.

    Can you refer me to this research? This is something I have a HUGE concern about and is one of the reasons I have been compelled to witness to Mormons.

    Darrell’s comment about the person who felt lied to and ended up not trusting any religion ~ That’s one of my biggest concerns right now. I don’t lay the blame on counter-cult ministries either. We can all do a better job of improving our witness to Mormons, but the bottom line is if something isn’t true it’s going to fail. The truth comes out from various sources, but mostly from the LDS church’s own history, research, and archeological studies.

    The main problem as I see it is that if a person loses faith in the LDS church they don’t feel they have any other option. Especially for life-long members who’ve been told all their life that the LDS church is the only true church. Once they’ve lost faith in that, they don’t feel they have any options left so they go atheist. They haven’t been given all the intellectual arguments that support a person’s mind to believe in the Bible and the historical Jesus. They’ve been taught to base their faith on personal revelation. When that’s gone, they don’t have anything left and their faith in the Bible has been totally undermined by all the LDS apologetics of trying to compare the Bible with the Book of Mormon. When they become convinced the Book of Mormon is not true, they think the Bible is on a level playing field. And it’s not!

    Just my very strong opinion on my lunch hour…

    Jessica

  186. Tom permalink
    May 13, 2009 6:55 pm

    Jessica,

    Just my very strong opinion on my lunch hour.

    I’m glad you realize that it’s just your opinion (which doesn’t necessarily equal truth).

    The problem is that people’s faith in Christ is undermined. EV’s should think carefully about how they attempt to undermine our spiritually held beliefs. Yes, we rely on personal revelation to know the Book of Mormon is true, but we also rely on personal revelation to know that Jesus is the Christ, a la 1 Cor. 12:3. If you destroy our foundation of personal revelation, you destroy our foundation to know any truth.

    As FOF said,

    Revelation is the bedrock for true religion and knowledge of God. It cannot be otherwise.

    I wholeheartedly agree, and the way I see it – so does the Bible.

  187. May 13, 2009 7:58 pm

    Tom: points well said and well taken, at least from GERMIT; I’ve been overly critical of personal revelation in many of my give and takes with LDS and I’ve rethought my position. Revelation , per se, cannot be the “bad cop” for reasons you captured. Having said that, revelation can be used , and has been used to explain…well, this would be a long , long list of some very strange things. Here’s a BIG ELEPHANT that many ev.’s would rather not look at (esp. from the back end): the SAME COULD BE SAID FOR THEOLOGY , even theology built on the bible… Just did a little homework of some crazy dude named HAROLD CAMPING at another blog…WOW….what a nutjob, and he’s sure he’s “biblical”.

    MY point: good things (GOD”S individual revelation, or what SEEMS to be that and the scriptures themselves can be used as a roadmap to really anywhere..) The answer is NOT to discount either, but make sure the “acts of GOD” are exactly that, and not something else. Also, there is no need to throw any “baby”, be it personal revelation, the use of the bible, prophecy, or gifts of the spirit just because there are wild excesses and mistakes to be found.

    I’m not that convinced that the atheist count will be that high….more likely they are just VERY vocal when leaving, and this could skew the count. I’d have to take a CLOSE look at the stats AND HOW THE STATS WERE GATHERED.

    remember Mr.Twains warning: there are lies, damn lies, and then statistics.

    GERMIT

  188. May 13, 2009 8:12 pm

    Jessica,
    Mea culpa. I may be mistaken there. I’m looking for what I was referring to. I’ll let you know if I find it.

  189. May 13, 2009 8:55 pm

    Jessica,
    upon further research, I think I may be dead wrong. See this article as an example (key stuff in the last paragraph). The anecdotal evidence I have goes both ways. It is interesting, no?

  190. May 13, 2009 11:41 pm

    Very interesting data, John! Thanks for the link!

    From the original 2007 survey, 1.8 percent of the participants cited the LDS Church as their childhood faith; .4 percent joined the LDS Church from another religion; with .5 percent leaving their Mormon roots for another faith.

    It actually doesn’t give the percentage that are agnostic/atheist – or maybe none of the survey participants went that route. Is that how you read it? I guess it’s kind of hard to interpret what it means or how accurate it is. I might have to agree with Twain on this…. 🙂

  191. May 14, 2009 11:26 am

    Yeah. It doesn’t say what the other faith is. My impression is that I tend to overstate the influence of doctrinal objections in people leaving the church. I now think most people leave because they don’t like the local congregants or because they are bored in church. Then, after a time, they miss the influence of a church and join up for a new community.

    Or maybe they all go Evangelical after stopping by your blog 😉

  192. May 14, 2009 1:39 pm

    Jessica and JohnC: from where I sit, the numbers of atheists aren’t going to skyrocket (don’t tell Mr.Dawkins, let him sleep), but the number of UNCHURCHED will. this will mean not ONLY LDS refugees, but ev.s in the hundreds of thousands (or more). and for many of the same reasons.

    that’s my bit of sunshine for this Thursday spring moring 🙂

  193. May 14, 2009 5:44 pm

    Or maybe they all go Evangelical after stopping by your blog

    LOL! I like you John C! 🙂

    Honestly though, I could care less if a person becomes an “Evangelical” – I really don’t identify myself with that term. I’m just a follower of Jesus Christ and I want others to follow Him as well and to avoid deception, false prophets, and the bondage of legalism that steals us away from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).

    See? I can throw in a scripture verse for emphasis too! 🙂

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