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"I Tell You Before"

April 4, 2009

If one believes that all religious claims are essentially on the same playing field—i.e., all essentially unverifiable in terms of their factuality—then factual truth need not be considered in one’s decisions regarding legitimacy and faith. However, if there are factually verifiable evidences for the Bible, and a lack of such evidences in another location, it is incumbent upon us not to ignore the facts God has revealed.

One category of verifiable evidence is fulfilled prophecy. This type of evidence was used by Jesus when He told His disciples “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (John 13:19). Fulfilled Bible prophecies show the power of God in the writing and preserving of His Word, and they number in the multiple hundreds.

Since LDS often submit that the Scriptures are not completely reliable due to errors in transmission, let me note that all the prophecies below are also found in one or more of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Abegg, Flint, & Ulrich, 1999). These whole and partial (sometimes fragmentary) scrolls include the oldest biblical manuscripts currently known—dating from 150 BC to 70 AD, prior to any supposed apostasy.

The birthplace of Jesus (Bethlehem)

Prophecy: Micah 5:2

Fulfillment: Matthew 2:1

Corroboration of fulfillment:

  • Apparently census records existed at the time of Justin Martyr (100-165 AD), who issued this challenge to Jews:

Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judæa.

  • To this day the famous Church of the Nativity exists over a cave in Bethlehem that locals from ancient times have claimed is the birthplace of Christ.

The method of Christ’s death (crucifixion)

Prophecy: Psalm 22

Note especially such details as the following:

“I am poured out like water” (v.14)

“My bones are out of joint” (v.14)

“My tongue cleaveth to my jaws” (v.15)

“The assembly of the wicked have inclosed me” (v.16)

“They pierced my hands and my feet” (v.16)

“I may tell all my bones” (v.17)

“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (v.18)

Fulfillment: Matthew 27

Corroboration of fulfillment:

  • The Roman historian Tacitus referred to Jesus being put to death by Pontius Pilate.

The resurrection of Christ

Prophecies: Psalm 16:9-10 (explicit) and Isaiah 53:10 (implicit)

Fulfillment: Matthew 28

Corroboration of fulfillment:

  • The eyewitnesses cited by Paul as (then-living) proof of the resurrection
  • The historical reliability and ancientness of the empty tomb story, going back to within a few years of Jesus’ death—the empty tomb being widely recognized today as a historical fact
  • The obvious inability of contemporaries to silence this claim (when clearly the enemies of Jesus would have had strong motivation to disprove His resurrection by producing His dead body)
  • Paul’s sudden conversion, writings, and death

These are just a few major examples of prophecies that illustrate the supernatural inspiration of the Scriptures. Unlike the rather flippant meaning which we attach to the word “inspiration” today, the biblical meaning of the word “inspiration” is literally “God-breathed.” The New Testament tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed (II Tim. 3:16).  If this is so, then what must be the Author’s perspective when we decide to arbitrarily accept some of the “God-breathed” words as authoritative and some as not—especially when He has given us ample proof that His Book is not an ordinary one?

The next post will examine one of the most amazing and complex prophecies in the Old Testament….

Reference

Abegg, M., Flint, P., & Ulrich, E.  (1999). The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible.  San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. MadChemist permalink
    April 5, 2009 3:56 am

    Hi NChristine:
    Thank you for providing some points to discuss. Unfortunetaly, I don’t really see how the data you present should provide any discussino point for Mormons. That is, we recognize all of the scriptures that you have provided as part of the prophecy-fulfillment cycle. Indeed, if you would have researched our scriptures, under the footnotes for Matthew 2:6 crossreferecnes Micah. And there are even more scriptures under topical guide, “TG Jesus Christ, Prophecies about.” Much of Matthew 27 is crossreferenced to Psalm 22. While no crossreferences to Psalm 16 are found in Matt 28, several other crossreferences to the resurrections prophecies and fulfillment are found. So these scriptural examples are all things that we could have simply said, “We agree on.” Without wasting the carbon emissions to write this post. The defense stipulates that Jesus’ birth was prophesied and fulfilled, as was his crucifixion and resurrection.

    Some disagreements:
    The location of the Church of the Nativity was fixed in the late 4th century by Constantine’s mother. There is textual evidence from the first century that Jesus was born in a cave. In the third century there is textual evidence of a folk belief that Jesus was born in a cave. And then in the 4th century Helen set a specific cave. The existence of any cave doesn’t prove Jesus’ divinity. I don’t like people, who claim alla Evangelicalism, Sola Scriptura, to place their faith in post-biblical traditions such as “The cave/birthplace of Jesus.” I can have faith in Him, without knowing anything about this cave because Matthew obviously felt I didn’t need any corroboration to believe it.

    It’s also interesting to me, that you don’t explictly mention Paul talking with Jesus, even though the Bible is very explicit about this (Acts 9:4). Are Evangelicals really that embarresed by the Bible? Or is it simply because they cannot get over the cognitive dissonance over saying “Paul can hear the resurrected Jesus but Joseph can’t.” Paul didn’t just get converted, he saw a light and heard Jesus’ voice. It seems like your underplaying the WORD OF GAHD AS FOUND IN THE BAHBLE. {end channeling of southern baptists}

    I find it fairly dishonest to continue to skirt the issue. I’ve tried to point out numerous times, the problem is with transmission, and a faulty assumption that no changes would occur.
    http://mp3.aomin.org/805Transcript.pdf
    Again, like a broken record…We have no problem with viewpoints of inerrancy that only require inerrancy in the original autographs (even though not all Mormons would be ok with it). But we no longer have the original autographs. There have been changes, and so a realistic viewpoint of inspiration has to either allow for those changes (addition of the Johaniine comma, addition of the last several verses of Mark, and the addition of the “woman taken in adultery.”) but a refusal to actually contront the data, while still screeching “we have an infallible Bible” sounds inconsistent.

    As Seth started to point out in a previous post, one can find Archeological evidence of the city of Jersualem. That doesn’t prove it was God’s city. One can rely on historical and traditional beliefs as to where Christ was born. that doesn’t prove Jesus was born of a virgin, that He walked on water, that He performed an atonement for us, or that He was crucified for our sins, and resurrected. Somewhere faith, revelation, have to be restored to Christianity. John 14: 26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 15: 26 ” But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” Christianity is inherently a religion of Faith and Revelation.

  2. germit permalink
    April 6, 2009 12:11 am

    Mad Chemist: NChristine gave us items that,in her estimation could be factually verified. I don’t see how Paul’s conversations with the Risen Lord could have been factually verified , do you ? I doubt if Christine is embarrassed by the wonderful ways that the LORD dealt with this apostle. You are comparing two different categories of things.

    Thanks for the post NChris
    GERMIT

  3. April 6, 2009 10:14 pm

    Fantastic post!
    The bible clearly points to the fulfillment of prophesy regarding the death and means of death of our Lord. The LDS view gethsemane as where he sufferd and atoned, and yet there is nothing in the bible that points to that teaching. On the other hand the bible clearly points that Jesus would indeed be pierced, go as a lamb and a host of other biblical prophesies that were indeed fulfilled, and thus pointing to the validity of the Bible. The test of a true prophet is that their prophesies come true! ( deut. 18:18-22)
    Interestingly enough Joseph Smith wrote in his book of Mormon that the birthplace of our Lord would be “at” Jerusalem. Hmm….the word of God shall not return void and endures forever!
    God bless,
    gloria

  4. Tom permalink
    April 7, 2009 1:21 am

    Yes, we LDS also believe in the prophetic fulfillment of OT prophecy in the NT. Great summary.

    Katie,

    LDS believe Gethsemane through the resurrection was all part of the atonement. The suffering on the cross and resurrection were crucial aspects of the atonement.

    “At Jerusalem” could actually be viewed as internal evidence of the truth (or at least the consistency) of the Book of Mormon. That statement was made in 83 BC to a group of people that had never lived in Jerusalem or the surrounding areas. Thus, the people wouldn’t have known where Alma was talking about if he had said “at Bethlehem” but they could easily comprehend what he meant when he said “at Jerusalem.” Besides, Bethlehem is a whopping 6 miles from Jerusalem. We talk like this all the time today – something happened “in Chicago” when it actually happened in Evanston.

    This is more a point of curiosity on my part – I have been told that in Hebrew there is a difference between “at Jerusalem” and “in Jerusalem.” One means “in the region of Jerusalem” and the other means “inside the city of Jerusalem.” Can anyone verify this?

  5. Tom permalink
    April 7, 2009 1:21 am

    Ah, I meant Gloria – I don’t know why I was thinking Katie.

  6. faithoffathers permalink
    April 7, 2009 3:15 am

    Gloria,

    LDS believe that Christ’s atoning sacrifice occured both in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Golgotha. The bible clearly describes in all 4 gospels his suffering in the garden. In that garden, He was “sorrowful, even unto death.” He fell on His face. His suffering was so exquisite that he asked the Father “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” He sweat “great drops of blood.” All in the garden.

    The name “Gethsemane” means olive press. When you understand the significance and symbolism of the olive tree in Christ’s teachings, it adds great meaning to what happened in that garden before His trial.

    In Isaiah we find the prophecy regarding the second coming of Christ wherein He will say “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.” This too alude to His suffering in Gethsemane.

    Gloria and Tom,

    In 1887, the Tell El-Amarna Tablets were discovered in Canaan. These engravings clearly use the phrase “land of Jerusalem” to describe the town of Bethlehem. It is actually a neat little evidence for the historocity of the Book of Mormon. Anybody with any familiarity of the Bible and the nativity story knows Jesus was born in Bethlehem. To think Joseph Smith didn’t know this, yet got so much else spot on about ancient culture, geography, and context correct is difficult to swallow.

    fof

  7. April 7, 2009 5:12 am

    Fof & Tom,
    Thanks for your courteous replies to my post. 🙂
    The LDS clearly teach that it is in the garden that jesus atoned, and Joseph Smith retranslated the verse in Luke to stay that he sweat drops of blood. All LDS leaders and prophets have taught that it was in the garden where Jesus atoned for the sins of the world. If you go to the gospel art kit, you will see the picture/print of Jesus in the garden and it stats that it is “there” that He bled for the sins of the world.
    Also, the NT reader for children also shows a drawing of jesus sweating blood, and it also states that in the garden jesus suffered for sins.
    With all due respect, the Bible does not teach that it was in the garden where he atoned or took on the sins of mankind.
    This is simply not stated and or taught in the bible.
    The bible does teach that it is thru the blood of the cross that Jesus made “peace”, by him. Col 1:20
    Paul said he boasted of nothing save the “cross of Jesus” Galatians 6:14
    “If” Jesus did indeed atone in the garden why does the bible not say so? Why does paul and others preach the cross and not gethsemane?
    As I said, our Lord did go in the garden to pray before His passion, but it was necessary for him to go to the cross. There was prophecies about his death, the manner of his death ( casting lots, pierced, no bones broken, crucified next to thieves etc) that needed to be fulfilled.
    The Lord’s blood was shed on Calvary, when He was pierced. It was the cross where he atoned, and thus the reason for the significance of the symbol of the cross for Christians around the world.
    Thanks for taking time to read my thoughts. I shared a bit about this “calvary vs. gethsemane” on my blog as well and listed many passages that points to the cross.
    God bless,
    gloria

  8. Tom permalink
    April 7, 2009 12:07 pm

    Gloria –

    For us it’s Calvary AND Gethsemane. We believe he did suffer for sin in Gethsemane, but it wasn’t yet complete. He HAD to endure the pain of the crucifixion, including the Father forsaking Him.

    Note that the sources you cite say that He suffered in Gethsemane – they don’t say “We don’t believe the cross was important.” WE DO!

    There isn’t one LDS leader that claims the atonement was complete before the resurrection.

    If you need evidence beyond my words – see Jeffrey R. Holland’s recent conference address:

    [audio src="http://broadcast.lds.org/genconf/2009/04/40/GC_2009_04_409_HollandJR___eng_.mp3" /]

    That’s the audio, the text will be up in a week or so. Therein he describes very powerfully the importance of the Lord’s suffering on Golgotha. It was indeed important, and we also believe it was fulfillment of OT prophecy. I’m frankly offended that you would try to tell me that we don’t think it’s important.

  9. faithoffathers permalink
    April 7, 2009 3:53 pm

    Gloria,

    Thanks for the response. Your appreciation for what Christ did is obvious.

    Like Tom said- LDS believe the atonement included BOTH the garden and cross. The suffering in the garden lasted around 3 hours, and the suffering on the cross lasted 6 hours, based on hints the Bible provides.

    Luke 22:44 states “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” This is the King James Version, not the JST.

    We very much recognize the cross and what was accomplished there. I am not sure how much it matters where he atoned for our sins as much as THAT HE DID. We believe His suffering was infinite and eternal- it cannot be overstated or exagerated.

    Some people criticized Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion and claim the depiction in his film exagerated the blood, whipping, and suffering in general. I will admit that the number of lashings and the degree of soft tissue damage depicted was beyond what I had previously imagined. But I have no problem with the movie because in my book, we cannot even begin to imagine the extent of His suffering, whatever form it occured in. It is impossible to exagerate His pain. Make sense?

    Thanks,

    fof

  10. April 7, 2009 9:45 pm

    FoF,

    How does the Mormon Church deal with scholars that claim that Luke 22:44-45 was a late addition to the Gospel of Luke and was not written by Luke? While I do not hold this view I think that this is an example that Mormons never seem to quote when they rave about Misquoting Jesus by Dr. Bart Ehrman.

  11. April 7, 2009 10:09 pm

    Hello, faith of fathers,
    We “run” into each other again.:)

    I appreciate your courteous responses.

    I just wanted to say in response to your prior comment left here, about the mode of Christ’s death.
    You stated that it didn’t matter “where he atoned but that He did indeed atone”. I kindly disagree with you, based on the fact that the “mode” of the death of our Lord was prophesied years earlier and that prophesy indeed was fulfilled on the cross at Calvary.
    For example the prophesy about being crucified with transgressors was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12 and fulfilled Mark 15:27, 28.
    He also had to be “pierced” in the hands and feet.
    Zech 12:10 and fulfilled in John 20:27
    Scorned and mocked: Ps. 22:7,8,
    Fulfilled: Luke 23:35
    Soldiers gambled for his clothes
    Ps 22:17, 18
    Fulfilled Matt 27:35, 36
    No bones broken *this is an important one because under the law of moses that lamb had to be roasted with no broken bones*
    Ps. 34:20, fulfilled John 19:32, 33, 36
    His side pierced, *his blood had to be shed – he had to be pierced*
    Zech 12:10 and fulfilled John 19:34

    The apostles and early evangelists of the church preached the cross — if Jesus had atoned in gethsemane would they have not preached gethsemane as the place where Jesus atoned?

    I know that the LDS reverence what Jesus did on the cross. They certainly do not spur it, but I believe Joseph Smith introduced this teaching about Jesus atoning in gethsemane. This , primarily , is why I believe th LDS do not use the cross as a symbol of their faith. They truly believe that it is in gethsemane that Jesus paid the price for sins and then “finished” on Calvary. Is this correct?

    Sincere regards,
    gloria

  12. Tom permalink
    April 7, 2009 11:00 pm

    I think FOF’s point was – in the abstract it doesn’t matter how Jesus paid for our sins as long as He did.

    OF COURSE in the context of OT prophecy it matters a lot. We love and believe all the prophecies and fulfillment you cite.

    Gloria – I don’t know why you’re trying to force a dichotomy between Gethsemane and Calvary. We simply believe the process of paying for our sins started in Gethsemane but wasn’t complete until He said, “It is finished.” The only difference I see is you believe it started on Calvary. It seems a pretty inconsequential difference – we both believe He bore the weight of our sin and “became sin for us.” Either way He fulfills OT prophecy. And either way it is appropriate to preach the cross. We do preach the cross – we just don’t use it as a VISUAL symbol.

  13. April 7, 2009 11:09 pm

    Hi, tom. Thanks for your reply. I sure hope I am not “trying” to “force” . Please forgive if you think I am trying to “force” anything here. I was merely replying to something that FoF stated here. For Christians, Tom the cross is a “big” deal. The Cross is salvation — that is the blood shed on the cross. 1 Cor 1:17-18 That is what I was trying to say, and perhaps did not convey adequately.
    If the cross is preached, then why as an LDS missionary was I asked to told to tell new converts to remove the cross from their homes and from their persons? ( that is cross necklaces, etc) If the cross is truly revered and preached in the LDS faith, then LDS members should be allowed to have crosses in their homes and persons , don’t you think?
    Thanks for the courteous exchange,
    Gloria

  14. Tom permalink
    April 8, 2009 3:11 am

    As I said, we preach the cross but do not use it as a visual symbol. Pres. Hinckley addressed this topic in detail:

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=2934d326b221c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    That should help you understand a little better, and Pres. H. certainly does a better job than I could do of explaining it..

  15. Tom permalink
    April 8, 2009 3:42 am

    I will agree, however, that most LDS tend to focus on Gethsemane. Perhaps we are wrong in that and should speak more of the cross. Most expressions of faith I hear are that He “suffered, died, and was resurrected.” So we kind of lump all of it together when we testify of Him.

    The words of the hymn “I Stand All Amazed” have always been special to me and it is one of the favorites of the LDS Church:

    “I think of His hands, pierced and bleeding to pay the debt;
    Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
    No, no! I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
    Until at the glorified throne I kneel at His feet.

    Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me!
    Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!”

    Personally, if I had to pick a visual symbol of my faith, it would be the empty tomb – the atonement on our behalf wasn’t complete until the Lord rose again. For me the tomb is the eternal symbol that He lives today, and that we all have hope of a glorious resurrection!

  16. NChristine permalink
    April 8, 2009 4:44 am

    Hi Tom, FoF, and Gloria,

    Thank you for all your comments and kind discussion. FoF, you mentioned you thought it did not matter where Jesus made the atonement—just that He did. I do think there is very good reason for being concerned about where the atonement was made, and for this simple reason: the entire concept of sacrifice in the Bible is one of a dead sacrifice. As best I can understand your conception of the atonement (as at least partially occurring in the garden of Gethsemane), this would appear to be a sacrifice involving suffering and blood to a living victim…but not death.

    Correct me if I misunderstood you; it seemed as if you were emphasizing Jesus’ sweating drops of blood in order to make the link between the blood of Gethsemane and atonement. However, blood-letting in and of itself is not the basis of the sacrificial system God instituted as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Indeed, the LORD explained it in Leviticus 17:11 and 14:

    “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul….it [the blood] is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof….”

    Why were blood sacrifices required for atonement? Because the sacrifice would die as a substitute for the offering sinner. Indeed, in all of the lengthy sacrificial commandments of the Pentateuch, I see no sacrifices that were made to bleed to provide atonement while still alive. The Scripture clearly states the reason life was taken to provide atonement:

    “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

    The book of Hebrews probes how Christ’s death was the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system. It explains (9:13-15),

    “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

    In other words, Christ’s death provided redemption for both believers after Him as well as believers under the “first testament” who had offered animal sacrifices that were not, of themselves, meritorious. The writer shows that Jesus “offered himself without spot to God” at his “death.”

    I can think of only one biblical parallel to the idea of blood-letting “sacrifice” not involving death: the pagan conception of sacrifice illustrated by the Baal-worshipers who, in their desperation to be heard by their god while on Mount Carmel with Elijah, cut themselves with knives until the blood gushed out (I Kings 18:28). Indeed, the biblical concept of atoning sacrifice is substitutionary and involves blood simply because it involves the death of the substitute. However, as Hebrews explains, those Old Testament animal sacrifices could never really take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). They were pictures of the Lamb of God who was still to come and make a once-for-all sacrifice of Himself:

    “For by one offering [sacrifice] he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:4).

  17. April 8, 2009 2:03 pm

    Hello, Tom. That Hymn is a beautiful one. I loved singing it when I was LDS.
    May you enjoy a lovely & blessed Easter!

    Sincere Regards,
    gloria

  18. Tom permalink
    April 8, 2009 6:49 pm

    Gloria – is it not in other religions’ hymnals? It was written by a non-LDS composer – Charles Gabriel. He was Episcopal, I think. We’ve latched onto it pretty nicely – I hope that wouldn’t be a reason for the rest of Christianity to abandon it! LOL

    I hope you have a wonderful Easter as well!

  19. April 8, 2009 7:06 pm

    Hi, Tom. I am not sure if it’s other hymnals….. I knew it was written by a Christian, and yes it is a lovely one. 🙂 I know our church hymnal doesn’t …. but we have other Christian hymns that the LDS include, such as How Great thou Art, Count your blessings, Abide with Me.

    I find it sad though that the LDS do not include Amazing Grace or the Old Rugged Cross – why do you think they don’t?

    Blessings back to ‘ya.

    Gloria 🙂

  20. Tom permalink
    April 9, 2009 12:40 am

    I can’t say definitively – I’m not on the Church Music Committee, although I’d really like to be if they ever asked me. (They won’t….)

    Amazing Grace – I’m not sure. I did sing this song at a funeral once, BYU Men’s Chorus has a well-known arrangement – so on the whole I’d say we’re not abandoning what this hymn teaches, it’s just not in our hymn book. Many hymns that are well-loved by the LDS people are not included in our current hymnal, i.e. “Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing,” yet that one has been done in General Conference a few times. So just because something isn’t in our hymnbook doesn’t mean Church leaders think it’s a bad song.

    The Old Rugged Cross – if I had to guess it would be along the lines of Pres. Hinckley’s article linked above, but I can’t be certain because we do have “Onward Christian Soldiers,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown,” “In Memory of the Crucified,” “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” “Upon the Cross of Calvary,” and others which have the cross or crucifixion as a prominent image.

    In general I’d say that our references to the cross or crucifixion tend to focus on what was accomplished on Calvary, i.e. the victory over sin, rather than the physical details of the crucifixion process. (that doesn’t mean we don’t believe the details were important in fulfilling OT prophecy – we do, and these details are always taught when we study the OT and NT, they are a prominently considered in Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ,” etc.).

    I think another reason we don’t focus on the cross as much as other Christians is that victory over death came with the empty tomb. In that regard the cross isn’t the whole story – the atonement wasn’t complete until Christ broke the bands of death (I’m not saying other Christians don’t believe this doctrine, just that we tend to focus on it more than the cross). Resurrection is an amazingly glorious doctrine in and of itself – it fills my soul with joy to know that I will one day be raised in immortality to meet my Lord, and because of His victory over sin I’m confident that it WILL be a happy day for me!

  21. Tom permalink
    April 9, 2009 1:34 am

    NChristine,

    “blood-letting in and of itself is not the basis of the sacrificial system”

    I agree with everything from that statement on, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a member of the LDS Church that would disagree on these points. We fully acknowledge the need for the sacrifice to entail death as you describe. Quoting from “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” released in 2000:

    “He was…sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

    We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

    He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20).”

    I will take issue with one statement from your earlier comment:

    “As best I can understand your conception of the atonement (as at least partially occurring in the garden of Gethsemane), this would appear to be a sacrifice involving suffering and blood to a living victim…but not death”

    I’m not sure if this means the LDS view or FoF’s view, but there is NOTHING in LDS doctrine that ever indicates that DEATH and RESURRECTION of our Savior were not ABSOLUTELY required. Period.

    If you review everything I’ve said on this thread you’ll see a General Conference address, an Ensign article, an official statement from the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles, multiple hymns, and my own personal testimony that our Lord’s DEATH on the cross was 100% essential.

    In the index to the Book of Mormon, Doctrine Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price there are 63 references to the importance of Jesus Christ’s DEATH. I can’t even begin to pick which references I would quote to demonstrate our belief. Perhaps my favorite:

    “…[T]here is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” (2 Nephi 2:8)

    It is incomprehensible to me that someone could honestly examine LDS beliefs and totally miss our belief that what happened on the cross was required for us to be saved. Without Christ’s death on the cross we would be damned eternally. Period.

  22. MadChemist permalink
    April 26, 2009 4:29 pm

    Gundeck,
    We do not make the assumption that it must have originally been written by Luke to make it authoritative. We do not make the other non-biblical assumptions such as inerrancy, infallibility, or sufficiency that some Christians bind themselves to, and therefore we escape those problems. The reason we quote Ehrman’s work is because it shows that one of the tenants of your “faith” is an infallibility of the translation of the text, something Mormons cannot find in the Bible and therefore don’t believe. Other Christians also recognize that it’s not in the Bible and don’t believe it either, while still revering the Bible as the word of God. I can respect them.

    FWIW, all of the biblical scholarship and criticism I thinks shows why Book of Mormon is important. We are now double-darned sure of the things that are re-iterated in the Book of Mormon and the Bible, (Christ’s divinity, atonement, resurrection) and worry less about scribal itnerference like the Johaninne comma. I recognize that you won’t accept that argument, but it’s good to know if you want to understand our viewpoint, nonetheless.

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