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Book of Mormon Analysis – Part 2

June 22, 2009

Okay, it’s time for another post on the Book of Mormon.  I actually like 2 Nephi much better than 1 Nephi.  About half of it is straight out of the book of Isaiah which is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  But even the parts that are not quoted from Isaiah are much smoother than the choppy style of 1 Nephi.

There are a few passages I especially like and agree with because they are in line with God’s revelations in the Bible.  My favorite verse is 2 Nephi 33:6 which says, “I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.”  Some other passages I like include the following:

  • 2 Nephi 2:4-9 – “salvation is free”; “by the law no flesh is justified”; men are saved only “through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life” and “they that believe in him shall be saved.”
  • 2 Nephi 11:7 – “For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ.” (***see update below)
  • 2 Nephi 25:29 – “Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul”
  • 2 Nephi 26:12 “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God”
  • 2 Nephi 28:22-23 – the devil will try to deceive people into believing there is no hell
  • 2 Nephi 31:21 – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God
  • 2 Nephi 29:8-9 – God doesn’t change.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I would like to dwell on this last point for a moment.  The BOM claims to be another book of inspired scripture, equal to the Bible, whose revelations are consistent with the Bible.  In 2 Nephi 29:8-9 God is reported to have said, “Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.  And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever” (2 Nephi 29:8-9).

In consideration of this passage, I would like to note a few significant differences I found between 2 Nephi and the Bible.  I’m sure this list is not exhaustive, but this is the result of my own personal research.  I’m sure if I googled “contradictions between the Bible and the BOM” I could find more examples to add to this list.

  • 2 Nephi 2:23-25 – Sin brings joy  /  Romans 5:12-18  – Sin brings death  (for a more detailed examination of the contradictions between the Bible and the LDS versions of the Fall, please see the previous 4 posts on this topic: [1, 2, 3, 4] )
  • 2 Nephi 5:21 – black skin was a curse from God / SoS 1:5-6; 4:1-7 – black skin is beautiful to God
  • 2 Nephi 25:23 – we’re saved by grace after all we can do /  Eph. 2:8-9 – we’re saved by grace through faith, not of ourselves, lest any man should boast
  • 2 Nephi 31:12, 13, 17 – the Holy Spirit will only be given to believers after water baptism / Acts 10:44-48 – the Holy Spirit is given to believers before water baptism

I want to look at this last point a little more closely.  In approx. 550BC, Nephi is said to have prophesied, “The voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost…yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels…for the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.”

According to this prophecy, God told Nephi that the means of receiving the Holy Spirit would follow a specific sequence:  First repentance, then water baptism, then remission of sins and the Holy Spirit.

Is this the sequence that we see in the Bible?  Sometimes.  There are a couple of accounts in the book of Acts where believers were baptized in water and then received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:16-17, 19:5-6).

However, the Bible never teaches that water baptism is a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told his disciples that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who asked (Luke 11:13).  Eph. 1:13-14 says the Holy Spirit is given to those who put their faith in Christ.  In Acts 10:34-43 Peter preached the gospel to the Gentiles and told them that they could receive remission of sins by believing in Jesus (Acts 10:43). We see that they received the word and the Holy Spirit was poured out on them in response to their faith prior to water baptism.  Later, in speaking of this event, Peter explained that God had purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).  The Bible never says water baptism is required for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Rather, God has given a specific example in Acts 10 that reveals the Nephi prophecy to be false.  Water baptism is not required for remission of sins or the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I Cor. 12:13 says that every member of the body of Christ has been baptized by the Spirit into the body.  Upon placing faith in Him, Jesus baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  Jesus told Peter, “John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:16).

I also had a few questions on the authenticity of this book from a linguistic standpoint.  I tried to look up my questions before posting, however, so as not to waste your time.  I was not able to find the LDS apologetic response, however, regarding the use of the Greek and Hebrew words such as “Christ,” “Messiah,” and “Bible.”  Since the BOM was supposed to have been translated from Reformed Egyptian, I do not think it should have these Greek and Hebrew words.

I did find this explanation on Wikipedia regarding the use of the word “Bible”:

The word “Bible” occurs in the Book of Mormon ten times in the space of 7 verses at 2 Ne. 29: 3-4, 6, and 10, and its usage is dated to between 559 and 545 B.C. However, the word “Bible” was actually coined many hundreds of years later when the Christian canon in the process of being compiled.

Mormon apologists argue one of two things:

  1. The word “Bible” may have been chosen by Joseph Smith as part of the translation, even though the word was not actually used in the text written on the gold plates.[citation needed]
  2. The word “Bible” appears in the text of a vision given to Nephi and may have been given to him by God”

And this regarding Christ and Messiah:

Apologists state that the original Reformed Egyptian text certainly used Hebrew forms of names and titles exclusively, but when translating Joseph Smith simply used whichever form of the name (“Christ” or “Messiah”) was more appropriate in English.[93]

Hugh Nibley postulated that the word Messiah could have been derived from Arabic rather than Hebrew[95], although Arabic is not mentioned as one of the languages in which the gold plates were written.

I was wondering which of these arguments are most compelling to my LDS readers and/or if you have any other responses to this.

I was also wondering what position my LDS readers take concerning the use of Shakespearean language in the BOM.  I noticed that in 2 Nephi 31:3 it says, “the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language.”  Since the Shakespearean language had been archaic for several hundred years, why wouldn’t God have had Joseph translate into the common language of 19th century English?

***Update: I no longer like 2 Nephi 11:7.  It sounds like it’s teaching Modalism.

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57 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2009 6:10 am

    First off, Mormonism doesn’t teach that baptism is a pre-requisite for receiving the Holy Spirit.

    We teach that it is a prerequisite for the GIFT of the Holy Spirit. But we hold that the Holy Spirit is available to all who will receive it freely (we usually term this capacity in the recipient – “the Light of Christ”).

    Secondly, I don’t know why Evangelicals are always so eager to minimize baptism when clearly it was important enough for Jesus Christ himself to do it as an example to all of us.

    As for 2 Ne 25:23 – I’ve already explained in detail, and in light of other Book of Mormon scriptures why I think you are misreading this verse. If you want me to dig up the comment and cut-and-paste it here again, I’ll be happy to do so.

    2 Ne 2:23-25 does not say that “sin brings joy.” That’s a very distorted read on that passage. It merely says that everything has it’s opposite and that neither wickedness nor righteousness exist in absence of the other. It’s really a quite sensible notion, actually.

    In no way does it conflict with any other scripture that states that sin brings misery, death or whatever else. In fact, the Book of Mormon itself states – “wickedness never was happiness.” I believe that’s Alma speaking to his son.

    As for the race issue, it should be noted that 2 Ne 5:21 separates the issue of skin color from the cursing itself. There is no need to conflate the two. You can, of course, say I’m just playing the elastic apologist here.

    But no more really than you Evangelicals do with Paul’s “bigoted and misogynist” writings. I’ve found Mormon arguments on racism about as convincing as Evangelical arguments on chauvinism.

    That said however, with both Paul and Nephi, you have to take their statements in context with the REST of the book – be it the Bible or the Book of Mormon. Evangelicals would point out that the New Testament is very positive about women. Likewise, I would point out that the Book of Mormon is very sympathetic to the Lamanites. Dark skin essentially vanishes as an issue in the Book of Mormon after Nephi’s statements about it.

    Also realize this is as much Nephi the man talking as it is God talking to us through Nephi. 1 and 2 Nephi were written by Nephi himself and included in the overall record by Mormon when he compiled the document. It’s not Mormon’s voice here, but Nephi’s. Read the rest of the book and see how Mormon views the race issue. He goes at great lengths to show the Lamanites actually had GREATER capacity for good than the Nephites. This climaxes with a Lamanite prophet Samuel rebuking the Nephites for their unbelief and wickedness.

    By the time you hit Mosiah, there isn’t even a hint of the racial divide left. I suspect this is because both Nephite and Lamanite peoples were thoroughly intermixed with the indigenous population by that point. So any further divides were cultural and national, rather than racial.

    Finally, on the choice of language in the Book of Mormon. The religious language of 1800s America was King James English.

    I file these kind of arguments in my mental drawer marked “trivial crap no one but Christian fundamentalists cares about.”

  2. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:42 am

    These are not real contradictions:

    “2 Nephi 2:23-25 – Sin brings joy / Romans 5:12-18 – Sin brings death”

    This verse in 2 Nephi does NOT say “sin brings joy,” it says: “And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.”

    This is merely stating a profound truth, the appreciation (or joy) we have for anything in life comes as a contrast bewteen light & darkness, sickness & health, pleasure & pain, etc. This fact is not in need of proof. Everyone knows it is by way of our awareness (knowledge OF evil/good, not necessarily doing evil) that we come to know where we stand. We act for good or evil relative to what we know. Otherwise, we are not accountable for our actions. This is a simple truth and is how we navigate life.

    It could also be said that Romans 5 12-18 is in agreement with Nephi in that it is only affirming the belief that death (mortality) came as a result of the transgression. Sin indeed brought death and since that point every word uttered in scripture, every symbolic device in temples ancient and modern, and Jesus’ atonement itself was done in an effort to reverse the direction of the Fall.

    Another note on the “black skin” verses. I just finished reading a book called “Blacks & The Mormon Priesthood” written by a black LDS Phd who debunked most of these arguments. He was quick to point out that the history of using the Bible to justify racism (even slavery) was common and that the Bible makes similar claims regarding the seed of Ham in the OT. Another example of how you cannot condemn the BOM without condemning the Bible itself.

    As for the Elizabethan language. There are two two reasons I can think of:

    First, as Seth pointed out, that was the religious language of 1830, it was not out of place at all.
    Second, God knew Jessica would have trouble believing Joseph Smith was a prophet so God had the BOM delivered in flawless, shimmering Elizabethan cadence to remove any ideas that a 3rd grade educated farm boy in rural 1830 could have ever possibly concocted such an astonishing tome between farm chores. This is actually an argument FOR the BOM.

  3. Ethan permalink
    June 23, 2009 9:47 am

    Someone once hilariously suggested Joseph stole the idea from Sam Spaulding, or that Spaulding wrote the BOM. Below is an unchanged excerpt of Spaulding’s manuscript. Read this and explain to me how the BOM even exists, it’s impossible that Joseph wrote it. Keep in mind the BOM was churned out in only 60 days!!!!!!!!!!

    There’s simply no way. Here’s Spaulding’s, you be the judge:

    [p.27]”In making this decent, six young women & five young men by a surprizing dexterity in whirling their bodies as they dcended cleared themselvs from the quagmire—The rest as their turns came plunged in & came out most wofully muded to the great diversion of the Spectators. The incident which excited the most meriment hapned when the last pa[ir] decended. by an unlucky spring to [p. 28] clear himself from the quagmire he brot his body along side of the declevity & roled his whole length into the midst of the quagmire where he lay his whole length in an horizontal position on his back neither heels up or head up, but horizontally—soft & easy—but alas when one unlucky event happens another follows close on the heal.—the fair, plump corpulant Damsel, his affectionate sweetheart came instantly, sliding with great velocity—she saw the woful position of her beloved—she wished him no harm—she raised her feet this bro’t the center of gravity directly over the center of his head—here she rested a moment—his head sunk—she sunk after him his heels kicked against the wind like Jeshuran waked fat—but not a word from his lips—but his ideas came in quick succession—tho’t he, what a disgrace to die here in the mud under the pressure of my sweet heart—however his time for such reflections were short—the tender hearted maid collecting all her agility in one effort dismounted & found herself on dry land i[n—] instant—not a moment to be lost; she seized her lover by one leg & draged him from the mud—a curious figure, extending about six feet six inches on the ground,—all bismeared from head to foot, spiting—puffing, panting & strugling for breath.—Poor man, the whole multitude laughing at thy calamity, shouting, rediculing—none to give thee consolation but thy loving & simpithetic partner in misfortune—

    Upon my soul, exclaims droll Tom—Stern formost—that bouncing Lass ought to have the highest prize for draging her ship from the mud—She was cleaning the filth from his face.”

    Wow.

  4. June 23, 2009 3:58 pm

    First off, Mormonism doesn’t teach that baptism is a pre-requisite for receiving the Holy Spirit.

    Seth, Mormons are always asking me to engage their canon. Now when I try to do that I am told “Mormonism doesn’t teach…”

    I was referring to a specific passage in the Book of Mormon that teaches that someone can only receive the Holy Spirit after water baptism. It doesn’t differentiate in this passage between GIFT of the Holy Spirit and “Light of Christ” as you are doing.

  5. June 23, 2009 4:01 pm

    Secondly, I don’t know why Evangelicals are always so eager to minimize baptism when clearly it was important enough for Jesus Christ himself to do it as an example to all of us.

    I wasn’t minimizing the role of baptism. Just pointing out the contradiction between Nephi’s prophecy and Acts 10. Water baptism is clearly not a pre-requisite for receiving the Holy Spirit or having one’s sins remitted according to Acts 10 and the later explanation Peter gives in Acts 15.

  6. June 23, 2009 4:57 pm

    Then what did Jesus do it for?

    Fashion accessorizing?

    Let’s engage what you said about the scripture:

    “2 Nephi 31:12, 13, 17 – the Holy Spirit will ONLY be given to believers after water baptism Acts 10:44-48 – the Holy Spirit is given to believers before water baptism” (emphasis mine)

    Where did you get “only?” There is no “only” in the passage you quote. Therefore, 2 Nephi does not contradict Acts 10:44-48.

    And I’m getting the distinction between the “Light of Christ” and the “Gift of the Holy Ghost” from other Mormon scripture – not from 2 Nephi alone.

    D&C 93:2 and John 1:9, for Mormons designate Christ as “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Where the Light of Christ ends and the influence of the Holy Spirit begins is unclear in Mormon thought.

    I mean, did you not notice that Mormon missionaries are taught to help investigators identify the presence of the Holy Spirit witnessing the truth of their message. Why would we have this in our missionary manual if we thought the Holy Ghost was only available after baptism?

    “For whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (D&C 84:44-46)

    There are several instances of the Holy Ghost descending upon people after baptism. Jesus’ own baptism being the first we hear of – the prototype if you will. Then there is the instance where Phillip baptized in Samaria and then Peter and John were sent to pray with them “that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:12-17)

    Paul also found converts in Ephesus who thought they had a valid baptism. Paul asks them if they have received the Holy Ghost, finds they were misinformed, re-baptizes them, and then lays his hands upon them – whereon they receive the Holy Ghost.

    In both cases, the Holy Ghost is bestowed following baptism, consistent with 2 Nephi. But this does not mean that after baptism is the ONLY time the Holy Ghost has influence.

  7. June 23, 2009 7:35 pm

    Okay, let me clarify your position. You seem to be saying that the Holy Spirit can have influence prior to water baptism, but that a person cannot receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit until after they have been baptized in water, is that right?

    Acts 10:45-47 says,

    “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”

    I think it is clear in this passage that they had received the actual gift of the Holy Spirit prior to water baptism.

    Then what did Jesus do it for?

    “to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15)

    Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and now offers His righteousness to us by faith apart from our own works.

  8. June 23, 2009 8:01 pm

    “Keep in mind the BOM was churned out in only 60 days!!!!!!!!!! ”

    I don’t necessarily believe this to be true. JS actually had several years after the first vision experience to be writing. Keep in mind he was “supposedly” visiting with the angel Moroni once a year for 3 years before even being given the “plates.” JS could have been writing the entire time. That would give him YEARS to write the BOM.

    Darrell

  9. June 23, 2009 9:40 pm

    Darrell,

    Exactly, I have never understood the claim for Joseph Smith writing the BoM in 60 days.

  10. June 23, 2009 11:31 pm

    Joseph’s mother says he used to tell the family these stories when he was 18 years old. She says he described:

    “the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them” [Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool: 1853), p. 87 as cited in Latayne Scott, The Mormon Mirage, p. 30].

    Latayne Scott takes the view that Joseph Smith wasn’t evil or diabolical – she believes he was simply “possessed of a great drive for power and fame, coupled with a vivid imagination” (The Mormon Mirage, p. 30).

    I met someone once who had a vivid imagination like this and he had a whole bunch of imaginary characters in his mind for a fictional book he wanted to write one day. It’s not as if JS didn’t have a precedent in his family for writing books. His mother and grandfather both wrote books. His son and grandson also wrote books (Brodie, p. 3).

  11. psychochemiker permalink
    June 24, 2009 1:33 am

    Jessica.
    Your text in acts doesn’t say they had received the “gift of the Holy Ghost.” For LDS, there is a distinction. Seth has pointed it out very clearly and patiently.

    The Holy Spirit can teach unbaptized people things. Only members receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, a promise of constant companionship while the member honors that gift.

    Furthermore,
    If JS was biding his time and writing the book for years, how come he buried his head in the hat. Seriously, unless your implying that Joseph had some kind of night vision and could see in complete darkness. You anti-Mormons really need to get your stories straight. Because Joseph can’t be both writing the Book of Mormon before hand and peering into a dark hat that doesn’t let any light through at the same time. And where is this “manuscript” and the textual evidence for it? You have historical evidence of the scribes manuscript and yet you continue to believe in some “lost” manuscript for which there is no evidence, no historical record, or even mention by anyone involved in the translation process? Seriously, the same crowd that believes in creatio ex nihilo also believes in creatio manuscripto ex niholo. In the absence of historical evidence invent a manuscript to dismiss Mormonism. If that manuscript cannot be found, call it a vast Mormon conspiracy to hide their history. Sorry, Darrel, but just like the democrats, continuing to scream something doesn’t make it true dude. Let’s see some historical evidence rather than pulling non-evidence from your back-side.

  12. June 24, 2009 2:41 am

    Psycho,

    No conspiracy theory here. Instead, I am simply demonstrating that I do not believe it is an incontrovertable fact that JS “translated” the BOM in 60 days. This “fact” is consistently thrown around as “evidence” of God’s hand in the coming forth of the BOM. Problem is it was very much possible JS developed/wrote/conceived (call it what you want) the BOM over a number of years. In fact, his own mother’s words appear to show he was very much in the process of doing so, for, as Jessica pointed out, by the time he reached his 18th birthday, he was already in the habit of weaving tall tales about the American Indians. Could these tall tales be his BOM “first draft?”

    As far as the peering into the hat goes, the LDS church has its own problems to deal with on this subject. Peeping into a hat and reading words off of a magic rock does not jive well with translating from Gold Plates. Why did he need the plates at all? And where are all the paintings showing JS peeping into a hat anyway? Doesn’t the LDS Church want to give an honest picture of how God worked with the coming forth of the BOM? Why show JS studiously studying the Gold Plates? Seems like there are major inconsistencies for JS and the LDS Church on this one.

    Darrell

  13. June 24, 2009 3:17 am

    Jessica.
    Your text in acts doesn’t say they had received the “gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    Okay, let’s try this again…

    Acts 10:43-47 “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”

  14. June 24, 2009 3:19 am

    “Peeping into a hat and reading words off of a magic rock does not jive well with translating from Gold Plates.”

    Why not?

    Darrell, you and I already believe we’ll be saved by a “cosmic Jewish zombie.”

    It’s a little late to be hung up on whether a particular belief is photogenic or not.

  15. June 24, 2009 3:22 am

    OK Jessica. So they got the GIFT of the Holy Ghost prior to baptism in this case?

    If so, so what?

    Like I said 2 Nephi is fully compatible with this anyway. And just because LDS policy does things a certain way today doesn’t require a Mormon belief that things were always done in that manner.

    You’re trying to make the language of 2 Nephi more exclusive than it really is.

  16. Ethan permalink
    June 24, 2009 3:42 am

    Darrell,

    I took a tedious BYU English grammar class from a man named Royal Skousen in 2000. Although his lectures on dangling participles were to die for, what I did not know then is that Prof Skousen is a world renowned expert on linguistics. Turns out he has spent decades meticulously examining the BOM and its origins. His findings regarding the original manuscript and dictation process are very interesting. It deals with just the kind of issues you mentioned, particularly the process and whether or not JS was referencing existing notes/ideas, etc.

    I won’t point you to any specfic articles, but just google his name and you will see much of his research. I believe he is also involved with the Joseph Smith Papers project curently underway.

  17. June 24, 2009 3:44 am

    I don’t think I’m making 2 Nephi more exclusive than it really is. I just now looked up “The Gift of the Holy Ghost,” p. 83-84 in the LDS Gospel Reference manual, True to the Faith, and it includes the 2 Nephi 31:17 reference in the “additional references” at the end of the section after teaching that water baptism in the LDS church is required for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  18. June 24, 2009 3:59 am

    I think that the point of the example in Acts 10:43-47 is that if the gift of the Holy Ghost can be received prior to baptism, then we don’t need membership in the LDS church to have it.

    BOO-YAH!

  19. June 24, 2009 6:06 am

    BTW, Jessica, I wrote a paper on this topic during my first semester at BYU called “The Gift of the Holy Ghost and Why Non-LDS Christians Have It.” It seems amateurish to me now, but I think it still works as an introduction to the evangelical view on the issue and a basic response to the common LDS proof-texts.

  20. psychochemiker permalink
    June 24, 2009 1:34 pm

    Awesome paper Jack, and Jessica, I was unware of verse 45. Thank you for helping me know that better. I would have to agree that given the assumption that only given the Bible, one could interpret acts 10: so say that “all believers can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost before baptism.” However, I can also agree with Matt (who posted at Jack’s site), that given the assumption of the Book of Mormon in addition to the bible, one can interpet acts 10 as an exception, something that God can authorize (like polygamy) even if the standard form is to be baptized first before receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (monogamy). In fact, even without the BoM, one could view Acts 10 as an irregularity. Further, I would suspect that from an ancient world view, the spirit was a bit more less controlled, “alighting on whomsoever it will”.

    What’s slightly confusing to me, however, is why Paul is using reception of the Holy Ghost as evidence as to WHY the gentiles should be allowed to be baptized. It seems as if paul was using a spiritual witness of proof of the conversion of these saints, a spiritual witness that would be DENIED by many of the Evangelicals who post here? Jessica, do you see the disconnect between Pauls mentioning spiritual proof of the gentiles in Acts and the denial of spiritual feelings confirming the Book of Mormon you’ve written about earlier? Being a Mormon, and accepting spiritual witnesses, I must interpret that Paul was correct, they were allowed to get baptism because they had received the Holy Ghost.

    I honestly like the doctrinal synthesis that baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost are technically ONE ordinance. Can anyone find the quote about baptizing a sack of flour being just as valid as a baptism performed when not in view of reception of the Holy Ghost?

  21. June 24, 2009 3:33 pm

    PC ~ I’m not trying to reply for Jessica, but in the account in Acts 10:34ff, the Gentiles don’t just have a “spiritual” witness. They have the external evidence of speaking in tongues:

    For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. ~ Acts 10:46a

    I’m fine if Latter-day Saints want to interpret the account in Acts 10 as an exception to the rule from their worldview, but what’s to stop God from allowing similar exceptions today?

  22. psychochemiker permalink
    June 24, 2009 9:25 pm

    what’s to stop God from allowing similar exceptions today?

    I personally believe that God can do whatever He wants. It seems to me, however, that the reason that story was included was to prove to some close-minded Jewish Christians that God’s blessing was also available to the Gentiles. I could certainly see that as more of an exception material than precedence.

    So while God can do things in whatever order He sees fit, I have faith that most Evangelicals are expected (by God) to join the LDS church. Some may have plans made by God that keeps them outside the LDS church. However, some of the most loving Evangelicals I knew certainly have the spirit with them, either by gift or presence, I don’t think it matters.

  23. NChristine permalink
    June 24, 2009 9:34 pm

    PC,

    But there’s another exception, at least. What about the thief on the cross? While we don’t have a “gift of the HS” there, He was told by Jesus that he would be in “Paradise” with Jesus. Where is Paradise? In Revelation 2:7 “paradise” is where the “tree of life” is. In Revelation 22:1-5, the “tree of life” is where the throne of “God and of the Lamb” is.

    So it seems as though the unbaptized, death-bed repentant thief on the cross went straight to wherever God’s throne is.

  24. June 24, 2009 11:25 pm

    Christine, even some traditional Christian scholars don’t think that Jesus was talking about the final destination of heaven when he told the thief he would be in paradise.

    How could it be, when the final judgment wouldn’t have even occurred by that time?

  25. June 25, 2009 1:00 am

    Psychochemiker ~ An interesting case on the gift of the Holy Spirit thing is that of Roger Keller. He left the LDS church in his teens (back then, there was no way to just resign; if you wanted to leave the church they excommunicated you, so he was technically excommunicated) and became a Protestant. He spent decades as a Presbyterian and Methodist minister before rejoining the LDS church. He teaches at the religion department at BYU now and has also served as an LDS bishop, so he’s pretty much been a “pastor” in both of our traditions.

    It may be someone else I’m remembering, but I seem to recall him telling our class that he felt no discernible improvement in feeling the Spirit’s guidance after joining the LDS church. It was just as strong when he was a Protestant.

    If I believed in the LDS paradigm, I’d have to conclude that either this “light of Christ” thing can be so strong and so constant in non-members that there is no practical difference between it and the gift of the Holy Spirit, or God has a mind of His own on giving non-members the Spirit which the church hasn’t quite caught up to.

    Whatever the case, I just wish Mormons would quit telling me that it’s “impossible” for me to have the gift of the Spirit as a non-member (not that anyone here has done that). How can they be sure of that?

    NChristine ~ Personally I think that paradise isn’t heaven; it’s a kind of pre-heaven until the resurrection, a place of rest for the righteous until the end of it all. It’s also known as Abraham’s bosom as per the rich man and Lazarus story. Hades/Sheol is pre-hell (where the rich man is in the story).

    I used to have a list of Scriptures which backed up my view on this. Maybe I’ll try to muddle through my old NIV Study Bible and find them.

    However, as I understand it, most Latter-day Saints think “paradise” in this case meant spirit prison, which can be both good and bad, so I still disagree with the LDS interpretation of the passage. I think that the thief’s confession got him a ticket to paradise instead of Hades and it happened without water baptism.

  26. June 25, 2009 1:01 am

    “It seems as if paul was using a spiritual witness of proof of the conversion of these saints, a spiritual witness that would be DENIED by many of the Evangelicals who post here? Jessica, do you see the disconnect between Pauls mentioning spiritual proof of the gentiles in Acts and the denial of spiritual feelings confirming the Book of Mormon you’ve written about earlier?”

    PC,

    I agree with the distinction Jack made in her comment above between a spiritual feeling and an external evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. As I’ve mentioned before, I do examine something by its external spiritual fruits. This plays into my reasons for not joining the LDS church and affects my decision-making in all aspects of my life: which church I will attend, which preachers/authors I will receive spiritual teaching from, what relationships I will have, etc.

    Also, it’s not that I deny the reality of spiritual feelings altogether – I have spiritual feelings too! I just don’t believe feelings are a reliable means for discerning truth. They’re too subjective and open to misinterpretation.

    Jack, that was an excellent paper! I hadn’t thought of what Jesus said in John 7:38-39. This passage fits much better with the comparison I was trying to make. In 2 Nephi 31, we have Jesus telling Nephi that a person must be baptized in water to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In John 7:38-39, we have Jesus saying whoever believes on Him will receive the Holy Spirit. Then we have Acts 10 as an example to see which of these statements better accords with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

  27. June 25, 2009 3:32 am

    “They’re too subjective and open to misinterpretation.”

    So are the facts Jessica.

  28. NChristine permalink
    June 25, 2009 3:33 am

    Seth and Jack,

    Good points both. I agree with you, Jack, regarding the distinction between the “final heaven” and “Abraham’s bosom” for the righteous dead—at least for the OT believers. The word “paradise,” though, is seemingly used in II Corinthians 12:4 as a synonym for “the third heaven” of 12:2, and the righteous dead are clearly in the presence of God (e.g., II Cor. 5:8). It’s been awhile since I studied this, too! 🙂 I also agree with you that, whatever the exact case, it still shows the thief made it to the place for the righteous without water baptism.

    Seth, the “new heaven and new earth” would not yet have been created, so it makes sense that the “paradise” of Luke 22 and that of Revelation may not be exactly the same (i.e., an “old” heaven and a new heaven, so to speak). Good point, if that’s what you meant. However, Jesus said “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). So here are some things that we can clearly infer from that statement and others in Scripture:

    1. The thief would be wherever Jesus was. Sure, Jesus “went and preached unto the spirits in prison,” but “paradise” can’t equal LDS “spirit prison” because of #2-6.

    2. The place was a place of happiness. The lexicons say the word “paradise” is probably a Persian word originally meaning a “garden” or “park” or grand “preserve” and was used to translate “Eden” in the Septuagint. Also, Paul says that to be “with Christ…is far better.”

    3. The place was different than the destination of the other thief.

    4. The place was the same place the apostle Paul expected to go upon death: “to depart, and be with Christ [see #1], which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

    5. It was the same place the martyr Stephen said he was going as he was being killed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit [see #1]” (Acts 7:59). This place also had the throne of God in it: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).

    6. The place has the same name as the “final” (new heaven) place with the throne of God (Revelation 2:7, 22:1-5).

    A quick check of LDS.org shows that the following Mormon scriptures present “paradise” as a place of happiness for the righteous: II Nephi 9:13, Alma 40:12, 4 Nephi 1:14, Moroni 10:34, and D&C 77:2 (which actually defines “heaven” as “the paradise of God”). The word does not seem to be used otherwise. The two cross-reference links for Luke 22:43 seem to go along with the “rest for the righteous” idea. So even going with what LDS scriptures/cross-references say, it seems the thief made it to a place for the righteous dead…without baptism.

    I have to give you a good-natured ribbing about your “traditional Christian scholars.” I really don’t think you should rely on creeds or tradition or traditional scholars. 🙂 Just kidding….

  29. June 25, 2009 3:41 am

    That’s fine Christine.

    LDS theology typically refers to the place where the dead go after death (but prior to the final judgment as “the spirit world”). LDS theology holds that this spirit world is right here on earth, but unseen by those living mortal lives here.

    And we believe that all spirits, good or evil, go to this place.

    However, the personal righteousness of the deceased will impact the experience of this spirit world for the individual. For the righteous, this spirit world is a place of peace, and anticipation of Christ’s return (and a place of work preaching to those who did not accept Christ in life). For the wicked, it is a place of anxiety, personal torment and dread. Some LDS scriptures referring to “hell” may actually be referring to this place of waiting rather than some final state.

  30. NChristine permalink
    June 25, 2009 3:52 am

    Hi Seth,

    Thanks for clarifying–those are helpful insights re: LDS theology. That might kind of explain #2 above, but it doesn’t seem to fit with #1 and #3-6, does it? Stephen look UP into heaven, and he saw God’s throne with Jesus next to it, and it seems he clearly anticipated going there (“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”). And Paul anticipated being “with Christ” as soon as he was “absent from the body.” And Christ is said to be “at the right hand of God” (multiple references).

  31. June 26, 2009 2:42 am

    Hi Jessica,

    Hey, on S.P.A.M., we just ran off an atheist anti-Mormon/exMormon who goes by the name Measure. He was using a “sock puppet” account (a second account under another screen name) to try to get in under the radar. He has been attacking me on YouTube and most recently on Examiner.com. I invited him to debate on the site under fair rules of order, but he declined (as they always do.)

    The funny thing is, on his way out the door, he invited everyone on S.P.A.M. to his site, which is just a reposting of the best of “ExMormon.org.” When I went to his “About me” link, guess what I found?

    I found your name there where you had written this:
    ===================================
    jessica Says:
    September 1, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Reply
    Hey, I’m new to the blogging world…

    Is there a way to subscribe to your blog updates?
    ===================================
    A Christian anti-Mormon seeking to link up with an atheist anti-Mormon? It brought the following scriptures to light:

    2 Cor. 6: 14
    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    and…

    Luke 12:2-3
    2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

    Why do you need the help of an atheist? Shouldn’t you be trying to save him? At least we believe in Christ! It just goes to show you that you and he are on the same side. All these things are known. Shouldn’t you be ashamed, a person with “Bible college” training consorting with infidels to try to bring down people who believe in Jesus? Shame on you, girl!

    Greg
    http://www.spamlds.org

  32. June 26, 2009 4:06 am

    exmormon.org is one of the armpits of the internet.

    It’s more of a group therapy session than anything resembling reasoned discussion.

  33. June 26, 2009 4:09 am

    I haven’t visited exmormon.org much at all. I did try to make some friends with ex-mormon atheists when I first joined the blogosphere and I’ve had some profitable conversations. I was able to persuade one to consider that Jesus Christ was actually a real person. He had been so disollusioned after losing faith in Mormonism that he thought Jesus Christ was just a myth.

  34. June 26, 2009 4:10 am

    spamlds ~ Shame on you, girl!

    It’s extremely condescending and sexist of you to address a grown woman as “girl.” Way to set your light on a hill.

  35. June 26, 2009 4:41 am

    It’s okay, Jack. That’s nothing compared to some of the things Spam has called me. 🙂

    Please remember everyone that I will delete any further personal attacks. I shouldn’t have allowed Spam’s. It’s against my policy as it really prevents honest and profitable discussion. If personal attacks reign we never get to talking about the real issues that divide us. It’s a major red herring and as I’ve told Spam before I don’t see why he feels the need to resort to these kinds of tactics. He has some arguments to present and he should simply state his facts. I don’t see why he feels the need to get personal about it.

  36. June 27, 2009 11:29 am

    Spam,

    Your criticism of Jessica reminds me of the Pharisees’ criticism of Christ for hanging out with and trying to help “unclean” sinners. Personally, I commend Jessica for her heart and desire to reach out to someone who has been so damaged by lies. There is a difference between being “unequally yoked” and reaching out in love. Keep in mind we have been commanded to go after the lost sheep.

    God Bless you for your work Jessica. Keep it up!

    Darrell

  37. Tom permalink
    July 7, 2009 9:36 pm

    Who’s to say the thief on the cross hadn’t been baptized? Plenty of people do horrible things after baptism, only to come back to the fold. It doesn’t say how long he’d been a thief. Maybe he only stole once in an effort to feed a starving family and he was otherwise a fantastic disciple. I mean, come on, we all do some pretty dumb stuff. And we’ve all been baptized (or at least accepted Christ). The Bible never says he wasn’t baptized.

    Jack, I don’t think I’ve met a LDS who thinks paradise means “spirit prison” in this case. I’ve heard plenty say it actually means spirit paradise. Again, one evil act, or even a series of evil acts, does not automatically merit a trip to spirit prison. After all, Christ is the judge.

  38. Stephanie permalink
    July 8, 2009 1:08 am

    Hello Tom,

    Who’s to say the thief on the cross hadn’t been baptized? The Bible never says he wasn’t baptized.

    If God is indeed the author of scripture why would He leave out this essential detail? Would you also suggest that the thief had participated in the Lord’s Supper? What good works did he accomplish upon the cross that are also mysteriously absent from the text? Without the gospels clarifying the crucial detail of his baptism or lack thereof we must be silent on the subject that the text is silent on.

    Maybe he only stole once in an effort to feed a starving family and he was otherwise a fantastic disciple.

    If this were true then his statements to Jesus should have been one of confession of his prior faith and subsequent rebellion. There is no hint of this in his words. They are, in fact, a very simple profession of true faith. First he rebukes the other thief, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds.” This man shows true penitence. He understands that his sin condemns him and that death is a justly punishment. Further, however, he bears his testimony of Jesus, “But this man hath done nothing amiss.” Nothing amiss! He was being crucified for blasphemy! Either the man was completely uninformed and unaware of the chaotic crucifixion scene around him or he knew the charges and believed them unfounded. The reason for Jesus’ crucifixion is spelled out in the previous chapter, “Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth” (Lu. 22:70-71).

    We see from his next statement that the thief did indeed understand who Jesus claimed to be, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He understood that Jesus has the power and authority to remember him. Who else has this power? This reminds me of the scribes questioning of Jesus, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7) Jesus’ response to them showed that He could not only read their mind and heal the sick man, He could also forgive sins, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:10-11). The thief also acknowledges that it is Christ’s Kingdom. His few statements are a powerful testimony of his belief.

    Jesus spoke this promise to only the one thief who believed, not the other. Perhaps his sin was a minor one in the eyes of man. Maybe he just stole a piece of fruit. However, in the eyes of God no sin is minor. In fact, Jesus clarified the absolute righteous demand of God when He said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). And also, regarding murder, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:21-22). Comparing ourselves with one another is no way of measuring righteousness. Only by comparing ourselves to God Himself can we see how terribly we fall short of His standard. In other words, there is no “minor” sin which God would wink at and allow the man into heaven.

    I am certainly not one to dismiss the importance of Baptism. I believe it to be supremely important—an example that Jesus Himself entered into. We see many New Testament examples of believers who were immediately baptized after conversion. However, I think that since this passage refers to a salvation without the teaching of baptism we should simply take it for what it is and not confuse it with the doctrine of baptism. It is simply a profound testimony of Who Jesus is and the power that He has to save.

    Stephanie

  39. psychochemiker permalink
    July 8, 2009 2:18 am

    Stephanie:

    If God is indeed the author of scripture why would He leave out this essential detail?

    That’s quite an assumption you write there. The Bible never claims it won’t leave out essential detail. Based on the complexity of creation, I’m pretty sure a lot of “essential details” were left out. Not everyone makes those same assumptions.

  40. Stephanie permalink
    July 8, 2009 2:47 am

    PC,

    Please allow me to disagree. 🙂 There is a difference between details and essential details. For example, if the passage confirmed the thief had been baptized the details would include where he was baptized, by whom, at what time, under what circumstances, etc. We could debate those details at length. We cannot even debate that however since the critical issue if not confirmed or even alluded to by Scripture. The essential detail in this passage is the issue of baptism itself. Jessie has already pointed out the example of the Acts passage where the believers received the Holy Ghost prior to water baptism.

    To me it seems that the only way to come to the conclusion that the thief on the cross was previously baptized is by prooftexting.

    Stephanie

  41. Tom permalink
    July 8, 2009 2:59 am

    Stephanie,

    Without the gospels clarifying the crucial detail of his baptism or lack thereof we must be silent on the subject that the text is silent on.

    That’s my point. Whenever someone refers to him as the “unbaptized” thief, or says something like, “obviously baptism isn’t essential because the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized,” I call them out on it. It is neither stated nor implied and is certainly not obvious.

    I agree. It’s blatant prooftexting to say he was unbaptized.

  42. July 8, 2009 3:07 am

    “If God is indeed the author of scripture why would He leave out this essential detail?”

    Probably purely to bug dogmatic bible inerrantists.

  43. Tom permalink
    July 8, 2009 3:08 am

    It would also be blatant prooftexting to say he WAS baptized.

  44. Stephanie permalink
    July 8, 2009 3:11 am

    Tom and PC,

    I agree. It’s blatant prooftexting to say he was unbaptized.

    Heres the difference, I think. 🙂 From the LDS perspective the thief must have been baptized. In order to go to paradise–where Jesus would be–it was absolutely essential. So, when you come to the text you have a pre-conceived doctrinal bias. You know he was baptized based upon your doctrine. There have been many, many, many other examples in the gospels of people who have believed. Think of the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well. Were they also baptized? It seems most logical to come to the conclusion that what is not included in the details is assumed to have not happened.

    Stephanie

  45. psychochemiker permalink
    July 8, 2009 10:52 am

    From the LDS perspective the thief must have been baptized. In order to go to paradise–where Jesus would be–it was absolutely essential. So, when you come to the text you have a pre-conceived doctrinal bias.

    Exactly. And from an Evangelical perspective, the thief must have NOT been baptized. In order to go to paradise-where Jesus would be-it was absolutely unnecessary. So when you come to the text you have a pre-conceived doctrinical bias.

  46. tomchik permalink
    July 8, 2009 12:24 pm

    I NEVER said he was baptized. I never said he was unbaptized. All I’m saying is we don’t know one way or the other and that it is prooftexting to claim a baptized or unbaptized state for thief.

    I thought we had agreed on that.

  47. tomchik permalink
    July 8, 2009 12:25 pm

    Wow, I can’t type today.

    “…for THE thief.”

  48. tomchik permalink
    July 8, 2009 12:29 pm

    Stephanie,

    It seems most logical to come to the conclusion that what is not included in the details is assumed to have not happened.

    I actually think it’s more logical to say we don’t know and not to try to draw conclusions from details that aren’t present.

    For example, in my (perhaps rusty) memory we don’t have a record of ANY of the Twelve being baptized. I would never posit that all of them were unbaptized. Ever. Even if I thought baptism were unessential. Nor do I now say that they were all baptized. We just don’t know.

  49. July 9, 2009 2:28 am

    Well, since Jesus went to “hell” after he died on the cross (e.g., 1 Pet. 3.19-20), the thief must have been in “hell” with him in the interim.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrowing_of_Hell

    TYD

  50. Stephanie permalink
    July 9, 2009 2:58 am

    Hi Yellow Dart,

    Paradise=hell?

    Yikes! What kind of sense does this make? As a reward for this man’s confession, testimony and belief the thief has the privilege of going to hell?!? Why would anyone want to believe if this were the great prize!? What makes the believing thief different than the other thief? Why didn’t Jesus address them both and say, “See you both in hell?”

    Arguably one of the most difficult to understand passages in scripture, 1 Peter is no straight shot to saying that Jesus went to hell. First of all the word hell is not used or even implied. Peter uses the description “spirits in prison.” Christ died on Friday and was raised on Sunday. There is no timeframe indicated in 1 Peter on when He preached to the captive spirits. One of the reasons people argue that the place couldn’t have been hell is because Jesus had claimed He would be in paradise. Is paradise in hell? I should hope not for the Apostle John records Jesus’ words describing that place, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). Strong’s defition of the Greek word paradeisos is “a park, i.e. (specially), an Eden (place of future happiness, “paradise”):–paradise.”

    Stephanie

  51. Stephanie permalink
    July 9, 2009 3:18 am

    Dear PC, Tom, et al, 🙂

    Exactly. And from an Evangelical perspective, the thief must have NOT been baptized. In order to go to paradise-where Jesus would be-it was absolutely unnecessary. So when you come to the text you have a pre-conceived doctrinical bias.

    I am being honest when I say this is not true. It does not affect my doctrine if the thief was baptized. It never says he was and, as a thief, to imply that he was is stretching the text a bit. However, all of that aside it really would be okay if he were baptized. I believe baptism is an out-and-out instruction that believers should obey. I don’t see any reason why true believers should resist or delay baptism. On the contrary it seems a very important step in following Christ.

    My main area of concern is when the doctrine of baptism becomes intertwined with or intermingled with the doctrine of justification—that is the act in which God declares a person righteous. The great treatise on salvation in the New Testament is the book of Romans. I absolutely love this book because Paul makes excellent use of Old Testament examples to capture New Covenant concepts. And I also love his linear, logical style of teaching doctrine. The progress of salvation is established well by starting at the beginning and reading to the end. Chapters 1 through 3 address the gospel and the need for it for the Jews, Greeks and the entire world. Chapter 4 explains that this gift is by faith. This is where he uses the example of Abraham being justified years prior to his circumcision. Circumcision was that outward act that was required by God in the Old Testament—yet we see that it was not that act that made Abraham righteous! Chapters 5-8 begin the description of the results of a believer’s justification. These include freedom from the penalty and power of sin.

    Is baptism missing from the book of Romans? Absolutely not! Paul provides the doctrine of baptism in chapter 6 to show that just as Jesus was buried and raised so should we also live in newness of life, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Note, however, that the instruction of baptism is completely separate from justification. Paul already finished his argument on justification in chapter 4.

    Stephanie

  52. psychochemiker permalink
    July 9, 2009 2:10 pm

    I firmly think, that as moderator of the covenant, Jesus has to right to expect and demand anything from us.

    If he choose to tell us we have to get baptized in order for him to justify us, He has that right, right?

    Mormons believe He has,
    Some Evangelicals (not all) believe He hasn’t.

    But let’s at least admit, that Jesus DOES have the authority to require it.

  53. Tom permalink
    July 9, 2009 6:06 pm

    Nice summary of the Book of Romans! I really enjoy that epistle myself.

    I don’t care if people believe baptism is or isn’t essential for justification. I think the Bible can be read either way on this doctrine I just wanted to point out that it is blatant proof-texting to say the thief on the cross was unbaptized, as is stating that he was baptized.

    Thus, using the thief on the cross as evidence in the baptism discussion is, in my opinion, intellectually irresponsible. We just don’t know whether or not he was baptized. Period.

  54. July 9, 2009 8:31 pm

    Apparently you missed the scare quotes Steph.

    Jesus’ descensus ad inferosis an early Christian tradition found in a variety of forms in early Christian literature, including 1 Peter 3.18-19.

    TYD

  55. Stephanie permalink
    July 10, 2009 1:24 am

    YTD,

    I did get the sarcasm. Thanks 🙂

    I wasn’t going to mention anything when you first posted, but since you brought it up again I thought I would comment on theory you have brought up. I don’t put much stock in “creeds” or “church tradition.” While it is interesting to examine what early Christians supposedly believed and taught I believe the best source of doctrine is the Bible itself.

    Stephanie

  56. Stephanie permalink
    July 10, 2009 3:11 am

    Hi Tom,

    I’m glad that you like Romans. Like I said, I really love it as well. Have you ever read Luther’s commentary on Romans? I can’t say that it is an interesting read 🙂 but then it has been translated from German and its almost 500 years old….so that might be the problem. However, it is amazing to me how different Luther’s take on this book is when compared to traditional Catholicism. It is amazing that through the reliance upon Scripture he was able to come to such a different conclusion about grace than the Catholics did.

    I don’t care if people believe baptism is or isn’t essential for justification.

    Do you believe that justification is the only requirement for glorification (or, in LDS terms, exaltation)? If it is then it should be critical to understand the role of baptism. For example, if it is required for justification then it should be taught as such and trusted in. If it is not then it is equally important not to rely on it as a means of salvation.

    PC has posted something that I think is extremely important and a very good point.

    I firmly think, that as moderator of the covenant, Jesus has to right to expect and demand anything from us.

    If he choose to tell us we have to get baptized in order for him to justify us, He has that right, right?

    Mormons believe He has,
    Some Evangelicals (not all) believe He hasn’t.

    But let’s at least admit, that Jesus DOES have the authority to require it.

    I absolutely agree that if Jesus demands baptism we should practice this. I believe that the practice of baptism is often de-emphasized in Evangelical churches and mis-used (eg, infant baptism) in other churches. Clearly what Jesus taught should be obeyed.

    Here is where I disagree with you, PC. 🙂 You have only emphasized one command of Jesus. He commanded many other practices! Some of them were internal–for example, equating lusting with adultery, condemning those who judge, rejoicing in persecution, etc. Others were external practices–baptism, observing the Lord’s Supper, giving to the poor, etc. Is faithfully giving to the poor, faithfully observing the Sacrament, generally just being a “good person” sufficient for exaltation? I would argue “no.” I would suggest that these are practices that flow out of life that has already been justified, or made righteous.

    The New Testament example of baptism seems quite clear. First, the individuals believed and then they were baptized. Think of the Samarian Christians

    But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12

    It is the same with the Ethiopian eunuch

    And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. Acts 8:37-38

    And the Phillippian jailer

    And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. Acts 16:31-33

    It was the same with the believers in Corinth

    And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Acts 18:8

    These individuals were practicing baptism after believing in Christ. Look again at the Romans example. Paul doesn’t address baptism until he has completed his section on justification. He uses an the example of circumcision in chapter 4. Abraham was justified prior to that outward act of faith. The New Testament precedent is just the same. The outward act follows the conversion, but the conversion alone is sufficient for salvation. Look at Romans 5 (again, a whole chapter before Paul addresses baptism), “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 1). Justification is by faith alone–no outward acts.

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