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The Great Apostasy

September 27, 2009

Recently I finished James Talmage’s book The Great Apostasy. I found that it left me wondering about a lot of things. I have often heard LDS talk about the apostasy and restoration but I had never thought about those concepts in terms of actual events and dates. To me it seemed more like a nebulous shift from the One True Church of the apostolic period to a gray area and falling away during the Middle Ages. So, I was surprised to learn that, according to Talmage, the falling away happened much earlier—with the first evidences of it occurring in the NT text itself. Obviously, as an Evangelical, an apostasy would have dramatic ramifications. It would mean that I am not a part of the real body of Christ. It would mean that I am living in disobedience to authority that He has vested in LDS leadership. I also have often struggled with the concept of church structure and wrestle with the idea of whether or not Evangelicalism has it right. Thus, his book gave me much to ponder.

Church history

Few would dispute that the period of the Dark Ages was an atrocious epoch in the history of the Christian Church. The selling of indulgences, the immorality of the papacy, the political strong-arming of governments and the bloody crusades are just a few examples of corruption in the church. By the time Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis there was a desperate need for reform. By any measure, the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages definitely fits the bill for an apostate church. If this alone were the teaching of the LDS church, we could all agree and go home. Yet, the LDS church makes a much broader claim. The apostasy was total. Talmage asserts, “The apostasy was complete, as far as actual loss of priesthood and cessation of spiritual power in the Church are concerned, long prior to the sixteenth century revolt, known in history as the Reformation” (p. 159).

Many Evangelicals would argue that their church model more closely resembles the New Testament church than the LDS model. So, on the surface it might appear that a simple comparison would prove which was correct. But the issue delves deeper. For LDS, the priesthood was lost during the apostasy; therefore a restoration was needed to restore that authority to men again. From this viewpoint they see the Evangelical church of today as having desended from the Catholics and totally without proper authority. “If the ‘Mother Church’ be without divine authority or spiritual power, how can her children derive from her the right to officiate in the things of God?” (p. 159).

The alleged apostasy was not restricted to the Old World. Talmage asserts that there was a falling away in the Americas by quoting I Netphi 12:22-23

And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall dwindle in unbelief. And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

As if this reference weren’t enough to give the distinct impression of who he was referring to, Talmage goes on further. “The degraded state of the North American Indians,–descendants of a prophet-father—is a striking realization of this prophetic declaration” (33). The parallelism is significant. To Talmage the American Indians were a loathsome people in a degraded state—very similar to the apostatized Christians that Joseph Smith encountered. One might be quick to forgive the blatant racism—but what about the implications for the Christian churches? Can the same voice produce both racist slander along with an accurate prediction of a fallen church?  Why should I overlook the racism involved in the claims of apostasy in the New World and yet take seriously the claims of apostasy in the Old World?

The LDS view of the New Testament

What are the evidences for this apostasy? Talmage argues that much can be derived from the New Testament alone. Yet, his vocabulary makes it obvious that he is no objective theologian. Note the LDS wording:

  • That Peter, the senior member of the apostolic council, was given a position of presidency, appears from the Savior’s special admonition and charge on the shores of the Tiberian sea (pp. 6-7).
  • He had left with them authority and command to build up the Church as an established organization. (p. 7).
  • They first proceeded to fill the vacancy in the presiding council or “quorum” of twelve. (p. 7).
  • The Primitive Church was officered by apostles, pastors, high priests, seventies, elders, bishops, priests, priests, teachers, and deacons. (p. 130).
  • Nevertheless an apostate church decrees that its ministers shall be forbidden to follow the law of God [marriage]. (p. 107).

An example of reading LDS doctrine into NT text is seen in Talmage’s exegesis of Acts 8. In this passage Simon the Socerer attempts to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit with money. Yet, Talmage adds this nugget to his synopsis, “He sought to purchase by money the authority of the power of the priesthood” (p. 96). Nowhere in this chapter is a “priesthood” mentioned.

Roger Keller, a BYU religion professor, gave a lecture on the apostasy during the 2004 FAIR conference.  (Text for this conference is found here).  As a former Presbyterian and Methodist minister, I thought he was able to appeal fairly well to Protestants who had never considered the idea of a universal apostasy. Yet, he failed to address the Biblical issue. As a professor of religion I expected him to be able to expound the Scriptures. He presented an argument similar to Talmage—that the authority of the church was vested in the Quorum of Twelve and in the Seventy and that it was subsequently lost. Thus, while the “gospel” remained throughout the centuries, the saving ordinances, able only to be administered with the proper authority, were lost. He offered a simple explanation for the lack of NT support for current LDS teaching. Temple ceremonies were too sacred to be written down. Yet, even if this were conveniently true, wouldn’t the church historians or church skeptics have taken the time to document this? Where would the temple ceremonies have taken place? Wouldn’t Josephus, a Jew, have known about nontraditional practices taking place in Jewish temples?

Restoration and Revival

Keller also presented an argument that I have heard frequently used against the LDS doctrine of the restoration. He offered as proof of the need for a restoration the fact that early converts to Mormonism were looking for such an event.

And when Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery and others joined this Church it is because they have been looking for a Restoration of the New Testament Christianity. The question is not whether there should be a Restoration the question is “Is this it?” And Sidney felt it was and brought with him a number of his Campbellite followers.

The restoration movement was spreading across America during the time of Joseph Smith’s early ministry. This could be used for proof that such a restoration was necessary—that the “time was right” so to speak. Or, it could also indicate that Smith was simply following the pattern of what was popular at the time.

But, another religious movement that was sweeping the country during the same time period was the Second Great Awakening. When Joseph Smith shared the story of his first vision he indicated his confusion over this matter

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Although historians may argue about the actual time frame of the first vision, the fact remains that Joseph Smith was aware of the revivals among the protestant churches.  And this leads to a critical issue—if the LDS church is the One True Church, why would God send a revival to the Protestants? This was an era of circuit riding ministers, and huge increase in evangelism and conversions. As in the case of all revivals, personal holiness and prayer were both key components and results of the revival. While it is easy to white wash history, picture the difference between the revivals of the Protestant churches in America and the early LDS movement. While revivalist Charles Finney was championing the evils of freemasonry and the alleged murder of anti-mason William Morgan, Joseph Smith was marrying Morgan’s widow Lucinda Pendleton.  Some might accuse polygamy critics of having Victorian notions about sexuality. Yet, during the revivals of the same time period, emphasis on sanctification would have been particularly strong. As out of place as polygamy might appear in the religious landscape of America, it was particularly glaring in light of the revivals of the time.

Why would God send His Spirit to those who are not a part of the One True Church? As a Christian I can testify that I have personally witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in a profound way—both in my life and in the lives of other believers. Is this because I am, like Roger Keller would argue, simply one of God’s kids? That it really doesn’t matter which faith I am a part of?

I believe that God doesn’t let any of his kids alone without spiritual guidance. And that guidance may come through Buddhism, it may come through Hinduism, it may come through Taoism, any other number of major religious traditions, Islam, what have you.

Is this truly the way God is? Did not Jesus say He was the Way. And why preach Universalism if the One True Church is the only venue for priesthood authority?

Apostasy presented in the New Testament

Central to the doctrine of the apostasy is the New Testament references to such a falling away. In fact, the New Testament is full of warnings that such an event would occur. The actual word apostasia is used just twice in the New Testament (Acts 21:21; 2 Thes. 2:3), but the concept of a falling away or defection is seen in many places.

  • Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thes. 2:3)
  • And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matt. 24:10-12).
  • Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
  • For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

While it seems clear that an apostasy has been predicted by the Bible, the question is when will this event occur? According to the LDS, the great falling away occurred during or immediately following the apostolic period. Yet, the Scripture predicts that the falling away will occur during the end times. Considering the fact that some 2000 years have elapsed since the apostolic period it seems unlikely that this is the date of the apostasy predicted. When the above passages are taken in context, further evidence for this is seen.

Paul predicted that the great apostasy would be immediately followed by very specific events.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (II Thes. 2:3-4).

The temple was destroyed in 70 AD and there is no record of an anti-Christ setting himself up in the temple prior to that time.  This event has yet to occur.  While it is clear that an apostasy is predicted, it seems apparent from Scripture that the event is connected with the end times.

Will Jesus preserve His Church?

The most important question to consider is whether or not Jesus ever planned to remove His priestly authority over the church.

  • For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).
  • And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18).
  • Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. (Eph. 3:21).
  • Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matt:28:20).

Both Talmage and Keller are careful to point out that, while other churches are able to do good, they are not the One True Church because they lack the authority.  Authority is absolutely key to any discussion of the apostasy and restoration.  Yet, in the above passages there is no indication that Jesus ever relinquished His authority as head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:155:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19).  He would never abandon the remnant of true believers among even multitudes of religious hypocrites.

This topic has left me with much to ponder as I reflect on the state of the Evangelical church and the claims of the LDS church.  After reading Talmage’s book I discussed my concerns with an LDS friend of mine.  He laughed off some of them and said he thought I was “thinking too hard.”  And then he added that maybe Talmage wasn’t the best thing for me to read.  But I do wonder, do LDS consider the claims of the apostasy and restoration?  With so much at stake, doesn’t it matter whether or not this event has ever occurred?

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313 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2009 2:42 am

    Mormon scholarship has somewhat moved beyond Talmage. Nice as Talmage’s contributions have been, much of his scholarship is outdated. I’d recommend the following book for a new Mormon perspective;

    http://www.amazon.com/Early-Christians-Disarray-Contemporary-Perspectives/dp/0934893020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254105708&sr=1-1

  2. September 28, 2009 1:09 pm

    Seth, why are you so quick to discount Talmage’s writings as dated scholarship? Why does an apostle have to be a scholar to get things right? Are scholars more informed than apostles who speak with God?

    Darrell

  3. September 28, 2009 2:54 pm

    When an apostle acts as scholar, he should be judged as a scholar.

    Again, you seem to think the term “General Authority” means that these guys are authorities on any subject that might arise.

  4. September 28, 2009 3:21 pm

    Seth,

    I am simply following the teachings of Brigham Young. What he had to say about himself and Church Authorities is vastly different from the light you attempt to cast them in.

    The way you speak about General Authorities is no different from the way the Evangelical Church treats pastors, deacons, etc. They are good men trying their best to do the work of the Lord, and at times they may be right and at other times they may not be. Based upon that, I really don’t see much benefit to having a “General Authority”, as it is nothing more than an adminstrative position held by a glorified Mormon “pastor”.

    In addition, the recasting of General Authorities does a huge disservice to the whole idea of the restoration. For if you can’t really trust what a Prophet or Apostle says, even though they supposedly speak directly with God, what is the point… why do you even NEED a prophet… I thought they were supposed to clear up all the confusion caused by the apostasy? But it sounds to me like they can’t even get the whole idea of when the apostasy actually occured right. Not to mention the brainwashing of the kids with songs such as “Follow the Prophet.” If prophets can get huge things wrong they certainly can lead the church astray… Blood Atonement comes to mind.

    Darrell

  5. shematwater permalink
    September 28, 2009 3:42 pm

    Let me say a few things concerning the quotes and comments from the New Testiment.

    First, in Acts 8, Simon the socerer is asking to buy to the power to confer the Holy Ghost on others. He is not asking for the Power of the Holy Ghost.
    “18And when Simon saw that through alaying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
    19 Saying, Give me also this apower, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.”
    He wanted the power they ahd to Lay his hands on others and give them the Power of the Holy Ghost. Considering that Philip did not have the power to confer the Holy Ghost, as indicated by the fact that they sent for Peter and John to do so, it is very logical to say that Simon was seeking to purchase the authority that Peter had, or in other words, the Priesthood. No, the word priesthood is not used in this chapter, but it is indicated by the circumstances and what Simons was asking for.

    Now, about 2 Thess. 2: 3, I do not think that these two events (the falling away and the revealing of the son of Perdition) are necessary one right after the other. The text does not say this. What is says (starting in verse two) is that before the second coming of Christ both these events must take place. Continuing in the chapter to verse 7 we read that these things have already begone, but the time for him to be revealed is not yet. Thus Paul is telling us that the Falling Away had already started.

    This will suffice for now, as I don’t want to take to long. Nothing said in this article should be laughed away, nor should any source be ignored. However, the questioned put forth here are simple, and are questions that are answered in the Doctrines of the LDS church.

  6. September 28, 2009 3:53 pm

    Darrell,

    Talmage included footnotes in his chapters in “The Great Apostasy” and “The Articles of Faith.”

    Footnotes Darrell.

    Do you know what a footnote is?

    It’s when you provide the source of where you went get your data.

    Look at a few of those footnotes sometime.

    You’ll note that Talmage didn’t write “God” in any of them.

    Most of the time, he either cited Josephus, or Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

    So much the same way that Gibbon’s scholarship has become a bit dated, so has Talmage’s.

    Geez Darrell. The guy couldn’t have made it more plain for you that he was presenting a scholarly opinion and not revelation. What does he have to do for you to get it?

    Come back from the dead and beat you with a copy of his bibliography?

  7. September 28, 2009 4:01 pm

    Seth,

    So, the idea of a Great Apostasy having occured is based upon the sources Talmage cited in his footnotes? Or, is the fact that the Mormon Church teaches a Great Apostasy based upon God talking with men?

    Which one is it, Seth? God or man?

    Darrell

  8. September 28, 2009 4:20 pm

    Talmage also cites scripture in his book Darrell.

    Obviously when he’s citing scripture, we can regard that one way. When he is citing Gibbon, we can regard that another way.

    This isn’t rocket science you know.

  9. shematwater permalink
    September 28, 2009 5:11 pm

    DARREL

    When an Apostle of God, or other General Authority, is speaking the truths of God he will tell you it is from God. When he speaks his own thoughts he will tell you it is his own thoughts. This is usually indicated by words such as “I believe” or “I think” and sometimes “I reckon.” When a prophet is putting forth his own oppinion he will use such words to clarify that it is not of God. When it is from God we can, and truly must take it as such or be condemned. When it is not of God we can take it as we please, for it is the thoughts of men and not God.

    This is illustrated in the first Epistle to the Corrinthians that is in the current New Testiment. In chapter seven, verse 6, Paul states “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.” Thus, what he was saying was his own thoughts, not to be taken as a command from God, but as the counsel of a man.

    As to James Talmage, I have not read this book, but from what I understand it was not commisioned by the church, and as such is to be considered the personal opinion of the man who wrote it. It may be a great book, and it does contain great truth that is supported by the revelations of God. However, it is still the teachings of a man, and thus, if some of the information in it is inaccurate, what of it? It needs to be updated, that is it. If the sources he used are outdated than his book may be outdated. He is, after all, a man, and no man is perfect save one. Now, when he speaks as an apostle to the saints, unless he clarifies that he speaks his own oppinion, we can take it as the word of God. But when he speaks as a man, as a scholar (like Seth points out) we can take him as a man.

    It is all very simple if one actually thinks about it. The difference between the LDS general Authorities and other religious pastors is that when the LDS speak in the name of God it is scripture, just as much as the Bible is. However, the similarity between them is that when they speak as men we are free to disagree with them, just as you are free to disagree with your pastors.

  10. September 28, 2009 5:14 pm

    I think General Authorities are often meant as a resource by the LDS Church.

    But they are instead taken as the last word on the subject by people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own beliefs.

  11. NChristine permalink
    September 28, 2009 5:17 pm

    Hi shematwater,

    Now, about 2 Thess. 2: 3, I do not think that these two events (the falling away and the revealing of the son of Perdition) are necessary one right after the other….Continuing in the chapter to verse 7 we read that these things have already begone, but the time for him to be revealed is not yet. Thus Paul is telling us that the Falling Away had already started.

    I agree that Paul indicates the “mystery of iniquity” (not necessarily the same as the falling away) had already begun in his time. And indeed we can easily say that both a falling away and a “mystery of iniquity” have occurred throughout the last two thousand years. But consider that Paul says the “mystery of iniquity,” although begun in his time, will not culminate until the revealing of the “man of sin.” In fact, he states that something is restraining this mystery of iniquity…such that the man of sin will not be revealed until the “something” of “someone” is taken out of the way. Thus, it is clear that even if the “mystery of iniquity” begun in Paul’s time was the “falling away,” it cannot be considered “total” with the “man of sin” yet unrevealed. Thus, it is impossible for the “total apostasy” of LDS teaching to have occurred prior to this point.

    Indeed, it is impossible for any apostasy, even at the end of the ages, to be “total” in the sense that all authority has departed from the earth. As Stephanie quoted above, Jesus said that “all authority” is given to him, and that He will be with His own “even to the end of the world.” Even during the reign of the future “man of sin,” there will be those who worship the true God (Revelation 6:11, 7:4-17).

  12. September 28, 2009 5:53 pm

    “Talmage also cites scripture in his book Darrell. Obviously when he’s citing scripture, we can regard that one way. When he is citing Gibbon, we can regard that another way. This isn’t rocket science you know.”

    Seth and Shem,

    It may not be rocket science, but it is somewhat confusing because BY said something quite different and the LDS Church message has been rather different through the years. In fact, BY was pretty emphatic about his words being as good as scripture, and, contrary to Shem’s statements, he said nothing about telling us what words were from the Lord before regarding them as scripture.

    “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264).

    and

    “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

    What I am getting at is this… your view of the prophets/apostles of the Mormon Church is as nothing more than glorified preachers. They may be right, or they may be wrong. However, this is not how the early church viewed them, and it is certainly not what is taught in primary, priesthood, and relief society on Sunday. The message there is quite different as the words to the favored hymn “Follow the Prophet” so eloquently teach: “follow the prophet; he knows the way.”

    Your view of the Mormon prophets is not unlike the Evangelical view of pastors and preachers, and, as a result, I am left asking, “What is the point then? Why do we need a prophet so badly, as the LDS Church Missionaries teach, if they are nothing more than preachers/pastors who have been elevated to a high adminstrative position.” Afterall, their words MIGHT be right of they MIGHT be wrong. Sounds no better than what I already have right now, so why bother?

    Darrell

  13. September 28, 2009 6:00 pm

    Shem,

    LDS.org has this to say about a prophet telling you something is from the Lord prior to you taking it as scripture.

    “Must a Prophet Always Preface His Remarks with “Thus Saith the Lord” for Them to Be Binding upon the Church?

    Unfortunately, some Church members place limitations on prophetic statements. Some will not accept anything as a genuine prophetic declaration unless it is prefaced by the phrase “thus saith the Lord.” President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., demonstrated the fallacy of such a position:

    “There are those who insist that unless the Prophet of the Lord declares, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ the message may not be taken as a revelation. This is a false testing standard. For while many of our modern revelations as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants do contain these words, there are many that do not.” (“When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” p. 10.) The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture.”

    Unfortunately, the standard you are using is a FALSE standard. You can find this article here:

    http://institute.lds.org/manuals/teachings-of-the-livings-prophets/tlp-4-7.asp

    Darrell

  14. September 28, 2009 6:28 pm

    Darrell, I just checked that actual Brigham Young quote you are using and I think you have ripped it from its actual context. Here is the full actual quote rather than the snippet typically used by anti-Mormons:

    “Well, brethren and sisters, try and be Saints. I will try; I have tried many years to live according to the law which the Lord reveals unto me. I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. In the days of Joseph, revelation was given and written, and the people were driven from city to city and place to place, until we were led into these mountains. Let this [discourse] go to the people with “Thus saith the Lord,” and if they do not obey it, you will see the chastening hand of the Lord upon them. But if they are plead with, and led along like children, we may come to understand the will of the Lord and he may preserve us as we desire.” (JD 13:95, 2 January 1870)

    That’s a rather different tone than the one you are shooting for Darrell.

  15. September 28, 2009 6:50 pm

    Seth,

    I am sorry, but I am not seeing the difference. I said nothing about BY’s TONE. Rather, I am asserting that BY said his sermons, once corrected by him, are as good as scripture. What do you believe in the above makes that assertion incorrect?

    Darrell

  16. September 28, 2009 7:06 pm

    And I think that most of your quotes here are referring to when a prophet gives actual instruction to the people, not about matters of doctrinal interpretation.

    Therefore, if Elder Talmage were to appear to a stake in Provo back in the day and instruct the saints there to implement a new program for – let’s say – caring for widows in the community, the saints there would be bound by such instruction as coming from the living oracles and would be held accountable for their performance of it.

    But this does not mean they are similarly bound by Talmage’s opinion on when the Great Apostasy occurred.

    You are conflating two different functions of general authorities. But the same concerns do not apply to both functions.

  17. September 28, 2009 7:07 pm

    “Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve.”

    Gee Darrell, that statement simply DRIPS with infallibility, doesn’t it?

  18. September 28, 2009 7:11 pm

    Besides that, Brigham Young’s statements indicate more of the instructional function than the theological function. Brigham Young here is talking about instructions of what to DO. Not what to believe.

    Nothing, I repeat – nothing in that quote even remotely suggests that Brigham Young had Adam-God doctrine in mind when he made it.

  19. shematwater permalink
    September 28, 2009 7:15 pm

    Darrel

    Brigham Young said that the sermons he sent out to Men were to be taken as scripture, equal to the Bible. Now, as I said, there are places in the Bible that, even though considered scripture, are not from the Lord.
    Another thing to point out is the difference between James E. Talmage and Brigham Young. Brigham Young was the President of the church. He was the man who had all the keys of the Kingdom, and the authority to use them. James Talmage never had this position. He is lower in authority, and thus, while a great man and a very wise one, whose words of great value, he does not enjoy the privilage that Brigham Young did. No man, once he reaches the position of President can fall. God will not permit it, and if there ever came a time when he might fall God would take him from this world before it happened. However, an Apostle can fall, and has fallen in the past. What the president says, whether it is personal opinion or not, is scripture and should be taken as such, but this does not extend to the rest of the general Authorities.

    As to what is said about people not wanting to take the words of prophets without “thus saith the Lord” being part of them, notice my post. I specificly said that if they do not state it is their opinion we are to take it as being from God. What they say should be regarded as scripture unless they state other-wise. Of course, this still is only when acting in their official copacity. A simple discussion between a few brethren should not be considered scripture (which is where people get the idea of Joseph Smith teaching life ont he moon from). When an apostles stands up at a church meeting what he says is scripture and from God unless he or one of higher authority says otherwise.

    Still, in writing the book “The Great Apastacy” James Talmage was not acting in his official copacity as a General Authority and thus we can take it as his opinion, and thus subject to scholarly critisism. Show where this book is officially approved by the First Presidency as scripture and then you will have an argument against what Seth said.

  20. September 28, 2009 7:30 pm

    “And I think that most of your quotes here are referring to when a prophet gives actual instruction to the people, not about matters of doctrinal interpretation.”

    Only one problem, Seth, the quotes don’t say that. Brigham’s sermons often dealt with doctrinal and theological issues (nature of God, etc), and he said that HIS SERMONS were as good as scripture. That would then mean that his sermons REGARDING DOCTRINAL/THEOLOGICAL ISSUES are as good as scripture.

    “Nothing, I repeat – nothing in that quote even remotely suggests that Brigham Young had Adam-God doctrine in mind when he made it.”

    Did he include Adam-God in his sermons… yup. Sorry!

    Darrell

  21. September 28, 2009 7:32 pm

    Nope Darrell. You’re adding to Brigham’s statements to suit your own needs in this discussion.

  22. shematwater permalink
    September 28, 2009 7:33 pm

    NChristian

    I don’t really think that the Thess. passage really directly supports a complete apostacy, but nor does it deny one. The verses you use to show that Christ will always be with the true believers do have the meaning you give them, but you assume that there have been true believers on the Earth at all times, which I do not believe. To be a true believer you must first know what it is you are believing in. As the Chatholic church, for many years, denied the common people the right to read the scriptures and learn who God was these people were dependant on the church for such knowledge. Thus, while they had true faith, they had that faith in a being who was not the true God, and thus they could not be the true Believers in Christ. Christ has never denied the true believers, but when there are no true believers, then God will not be on the Earth.

    For other verses speaking to a world-wide, adn complete apostacy, let me cite a few:
    Isaiah 24 – the beginning of this chapter speaks to all men being affected, that the entire Earth is emptied, for they have all broken the covenant.
    Isaiah 29: 9-12 – I find this to illustrate it very well, for it says that all the world is affected, that they stagger without the spirit, for the prophets and seers are sealed up.
    Isaiah 60: 2 speaks of darkness covering the Earth and the mind of the people (a good discription of the dark ages).
    Amos 8: 11 speaks of a famine of the Word of God that shall be on all the Earth.
    Then we have the parable of the Wheat and Tares.

    All these indicate a full and complete apostacy. There was never a time before Christ that this occured. The only time in the History of the Earth that could have fulfilled these discriptions are during the dark ages.

  23. shematwater permalink
    September 28, 2009 7:34 pm

    Now, I could go into more, but I think this would suffice for now. If you have any other questions, please ask them, as I am all to happy to have a good discussion on the subject.

  24. September 28, 2009 7:43 pm

    “Nope Darrell. You’re adding to Brigham’s statements to suit your own needs in this discussion.”

    BY said he never preached “A SERMON”… he never said “INSTRUCTIONAL SERMONS ONLY.” So while you may take his words to mean only sermons regarding instructional functions, HE NEVER SAID THAT. “I never preached a sermon” does not mean “I never preached an INSTRUCTIONAL SERMON.” Given the fact that many of his sermons were theological in nature, they would thereby be included in “I never preached A SERMON.” I believe YOU are the one adding to his words by saying “INSTRUCTIONAL SERMONS ONLY.”

    Sorry!

    Darrell

  25. September 28, 2009 8:12 pm

    Good post, Jessica.

    I have thought much of the so called “great apostacy” and have arrived after much study of the passages in the BIble that this “falling away” refers to the end times, when the anti-christ is revealed. I think you have arrived at that point to?

    As for Talmage. He was a member of the apostles of the LDS church and is considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” for the LDS people. I find it odd that any LDS person, would dimiss his assesments.

    I found it confusing when I was LDS to deal with a leader, such as Talmage or Young, etc. and to be told that “it was merely their opinion” and not doctrine. THen I was told that they were the mouthpieces of God. I mean which is, they are or they aren’t. When I was LDS that was truly perplexing.

    In any case, that is behind me now, and Praise God it is! I thank the lord every day that I don’t need to depend on ‘men’s words’ but the very words of God revealed to us thru His Word is available for us to read, study and ponder upon! His word does not return void!

    God bless,
    gloria

  26. September 28, 2009 8:14 pm

    Gloria,

    I felt the same way while I was LDS. Good points.

    God Bless you!!

    Darrell

  27. September 28, 2009 8:32 pm

    Another point here on Brigham Young’s statement – critics rarely provide Brigham’s own explanation of this comment:

    “Brother Orson Hyde referred to a few who complained about not getting revelations. I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations—that Brigham Young has said “when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.” I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here or there.” (Brigham Young, “Texts for Preaching Upon at Conference—Revelations, etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by D.W. Evans and John Grimshaw, (6 October 1870), Vol. 13 (London: Latter-day Saint’s Book Depot, 1871), 264–264. )

    Brigham Young made it clear that his previous statement should not mean that anything he said was scripture, but only that which he had the opportunity to correct and send to the Saints as scripture. This provides a good example of why this rule exists at all: what a prophet may intend to convey may not be what his listeners hear, or what scribes recorded. Thus, teachings must be approved by the author and submitted as binding scripture in order for them to be considered such.

  28. September 28, 2009 8:48 pm

    Now a few more quotes for everyone to chew on:

    President George Q. Cannon (counselor in the First Presidency) explained that the scriptures are the only source of official doctrine, coupled with later revelation to the prophets that has been presented to the Church and sustained:

    “I hold in my hand the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and also the book, The Pearl of Great Price, which books contain revelations of God. In Kirtland, the Doctrine and Covenants in its original form, as first printed, was submitted to the officers of the Church and the members of the Church to vote upon. As there have been additions made to it by the publishing of revelations which were not contained in the original edition, it has been deemed wise to submit these books with their contents to the conference, to see whether the conference will vote to accept the books and their contents as from God, and binding upon us as a people and as a Church.”
    (George Q. Cannon, “Comments,” Millennial Star 42/46 (15 November 1880): 724. (10 October 1880, General Conference))

    B.H. Roberts further explained that only those things within the Standard Works and those presented for a sustaining vote by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles is binding upon the Church and its members:

    “The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to the things that God has revealed, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine.”
    (Brigham H. Roberts, sermon of 10 July 1921, delivered in Salt Lake Tabernacle, printed in Deseret News (23 July 1921) sec. 4:7)

    Anything else is valuable and may be of use for explanation, exhortation, and instruction, but does not bear the weight of ‘scripture’ in the LDS canon. Harold B. Lee was equally explicit:

    “If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth.”
    (Harold B. Lee, The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24–26, 1973, with Reports and Discourses, 69)

    Elsewhere, President Lee taught the same principle:

    It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they speak and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don’t care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, “Well, that is his own idea!” And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works (I think that is why we call them “standard”—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false; regardless of the position of the man who says it.”
    (Harold B. Lee, “The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” Address to Seminary and Institute of Religion Faculty, BYU, 8 July 1964)

    In Mormon Doctrine, Elder Bruce R. McConkie was equally clear:

    “The books, writings, explanations, expositions, views, and theories of even the wisest and greatest men, either in or out of the Church, do not rank with the standard works. Even the writings, teachings, and opinions of the prophets of God are acceptable only to the extent they are in harmony with what God has revealed and what is recorded in the standard works.”
    (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 111)

    Taught Brigham Young:

    “In trying all matters of doctrine, to make a decision valid, it is necessary to obtain a unanimous voice, faith and decision. In the capacity of a Quorum, the three First Presidents must be one in their voice; the Twelve Apostles must be unanimous in their voice, to obtain a righteous decision upon any matter that may come before them, as you may read in the Doctrine and Covenants. Whenever you see these Quorums unanimous in their declaration, you may set it down as true. Let the Elders get together, being faithful and true; and when they agree upon any point, you may know that it is true.”
    (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:91–92)

    Later, B.H. Roberts wrote:

    “It is not sufficient to quote sayings purported to come from Joseph Smith or Brigham Young upon matters of doctrine. Our own people also need instruction and correction in respect of this. It is common to hear some of our older brethren say, ‘But I heard Brother Joseph myself say so,’ or ‘Brother Brigham preached it; I heard him.’ But that is not the question. The question is has God said it? Was the prophet speaking officially? . . . As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren, the same principle holds. They do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is—What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine.”
    (B.H. Roberts, Deseret News (23 July 1921) sec. 4:7)

    Leaders of the Church even spoke out against those who might try to think that some other standard applied for ‘official’ Church doctrine:

    “[The Seer, a magazine published by a Church leader] contain[s] doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it…It ought to have been known, years ago, by every person in the Church—for ample teachings have been given on the point—that no member of the Church has the right to publish any doctrines, as the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without first submitting them for examination and approval to the First Presidency and the Twelve. There is but one man upon the earth, at one time, who holds the keys to receive commandments and revelations for the Church, and who has the authority to write doctrines by way of commandment unto the Church. And any man who so far forgets the order instituted by the Lord as to write and publish what may be termed new doctrines, without consulting with the First Presidency of the Church respecting them, places himself in a false position, and exposes himself to the power of darkness by violating his Priesthood. While upon this subject, we wish to warn all the Elders of the Church, and to have it clearly understood by the members, that, in the future, whoever publishes any new doctrines without first taking this course, will be liable to lose his Priesthood.”
    (Proclamation of the First Presidency and Twelve, dated 21 October 1865, re: The Seer. Printed in Messages of the First Presidency, edited by James R. Clark, Vol. 2, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 238–39)

    Later leaders of the Church have continued to teach this principle. Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

    “It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man¹s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards of doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 3:203–204)

    Harold B. Lee was emphatic that only one person can speak for the Church:

    “All over the Church you’re being asked this: “What does the Church think about this or that?” Have you ever heard anybody ask that question? “What does the Church think about the civil rights legislation?” “What do they think about the war?” “What do they think about drinking Coca-Cola or Sanka coffee?” Did you ever hear that? “What do they think about the Democratic Party or ticket or the Republican ticket?” Did you ever hear that? “How should we vote in this forthcoming election?” Now, with most all of those questions, if you answer them, you’re going to be in trouble. Most all of them. Now, it’s the smart man that will say, “There’s only one man in this church that speaks for the Church, and I’m not that one man.”
    I think nothing could get you into deep water quicker than to answer people on these things, when they say, “What does the Church think?” and you want to be smart, so you try to answer what the Church’s policy is. Well, you’re not the one to make the policies for the Church. You just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Well now, as teachers of our youth, you’re not supposed to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On that subject you’re expected to be an expert. You’re expected to know your subject. You’re expected to have a testimony. And in that you’ll have great strength. If the President of the Church has not declared the position of the Church, then you shouldn’t go shopping for the answer.”
    (Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996}, 445)

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie, whose writings some critics attempt to elevate to “official status,” despite the fact that he explicitly states that he writes only on his own behalf, (See, for example, Elder McConkie’s “Preface” from the first edition of Mormon Doctrine, where he writes “For the work itself, I assume sole and full responsibility.” This comment is reprinted in the second edition) said:

    “With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their own problems without inspiration in many instances. Joseph Smith recorded that he “visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet’; but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.” (Teachings, p. 278.) Thus the opinions and views even of prophets may contain error unless those opinions and views are inspired by the Spirit. Inspired statements are scripture and should be accepted as such. (D. & C. 68:4.).
    Since “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32), whatever is announced by the presiding brethren as counsel for the Church will be the voice of inspiration. But the truth or error of any uninspired utterance of an individual will have to be judged by the standard works and the spirit of discernment and inspiration that is in those who actually enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
    (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 608)

    This was recently reiterated by the First Presidency (who now approves all statements published on the Church’s official website):

    “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency…and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”
    (LDS Newsroom, “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” lds.org (4 May 2007))

    The Church’s system of councils provides protection against the fallibility of a single man or leader. President Smith explained:

    “An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside,” Ensign (July 1972): 88)

    Dallin H. Oaks explained how the Lord allows all His children to grow through struggling with problems:

    “Revelations from God . . . are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening, . . . the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit.”
    (Dallin H. Oaks, “Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign (March 1997): 14)

    The Lord will not help his children avoid all stumbling and error; He will protect them from permanent harm to His work, as Boyd K. Packer taught:

    “Even with the best of intentions, [Church government] does not always work the way it should. Human nature may express itself on occasion, but not to the permanent injury of the work.”
    (Boyd K. Packer, “I Say unto You, Be One,” in BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, 1990–1991 (Provo, Utah: University Publications, 1991), 84)

    Does this mean that members must simply have “blind trust” in their leaders? Hardly, says President Lorenzo Snow:

    “There may be some things that the First Presidency do; that the Apostles do, that cannot for the moment be explained; yet the spirit, the motives that inspire the action can be understood, because each member of the Church has a right to have that measure of the Spirit of God that they can judge as to those who are acting in their interests or otherwise.”
    (Lorenzo Snow, Conference Report (October 1898): 54)

  29. September 28, 2009 9:32 pm

    Thanks for the lengthy post Seth… I don’t disagree with any of the quotes you shared.

    In fact, these quotes agree quite well with what BY said… that any sermon he preached and approved was as good as scripture. In addition, none of these quotes confine the content of these sermons to “instructional” matters, despite your earlier claim. It it is approved by the prophet of the church and sent forth among the people it is as good as scripture… whether doctrinal or instructional in content.

    Therefore, one is left wondering, what of Blood Atonement and Adam-God? BY preached on these (multiple times in fact) and sent the sermons out. While you may say he did not approve the sermons, I would say that is begging the question and a rather far fetched claim. Especially in regards to Adam-God – the private conversations recorded in multiple individual journals appear to agree with what his public statements were on the issue.

    Back to my original point, your position on prophets/apostles seems to be that they are nothing more than glorified pastors who may be right or may be wrong, so why they big deal about them? Why do we need them if they are no better than my pastor? I believe he (or any Christian for that matter) can receive revelation from God so why do I need a prophet who may or may not get it right?

    Darrell

  30. Stephanie permalink
    September 28, 2009 9:33 pm

    Dear Seth,

    I’m a little confused. 🙂 You and Darrell are arguing over whether or not Talmage is a good source for doctrine/inspiration etc. To me, that is not so much the point. Do you have concerns with what Talmage actually presented in his book The Great Apostasy? If so, I would like to know what those concerns actually are because you seem to be trying to distance yourself from what he is teaching and I’m not sure which points you disagree with.

    Thanks,

    Stephanie

  31. September 28, 2009 9:47 pm

    I was simply stating that Talmage’s scholarship was dated. For instance, he takes – my view – a far too dim view of the Dark Ages (which – as was mentioned – were not quite so “dark” as popular portrayals depict). He also tends to lay the blame of the Apostasy with Nicea and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I disagree with him here. I think both Nicea and the Roman Catholic Church were not causes of the “Great Apostasy”, but rather were responses to an apostasy that had already largely occurred and run its course.

    I also think that he is unduly harsh on the Roman Catholic Church – reflecting the Protestant scholarship of the day that he pulled a lot of his arguments from. Anti-papist sentiment was common in early Mormonism, but it’s kind of died-down today.

    Now we just think you all are equally screwed-up. 😉

    Sorry to bore everyone here with the latest edition in the fascinating “Darrel is an ignorant fundamentalist/Seth is a pointless relativist” debate.

  32. September 28, 2009 9:47 pm

    Darrell, if you want to think those quotes back up your position, be my guest.

    I’m sure everyone here can read them and judge for themselves on that score.

  33. Stephanie permalink
    September 28, 2009 10:13 pm

    Sorry to bore everyone here with the latest edition in the fascinating “Darrel is an ignorant fundamentalist/Seth is a pointless relativist” debate.

    Thanks Seth.

    I love your dry sense of humor (even though I disagree with your assessment of one another). 🙂

    I think that people have found that calling the Middle Ages the “Dark Ages” is somewhat misleading. However, there is no doubt that there was a lot of evil going on in the name of God!

    So, what your saying is that, apart from the Catholic argument, Talmage basically presents a valid case? What about Keller? I just fail to see how either of these scholars have presented a good case for the Great Apostasy from the New Testament. Don’t you find the argument that Keller uses weak when he asserts that the reason we don’t find NT examples of temple ceremonies is that they were “too sacred to be written down?”

    Stephanie

  34. September 28, 2009 10:23 pm

    I wasn’t surprised that Keller wouldn’t hang his hat on a bible-text argument. After all, it seems kind of stupid for Mormons to try and argue a general apostasy from an assumption of Biblical sufficiency, don’t you think?

    His explanation that the temple was too sacred to be written down is plausible I suppose. After all, Jesus himself declared that he taught his disciples secret teachings that he did not teach to the masses. If you believe some of the other sources from that period that didn’t make it into the Bible, there was a LOT that he didn’t throw out for general consumption.

    So sacred secrecy works well enough I guess.

    But it’s not my preferred stance.

    My stance is that there is a temple in early Christianity – the one in Jerusalem.

    Unfortunately, it was in the hands of the Jewish authorities. I’m pretty certain that if Peter had thought he could “claim the temple for Jesus” he would have. But then again, Peter seems to have been under the impression that Christianity was actually “Judaism – the Sequel.” So I doubt he would have felt a need to preach any temple practices – for the simple fact that they already existed.

    But the apostles had a short run of it. They were so focused on spreading the Gospel and gaining converts for stage one of sainthood, that they never did have an opportunity to institutionalize and doctrinalize stage two of sainthood – temple worship.

  35. Stephanie permalink
    September 28, 2009 10:32 pm

    After all, Jesus himself declared that he taught his disciples secret teachings that he did not teach to the masses.

    This sounds vaguely familiar but I’d need to see the text to take it in context. Do you know a reference?

    The problem with this theory is that we actually have a lot of written material from this time period. Even if the disciples didn’t have time or inclination to write down the temple ceremonies surely skeptics and historians would have. I don’t find it a valid argument that the temple ceremonies taking place in the Jewish temples were at all like those revealed in the Restoration. For one thing, the concept of “eternal marriage” was ridiculed by Jesus, so I can hardly imagine that sealings would be taking place! Further, we find no evidence for sacred garments and secret oaths which is certainly a part of LDS temple ceremony. I think you are exactly right when you say the disciples were busy about the gospel–not temple ceremonies.

    I don’t have a problem speculating on what the early church was doing. But, its just that–pure speculation–if we don’t have actual documents teaching that they were practicing LDS style temple ceremonies.

    Stephanie

  36. September 28, 2009 11:29 pm

    What Jesus wrote-off was the formalized Mosaic system of marriage that the Sadducees proposed their hypothetical to him under.

    The Mormon temple sealing is much, much more than mere Mosaic Law marriage.

    So I don’t really see Jesus’ statement there as relevant to Mormon temple marriages.

    And… you were aware that ancient Jews DID in fact have sacred articles of clothing – right?

    Luke 8:10 KJV:

    “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”

    If you want some reading on the subject, Nibley’s essay “Christian Envy of the Temple” is a good place to start. Link:

    http://mi.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=61

    You might also try Margaret Barker’s stuff. Like “Temple Themes in Christian Worship”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Temple-Themes-Christian-Worship-Margaret/dp/0567032760/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2G694CJ99TVVH&colid=3KU0C4IPUVY7L

    And “The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Great-High-Priest-Christian-Liturgy/dp/0567089428/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2Z2SGJGH3F1KB&colid=3KU0C4IPUVY7L

  37. Stephanie permalink
    September 29, 2009 12:55 am

    What Jesus wrote-off was the formalized Mosaic system of marriage that the Sadducees proposed their hypothetical to him under.

    I know we all have our own interpretations, but that doesn’t seem the most logical reading of the text to me.

    And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Luke 20:34-36

    The typical LDS response to this passage is to note the form of the word “marry.” Yet, the word translated “marry” in this verse is later translated “married” in other NT passages (see 1 Cor. 7:10). Further, the debate was over a married woman–not a woman who was going to be married. Big difference. In fact, there is no Biblical support anywhere for celestial marriage–and that is an important Restored doctrine to the LDS church. Unless you can give evidence that the NT is corrupted and we do indeed have early manuscripts teaching this doctrine than I think it is safe to say that the doctrine wasn’t taught in the early church.

    Jews having sacred articles of clothing has nothing to do with the church. The Jews also abstained from certain meats, didn’t wear certain types of clothing (I would never get by with my favorite polyester blend shirts), observed purification laws, etc. What exempts you from these laws? Remember, Jesus came to fulfill the law. The rending of the temple curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple is extremely significant. No longer are priests needed to offer sacrifices. We have a High Priest who intercedes for us in the person of Christ. Additionally, the NT offers no instruction for temple worship, temple garments, family sealings, genealogical research and the like. Unless there has been a vast cover-up and corruption of the text, these doctrine were just not found in the early church.

    Stephanie

  38. September 29, 2009 1:00 am

    “Darrell, if you want to think those quotes back up your position, be my guest. I’m sure everyone here can read them and judge for themselves on that score.”

    I am not saying they back up my position. I am saying they don’t contradict my position. The policy of having the Quorum of the Twelve approve something before it becomes official church doctrine or practice was not often used during Brigham’s time. This policy cam much more into play as the Church developed, and there is no getting around that Brigham taught from the pulpit as one having authority. In the process, he claimed that his words were as good as scripture so long as he approved them. Brigham pushed some pretty far out doctrines, and he taught them as truth: Blood Atonment, Adam-God, etc.

    I understand that since that time the Church has said that what Brigham taught was in some instances not correct (in fact, there are many takes on this depending upon who one is talking to). The church has done a great job of trying to distance itself from some early church teachings and beliefs. The have made great strides in trying to normalize themself, so as to appear more appealing to the masses. This is, in fact, one of my beefs with the church, because I believe they have whitewashed their history to the point of utter dishonesty.

    One of the major reasons the church went to the policy of requiring full Quorum approval was to prevent one “lone wolf” from coming up with strange doctrine, but in the process the church has lost much of what distinguishes them. When is the last time the church had a great revelation? When is the last time new scripture was brought forth? It is almost as if “heavens have closed and revelation has stopped” ever since the church became more bureaucratic in its revelation and policy process. The church is basically run like a gigantic corporation where the Lord supposedly speaks through the Board of Directors. Bear in mind, this is one of the accusations that smaller Mormon splinter groups use against the LDS Church. They say they are the ones with continuing revelation, and that the LDS Church is apostate, and that is why the LDS Church rarely if ever has and real revelation to speak of.

    Doesn’t this sound like a familiar accusation? Hmmmmm?

    Darrell

  39. September 29, 2009 1:03 am

    You’re just bitter that we aren’t willing to make ourselves as unattractive to people as possible and make your job easier.

  40. September 29, 2009 1:14 am

    “You’re just bitter that we aren’t willing to make ourselves as unattractive to people as possible and make your job easier.”

    Bitter? No. Sad that so many are lost in error, including some of my extended family? Yes.

    My bitterness went away as soon as the Lord brought my gorgeous wife and four precious kids out and to him. All praise goes to Him for that one.

    Darrell

  41. shematwater permalink
    September 29, 2009 2:52 pm

    DARREL

    In the quotes given by Seth is stated exactly what I said, and a lot more.

    If it is not the President of the Church who is speaking than he must approve the words before they need to be accepted. Added to this is the fact that unless all the twelve and first presidency are in agreement we have the right to reject what anyone of them says. To top it off, unless it is accepted by the church as a whole it is not considered official doctrine. With all this there is no problem in rejecting the words of James Talmage as his opinion and seeking better and more up to date scholars.

    The difference between the LDS general authorities and other church pastors is very deffinate. You can reject what your pastor says because he is not the mouthpiece of God at any time. However, when the general Authorities stand before the church and deliver their sermons, and when these sermons are approved by the president and sent to the world, they are the words of God and must be accepted as scripture (not standard works). When this is done it is God speaking, not a pastor. No, it is not at every time that they speak, but it does occur. When has your pastor ever said anything that scripture, equal to the Bible?

  42. shematwater permalink
    September 29, 2009 4:35 pm

    Stephanie

    There is evidence of eternal marriage and familes in the Bible.
    First, regarding the Luke quote, read the entire story again. The situation posed by the Sadducees concerned the Law of the Near Kinsman, as given in Deut 25. This was not a Celestial Law, but an Earthly Law, and as such it could not make a marriage of Family eternal. Thus, if we abide only by this law than in Heaven we neither marry nor are given in marriage (D&C 132: 16). Only through a Celestial Law can one gain Eternal Marriage. Notice also that Christ, in Luke 20, says that they are equal to the Angels. They have not gained Eternal Life, nor Eternal Marriage, for these gifts are given only to those who become gods, and not to those who will be angels. Thus, Christ is correcting the Sadducees in that the law they speak of cannot bring eternal marriage, not that eternal marriage is not possible.

    As other evidence I reference the story of Adam and Eve. They were married while still in the Garden, living in an eternal state. Thus their marriage was an eternal one until the Fall. Now, it is generally believed that in the end we will return to that eternal state that man fell from in the Garden. With this belief one must also accept that, since marriage did exist in that state before, it must exist in that state again, thus making it eternal.

    Lastly, I would direct you to the book of Job. Read in the beginning the list of all that he had, and then compare it to the list given at the end. It is said that he had twice in the end what he had in the beiginning, yet in both places it lists ten children. The only way this is not an error in the record is if the ten at the beginning were still his, and that adding the ten at the end gave him twice as many children. If they were still his than they must have be his in eternity, and thus from that perspective he had twice in the end than he had in the beginning.

    These are the best and most direct passages from the Bible that support the doctrine of Eternal Marriage and Eternal Families. There are more, but not as obvious, and so I refrain from giving them here.

  43. Stephanie permalink
    September 29, 2009 6:03 pm

    There is evidence of eternal marriage and familes in the Bible.

    First, regarding the Luke quote, read the entire story again. The situation posed by the Sadducees concerned the Law of the Near Kinsman, as given in Deut 25. This was not a Celestial Law, but an Earthly Law, and as such it could not make a marriage of Family eternal. Thus, if we abide only by this law than in Heaven we neither marry nor are given in marriage (D&C 132: 16).

    Hi Shem,

    I have read the story in Luke multiple, multiple times. It doesn’t change in the reading of it. I fail to see how you can present a case for celestial marriage from this passage! It quite explicitly states that the woman will be married to none of the men but will “be like the angels.” Keep in mind D&C 132 is not in the Bible—so if the case for eternal marriage is going to be presented from a strictly Biblical framework it cannot be done.

    They have not gained Eternal Life, nor Eternal Marriage, for these gifts are given only to those who become gods, and not to those who will be angels.

    Again, you would be extremely hard pressed to assert there is any teaching of “eternal marriage” in the Bible. It is just not there. That is what the other LDS Scriptures are for. Further, there is no Biblical teaching about men becoming gods or men becoming angels. The only passage I am aware of in the Bible regarding becoming a god is the passage in Isaiah describing the fall of Lucifer.

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. Isaiah 14:12-15

    Thus, Christ is correcting the Sadducees in that the law they speak of cannot bring eternal marriage, not that eternal marriage is not possible.

    There is actually no NT teaching on eternal marriage, so asserting that Christ is teaching on it here is prooftexting. What the text actually is talking about is a trap that the Sadducees were attempting to snare Jesus with. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection and that is the topic of the passage—not celestial marriage.

    As other evidence I reference the story of Adam and Eve. They were married while still in the Garden, living in an eternal state. Thus their marriage was an eternal one until the Fall. Now, it is generally believed that in the end we will return to that eternal state that man fell from in the Garden.

    Adam and Eve would have lived on indefinitely in a married state in the garden prior to the fall–this is true. This was God’s desire for man–to live in innocence and peace in the Garden of Eden. However, the resurrection is not linked to a return to a state of “Adam and Eve.” God will create a new heaven and a new earth. One of the very dissapointing things about the doctrine of Celestial Marriage is that it totally misses the mark about what the point of heaven is. In all the hype about eternal families and eternal relationships one completely misses the point that heaven is about God and we will spend forever in heaven worshiping Him for what He has done. We will be in fellowship with all believers–not just those in our family. I plan to spend a lot of time in heaven getting to know the believers who have gone on before me–King David, Esther, the Apostle Paul, Corrie Ten Boom, Adam Clarke, etc. The writer of Hebrews tells us we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). These are the saints who have gone on before! The Bible does teach that believers will be together in heaven–but Jesus clearly states that we will not be living in “eternal relationships” with one another. That is why He said we will be “like the angels.” In other words–angels aren’t married.

    The only way this is not an error in the record is if the ten at the beginning were still his, and that adding the ten at the end gave him twice as many children.

    Have you ever met someone who has lost a child and asked them how many children they have? They will almost always tell you the number of children they had and then say something like, “Our oldest son died at age 5.” I know a couple who lost twins when she was about 6 months pregnant. She later had two healthy girls. She considers herself–I think rightly–to be the mother of four. When she arrives in heaven I have every confidence that she will know who those infant children are and will have the opportunity to get to know them in heaven.

    The topic of celestial marriage presents many more problems than it does answers. LDS teach that “families are eternal” but which family are you going to belong to–the one you have been born into or the one you create? Everyone wants to have their children be a part of their “eternal family” in heaven. But, which family are they going to be a part of? What about the extremely sincere and devout single men and women who die before having the opportunity to enter into such a relationship? You cannot help but refer to section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants when discussing this topic, yet that passage teaching the most disturbing topic of them all!

    And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. (v. 61).

    This is where the topic of celestial marriage really takes a nose-dive as far as Biblical support goes. The NT clearly teaches that leaders need to be the “husband of one wife” (I Tim 3:2). Why would God reverse course when He “restored” the gospel to the church in the person of Joseph Smith and then reverse course again on polygamy? And He will reverse course yet again in the future–making polygamy lawful in heaven! These doctrines are so totally incongruous with the teachings of the Bible that I can understand why new Scriptures had to be produced. The doctrines of the restoration are not taught in the Bible.

    Stephanie

  44. September 29, 2009 7:03 pm

    Stephanie –

    Check out the following on the divinization of human beings:

    2 Peter 1:3-4
    John 10:34-36 (quoting Psalms 82:6)
    Acts 17:28-29

    Throughout Paul’s epistles, we find many descriptive passages referring to the same concepts that we have been considering: union with God, sharing in the divine nature through grace, and total participation in Jesus Christ—the biblical concept of theosis/deification. In Ephesians 1, Paul states that we have been given “every spiritual blessing” (v. 3) so that we should be “holy and without blame” (v. 4); we are His “sons” (v. 5). He made “the riches of His grace . . . to abound toward us” (vv. 6–7). We are given wisdom and insight into the “mystery of His will” (v. 9), which is to “gather together in one all things in Christ” (v. 10).

    Furthermore, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (v. 13), the “guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (v. 14). We are recipients of “wisdom and revelation” (v. 17), having “the eyes of [our] understanding . . . enlightened” (v. 18); knowing the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us” (v. 19). We are the “body” of Him who is the head and “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (v. 23).

    Additionally:

    Ephesians 3:19; 4:13, 15

    Romans 12:1–2: We are to present our bodies as a “living sacrifice,” doing so as part of our spiritual worship. And we are to “be transformed” by the renewing of our minds into the likeness of God.

    1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:17: We are reminded that we are God’s “temple” and that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”—union with God.

    Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

    Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ.”

    Colossians 3:3: We have “died” and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God”—total participation in Christ.

    1 Thessalonians 5:23: May God “sanctify you completely”—complete conformity to the image and likeness of God.

    2 Thessalonians 2:14: We were called by God “for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    1 John 4:17: “Because as He is, so are we in this world”—the possibility of deification, total participation in Christ this side of eternity.

    John 17:22: In His high priestly prayer, Jesus says that He has given us the glory that the Father gave Him.

    Revelation 21:7: Christ says of each of us, “I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

    1 John 3:2: “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

    Philippians 3:21: Christ will “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.”

    I am aware that traditional Christianity invokes a lot of ontological smoke and mirrors around these verses to keep them from being a little too radical to stomach. I’m also not putting out these verses to establish the LDS doctrine of exaltation. What I am doing is saying we didn’t just pull these ideas out of thin air. We do have biblical support, and the Bible does not refute our claims here.

  45. September 29, 2009 8:12 pm

    Shem,

    Based upon the standards you set forth, is what is shared in General Conference equal to scripture and binding upon all members of the church?

    Darrell

  46. September 29, 2009 8:18 pm

    Can’t speak for Shem, but I’ve never considered General Conference to be equally binding in authority to the Standard Works.

    Just seems like common sense to me.

  47. September 29, 2009 8:39 pm

    Seth,

    Shem said this:

    “However, when the general Authorities stand before the church and deliver their sermons, and when these sermons are approved by the president and sent to the world, they are the words of God and must be accepted as scripture (not standard works). When this is done it is God speaking, not a pastor.”

    Shen appears to be saying they ARE scripture, it is GOD SPEAKING, and they MUST BE accepted as EQUAL to scripture although they are not standard works. Not sure what he means by that last part. If it is GOD SPEAKING why would it matter if it considered part of the standard works or not? Isn’t it valid and binding if it is actually GOD SPEAKING no matter what the source. Isn’t that the whole point of having a prophet… so they can actually speak for God and clear messes up?

    The First Presidency must approve every talk before it is given in conference. These talks are then distributed among the church, so why wouldn’t they be scripture and be binding upon all members of the church?

    You say it is common sense, but you will, nevertheless, find that LDS hold a wide range of opinions on this matter. I am curious to see if you and Shem agree on this matter.

    Darrell

  48. September 29, 2009 10:22 pm

    Seth,

    I found “Christian Envy of the Temple” to be focus on the Churches questions concerning eschatology and the role of a temple after the parousia and to completely ignore Mormon religious temple practices.

  49. September 29, 2009 10:30 pm

    Seth,

    I also think that the traditional Reformed doctrine of “union with Christ” is about the most radical teaching of any religion. The Orthodox view of theosis cannot be properly understood unless you also take into account the Orthodox distinction of the essence of God and God’s “energies”.

  50. September 29, 2009 11:12 pm

    Yes, Gundeck. I am well aware of the distinction that Eastern Orthodox make between essence and energies.

    That in no way makes any of these verses unavailable for a Mormon read however. And Stephanie’s comment that there is “nothing” in the Bible about being gods is simply not true.

    I am not particularly concerned either whether Mormon temple practice mirrors the practices of a particular snapshot in history that you might pick out.

  51. September 30, 2009 1:18 am

    Actually there are many verses that make the Mormon theosis read of the Bible impractical. The Bible speaks continually about how there is, was, and will only ever be ONE God. It is only by distorting or utterly ignoring these verses that one can come to the conclusion that man can become a God – big G or little g not withstanding.

    Darrell

  52. September 30, 2009 1:19 am

    If you can make “One God” out of three gods Darrell, I can do the same thing with a thousand.

  53. September 30, 2009 1:56 am

    Seth,

    The teaching of adoption does however make the Mormon read of these verses unavailable.

  54. Stephanie permalink
    September 30, 2009 2:46 am

    Dear Seth,

    I would like to specifically address the three verses that you began your post with. I feel that you may have taken them out of context.

    I took the liberty of bolding what I thought were essential elements to 2 Peter 1:3-4

    According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    Being a partaker in the divine nature is absolutely what Christians believe. There are many NT parables to exemplify this principle. Christ is the Vine, we are the branches. Christ is the head of the church, we are the body. Christ is the cornerstone, we are the building. The New Testament uses the term “adoption” to describe the new relationship that God has with believers. Adopted children have the same legal rights as natural born children but do not have the same genetics. It could be said that we have an even deeper relationship with God the Father because not only have we been adopted, we have also been made in His image.

    John 10:34-36 (quoting Psalms 82:6)

    Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

    The problem is that you cannot snatch this passage out of its context because the context is what gives the verses meaning. The Jews had just accused Jesus of blasphemy—a serious offense! They said, “because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (v. 33). It was to this charge that Jesus answered by quoting Psalms 82:6. Psalms 82 is a warning to corrupt judges and it is true that the word gods is used in this passage to describe dishonest earthly magistrates. So, when taken in context, Jesus’ response to the Jews makes sense. They had accused Him of claiming to be God. He replied by saying that if the Scripture calls corrupt judges gods, how much more should the Jews recognize Him as God (capital G) for the signs and wonders that He has done.

    Acts 17:28-29 uses the word “offsping” or genos. Strong defines this as a concrete or abstract/literal or figurative word that can be translated as kin, born, diversity, generation, stock, nation.

    For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

    All humans have been made in the likeness or image of God. Thus, the passage teaches that we should know that just as we are living and intelligent beings so is God. No other living creature has been made in the likeness of God.

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: Gen 1:26

    We are not God’s literal posterity, but have been made in his likeness and so we do resemble Him in that way.

    James summarizes it this way

    Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (3:9)

    The important point is that we have been made in the likeness of God—not made out of God. Mormonism had to “restore” this doctrine to the church because it is not possible to come to the conclusion that men can become gods by simply reading the New Testament. For almost 2,000 years Christians just did not come to that conclusion. And, I don’t think you would come to that conclusion from Scripture alone either if you didn’t have your own texts that you refer to.

    Stephanie

  55. September 30, 2009 3:43 am

    Stephanie, if not “made out of God” where would Protestants propose we came from exactly?

  56. Stephanie permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:15 am

    Well, from our parents. 🙂 That’s the cheeky answer of course. But, that is exactly where the majority of Evangelicals would propose that people come from. We understand that God made Adam and Eve and view mankind as having descended from them.

    One topic that I think is really interesting is the discussion of what is the “image of God” that God imparted to Adam. I remember one time hearing a professor say that he thought it was human eternality. And when I picture God breathing His life into man it just gives me chills. That resonated with me, but I know that it is just a theory. But, we are the only living beings that will go on to live forever. Perhaps the image that God imparted to us is not something so tangible to be articulated. Or perhaps it is more relational than functional. Do you think that it is more of a physical similarity? Do you have any theories of your own about the “image of God” means? If so, I’m curious what they are.

    I’m going to bed! Goodnight!

    Stephanie

  57. September 30, 2009 4:18 am

    Throwing it off on parents just delays the issue. It doesn’t resolve it.

    Protestants hold God as the first and final cause of the universe.

    That makes him the source of everything in it.

    If he isn’t the source of everything in it, then he’s basically incompetent.

  58. Stephanie permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:24 am

    Seth, I just said that I thought God created man. I don’t know how that makes God incompetent. God created lots of things–dogs, rocks, trees. Just because He created them doesn’t make them a part of Him somehow. God created us special. He breathed His life into us–something that He did only with mankind. I don’t see what the “issue” is that this belief creates.

    Goodnight. 🙂

    Stephanie

  59. September 30, 2009 4:44 am

    If God is all there was in the beginning, where did all this stuff come from?

    It just seems apparent that it all came from him. Seems that would make just about everything in the universe a part of his substance.

    But I guess I’m threadjacking here.

  60. Stephanie permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:11 am

    Seth, feel free to threadjack. I think you make a valid point. I think from your viewpoint all mankind lived with God in the pre-existence. You can correct me if I’m wrong, of course.

    Seems that would make just about everything in the universe a part of his substance.

    But you would never argue that other created things are part of his substance would you? When you create something it shows your creativity, intellect, personality, etc. Yet, when you create something it does not take on parts of your being. I believe that it is the same with God. When He created the world He showed His absolute supremacy and yet this doesn’t mean that everything in the world is a part of His being. I think that this is partly what Paul is referring to when He rebukes the Gentiles for their unbelief.
    Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Romans 1:25

  61. September 30, 2009 12:53 pm

    “If you can make “One God” out of three gods Darrell, I can do the same thing with a thousand.”

    I see what you mean here, but the problem is the Bible makes a significant distinction between the created and the Creator. The created, as you have been discussing with Stephanie, is not PART OF the Creator. The Creator says that He is the one and only true God: Himself.

    Darrell

  62. shematwater permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:50 pm

    Stephanie

    I never once said that the quote in Luke directly teaches eternal marriage. I said that when the circomstances and the question asked are considered it does not directly deny the doctrine. Yes, the question was of the Resurrection, and it was a trap for Christ. But it is still important to realize the content of the situation posed. It is very possible that Christ’s response applies only to the situation and Law that was contained in the question.

    As to your response to what I said concerning Adam, your response is not very common, and in truth many traditional Christians have agreed with the argument. However, what you say does not sound like a salvation. We started in one state but fell, so there is no hope of returning to that original state, or of enjoying all the blessings of that state? What you outlined is passically we fell ten feet and God is only going to allow us to rise eight. I am sorry, but I do not see this in the Bible.

    As to Job, I have to agree with those who still claim their dead children, but this only seems to support what I said. Why do they feel this way? Is it not possible that the reason is because that is the way it was meant to be? Could it not be that their spirit knows that their children are meant to be theirs even after death, and so they feel this way? I know you will explain it differently, but this is how I see this.

    As to the questions you give as to what family you will be with, this shows the common misconception that Nonmembers have concerning this doctrine. You will not choose what family, for all will live together. “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the Earth.” In the Eternal worlds all the faithful who gain the Celestial Kingdom will live on this Earth. There will be cities and communities, just as there are now. I shall live with my wife in our mansion, and I will visit my parents and her parents, and our brothers and sisters as often as I want. I will not be forced to choose between my families. Of course I will also visit and live near those who went before. I will converse with Adam, with Enoch, With Abraham, and Joseph. Personally I look forward to meeting Shem from whom I am descended.

    This is Heaven, the continuence of the best things in this life for eternity. There is no true heaven without my wife with my as my wife.

    As for other references to Eternal marriage in the Bible, try these:
    (1 John 3:2 has already been given.)

    Eccl. 3:14 What God does is forever, thus if he marries a person (as he did Adam and Eve) that marriage is forever.

    Matthew 16: 19 (18:18) He gives Peter the power that is described in Eccl, that whatever he seals by this power will last forever in heaven.

    1 Corinthians 11: 11 The man cannot be saved without the woman, indicating the two must be joined.

    Ephesians 5: 31 A man and wife are one flesh in marriage.
    Add to this Mark 10: 9 and we see that this is an inseperable connection.

    Romans 8:17 says we are joint-heirs with Christ, indicating we will receive all that he recieves (godhood included). Add to this 1 Peter 3: 7 and we see that it is in marraige that we are heirs of God.

    All these show an understanding of eternal marriage held by the Early Apostles.

  63. shematwater permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:58 pm

    Darrel

    I never said anything was equal to the standard works, nor did I claim them as official doctrine. I only said they were scripture.

    The standard works are above all other writings and sayings. They are the standard by which all else is judged. That does not make them the only scripture.
    For a work to become a standard work, and thus an official source for the doctrine of the church, it must first be approved by the President and the First Presidency, then accepted by every member of the Twelve apostles. Once this is done it must be submitted to the general membership, and must be accepted by them as a standard work. This was outlined in the quotes given by Seth.
    The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price have gone through this process and have been made standards works through the Law of Common Consent among the people. It is even true that some sections of the Doctrine and Covenants were not made part of the standard works until the saints settled in Utah. An example was Section 89, or the Word of Wisdom. It was given as revelation by Joseph Smith in the 1830’s, but it was not voted into the standard works until the 1850’s.

    Also, I know all the verses that speak to there being one God, and none contradict the teachings and doctrine of the LDS church.

    Gundeck
    would like to know how the Law of Adoption makes Mormon read unavailable.

  64. shematwater permalink
    September 30, 2009 7:05 pm

    One last comment to Seth and Stephanie

    I do not believe the LDS doctrine supports the idea that we came from the essense of God, and I don’t think Seth does either. It seems more that Seth is arguing that if you take the doctrine of the rest of Christianity a pre-existance is a logical conclusion (as we all came from God).

    Now, I do believe all things have a spirit and an itelligence, but that does not mean they all came out of God. It means that they all came from the same matterial, or the intelligence that can be neither created nor destroyed.
    When the Bible speaks to creating it uses the idea in the same way we do. When an artist creates a great painting he did not speak it into being from nothing, but took elements and organized them into the work. The same is true of every person who created something. They took of matterial and organized it into their creation. The same is true of God, but he had more variety in the matterial he had to work with, and more understanding on how to organize it.
    Thus God Created the world by taking of unorganized matter and organizing it into the Earth. It did not come out of him (except his thoughts) but from pre-existing matter that is found in abundance through the existance.

  65. September 30, 2009 7:51 pm

    Shem,

    You said:

    “However, when the general Authorities stand before the church and deliver their sermons, and when these sermons are approved by the president and sent to the world, they are the words of God and must be accepted as scripture (not standard works). When this is done it is God speaking, not a pastor.”

    As a result, I am left asking, “If it is THE WORDS OF GOD, which is what you say above, then why would it not be equal to the standard works?” If it actually God’s Words then how could anything be MORE OFFICIAL than it? In addition, bear in mind that every talk shared in General Conference must be approved by the First Presidency prior to being delivered.

    “Also, I know all the verses that speak to there being one God, and none contradict the teachings and doctrine of the LDS church.”

    I believe there are major contradictions with the nature of the Mormon God and what God has told us about us Himself in The Bible. I did a post on one aspect of this here:

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/yhwh-and-mormonism/

    Have a good day!

    Darrell

  66. September 30, 2009 8:25 pm

    Shematwater,

    I would point to Galatians 3:26 “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” It is only “in Christ Jesus”, in union with our Lord, that we have the right to call God “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:15) this union is wrought by the work of the Holy Spirit. Not only do we see that union with Christ is necessary for salvation but we see that one of its goals is our adoption to the Father and is made possible by the Holy Spirit.

    Adoption is but one of the many doctrines taught in the bible that shows that there is an difference in the essence and being of man and God. All of the verses that Seth pointed to in his post concerning theosis/deification when seen in the light Romans 8:15, 23 (and others) shows that union with Christ, far from being ontological smoke and mirrors, takes the promises of scripture seriously (both the already, redemptive work of Christ, and the not yet, glorification in the new heavens and earth) while still maintaining the clear biblical distinction between creator and creature in salvation and future glorification.

  67. September 30, 2009 11:48 pm

    Stephanie, the artist example makes more sense for explaining the Mormon perspective than the Evangelical perspective.

    An artist takes materials that were already there, and fashions them into something better.

    An artist doesn’t just pop things into existence from nowhere.

    So where did the stuff around us come from?

    The traditional Christian idea is that it all came from God.

    The logical conclusion is that all of us are a lot more directly participating in God’s own essential substance than anyone suspected up till now.

    That’s a much more radical equating of people with God than anything Joseph Smith cooked up.

  68. September 30, 2009 11:50 pm

    Gundeck, neither of those scriptures need to be read in the exclusionary way you are reading them.

  69. September 30, 2009 11:52 pm

    I should also clarify that Mormon theology considers the whole notion of “substance,” and the creator-created divide to be pretty-much a superfluous philosophical boondoggle to begin with.

  70. shematwater permalink
    October 1, 2009 1:10 am

    DARREL

    For anything to be a standard work it must be accepted by the People, the members of the Church. God does not force doctrine onto people. He teaches them, and that which they are able to abide and accept is taken by them, and God forgives them the rest. This is how it has always worked.
    When Moses first went up to mount Sinai he came down with the Covenant from God, his Law. That was the word of God, written with his own hand and carved into tablets by him. However, the Isrealites were unable to abide that Law, and thus Moses carved a new set of Tablets. The first was still scripture, for it was the inspired word of a prophet, but it did not became a standard for the People because they could not accept it.
    There are changes from the original to the second Law. One is that in the original all the first born were to be given to the Lord, but in the second the tribe of Levi was taken in their place.
    The Lord will not hold people to a Law they cannot live, and this is the idea behind the Standard works. If there is a doctrine to deep in nature, to pure, dealing with things far beyond mortal comprehension, regardless of the fact that they came from God, if the sainst are unable in spirit to abide them they are not standards for the church, and the church membership will not be held accountable for them.

    Thus many things are scripture, and many things are true, but only those things that the church as a body has covenanted with God to uphold are the standard works. They constitute those doctrines that all men and women of the church have raised the consenting hand and said “We will do and believe these things.” That is what makes them the standards of the church, because they are the scriptures by which we have agreed to measure our faith and works by. All else, even though it comes from God, is not part of that covenant, and thus is not part of that standard.

  71. shematwater permalink
    October 1, 2009 1:17 am

    Gundeck

    What you say is true, it is through Christ that we are called the sons of God, but which God?
    In John 20: 17, speaking to Marry, Christ says “I ascend unto my dFather, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
    Thus Christ is acknowledging that we are the sons of God, for if he is our Father we are his sons.
    Then in Revelation 21: 7 Christ says “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
    Here he states that the Faithful will be called his sons.

    The doctrine of Adoption as taught in the Bible fits perfectly with LDS doctrine, as shown in these verses. We are the children of the Father, for he is our Father and Christ’s Father. But through the redeption of Christ, if we are faithful we will be adopted by Christ and be called his sons as well. We have a literal Father who is also the Father of Christ. We also have a spiritual Father, who is the being we choose to follow. Thus, by adoption we may be the sons of Christ spiritually begotten, or the sons of Satan if we chose to follow him.
    The Law of adoption fits perfectly.

  72. October 1, 2009 2:42 am

    Shem,

    Let me see if I understand where you are coming from.

    You said:

    “The Lord will not hold people to a Law they cannot live, and this is the idea behind the Standard works. . . . if the sainst are unable in spirit to abide them they are not standards for the church, and the church membership will not be held accountable for them.”

    So, in order for something God tells a prophet to become binding upon the church, it must be accepted and voted on by the church as a whole as a standard work of the Church? Unless the church as a whole agrees to do this they will not be judged by it? Do I have that correct?

    If so, again, I am left asking: What is the point of having a prophet? What is the point of General Conference? Members of the church say they are gathering to hear the council of the Lord provided through the prophet, and as you said, this council is scripture. However, if this council is not really binding or completely trustworthy, since it has not been voted in and agreed upon by the Church, what is the point? You are free to ignore it with no consequences, correct? You won’t be judged for doing so; afterall, you cannot trust it completely and are not obligated to obey it because the church has not voted on it.

    My point is this: while you say this is vastly different from having a Pastor, it really is not. My Pastor does his best to seek the Lord’s guidance. He prays, studies, and seeks guidance from the Spirit as he prepares his sermons, councils church members, etc. Often his words are exactly what the Lord intends. However, at other times, as he will freely admit, he may unintentionally share something that is his opinion and may not be correct. He councils us to compare everything he shares with God’s Word, The Bible. If we find anything he says does not match up with The Bible, then we know he is wrong, and we are free to reject it. I have my “standard work” in the Bible.

    That is not at all dissimilar to what you describe. You have your standard works (Bible, BOM, D&C, POP), and you say the buck stops with them. Everything else that is shared (whether from the prophet or Stake President) comes under their authority. So, you are free to reject your prophet if he violates your standard works, and I am free to reject my Pastor if he violated mine.

    There is one big difference though: if a person in your church rejects some vital doctrine the prophet declares or decides they don’t believe the man who is serving as prophet really is a prophet of God because God has told them, through the witness of The Holy Ghost that he is not a prophet, they may find themselves unable to get a Temple Recommend. They would then be unable to receive their Temple Enodowments and would be unable to progress to the highest level in the Celestial Kingdom. While you say you are free to reject something the prophet says, you really aren’t. Becaue your eternal exaltation is really based upon following him. However, in my case, if God tells me something my Pastor says is wrong, or if God tells me my Pastor is not doing His will, I am free to reject him with no consequences. My loyalty is to God and God alone. I do not serve or follow a man… only God.

    Now, I will grant you this, if and when your prophet decides the standard works need to be changed or something needs to be added, they can do this. However, I would say that is NOT an advantage; I would say that is one of the major problems with the Church. They have added, changed, and accepted things as scripture which violate God’s previous revealed Word. Given the fact that God tells us in The Bible that the validity of new prophecy should be judged by previous prophecy, I am obliged to say that Mormonism’s “additional scripture” is false.

    Another point:

    The way you describe God appears to fly in the face of the idea of Him being Omniscient. You appear to be saying that God gives council to the prophet today that He hopes will be voted in by the Church and that the Church will agree to accept. However, if they don’t He is sitting up there shrugging His shoulders saying “Oh well, they didn’t accept that one so I won’t hold them accountable to it.” Do you really believe that God is ruling by some kind of trial and error like that? Figuring out what He will judge man on and what He won’t.

    The God I believe in does not work that way. He has given us the complete Gospel and it is embodied in the Man God Jesus Christ. God’s laws are eternal, and He doesn’t hold us responsible for only part of them. We are either guilty of breaking them or we are declared completely innocent through the blood of Jesus Christ.

    Darrell

  73. Stephanie permalink
    October 1, 2009 2:56 am

    First of all, I would like to have a job that would allow me to blog all day. That would be very satisfactory to me. How do you guys get any work done? 🙂 Meanwhile, I’m left with a big pile of things I would like to say and not very much time in which to write! 🙂

    Shem

    I shall live with my wife in our mansion, and I will visit my parents and her parents, and our brothers and sisters as often as I want. I will not be forced to choose between my families. Of course I will also visit and live near those who went before. I will converse with Adam, with Enoch, With Abraham, and Joseph. Personally I look forward to meeting Shem from whom I am descended.

    Am I incorrect in the understanding of the doctrine of exaltation? Don’t LDS believe that worthy members will go on to become gods? If so, how will you live with your family? What if your father is a worthy member who becomes a god–won’t he want you (as his son) to be a part of his world? What about your children? Am I totally misunderstanding/misrepresenting LDS doctrine?

    All these show an understanding of eternal marriage held by the Early Apostles.

    I would challenge you to read church history and present that argument from the church historians. Eternal marriage as taught by the LDS church is not found in NT Scripture and it was not taught by the early apostles. Christians have read the Bible for centuries–millenniums, actually–and have not come to this conclusion. I strongly assert that you could not come to the doctrine of celestial marriage through the New Testament alone. Only by having the doctrine taught by LDS scriptures is it possible to come to this conclusion.

    Thus God Created the world by taking of unorganized matter and organizing it into the Earth. It did not come out of him (except his thoughts) but from pre-existing matter that is found in abundance through the existance.

    This is very interesting. I think that I can understand what you (and Seth) are asserting. My response would be that God not only performed the creative acts, but also created matter at the same time. I would view these events as simultaneous. So, you and Seth are right when you say that the artist analogy doesn’t fit very well with my model. It would fit better if it were an artist who first created the paints out of nothing and then used them to draw a masterpiece. The question of what is eternal is a question that science has to deal with. If God is not the source of the universe then what was the first cause? Matter must come from somewhere. If matter is eternal wouldn’t it somehow then become divine?

    Seth

    So where did the stuff around us come from?

    The traditional Christian idea is that it all came from God.

    The logical conclusion is that all of us are a lot more directly participating in God’s own essential substance than anyone suspected up till now.

    That’s a much more radical equating of people with God than anything Joseph Smith cooked up.

    I guess to answer that I would have to ask you a question. Do you believe that you have been “co-eternal” with God? Or has there been a time in the past that you were “created”? Why on earth would God choose to use the word “adoption” when He describes the relationship He has with His children.

    Sometimes when Evangelical Christians and LDS discuss these topics it sounds like Christians are big wet blankets. For example, we challenge the belief in “families are forever.” However, I’ve never met a Christian who doesn’t believe that they won’t spend all eternity with their saved relatives and friends who have gone on before. Do we believe that we will continue the earthly relationship of man/wife? No, because there is no Biblical model that we can see for marriage in heaven. God is never described as having a wife. Jesus never took a wife. Paul encouraged the believers of his day to not marry if they could (1 Cor. 7). Jesus told the Sadducees that we would be like the “angels in heaven” eg, not marrying. Unfortunately, we have been around and around this one and I don’t think we can still see eye-to-eye. 🙂 Be that as it may, Christians are not saddened by the fact that their marriage bond will not continue in heaven. We know that all of our relationships will be sweeter and dearer because we will be perfected and completely without sin or stain. We will spend all of eternity worshiping God and praising Him for what He has done. I believe that when it says Heaven will be lit by His light that the glow of His presence will be consuming. I know that there are times when I become very still and sensitive to the Holy Spirit that I can sense even just a small portion of the absolute greatness and awesomeness of God. I cannot imagine what it would be like to fall at His feet in His throne room. I think that the wonderment of it all just wouldn’t wear off. I don’t think that the inhabitants of heaven will be bored and want to return to their mansion with their kids and wife. I think that it will be like one giant family. And to me, that is a very, very happy picture.

    I hope you all have a wonderful evening!

    Stephanie

  74. shematwater permalink
    October 1, 2009 3:00 am

    DARREL

    the power to add to the standard works is a great difference. however, it is still not the only difference.
    While what they say is not part of the standard works, the General Authorities are the ones who have authority to interpret the standard works. As was said, if what they say does not contradict the standard works is can be taken as true, if it does it can be rejected. However, when the president says that a certain passage in the standard works carries a certain meaning that is binding, because it is from the standard works. Much like the Caffiene argument. No, Caffiene is not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, but the Prophets have stated that the meaning of the word of Wisdom encompasses all harmful and addicting substances. Thus, by the words of the Prophets, when spoken in their official copacity, are binding when they speak to that which is contained in the Standard works. It is only when they add to them that it must be by common consent before must be accepted.

    When we go to General Conference it is to receive counsel and guidance, not commandments. The commandments we have in the standard works. The prophets are their to explain, clarify, and guide us in our effort to keep those commandments.
    When your Pastor says that a passage in the Bible means a certain thing you are free to disagree. When the President of the Church declares a passage of scripture means a certain thing that is the final word.

    As to God being omniscient, you still do not have a complete understanding of how he works. Yes, he knows what truths we can handle, and what truths and counsel we can accept and abide in, but we do not. That is the point. He gives these things and does things in this way not for his benefit, but for ours. The purpose of this life is for us to learn, to progress, and thus he must go off of what we know and understand, not what he knows and understands, when it comes to teaching us.

  75. October 1, 2009 3:27 am

    “It is only when they add to them that it must be by common consent before must be accepted.”

    I am curious about this one and will have to do some research. There have been verses added to the BOM (and some have been changed) within the last 100 years. Are you aware of these? Were these verses brought before the church for a vote of common consent before being added in?

    “Yes, he knows what truths we can handle, and what truths and counsel we can accept and abide in, but we do not.”

    Earlier you appeared to be saying that God gives commandments to prophets that must be voted on and agreed to by members of the church before they are are held accountable to them. Has God given commandments to the church that the church did not accept? When? If so, is God sitting in Heaven pining over the fact that they haven’t agreed to His commandments?

    Again, this is very different from the nature of the God I believe in. His standard (perfection) does not change based upon man’s willingness to follow it. I don’t believe God is in negotiation with us about what we will accept. He has set the standard, and we have failed to live up to it. However, in His divine grace He has provided a Savior in Jesus Christ. Through accepting Him we can be declared righteous. He became Sin for us.

    Darrell

  76. October 1, 2009 3:56 am

    Darrell, there hasn’t been a single change to the Book of Mormon that was a big enough deal to even need a vote.

    Stephanie, your description of relationships in heaven would be compatible with Mormon theology in my view. I do not expect relationships to be exactly the same in heaven. I don’t expect that Heavenly Mother does dishes, while Heavenly Father mows the lawn – for instance. I think most Mormons, when pressed will admit that the details of what eternal families will look like are speculative at best. What we are all excited about is that such relationships may continue.

    And don’t forget our view of the mission of Elijah – to turn the hearts and minds of the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children. To me, this passage suggests a unifying of all humanity similar to what Protestants assert about those saved in Jesus.

    I don’t think we need to be declaring differences here where there aren’t any.

    To answer your question about being co-eternal…

    Yes, the most basic foundation of my identity is co-eternal with God and uncreated.

    D&C 93:29

    “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.”

    What God has done for us is raise us up in our level of existence, and he invites us to rise higher still. I like the language of adoption in the New Testament because it speaks of an end to the estrangement with God that I currently have as a result of the Fall. That’s about it.

  77. October 1, 2009 4:12 am

    “Darrell, there hasn’t been a single change to the Book of Mormon that was a big enough deal to even need a vote.”

    Seth, I know you don’t think its a big deal as you trust the church. I don’t. In addition, there are lots of things that you think are not big deal – man becoming a God, God being a man, etc. – that Christians DO think are a big deal. Adding entire verses in is a big deal. I believe it is unwise to brush things off so easily and say the rules don’t need to be followed since it wasn’t a “big deal”. Shem said that in order for something to be considered a Standard Work it had to be voted on. Since verses have been ADDED to the BOM, have those verses been voted on? If not, why not? Personally, I really don’t care as it doesn’t effect me since I am not a member. I am just asking out of curiousity because Shem has been so emphatic about how the prophet’s power is limited by needing common consent of the Quorum of the Twelve and/or the entire church. I suspect that this is not always followed. BY didn’t take it very seriously at times – declaring his words to be scripture and declaring radical doctrine to be truth w/o consent of the 12. Many, many changes have been made to the BOM over the years and most of these changes are slide in with little to no announcement from the Church. Most chapel going Mormons are not aware that the BOM has changed AT ALL… much less radical changes like adding/deleting entire verses.

    Darrell

  78. October 1, 2009 7:30 am

    OK Darrell. Put up.

    Let’s see one of these earth-shattering verses you’re so worked up about.

    And it better not be the “white and delightsome” verse. I’ll be really disappointed if that’s the one you have in mind.

    Incidentally, the current Book of Mormon has made changes in light of looking at some of Joseph’s own working drafts. The current edition of the book is actually closer to the one Joseph actually intended than some previous official LDS drafts.

  79. October 1, 2009 9:37 am

    Seth.

    You are missing my point. You know the verses I am talking about and it doesn’t matter if you consider them “earth shattering” or not. The point is they have been added in/changed as a “standard work” with no vote by the membership. More importantly many of the changes were slipped in with the church saying little to nothing. Most members have to find out about the changes from the dreaded Anti-Mormon groups.

    It is interesting how this conversation has gone from “what the prophet says/decides can’t become a standard work without a vote of commom consent” TO “what the prophet decides can’t become a standard work UNLESS it is ‘no big deal’.”

    Darrell

  80. October 1, 2009 10:27 am

    Seth,

    The better question is this: If the changes and additions that have been made to the BOM are truly no big deal (which I don’t agree with but let’s go with that for a minute), why NOT bring them to the attention of the membership for a vote? The fact that the changes are so insignificant should make having a vote all the more easy. It would be very easy to sustain these changes in General Conference. All they would need to do is provide a simple 10 minute talk explaining what has been done and then have a sustaining vote of consent, so why not do it?

    Personally, I believe the answer is that the church KNOWS how this will effect people. The church has done a great job of propping JS and his work up as being nearly perfect. The BOM has been paraded around as “the most correct book on the earth” in contrast to the Bible which has had “plain and precious truths” removed and is not entirely trustworthy. Therefore, to admit that the BOM has even NEEDED changes would siginficantly damage the faith of some members. The church does not want to deal with answering tough questions so they instead choose to quietly make changes. The very fact that they can do this, despite the supposed rule that the additions/changes to the standard works must be voted on, is a problem. In addition, it begs the question, “What other things has the church done and what other things are they hiding from the membership?”

    Darrell

  81. October 1, 2009 11:55 am

    Shem,

    In both passages you posted the presumption is union with Christ, if the faithful can call God “Abba! Father!” then the unfaithful cannot call God “Abba! Father!” Unless you propose a universal union between Christ and humanity then unfaithful shall not inherit all thing and shall not be His son.

    Seth,

    I do not see how Romans 8 or Galatians 3 can be read in any manner that is not exclusive to those “in Christ”. Can you explain how you read these passages to be inclusive? I understand that different traditions have differing views on how or what takes place in the union with Christ, the Orthodox for example. As I understand the differing theologies they all agree that the benefits, privileges, inheritances, and salvation are only “in Christ”. If you are Christ’s then you are “heirs according to promise”, if you are not Christ’s then you are not. This includes adoption.

    I also understand that Mormons do not make a creature – creator distinction. You can claim that it is a superfluous philosophical boondoggle but the biblical evidence for a difference between the essence and being man and God is vast.

  82. psychochemiker permalink
    October 1, 2009 2:03 pm

    Stephanie,
    I can see you did a thorough Job of reading the source book and writing a post. I have lots to say, but will have to wait till after work. One thing though, don’t let Darrell hi-jack your thread.

    Darrell,
    Please respect Stephanie by keeping to the point of her post. You and Seth are arguing about whether or not Talmage’s book is doctrinal.(I don’t blame Seth in this, as he’s refuting untrue assertions about his faith that are being allowed to stand here) Soo not the point of her post. It shows a great amount of disrespect, Darrell, when you don’t stick to correcting, or commenting on the actual post topic.

  83. shematwater permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:46 pm

    Stephanie

    I think you misunderstand the doctrine of Salvation. What I outlined is very much what the prophets have taught. The gods will live on this Earth in its resurrected and celstial state. We will live in a very similar manner that we do now (though Seth is right that detail are speculation at best). I will be part of my father’s world, and my children’s world, just as I am a part of their lives in mortality.
    When our spirit children are ready for their mortal experience we will all get together in a grand counsel and plan it out, created worlds without end as homes for them. In this I will specualte a little bit. Each of us will have his his own world for his children. Thus, I will vuild a planet for all the spirit children born to me, and my father will build a planet for his spirit children and so on. Thus, while we will all live on this Earth, our spirit children will inherit the Earth created for them.
    I do not beleive that each couple will live on a sepparate planet in the eternities. We will not be individual gods doing what we want, but a grand counsel of gods, with Christ at our head, working as a family unit to bring as many of our children to exaltation as we can. Whilw each may have an individual planet for his children, all those in this generation will live together.

    Now, as concerns the New Testiment and eternal marriage, I never said it could be shown by the New Testiment alone. I simply said that the doctrine, once known, is easily seen in the text.. The same can be said of the Rapture. One who does not know the concept and the doctrine would not see it in the text. But once it is explained to you it becomes obvious.
    However, I will say that taking both the New Testiment and the Old Testiment it is possible to see eternal marraige, if you do not approach it with pre-formed bias.
    Now, I thank God that we have additional scripture to clarify what is said in the Bible, for much of it is confusing by itself, and the many human interpretations do not really fit all that well.
    I believe in Eternal Marriage, and I can see it in the Bible. You do not believe in it, and thus you cannot see it in the Bible. It is really as simple as that.

    As to the eternal nature of matter, no this does not make it devine. Devinity comes from intelligence and obeying of Eternal Laws. Matter in and of itself has no intelligence and thus cannot obey any laws.
    Now, you ared the question “What was the first cause? Matter had to come from somewhere.” I would ask you “If matter had to come from somewhere than surely God had to come from somewhere?”

    There is no first cause, and indeed there can’t be. If there is a first cause than there must also be a last cause, and thus eternity is no longer eternity. There was never a time when gods did not exist, or when spirits and angels did not exist. The question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, is answered simply “Neither” for there was not a time when both were not in existance. No mortal can truly comprehend this, for the mortal life is build on beginnings and endings, but when all things are considered it is more puzzling to say there was a beginning to eternity than to say there wasn’t.

  84. October 1, 2009 4:53 pm

    I’d say vastly underwhelming Gundeck.

    Darrell, I think you just don’t want to provide examples because you know they are self-evidently trivial.

  85. shematwater permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:57 pm

    Darrel

    The changes you mention are only made when the original writing of Oliver Cowdry as dictated from Joseph Smith is shown to be different in wording than what was currently had. As it was this original writing that was accepted as a standard work the altering of the printed editions to more closely conform to it need not be voted on.
    (and yes I have read many of the changes, and there has been no change in meaning from the original text.)

    As to the omiscience of God and the voting on of Commandments, remember back when I said that the President has a speciel authority? I will admit that my later posts have confused this, so I will explain. When the president issues a command to the church it is binding. There is no voting on it. However, this does not make it part of the standard works. This has occured with Family Home Evening, with Food Storage, and with other commands. These are not to be found in the standard works, but they are just as binding on the members as if they were.
    However, when a prophet other than the President issues such a command, unless it is approved by the President, it is not binding, for only the president has the authority to give such.
    As to doctrine, I still hold to what I said before, even concerning the President. The only one I will accept as equal to the standard works are the word of Joseph Smith, because his authority was even greater than the current president. He was called to restore all things. Thus, when speaking as the prophet what he says is binding. For a president after him to introduce new doctrine is not binding, because they have not been called to restore, but to guide.
    There is no doctrine taught by the later prophets tht was not first taught by Joseph Smith, except those things that form speculation. Even the so called Adam – God theory was introduced by Joseph Smith when he proclaimed that Adam was the ruler of this Earth and when any angel ministers to man it is through his direction.
    This is one reason very little has been added to the standard works since Joseph Smith died, and that which has been added does not introduce anything new.

    As said before, when the prophets speak, if what they say is in agreement with the standard works we may take it as truth, but if it is not we are under no obligation to accept it. When a revelation comes from the President, however, we are bound by it as the will of God.

  86. October 1, 2009 5:47 pm

    Seth,

    I am sure to you the perfections of God are underwhelming, holy, truth, love, light, spirit etc. But I am not aware of any evidence to the contrary?

  87. October 1, 2009 6:19 pm

    “Darrell, I think you just don’t want to provide examples because you know they are self-evidently trivial.”

    And I say you are incorrect. So there, we are now even.

    🙂

    I don’t think passages that speak to the nature of Christ are at all “trivial”. But of course, I realize that to you it doesn’t really matter what a person believes about the nature of Christ. So, it doesn’t surprise me if you think they are trivial.

    Darrell

  88. October 1, 2009 6:23 pm

    “(and yes I have read many of the changes, and there has been no change in meaning from the original text.)”

    I find the changes in 1 Nephi that speak to the nature of Christ to be very siginificant. In addition, these changes speak volumes in regards to JS’s evolving theology on the nature of God.

    Darrell

  89. October 1, 2009 6:26 pm

    “When the president issues a command to the church it is binding. There is no voting on it. However, this does not make it part of the standard works.”

    If there is no voting on it, it is the Word of God, it is binding, and you will be judged according to your obedience to it, what does it matter if it is in the standard works? Sounds to me like it is just as serious, correct? Again, to me, the Word of God is the Word of God… there really is no sliding scale of importance when it comes to His Words, Commandments, and Decrees.

    Darrell

  90. October 1, 2009 6:47 pm

    So give the verse changes already Darrell.

  91. October 1, 2009 8:43 pm

    Seth,

    You and I have gone through this before. I don’t have time to list every single verse change in the BOM. Here is a good tool that details out side by side comparisons of many of the changes. The tool is a little dated as the it has not been updated with the latest version of the BOM which has the infamous “AMONG” added to the introduction, but it goes through many of the changes. For starters, some of the biggest ones to me are in 1 Nephi. Here is the link:

    http://www.mazeministry.com/machine/machine.htm

    God Bless!!

    Darrell

  92. October 1, 2009 9:00 pm

    Stephanie,

    When I read Talmage it was with the intent of posting about it online but I never sat down and did it. You have my respect for following through and creating a post.

    The biggest problem that I had with Talmage’s book or Keller’s speech for that matter, is that no attempt is made to support claims of a New Testament period Christian priesthood or the need for a continuing apostolate.

    Does anybody know what Presbyterian denomination Dr. Keller was ordained in? Because he attended Princeton I am assuming the PC(USA) but that may not be correct. The first time I read his speech I was struck that he made the claim for the necessity of the quorum of the 12 without any support. Coming from a Presbyterian ecclesiastic system you would think that he would know and understand the objections that would be raised against the necessity of the quorum of the 12 and would answer them in his presentation.

    In rereading Keller’s speech I was also struck by his answer to question 1 in the Q&A concerning the great and abominable church. His assertion that there are only 2 churches presented in Nephi 14, the church of God and the church of Satan seems to be contrary to his almost universalist claims that “God doesn’t let any of his kids alone without spiritual guidance.” Finally I wonder if his answer to Question 3 concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit is completely orthodox Mormon doctrine, he does tie the Spirit to the command of the Mormon priesthood in a way but he seems to blur a distinction that I have heard Mormons make before.

  93. October 1, 2009 9:25 pm

    Seth,

    these are two examples from 1 Nephi 11 that are doctrinally problematic.

    1 Nephi 11:18 in the origional uses the Roman Catholic Mariolatry like phrase Mother of God that is not consistent with the New Testament.

    1 Nephi 11:21, 32 both in the original conflates the Lamb of God with the Father in a way I can only describe awkward.

  94. October 1, 2009 10:57 pm

    I don’t see either one as particularly problematic. No one really understands the Trinity anyway, so I don’t see why any Protestant should have any beef with ambiguity there. Ambiguity about the identity of God is like a central feature of traditional Christianity.

  95. October 1, 2009 11:49 pm

    PC said:

    Darrell,
    Please respect Stephanie by keeping to the point of her post. You and Seth are arguing about whether or not Talmage’s book is doctrinal.(I don’t blame Seth in this, as he’s refuting untrue assertions about his faith that are being allowed to stand here) Soo not the point of her post. It shows a great amount of disrespect, Darrell, when you don’t stick to correcting, or commenting on the actual post topic.

    When did you become this blog’s moderator, PC? 🙂 These threads often go WAY off topic. For example, the last thread where Yellow Dart brought up Old Testament archeological records on a post about polyandry. I think discussing whether or not Talmage’s book is doctrinal is quite within the scope of this thread that relates to a book by Talmage.

  96. Stephanie permalink
    October 2, 2009 12:20 am

    Shem

    I can understand what you are saying when you lay out your case for the LDS doctrine of salvation. I’ve heard it many times before but, I have to admit, it never ceases to shock me at some level. 🙂 I can understand the deep level of importance that you place on this from your worldview. I would like you, if you would, to try to understand the Evangelical view of the Bible so that perhaps you can understand what I am saying as well. You have four standard works that you consider Scripture. I only have one (well, two if you divide up the Old and New Testaments). I, along with many Evangelical believers, have done enough research on the text of the Bible to find it credible, historical, an account of what really happened. Enough fulfilled prophecy from the book has been shown to have happened for me to believe that it is divine in nature. I don’t believe that it is simply an ancient document. I agree with the writer of Hebrews when he tells us,

    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (4:12)

    I do believe that God’s Word has this impact on its hearers. Reading the Bible is more than just reading a magazine or even an inspirational book. When I read it I recognize that it is alive. It deals with problems that I struggle with, situations that I’m dealing with, sin that I need to confess. The importance of the Bible in the lives of Christians cannot be underestimated. So, when another faith presents its arguments for their own doctrines, most Christians compare it directly to the Bible. If it does not appear to agree with Biblical teachings we would disagree with the religion.

    So, whether or not the teachings of Mormonism actually show up in the NT (or OT for that matter) text is extremely important. I’m sorry to have to disagree with you again, but the topic of celestial marriage is one that Jesus quite pointedly rejected. It was not a neutral stance. There is no supportive teachings of celestial marriage in the Bible. The rapture, which you asserted is not found in the text, is actually quite well supported. Please note the passages below.

    In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Jn. 14:2-3

    And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come IN LIKE MANNER as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:10-11

    For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess 4:15-18

    These are just a few of the many New Testament passages on the coming of the Lord. Bible prophecy is a huge topic of research and writing among Evangelicals. If you would like to look at some of the rest of the Biblical support for the parousia you could check out http://www.bibleprophesy.org/rapture.htm.

    So, sorry for the long rambling post on my opinion of the Bible. 🙂 There really was a point to this. 🙂 My point is that if you want to have Christians believe that there has been an apostasy from the One True Church it needs to be presented Biblically. Most Evangelicals would not accept the Book of Mormon/PofGP as historical documents and would disagree with the D&C on Biblical doctrinal grounds. So, we really need evidence from the NT in order to agree with the apostasy. I completely agree with Gundek when he said that neither Keller nor Talmage presented the case from the NT. I’m actually surprised that Keller didn’t at least attempt to do so, since he was a Protestant at one time.

    Stephanie

  97. shematwater permalink
    October 2, 2009 1:17 am

    Stephanie

    Your scriptures for support of the Rapture do not support it in any way. They tell that Christ will return again, and in the same manner as he ascended. I do not deny the second coming of Christ, but the idea that he will secretly come and take all the faithful, leave teh rest to be ruled by an anti-christ, and then return again seven years later is what is not found int he Bible. Christ will return, but when he does it will be as the “lighting from the east” with angels heralding the event, meaning that all men will witness his return. There is nothing secret about it, and the verses you give do not support such a secret coming.
    However, having said this, once you know the doctrine of the Rapture it becomes easy to see where people see it in the text (like the coming as a thief in the night, or the one week spoken of by Daniel).

    The problem with what you say concerning comparing doctrine to the Bible is that one little word “appear.” If it appears not to be. But appearances can be deceiving. You speak to believing the Bible because of the physical evidence in history. Your whole attitude is one of mortal interpretation.
    To me the doctrine of Eternal Marriage is as obvious in the Bible as the doctrine of Baptism or Grace. The appearance of the text supports it very well, because I am looking from a different perspective.

    A great example of this is the idea that Christ denied it outright. You claim he did, but when I read that same passage I see what I explained earlier, that he clarified that in the cituation posed their is no eternal marriage, but not as denying it in all situations. I gave my reasoning, which reasoning is of myself, not taken from the leaders of my church. The only thing you can say is to repeat what you see in the text. You have yet to show how my reasoning does not fit the text. Thus you are saying that from your perspective my understanding is wrong.

    Now, as to the idea of presenting it Biblically:
    First, there was about a thousand years where only the church was allowed to read the scriptures. Thus, in this time there was no scholarly criticism of their interpretation or translation, for such was illegal. I know the argument is that “God had the power to preserve his words” which I do not completely disagree with. But men still have their agency. So, while the basic essencials were precerved, not everything was (there are many errors in the Bible).
    The second point is that the Bible itself testifies that there is more scripture to be had. There are close to twenty books and epistles spoken of in the Bible as scripture that we do not have. There is also the Testimony of John, at the end of his gospel, telling us that the world could not hold the complete record of all the things Christ did. With this are the several books we do have from ancient times that were rejected by the counsel of Nicea (without authority).
    Thirdly, you yourself admitted that the Chatholic church was likely in Apostacy. If the only church in existance was in apostacy than what church wasn’t? A Chatholic Priest once made a very wise observation. Either the Chatholics or the Mormons have to be right. For either the Truth was preserved in the original church, or it was lost and needed to be restored. This is the point that truly confuses me conserning Protestants. They admit that the Chatholic church was in apostacy, and without any real authority they set out to reform it, then they deny the apostacy when someone tells them they got it wrong to.

    So, the Bible, though the greatest of all scripture, is not entirely trustworthy due to human error in translation. It is not the only source of scripture, as it testifies itself. And, my favorite, when defending the reformation the apostacy is accurate concerning the Chatholic church, but it is not accurate to say they may have got it wrong.

    The simplest evidence of the apostacy is the reformation and dozens of sects, creeds, and denominations that came out of it, for the Bible says “There is one abody, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one afaith, one bbaptism.” How can the true religion of Christ be so divided? How can there be so many different understanding of the same doctrine, and yet still have the same spirit? How can one church require baptism, and another not, and yet there be only one baptism?
    This one statement from Ephesians is enough evidence from the Bible that the Apostacy has occured. At least it is enough for me.

  98. shematwater permalink
    October 2, 2009 1:22 am

    DARREL and Gundeck

    The changes are not as great you claim. Yes, they do seem to be great, but let us consider things. The words that were added were “the Son of.” Now, as this is only a comparison of the 1830 printed text and the current edition we can easily see how such small phrases may have been missed by the type-setter. It is also possible that in transcribing from the original a copy for the printer the scribe made the error.
    Thus, while it is a change, it is easily explained, and reasonably so, by human error.

    If you want to make the claims that you are making you really need to get the original written copy that was made while Joseph Dictated it to Oliver and others. Show us a change from that text and you will have something to go on.

  99. shematwater permalink
    October 2, 2009 1:35 am

    Just a little note: I went through the initial list given in the link from Darrel, and i find it to be the most trivial and petty kind of complaints that ever were assembled.

    The great majority of the changes are corrections in grammer. There are other places where the wrong name was given, so the right name was put in its place. None of it is of any importance. I have to ask what the purpose of putting all together was, and what motivated a person to do something so rediculous.

  100. October 2, 2009 2:37 am

    Shem,

    Check again, the council of Nicea did not exclude any books from the canon of Scripture. The canon was not declared by Rome until Trent in 1546 in response to the Reformation.

    Your claim that “Thus, in this time there was no scholarly criticism of their interpretation or translation” is false. For example the Hexapla, Origen’s study of the Old Testament was in 6 colums ((1) the Hebrew, (2) a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew, (3) Aquila’s translation, (4) Symmachus’s translation, (5) the Septuagint (LXX), and (6) Theodotion).

    If “The simplest evidence of the apostasy is the reformation and dozens of sects, creeds, and denominations that came out of it”, then what about the 100 or so variations on Mormonism? Doesn’t this prove your Church false?

    Do you have any documentary evidence that the Changes made to 1 Nephi Chapter 11 were because of a printing error or is this your speculation like your speculation on the council of Nicea?

  101. October 2, 2009 2:59 am

    Stephanie ~ I believe that when it says Heaven will be lit by His light that the glow of His presence will be consuming. I know that there are times when I become very still and sensitive to the Holy Spirit that I can sense even just a small portion of the absolute greatness and awesomeness of God. I cannot imagine what it would be like to fall at His feet in His throne room. I think that the wonderment of it all just wouldn’t wear off.

    I just wanted to say that I think this was really well-said and beautiful.

    Although, if heaven doesn’t involve some inner tube wars and burritos at Café Rio with Jesus, I’m gonna be very disappointed. 😉

  102. Stephanie permalink
    October 2, 2009 3:29 am

    Shem
    It has been enjoyable discussing these issues with you. Thank you for maintaining a respectful conversation! 🙂

    So, while the basic essencials were precerved, not everything was (there are many errors in the Bible).

    This is a very common statement by LDS. I often hear it said that, “the Bible is true insofar as it is translated correctly.” I think that by “translated” most LDS actually mean “transmitted” because they might also disagree with certain passages in the original text. I do not understand how the “essentials” can be preserved and yet there are many errors. How can you be sure that there are not errors among the “essentials?” Do you have supportive evidence of these errors? Many have assumed over the years that the Bible has become completely corrupted over time. Yet, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls shows that at least the Old Testament has remained amazingly pure.

    The second point is that the Bible itself testifies that there is more scripture to be had. There are close to twenty books and epistles spoken of in the Bible as scripture that we do not have. There is also the Testimony of John, at the end of his gospel, telling us that the world could not hold the complete record of all the things Christ did.

    The human authors of Scripture cited many books that were available during the day—but that doesn’t mean we are missing Scripture. If I wrote a new book of Scripture today I might cite one of my favorite commentators that other Christians would recognize. Hopefully two thousand years later people wouldn’t be looking for Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible, thinking that it was a lost inspired book. I agree with you about the end of John. In fact, I don’t think I have ever read the end of John without getting chills up and down my spine. Yet, this does not mean that John is telling us the world will be filled up with books testifying of Christ. He is saying that you could never write down all that Jesus did when He was on earth.

    With this are the several books we do have from ancient times that were rejected by the counsel of Nicea (without authority).

    I think by saying “without authority” you mean that the Great Apostasy had already occurred and thus the church leaders didn’t have the right to determine books. However, this is a misunderstanding of how the Council actually functioned. No one can add or delete a book from the Canon. We can only recognize what is Scripture. I’m not sure if you have done any research on the pseudepigraphal works or not, but there were very clear reasons why those books were not accepted or even used by the early church—authenticity, authorship, direct relationship with the apostles, etc were all determining factors.

    Thirdly, you yourself admitted that the Chatholic church was likely in Apostacy. If the only church in existance was in apostacy than what church wasn’t? A Chatholic Priest once made a very wise observation. Either the Chatholics or the Mormons have to be right. For either the Truth was preserved in the original church, or it was lost and needed to be restored. This is the point that truly confuses me conserning Protestants. They admit that the Chatholic church was in apostacy, and without any real authority they set out to reform it, then they deny the apostacy when someone tells them they got it wrong to.

    I understand what you are saying, Shem, but you are using your definition of apostasy. When you say “apostasy” what you mean is apostasy as taught by the LDS church. This goes into loss of priesthood authority, loss of the “keys,” total/complete apostasy, etc. I have a much different understanding of apostasy. I believe that there has been and will always be apostates and apostate churches. However, to assert that the Catholic church was the “only” church of the Middle Ages is just patently false. There have always been believers from the time of Christ to the now. In fact, I think that it is a Biblical pattern to have a remnant of believers who “not bowed the knee to Baal” (Rom. 11:4). For more reading on this subject you could try to find the book The Pilgrim Church which describes the persecuted believers who sought to follow Christ throughout the centuries. Also, since we believe that Christ has never given away the authority over the church we do not see that it needs to be “restored.” I hope this makes more sense. There is always risk for misunderstanding when people use the same words but have different definitions of those words! 🙂

    The simplest evidence of the apostacy is the reformation and dozens of sects, creeds, and denominations that came out of it, for the Bible says “There is one abody, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one afaith, one bbaptism.” How can the true religion of Christ be so divided? How can there be so many different understanding of the same doctrine, and yet still have the same spirit? How can one church require baptism, and another not, and yet there be only one baptism?
    This one statement from Ephesians is enough evidence from the Bible that the Apostacy has occured. At least it is enough for me.

    I’m sure you are a member of the mainline LDS church but surely you are aware of the vast number of Mormon splinter groups—each claiming direct linage from Joseph Smith. Either they are all completely nuts (and I believe they are), or the same charge could be made of Mormons. Just because you don’t claim to have any relationship with these groups doesn’t mean that they might not be more in line with the doctrines of the original LDS church than the mainstream church is. You might not accept their view of you, but the fundamentalist groups view the LDS church as completely apostate. Actually, they view the LDS church as worse off then anyone else—because you have some of the right doctrine but the rest you have lost. They would see the LDS church as being soft on the main doctrines that were taught by JS and BY. I’m not saying that they are correct, I’m just saying that the same thing could be said for the LDS.

    I’m of the belief that one day we will all know the truth. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

  103. October 2, 2009 4:09 am

    I was doing my daily Bible reading tonight and was really struck by this verse in Isaiah:

    Yet, O LORD, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
    ~ Isaiah 64:8 (NRSV)

    What struck me about the passage was that, in the span of one verse, it affirms the two ways of describing our relationship with God that evangelicals and Mormons usually argue over: the parent-child relationship and the Creator-created relationship.

    It makes me think that both aspects of our relationship with God are incredibly meaningful and that any system which emphasizes too far one or the other is really missing out on a profound truth about who we are. Just food for thought…. hope I don’t starve you.

  104. shematwater permalink
    October 2, 2009 3:05 pm

    Darrel

    It is not my burden to prove that this was a clerical or printing error, it is your burden to prove it wasn’t.
    The likelihood of such happening is very good, especially in the 1800’s. Can you prove that it did not happen. For if there is the chance that it did than that is all I need to be able to say your claims of change are meaningless. For you to claim they are great, faith shattering changes you need to prove the reason for the change wasn’t human error, but a conscious attempt to actual change what was originally intended.

    As to the Counsel of Nicea, I agree that I do not know everything about it. However, if what you say is true, and the cannon was not actual settled until the 1500’s then it would seem that the idea of a closed canon was not originally set out in the time of Christ, but was invented during the reformation, which in itself would also be evidence of the apostacy.

  105. shematwater permalink
    October 2, 2009 3:33 pm

    Stephanie

    When speaking of the preservation of the Bible, the evidence I have is the more modern scripture that clarifies the Bible. The essentials are in the Bible, generally untainted, as shown by the fact that they are also in these other scriptures. However, many other things are in error, as shown by the plain teachings of these other scriptures.
    I know you will disagree with me, and that is fine. I do not require the evidence of history, or the evidence of Earthly scholars. God has told me that these additional scriptures as true, and are scritpures, and that is the only evidence I need.

    As to the many books referenced in the Bible, it seems odd that they would be dismissed as just good books that were once referenced. Paul himself speaks of other epistles he had written, telling the people to read them for their own instruction. Col. 4: 16 tells the saints there to read the “epistle from Laodicea.” In 1 Cor. 5: 9 he again makes reference to a previous epistle that gave instruction. Many of the Books referenced in the Old Testiment were written by prophets and seers, some recording visions and prophecies.
    You speak of these records of being the source from which the Bible was taken, as if the scriptures used them as a standard, and then told the people “you can read all this in these books, so don’t take my word for it.” I do not see this in the references made. Most of these references are made in the Histories, where a record of visions and prophecies would have been out of place. It seems abvious to me that the references were made to let people know that the more spiritual part of the record was to be found in other writings, that to get the word of God it would be better to go to these other books than to read the Chronicles of the Hebrew Kings.
    Still, you can take it to mean what you want, all I am doing is giving you how I see things.

    Regarding the apostacy, I agree that Christ has never taken himself from the head of the Church, but he is not on the Earth right now, and thus he must have earthly representatives that act in his name. Paul tells us that “no man taketh this honour unto himself, save he who was called of God, as was Aaron” who was called by the devine intruction given through a prophet (Moses). Thus, nobody who has not received his calling from a Prophet of God, as Aaron did, is authorized to act in the name of Christ.
    Christ has always been at the head of his church, but that does not mean his church has always been on this earth. There have always been people who did their best to follow Christ, but that does not mean they are his church.

    In your post you never really responded to the passage speaking of one body and one baptism and all that. How do you reconcile the many denominations to this passage?

    As to all the spinter groups, they are in apostacy. I know they have different ideas and claim to follow Joseph Smith, but they deny the most fundamental doctrines taught by Joseph Smith.
    However, they really don’t mean anything to this discussion. Just because a church has apostate offshoots does not mean the original church is in apostacy. However, if a church is in apostacy than any church that break off of it (a reformation) will also be in apostacy, unless Christ personally ordains it (a restoration). My point was that if the Chatholic church had fallen into apostacy than all churches that formed from it were also in apostacy.
    Now, I know some will claim that the LDS came out of regular Christianity, but I disagree. Of course it all comes down to personal belief, but I do believe Joseph Smith was “called of God as was Aaron” having the authority given him by many of the ancient prophets. While I will never agree that LDS are not Christians, I will agree that we form a very separate branch of religion. Just as Islam and Jewdaism started with Abraham, but are different religions.

    Now, I will continue to discuss all of this with you, but I will point out one thing that I have realized.

    We are not all that different. I have noticed in your words a very firm resolve in your faith, one that states unchangingly that what you believe is true, and nothing else. What you believe the Bible to mean is what it means, and there is no room for doubts. I am very much the same in my beliefs. I know what I believe, and I know why I believe it, and it will take something very drastic to change that. What I believe the Bible to mean is what it means, and there is no room for doubt.
    However, I do see one very large difference between us as well, in that I am willing to admit that what you believe can be seen in the Bible, but you seem to be unwilling to admit that the logic of what I say fits the Bible.
    I am not really complaining, just simply pointing out the different perspectives and biases that I have seen in both our posts.

    While I would love to continue the discussion, I think we should be understand that we each see what we believe because we believe it, not because it is the obvious thing, and we don’t see or understand what the other believes because we do not believe it.
    If we can keep that in mind than a good discussion is always possible, and we will be able to learn from each other.

  106. October 2, 2009 10:51 pm

    Shem,

    I think you meant to address your above comment to Gundeck. He was the one asking you for evidence that the 1 Nephi Chapter 11 verses were printer’s errors. Nevertheless, I will jump in and help out. No, they were not printer’s errors. The Original and Printer Manuscripts of the BOM actually read the way the 1830 edition does on these versses. It was JS HIMSELF who added in the words “Son of” in the 1837 edition of the BOM. In fact, even Robert Millet admits as much in his book “The Power Of The Word: Saving Doctrines from the Book of Mormon.”

    I am sorry, but your claim of a PRINTER ERROR is without foundation.

    Darrell

  107. October 3, 2009 2:50 am

    Shem,

    Your argument concerning the canon defies both logic and historical reality. My recommendation to you is to do some study on Church history, I say this in all kindness. How exactly could the canon be closed during the time of Christ when each of the New Testament books was written after the ascension of Christ? You see the canon was in fact settled well before the council of Nicaea (early 3rd century), but there was not a conciliar decision on the matter until Trent.

    You point to the “wise” observation of a Catholic Priest that either the Catholics or the Mormons have to be right. This argument can only seem wise if you have not studied Church history. Couldn’t it be that the Eastern Orthodox are correct?

    Now it seems to me that your Church is the one making claims of apostasy, continuing canonical revelation, Book of Mormon etc. As the one making the claim I am afraid that the burden is on you, and from my perspective making false claims about well documented Church councils is not helping your position.

  108. October 3, 2009 4:12 am

    Gundeck,

    Adding the Orthodox to the picture still doesn’t help your own position out all that much.

  109. psychochemiker permalink
    October 3, 2009 5:47 am

    So I was the one who originally recommended Talmage’s book, not because it was the end-all, but the beginning. The book Seth recommended is in large part volume 2 of Talmage’s work, with updated scholarship.

    Re: The LDS view of the New Testament.
    I would hope, that everyone would read McDermott’s and Millet’s Claiming Christ wherein the Evangelical McDermott recognizes that EVERYONE reads the Bible through their own lens, and that own cannot discount another’s lens simply because it isn’t their own. The biggest fable told about the Bible, is that it is possible to read it without our own worldview tainting it’s message. The human brain is fallen, we will never extract the message as purely as it was intended.

    Re: Apostasy presented in the New Testament.
    ‘Yet, the Scripture predicts that the falling away will occur during the end times.” The problem is again the lens you bring to the text. Because Paul wasn’t specific enough, and denote what “the end times” means, there’s quite a bit of personal choice in how chooses to interpret it. One can go through ones personal interpretations of scripture to determine if the latter-times have occurred or not. From my own personal understanding of the text: Jesus spoke about the end of the world occurring, and the tribulations that would accompany it. I think a lot of Mormons and Evangelicals have missed the boat on this interpretation. I think Jesus was ALSO talking about the end of Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was God’s Holy City. The Fall of Jerusalem was the END OF THE WORLD, and therefore, all of Jesus’ prophesies about the END OF THE WORLD have ALREADY OCCURRED. (I like yelling in caps, it makes me feel powerful). So, since Paul prophesied about an apostasy (a mutiny, is what the Greek word is describing) before the “end of the world” that Jesus prophesied about, one could say, “Since Jesus described the end of the world in the latter-time” and Paul said, “there’d be a mutiny in the end times” and since Jesus’ prophecy about the “end of the world-Jerusalem” was fulfilled, it is possible (and probable) that Paul’s prophecy about the end times (and accompanying prophecy) was true. Of course, I rely on my own personal interpretation of the text to come to that conclusion, but everyone else relies on their own personal interpretations of the text to come to any different conclusion.

    The temple was destroyed in 70 AD and there is no record of an anti-Christ setting himself up in the temple prior to that time. This event has yet to occur. While it is clear that an apostasy is predicted, it seems apparent from Scripture that the event is connected with the end times.

    Your trapped by your own creeds here Stephanie. Even if there were a record, you don’t have to believe it because it’s not canonized. To assume that things are only true if they are found in the Bible is to accept a creed, and dogma not taught in the Bible, which I’m giving the term “The Completenists Paradox” or the “Innerantists Illogicalism”. Voting will commence shortly. Just because something isn’t written down doesn’t it mean it didn’t happen. You can assume that “God will provide a record of every time a prophesy is fulfilled”, but there’s no Biblical warrant for that assumption.

    You assume that because we don’t have a biblical record of this prophecy being fulfilled, that it hasn’t been fulfilled. Yet, you don’t recognize the logical weakness of this argument. If the apostasy had occurred, and the man of sin had been revealed, and he had control of the church, would he have been likely to allow the Church to record that there had been an apostasy? So is it really a good idea to have hope that a “lack of positive evidence” equals “positive evidence of lacking?” I think not.

    You assume there wasn’t an apostasy, we assume there was.

    But I truly admire your willingness to actually read an entire book not particularly written for your own faith=tradition. Might I suggest, in the future, getting the books from inter-library loan instead of paying amazon (or asking your friendly neighborhood PC for a PDF of scans instead…).

  110. Stephanie permalink
    October 3, 2009 5:36 pm

    I think Jesus was ALSO talking about the end of Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was God’s Holy City. The Fall of Jerusalem was the END OF THE WORLD, and therefore, all of Jesus’ prophesies about the END OF THE WORLD have ALREADY OCCURRED.

    I GET YOUR POINT. 🙂 Matthew 24 is a passage loaded with prophecy. Jesus starts out by predicting the fall of Jerusalem, but then goes on into more detail. What prophecies about the end of the world have ALREADY OCCURRED? Jesus predicts that a missionary effort will precede the end times.

    And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    Surely this had not occurred by 70 AD.
    Note verse 21 of the same chapter,

    For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

    Would you suggest that the fall of Jerusalem was more violent than World War II? I think that the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who suffered the impact of the atomic bomb might disagree. The fall of Jerusalem was bad, but on a scale not even comparable to modern war.

    Your trapped by your own creeds here Stephanie. Even if there were a record, you don’t have to believe it because it’s not canonized. To assume that things are only true if they are found in the Bible is to accept a creed, and dogma not taught in the Bible, which I’m giving the term “The Completenists Paradox” or the “Innerantists Illogicalism”. Voting will commence shortly. Just because something isn’t written down doesn’t it mean it didn’t happen. You can assume that “God will provide a record of every time a prophesy is fulfilled”, but there’s no Biblical warrant for that assumption.

    You assume that because we don’t have a biblical record of this prophecy being fulfilled, that it hasn’t been fulfilled. Yet, you don’t recognize the logical weakness of this argument. If the apostasy had occurred, and the man of sin had been revealed, and he had control of the church, would he have been likely to allow the Church to record that there had been an apostasy? So is it really a good idea to have hope that a “lack of positive evidence” equals “positive evidence of lacking?” I think not.

    PC, these paragraphs have so many problems I don’t even know where to start. 🙂 First off, you misjudge me for assuming that I will only accept a fulfilled prophecy if both the prediction and fulfillment are enclosed within the leather bindings of my Bible! This is patently false. The fall of Jerusalem, which we just discussed, is predicted Biblically and documented in secular history. I do not at all require that the fulfillment be enclosed in the Biblical text. In fact, I really think that it offers more credence to the Bible to find that prophecy has been shown to have been true from the standpoint of history. Furthermore, what you are suggesting sounds like a grand conspiracy scheme. There was an anti-Christ who established himself in the temple of Jerusalem and no one dared to write it down because he exercised control over all the local historians? How does he permit us to write about him even now, two thousand years later? Has his power so weakened?

    If the anti-Christ has already established himself as such in the temple then we are in the middle of the great tribulation right now. Jesus refers us to Daniel on this in Matthew 24:15.

    When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

    Some commentators see the “abomination of desolation” as the Roman army coming to destroy Jerusalem. It is possible that this is one meaning of the passage. But, why then would Jesus refer us to Daniel?

    And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. Dan. 9:27

    Not the timeframe that is indicated for this event (described in Dan. 12:11)

    And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

    What would you propose happened in the year 73.5 AD? This would be 1290 days after the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the prophecy of Daniel. Biblical prophecy scholars debate these issues and the timeframe of Daniels 70 Weeks, but I have never heard them come to the conclusion that his 70 Weeks ended in 73.5 AD. How do the LDS deal with Daniel’s prophecy in light of the end times?

    Might I suggest, in the future, getting the books from inter-library loan instead of paying amazon (or asking your friendly neighborhood PC for a PDF of scans instead…).

    I’ll keep that in mind. Although I don’t know that the library would appreciate all the ink in the margins. Maybe I need those PDF scans. 🙂

  111. psychochemiker permalink
    October 3, 2009 9:35 pm

    It all depends on how literal you take the timing in Daniel to be. Is it really meant as a timeline? Not everyone accepts that, not even within Traditional Christianity.

    The point I was trying to get, it we can’t assume positively that the apostasy didn’t occur just because we don’t have a record (either biblical) or not about it occurring. There’s a lot of important things that happen, that don’t get recorded.

  112. October 3, 2009 10:47 pm

    Seth,

    That is where you are wrong Seth. The Eastern Orthodox are part of the 2000 year history of the Church. To ignore their beliefs, piety, and practice would be to cut ourselves off from a vital part of our History. Douglas Kelly in the first volume of his Systematic Theology explains that while remembering his Reformed Heritage he is “…gladly appropriating crucial insight of the whole people of God over the last 2000 years – Eastern Orthodox, Western Catholic and Reformed Protestant…”

    This is why I find your apostasy theology so appallingly closed minded and intolerant, your Church is deliberately cutting itself off from 2000 years of Church history and though.

  113. October 4, 2009 2:58 am

    Only where it conflicts with what God has directly revealed Gundeck.

    Cutting ties can be a double-edged sword.

    On the one hand, it does, as you say sometimes risk throwing out a lot of good work done in the past.

    But on the other hand, it also leaves you open to move forward, whereas others are too prejudiced with the past to really have a theological future.

  114. October 4, 2009 11:15 pm

    Seth,

    You have to have had ties before they can be cut, remember your Church is born by declaring all of Christianity as apostate, no prejudice to be found there. There is a certain level of pride that must come from being the first group to figure out what Christ was talking about in 2000 years.

    On the other hand you are free to rewrite history, so now the council of Nicaea decided the canon and anyone who doesn’t believe it is just a closed minded bigot.

  115. October 4, 2009 11:22 pm

    We didn’t “figure out” anything Gundeck. God told it to us. And if we squander it, or treat it lightly, he can easily withdraw that blessing from us and pass it to another people.

  116. October 4, 2009 11:57 pm

    Seth,

    All the more pride you must have in yoursleves, to be the first people worthy of God’s revelation in 2000 years. No preconceived man made theology there.

  117. October 5, 2009 12:00 am

    I suppose you would have asked Abraham the same question Gundeck?

  118. October 5, 2009 12:23 am

    I don’t know what I would have said to Abraham, you are talking about a time in redemptive history I didn’t experience. I do know that the body of Christ has promises like this

    “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

    “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    When exactly did the blood of Christ become ineffective Seth? When did Christ decide to abandon his body?

  119. October 5, 2009 12:50 am

    You seem to think we are unique in this respect Gundeck. Here’s some reading for you that I dug up:

    The realization that no Christian church has continuity with the church established by Jesus in divine authority or doctrine is not an idea that originated with the LDS Christians. Many Protestant clergymen and others have long realized that if the Catholic Church’s claims to be the proper continuation of Christ’s church are false, then a universal apostasy must have occured.

    Indeed, were it not for a belief in the complete apostasy of all current churches, there would have been no motivation for the founders of various denominations to start their own churches—they would have simply joined the denomination which they believed had continuity with the original church of Jesus and the apostles. This is, of course, why churches which separated from Catholicism are called Protestant churches. Therefore, it defies reason for a non-Catholic to claim that Mormons were the “first” to separate themselves from what they considered “apostate” Christianity.
    Catholicism

    The Catholic Church takes a slightly different tack on this issue. Rather than arguing that an apostasy of other churches occurred (necessitating the formation of a new denomination), the Catholics claim unbroken apostolic authority and teachings down to the present day.

    Catholics and non-Christians

    About non-Christian belief systems, the Roman Church said:

    “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these [non-Christian] religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and teachings, which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men…

    As a remedy for [a] relativistic mentality, which is becoming ever more common, it is necessary above all to reassert the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ…

    [T]he theory of the limited, incomplete, or imperfect character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which would be complementary to that found in other religions, is contrary to the Church’s faith…

    [T]heological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is [in fact merely] religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself…

    Nevertheless, God, who desires to call all peoples to himself in Christ and to communicate to them the fullness of his revelation and love, “does not fail to make himself present in many ways, not only to individuals, but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression even when they contain ‘gaps, insufficiencies and errors’”…
    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Declaration Dominus Ieusus, On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church,” (2000-II), Section I.

    Catholics and non-Catholics

    Protestants would likely not quarrel with much of the above. But, the Catholic Church is crystal clear on how they view all other Christian denominations (italics present in the original):

    “The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him…

    Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”…

    The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity—rooted in the apostolic succession—between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church…

    outside of her [i.e., the Catholic Church’s] structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth”, that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”…The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches…

    On the other hand, the ecclesial communities [i.e., other denomination “churches,” though the Catholics do not so designate them, as will be seen] which have not preserved the valid Episcopate [succession of bishops] and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.

    The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach…

    Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church…

    If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation…”
    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Declaration Dominus Ieusus, On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church,” (2000-II), Section IV.

    Reiterated in 2007

    Pope Benedict XVI approved the release of another statement which cited the above document (which he helped prepare in 2000) making clear the Catholic Church’s attitude toward non-Catholic Christians:

    “Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century [i.e., “Protestants”]?

    Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.”
    William Cardinal Levada, Angelo Amato, S.D.B.; ratified and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI, Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church (29 June 2007).

    Reformers

    Early Anabaptist Thomas Muntzer believed that

    “the Christian church lost its virginity and became an adulteress soon after the death of the disciples of the apostles because of corrupt leadership, manifested in the predominance of a clergy who cared more for the amassing of property and power than for the acquiring of spiritual virtues.”
    Muntzer, “Sermon before the Princes” (Allstedt, 13 July 1524), in Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, ed. G.H. Williams (Philadelphia, Westminster Press 1957): 51 (103-4).

    Reformer Sebastian Franck believed that the

    “outward church of Christ was wasted immediately after the apostles because the early Fathers, whom he calls ‘wolves’ and ‘anti-christs’, justified war, power of magistracy, tithes, the priesthood, etc. (Franck, Letter to Campanus, in Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers, ed. G.H. Williams, (Philadelphia, Westminster Press 1957), 51:151-152.) [That they are wolves] is “proved by their works, especially [those] of Clement [of Alexandria], Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Hilary, Cyril, Origen, and others which are merely child’s play and quite unlike the spirit of the apostles, that is, filled with commandments, laws, sacramental elements and all kinds of human inventions.”
    Frank cited in Daniel H. Williams, “The Corruption of the Church and its Tradition”, in Williams, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism (Eerdmans, 1999): 148–149 (103-104).

    John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, lamented that the Christian had apostatized from the gospel that Christ and the apostles had taught, had lost the spiritual gifts that they once enjoyed, and had returned to heathenism, having on a dead form remaining:

    “It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were common in the church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the emperor Constantine called himself a Christian, and from a vain imagination of promoting the Christian cause thereby, heaped riches and power and honor upon Christians in general, but in particular upon the Christian clergy. From this time they almost totally ceased; very few instances of the kind were found. The cause of this was not as has been supposed because there was no more occasion for them because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause of it was the love of many, almost all Christians, so called, was waxed cold. The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine His Church, could hardly find faith upon the earth. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church because the Christians were turned heathens again, and only had earth a dead form left.”
    John Wesley, cited in Wesley’s Works, Vol. 7, 89:26, 27.

    Church of England

    In the Church of England Homily Against Peril of Idolatry we read:

    “So that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom—an horrible and most dreadful thing to think—have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry; of all other vices most detested by God, and most damnable to man; and that by the space of eight hundred years and more.”

    The Book of Homilies dates from about the middle of the sixteenth century; and in it is thus officially affirmed that the so-called Church and the whole religious world had been utterly apostate for eight centuries or more prior to the establishment of the Church of England.

    American Protestants

    Roger Williams, pastor of the oldest Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode Island, refused to continue as pastor on the grounds that

    “There is no regularly-constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance: nor can there be, until new apostles are sent by the great Head of the Church, for whose coming I am seeking.”
    William Cullen Bryant (editor), Picturesque America, or the Land We Live In (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1872), 1:502.

    Williams also said, “The apostasy… hath so far corrupted all, that there can be no recovery out of that apostasy until Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew.”
    Edward Underhill, “Struggles and Triumphs of Religious Liberty”, cited in William F. Anderson, “Apostasy or Succession, Which?,” 238–239.

    In a work prepared by seventy-three noted theologians and Bible students, we read:

    “…we must not expect to see the Church of Holy Scripture actually existing in its perfection on the earth. It is not to be found, thus perfect, either in the collected fragments of Christendom, or still less in any one of these fragments….”
    Dr. William Smith, Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1896).

    Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, prominent American Baptist clergyman and author, described the condition of the Christian churches of the first half of the twentieth century in these words:

    “A religious reformation is afoot, and at heart it is the endeavor to recover for our modern life the religion of Jesus as against the vast, intricate, largely inadequate and often positively false religion about Jesus. Christianity today has largely left the religion which he preached, taught and lived, and has substituted another kind of religion altogether. If Jesus should come back to now, hear the mythologies built up around him, see the creedalism, denominationalism, sacramentalism, carried on in his name, he would certainly say, ‘If this is Christianity, I am not a Christian.'”
    Fosdick cited in Daniel H. Williams, “The Corruption of the Church and its Tradition”, in Williams, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism (Eerdmans, 1999): 101–131.

    Gundeck, this happy peaceful unity of the Body of Christ that you seem to be thinking of – if it exists at all – is surely of recent invention.

    Seems to me Gundeck that the big difference between a Protestant and Mormon on this topic is merely the date at which we set the apostasy.

  120. October 5, 2009 1:21 am

    Copying and pasting from FAIR Seth?

    I thought you were better than that.

  121. October 5, 2009 1:30 am

    I told him it was reading I “dug up.” I never said it was my own stuff.

    I thought about simply linking to the webpage, but I suspect a lot of people don’t click through to links anyway.

  122. October 5, 2009 1:32 am

    Any time you see me offering a lot of book citations in a comment, that’s a pretty good tip-off that it’s coming from somewhere else.

  123. October 5, 2009 2:02 am

    Seth,

    I have read this on FAIRS site before. Since we are cutting and pasting the Westminster divines said:

    “The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.”

    I do appreciate that you would quote Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick to a Presbyterian since he was removed from his pulpit in a Presbyterian Church and was central to the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Fosdick being well regarded by those who deny the virgin birth and every other miracle in the Bible.

    The difference is not the date but the extent and nature of apostasy. I do not know any Protestant who would claim that no apostasy has happened or will happen in the future. The orthodox Reformed perspective is that a total apostasy did not occur. And none of the men you quoted above would have said that the nature of apostasy had anything to do with the removal of the Melchizedek, Aaronic or Patriarchal priesthoods from the Earth.

  124. October 5, 2009 2:13 am

    By the way I do click on the links, especially if they are from FAIR. Also you don’t usually put Anabaptists and radical-Reformers under the heading of Reformers, generally they, and their followers, do not want to be associated with the magisterial Reformation.

  125. October 5, 2009 2:28 am

    I wasn’t really referring to you Gundeck, but rather other readers.

    A question here:

    What do you consider “total apostasy” to mean?

    I want to be sure we’re talking about the same thing.

  126. Stephanie permalink
    October 5, 2009 2:47 am

    Seth,

    Please remember the comment policy:

    Note: All quotations must be cited. Copying and pasting from other sources without citations is considered plagiarism, is often investigated by other bloggers, and anyone engaging in plagiarism can expect to be called out by other bloggers or the admin.

    You’re overwhelming us with words! 🙂 Now I’m going to cut and paste a giant section out of War and Peace just to compete.

    Stephanie

  127. October 5, 2009 2:51 am

    As I understand it this can be seen in 3 parts. 1 the corruption of the doctrines of the early church and 2 the restructuring of the ecclesiastic system excluding apostles and loss or removal of the priesthood systems, “Keys”, and “authority” 3 loss of ordinances and temples. Different writers place an emphasis on different causes and posit different dates. Some place a moral aspect on the failures of the early Church some don’t. Most writers today seem to want to ignore causes and focus on the symptoms.

  128. October 5, 2009 3:24 am

    Sorry to be hard on you, Seth. I just don’t think FAIR is horribly interested in an accurate, balanced analysis of 19th century Protestant thought on apostasy & the church.

    Carry on.

  129. October 5, 2009 3:54 am

    Note taken Stephanie.

    Gundeck, I think I’m more interested in teasing out what the word “total” here implies and whether the Mormon religion is really pushing that descriptor.

  130. October 5, 2009 4:19 am

    The Mormon religion claims to be the only true Church a position that few denominations choose to make, add this to your priesthoods, authority, and temple claims toss in the first vision and I am not sure how you can say that your position is not for a total apostasy.

    I asked earlier if Dr. Kellers answer in the speech he gave concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit is completely orthodox Mormon doctrine. I know that I have read interpretations of 1 Nephi 13 and 14 and that don’t jive with his answer generous.

    From Talmage’s book “If the gospel had to be brought again from the heavens, the gospel must have been taken from the earth. Thus the prophecy of a restoration is proof of an apostasy general and complete.”

    I am willing to use the term general and complete apostasy if you prefer.

  131. October 5, 2009 5:44 am

    Gundeck, I think if you pinned down Talmage, Keller, Thomas S. Monson, or Joseph Smith, none of them would have said that ALL of the Gospel was taken away.

    For instance, all of them would uphold the Sermon on the Mount as valid Gospel. All of them would affirm the same crucifixion and resurrection that any Catholic does. All of them would agree with baptizing people, as the Baptist does. All of them would agree with the need for Priesthood authority – as the Orthodox do.

    So this has never been a question of whether the entirety of the Gospel as a collection of teachings, ordinances, and theological notions was taken away. None of these people would argue this, and I do not argue it.

    Even vestiges of the temple remained in Christian liturgy, so even that wasn’t completely lost.

    The only place you can really assert that LDS leaders assert a “total loss” is in authority. The formalized authorization from God to act in his name. And even here, I think it’s nuanced. As a believing Mormon, I feel no problem with thinking loss of authority was gradual rather than instantaneous as some Mormon pop-culture depictions seem to indicate.

    I’m sure Peter and Paul ordained local leaders who outlived them. Seems quite likely to me. I’m sure those leaders passed along what limited Priesthood they possessed to others. But without a unified head, and without any unity in the body, each part dwindled in gradual error, and in many cases, outright corruption and perversion.

    The gradual process continued until now – today – I simply have no basis for confidence in the authority claims of any of the other contestants.

    A fresh start was needed.

    But that’s a far cry from saying that we’re asserting that nothing in the rest of Christianity is true at all, or that the whole thing is essentially corrupt.

  132. October 5, 2009 11:33 am

    Seth,

    I am not going to tell you what Mormons believe or what your apostasy theology encompasses because I am not a Mormon. I do find your thoughts to be in line with what Keller spoke about. I also find this position of truth existing outside of your Church as an explanation to the great apostasy to be a little shallow.

    In each of the examples that you sited such as baptism for Baptists or the priesthood in the Eastern Orthodox tradition the underlying theology supporting this theology in the Mormon Church is radically different from the denominations you point to. Most Baptists to not support baptismal regeneration the Orthodox priesthood, patriarchy, and apostolic succesion has no connection to the Mormons 3 priesthoods.

    When I asked, “When exactly did the blood of Christ become ineffective Seth?” this was not a rhetorical question. If you believe that the Church lost its authority the it lost its authority to preach the gospel and to administer the sacraments in witch case there was a 1800 (+-) year gap in the efficacy of the blood of Christ to make peace with God, leaving no hope of being recreated into a new man, no promise of reconciliation with God, no access to the Father, instead there were only strangers and aliens outside of the household of God.

  133. October 5, 2009 2:42 pm

    Gundeck,

    Not that this is answering your question, because I’ve got to go to court…

    But aren’t you forgetting about LDS vicarious ordinances for the dead?

    Later.

  134. October 5, 2009 5:04 pm

    Seth,

    No, I think that while vicarious works for the dead may have a therapeutic effect for the faithful by giving them a work assignment in the building of the Kingdom, saving unconverted loved ones, and providing an answer to objections a of the sacerdotal system, when you examine the theology behind them they don’t really hold up under their own weight.

    Correct me if I am wrong but you have to either take part in various rituals in life or have them preformed in your name after death? There are just to many ways that someone can be missed or lost to history for this system to work. I am always thinking of some poor guy who was born, dead, and burried in the same place leaving no trace of himself for your genealogists to find. It seems to answer the question of requiring baptism for salvation and people who were never given the opportunity to be baptized but all you need to do is walk through a military cemetery and you know that it won’t work. “Known unto God” When salvation is left up to men someone is always going to be left out.

  135. October 5, 2009 6:04 pm

    Gundeck, the point of the work for the dead has two main thrusts:

    The first is providing needed ordinances to the deceased. As you pointed out, this has problems from a practical standpoint. Part of my family tree branches into pioneer Mormon blood. So there’s been a LOT of work done on that branch of the family.

    Last I checked, the work extends clear back to 785 AD France (assuming the records are accurate – which is indeed an assumption) on a single line. After that, it’s a dead end. There just aren’t any further records. There may never be any surviving records found.

    So obviously we aren’t getting everyone (and that’s not taking into account whether all Mormons are really doing all they can to get the work done or not). Nor will human genealogical efforts ever be capable of getting everyone that died in obscurity. That’s fairly clear.

    If this were the end of the story, your points would indeed be a problem. But part of Mormon belief also holds that the “Book of Life” will be opened to us after Christ’s return and there will be a season to correct for all of these inadequacies. Thus a proper sense of humility and reliance on God is preserved even in our efforts to redeem the dead.

    So, you might ask – why not just wait until Christ returns and sort it out then?

    Well, you’ll note that I said the point of temple work is twofold. Here’s part two:

    We also believe this work fulfills D&C Section 2 (quoting from Malachi 4:5-6). It turns the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children. We believe that since Elijah appeared in the Kirtland Temple, the world has been impacted by the spirit he acted as messenger for and people everywhere have felt drawn to their ancestry.

    Realize that salvation in the LDS faith is not simply a matter of “you and Jesus.” We are saved as a people – as Zion. The only way this is possible is if we are united in heart and mind. Only by that sort of unity can we unite with God and be exalted (sharing the same relationship with the Father that he now shares with the Son). Thus it is vital that the hearts of the living be turned back upon their ancestors. If we fail to do this, we cut ourselves off from the love and unity that is necessary for Zion to work, and we risk running afoul of the curse spoken of in Malachi.

    This work is just as much for us as it is for them. Waiting till Christ’s reign simply won’t do.

    The temple and the work within it is a religious symbol of higher realities in the heavens. We must abide by those realities if we wish to see God at the judgment (being like him).

  136. October 5, 2009 6:19 pm

    By the way Gundeck,

    I dug up the sermon from Harry Emerson Fosdick that really got him in trouble with the hardliner fundamentalist faction (he was not “removed” – he resigned rather than face a judicial court packed with fundamentalists). Here’s the link:

    http://www.fpcnyc.org/fundamentalism.html

    Do you disagree with his sermon here?

    Incidentally, after leaving the Presbyterian church (within which he actually had not insubstantial support), he became a Baptist minister. Ironically, the fundamentalist/modernist controversy continued within Presbyterianism well after Fosdick resigned. In 1929, the fundamentalist faction lost control of the General Assembly. If Fosdick had managed to hold on until then, he probably would not have been ousted. It’s also arguable that his views in the sermon I reference above more closely represent the mainline of Presbyterian thought today.

  137. October 5, 2009 6:41 pm

    Sorry, I should make it clear that the link is a synopsis of the circumstances surrounding the sermon and not the full text of the sermon itself. I’ll have to dig some more to find that actual sermon text.

  138. October 5, 2009 8:12 pm

    Seth,

    There are a couple of things to look at with Fosdick. First the Northern PCUSA required subscription to the Westminster Standards at this time. As a Baptist minster he would have been required to affirm that he would not teach contrary to the Standards, he chose to do this with the full understanding of the consequences. Second that he chose to use the term fundamentalist in his sermon when he was in fact talking about subscriptionists (those requiring subscription) shows that he was building up a straw man and not confronting the reality of the Presbyterian congregation he was talking to.

    As J. Gresham Machen pointed out in his book Christianity and Liberalism the Church is not a social club or an organization where everybody has a right to membership. It has the right to set its own rules for ministry and membership. Fosdick says “This is a free country and anybody has a right to hold these opinions or any others if he is sincerely convinced of them. The question is–Has anybody a right to deny the Christian name to those who differ with him on such points and to shut against them the doors of the Christian fellowship?” This is a false dilemma of Fosdicks own making. He was free to have his views and to preach them in any denomination that would have him. I believe it was Rockefeller who built him a new pulpit to preach from.

    I believe that you are correct Fosdick would have been welcomed in the united PC(USA) today. As a denomination the PC(USA) feels free to tell you to boycott Taco Bell and Burger King but they are unable to define the essentials of the Reformed faith. This is a reason that the OPC (from the Northern Church) and the PCA (from the Southern Church) exist today in communion with other NAPARC denominations (mostly Dutch or Continental Reformed) all requiring subscription to the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity from their ministers.

  139. October 5, 2009 8:18 pm

    Seth,

    “Realize that salvation in the LDS faith is not simply a matter of “you and Jesus.””

    I agree, from the Reformed view our union with Christ is a union that is shared with the Church and all Saints who call upon the name of the Lord.

    By the way you are the first to look at who Fosdick was when I mentioned him.

  140. October 5, 2009 8:38 pm

    Apparently, he got on board with the “neo-orthodox” movement spurred by Barth and Neibhur later in life.

  141. shematwater permalink
    October 5, 2009 8:46 pm

    As I can only post during the week (not on Saturday or Sunday) I have fallen behind in the conversation.
    I will say that after reflextion for the past few days I have come to realize that some of what I said in my last post may have been offensive, and I do appologize for it. It was unintensional.

    DARREL

    It may be that Joseph Smith made the changes (I ahve not read the hand written copy made by Oliver Cowdry, so I don’t really know), but even so, that does not prove it wasn’t human error, only that it wasn’t the printer’s error. Did Oliver Cowdry get every word perfect when acting as scribe. In these particular verses of 1 Nephi it was Emma who was scribe. Given the fact that the entire thing was translated in a month and all speed was taken to get it published, can you prove that the scribes were not in error, and that Joseph simply did not have the time to fix the error before the first eddition?
    My basic point is that these things should not be faith shaking, for such things can easily be seen as human error, and thus the integrity of the work is still true. These things are only problems for those who are looking for problems. It reminds me of the one man who left the church because Joseph put an E at the end of his name, claiming that a prophet would have made such a mistake. It is rediculous and petty, and only one who wanted an excuse would ever use it.

    GUNDECK

    The burden of proof would rest with me if I was trying to convince you. If I was speaking as a missionary with the intent to persuade I would need to have the proof. However, that is not my intent here on these threads. My intent is not to persuade, but to instruct, and to intruct on LDS doctrine and nothing else. I have never tried to convince anyone on these threads that the LDS doctrine is right, nor have I tried to convince anyone that the apostacy was real. I have simply explained what the LDS believe, and the reasons I believe it. This is why I made the last comment to Stephanie, explaining this. The burden of proof rests on the person who wishes to persuade the other.
    One question though-When was it decided that there was a closed canon, who made that determination, and under what authority did they act?

    Stephanie and Psychochemiker
    I like how Psycho puts it in his post. I also understand the confusion the Stephanie speaks of in Christ’s words.
    That is why I like the JST of the 24 chapter of Matthew. It is much clearer as to what is going to happen. It specifies that the “Abbomination of Desolation” spoken of by Daniel, and the accompanying tribulation, shall happen twice, once when Jeruselem was destroyed, and again in the last days just before the Second Coming of Christ.

    Thus, the end of the world refers to both the destruction of Jeruselem and the final times just before the Second Coming. So, when Paul speaks of a Falling away before the End Times he could be refering to either one.
    However, in this particular passage I do not recall the prophecy of the great missionary work. I know it is in the Bible, but I did not see it here, and thus it also can be at either time.

    I think what all people need to do when looking at prophecy is to look at history and ask, is there any time in history when this may have been fulfilled? If the answer is no than the time for its fulfillment may be in the future (or you may just not recognize it). If it is yes you then need to ask, can this have more than one fulfillment? you ask this because some prophecies do. An example is the Desolation spoken of by Daniel. If you accept the JST you accept that it was fulfilled when Rome sacked Jeruselem, and will be agian in the Future. If you don’t you can listen to the scholars of the Earth who lay out a very convincing argument that it was fulfilled once already when Greece conquered Jeruselem and made the Jewish religion illegal (I personally accept both).

    Now, if you accept the JST than the main question you have to ask about any prophecy concerning the last days is this: Does it refer to the fall of Jeruselem (last days of the Jewish Nation) or to the time just before the Second Coming? Many can be either from the wording given in the Bible, and some are both. Thus we are left to personal interpretation (unless you can find where a prophet has explained the prophecy, but that is not really all that common).

  142. October 5, 2009 8:55 pm

    Shem, I don’t see how it matters, even if it was Joseph Smith’s errors.

  143. October 5, 2009 9:33 pm

    “Given the fact that the entire thing was translated in a month and all speed was taken to get it published, can you prove that the scribes were not in error, and that Joseph simply did not have the time to fix the error before the first eddition?”

    The manner in which JS “translated” and the scribes “copied” does not allow for the scribe to make and error. For they said tor the words would appear to him [JS] one or two at a time, and he would then give the words to the scribe. It was not until the scribe COPIED THEM DOWN CORRECTLY that new words would appear. As a result, attributing this to scribal error does not add up, for the scribe COULD NOT MAKE ERRORS AND THE TRANSLATION PROCESS CONTINUE.

    Shem, this may not be a big deal to you. However, in reality it is very much a big deal. JS’s doctrine on the nature of God EVOLVED over time, and the changes he personally made in the BOM help to demonstrate this fact. This, along with several other facts outside of the changes in the BOM, show how he went from being almost modalistic to Tri-Theistic on his doctrine of God.

    Shem, I just want to point our your ever changing explanations here:

    1) You start out by saying that there are no major changes in the BOM

    2) Then, when I showed you some changes, you said the ones in 1 Nephi would only be a big deal if they were in the original manuscripts.

    3) Now you have backtracked saying they aren’t a big deal EVEN THOUGH they are in the original manuscripts. Now you put it off on the scribes making errors.

    You are kind of jumping all over the place here, Shem.

    Darrell

  144. October 5, 2009 10:17 pm

    Seth,

    I don’t think that Fosdick went into neo-orthodoxy, while there are many disagreements between the neo-orthodox and the orthodox Reformed his stand against Protestant liberalism “Nein!” is appriciated.

  145. October 5, 2009 10:18 pm

    Shematwater,

    The Church closed the canon under Christs authority.

  146. October 6, 2009 2:07 pm

    Seth,

    I am sorry for being totally off topic

    You got me looking at Fosdick and Barth. I found this book, pages 433 and 434 are of interest.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=rfV6FmMFzdoC&pg=PA433&lpg=PA433&dq=fosdick+neo+othodox&source=bl&ots=kmF3polb-h&sig=dWTKB-JtOtW21xczB440RTFuQGI&hl=en&ei=Xk3LSvDcPJKIMva7zMcD&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

  147. October 6, 2009 2:19 pm

    Just read them.

    Interesting how we’re still having the same arguments today. There really is “nothing new under the sun.”

  148. shematwater permalink
    October 6, 2009 3:12 pm

    DARREL

    My basic argument has never changed. To prove anything to be a great important change you must prove that it was done intentionally, and not through error. I agree with Seth, that even if Joseph Smith was in error it doesn’t really matter, as he corrected his error when the time presented itself.
    I still hold that Oliver may have made the mistake. The translation was done in a hurry. I know that I have meant one thing, written another, but read it back with my original intent for the next few days before I realized the error. It is very possible. As Seth said, it is possible that Joseph Smith got it wrong.
    The method you speak of is spoken of by David Witmer, and given a few decades later. Joseph Smith never actually gave a discription of how the translation was done (at least we have no such record). As such the exact method cannot be proven.
    However, either way you look at it, even before these changes were made Joseph did not teach that Christ was the “Everlasting God” or that God was the son of Marry. From the beginning he taught they were two separate and distinct individuals. So, when he read back through the Book of Mormon and saw these error it didn’t really matter to him how they occured, he just wanted to correct them.

    Now, I will agree that his understanding of God did change over time, but this really doesn’t mean much. The evidence of this is in the Lectures on Faith when he says the Father was a spirit. This is later corrected in D&C 130, nearly ten years later when it was revealed that the Father had a body of flesh and bones. Does this cause a problem of Faith, not for me. It only shows that Joseph was a man, subject to error. With the knowledge he had he had reached the conclusion that the Father was a spirit, like it says in John 4. However, he was perfectly willing to be corrected when the time was right for such knowledge to be revealed from Heaven.

    GUNDECK
    Please show me the prophet who declared the canon closed. Show me the revelation in which this was stated. Show me where it is in the scriptures.

  149. October 6, 2009 4:15 pm

    Shematwater,

    Your question belies your presupposition that God is bound to reveal Himself in the ways that you demand. I can show you where God promises to build faith by the preaching of Christ’s Word. Can you show me where continuing canonical and binding revelation is promised? Your demand for more revelation is baffling when you recognize Christ Jesus as the ultimate revelation of God, is that not enough?

    John Calvin speaking on another subject said “Those, therefore, who do not rest satisfied with Christ alone, do injury to God in two ways, for besides detracting from the glory of God, by desiring something above his perfection, they are also ungrateful, inasmuch as they seek elsewhere what they already have in Christ.”

  150. October 6, 2009 4:55 pm

    “Christ Jesus as the ultimate revelation of God, is that not enough?”

    Nope.

  151. October 6, 2009 5:42 pm

    Then I would say you are demanding something above perfection.

  152. October 6, 2009 5:59 pm

    Perfection then does not mean perfection now.

  153. October 6, 2009 6:09 pm

    Why not? To take Shematwater’s question another step where does God promise ongoing continual revelation or more Scripture? If Christ served as the apex pf redemptive history and we have this revelation recorded and authoritatively explained who are we to demand more?

  154. psychochemiker permalink
    October 6, 2009 6:29 pm

    Amos 3:7 Gundeck.

    To use your assumptions about God,
    Assume a God that gave revelation to prophets and apostles.
    Assume God is unchanging.
    I think we both agree to those assumptions.

    Assuming God suddenly stops giving revelation violates both of those previous assumptions.

    If human society, culture, understanding were perfect and static, maybe we wouldn’t need continuing revelation. But I know that our society, culture, and language are all imperfect, changing, and just not the same as the biblical times. Of course God can always clarify to the LDS. Those who insist on keeping God silent in their churches have no respite.

  155. October 6, 2009 6:31 pm

    Gundeck: “Christ Jesus as the ultimate revelation of God, is that not enough?”

    Seth: “Nope.”

    I think that says it all.

    Darrell

  156. October 6, 2009 6:32 pm

    I also think the fragmentation and bickering among modern Protestants also “says it all” Darrell.

    If your original revelation was so terminal, it doesn’t seem to have worked too well.

  157. October 6, 2009 6:41 pm

    Shem,

    JS supposedly saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820 and learned at that point that they were separate personages of flesh and bone. Why then 15 years later would he teach that the Father is a spirit, which BTW is EXACTLY what Traditional Chritianity teaches? The idea of JS evolving his theology on the nature of God speaks directly against the whole premise of the restoration and how the First Vision corrected the false theology of apostate Christianity.

    There is evidence to support that JS actually saw one being in the First Vision, was a modalist at the time of the BOM, and went through developmental stages from being Trinitarian to a Tri-Theist and finally to a polytheist just prior to his death.

    You say the changes in the BOM are no big deal. Problem is these changes actually line up pretty well with the idea of JS changing his thoelogy. However, if the First Vision is true he shouldn’t have HAD to change his theology… that is, unless the current version of the First Vision is a lie.

    Darrell

  158. October 6, 2009 6:42 pm

    You cannot use Amos 3:7 unless you read 3:8 as well.

    “The lion has roared;
    who will not fear?
    The Lord God has spoken;
    who can but prophesy.”

    You assume that you have a right to demand that God speak through prophets or apostles. Your use of Amos 3:7 makes the assumption that there are prophets today, another thing that is not promised. God spoke by Balaam’s Donkey this does not mean we look for the miraculous every time we see a donkey.

  159. October 6, 2009 6:47 pm

    “I also think the fragmentation and bickering among modern Protestants also “says it all” Darrell.”

    Not at all. The original 12 apostles bickered. But you would not find one of them who said Christ wasn’t enough.

    darrell

  160. October 6, 2009 6:52 pm

    Yeah Darrell.

    Christ is enough alright.

    If you can figure out who he is, that is.

    Good luck with that.

  161. October 6, 2009 7:07 pm

    “If you can figure out who he is, that is.”

    That is the simple part Seth. God. Not “a” God, not our older spirit brother, not a being who progressed from being an intelligence to being “like unto God”… just plain out old God.

    Seth, I mean this sincerely… I am not saying it sarcastically or tonque in cheek. It is amazing how simple things become when you trust what God has promised – that he has preserved His Word. For then you can trust Him and don’t feel the need to defend the false teachings of a manmade organization. Saying that Christ is not enough speaks to how you have propped up the teachings of the LDS Church and how they have become more important to you than God Himself. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING that is more important or needed over and above Christ Himself. To say that He is not enough is utter false heresy.

    Darrell

  162. October 6, 2009 10:17 pm

    Psychochemiker,

    I re-read your comment and see that you explain the justification for the need of continuing divine revelation as our imperfect understanding or our evolving culture . First, man’s sin, our estrangement from God because of sin, Christ’s sacrifice, our reconciliation to God in Christ, and the hope of the glory to come is a message that transcends time and culture. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have questions, but when you boil it all down and you know that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” how much more do we need?

    Second, I do not “insist on keeping God silent” in Church or anywhere for that matter, but I have not read anything that convinces me that there is a promise of continuing canonical and binding revelation given to us by a never ending stream of succeeding prophets. On the contrary I have read that where the Word of Christ is preached with the illumination of the Holy Spirit, faith is built.

  163. October 6, 2009 10:17 pm

    Seth,

    What about the bickering in the Mormon Church? I am not talking about the break off denominations but inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The only difference between theological divisions in Protestant denominations and LDS divisions is that Protestants join a new denomination while Mormons gripe about it on the Blogernacle.

  164. October 6, 2009 11:05 pm

    The difference is that Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Mormonism actually have the tools to authoritatively evolve when needed.

    Sola scriptura does not.

  165. October 6, 2009 11:09 pm

    Just came across an interesting story:

    http://rawstory.com/2009/10/conservapedia-rewrite-bible/

  166. October 6, 2009 11:49 pm

    The difference is that Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Mormonism actually have the tools to authoritatively evolve when needed.

    Sola scriptura does not.

    And yet, the morality and lifestyle practices of evangelical Christians and Mormons have evolved in surprisingly similar patterns. I wonder why.

    Just came across an interesting story:

    *head desk*

    I wish those Conservapedia idiots would give it a rest.

    A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible and we need no more Bible…

  167. October 6, 2009 11:53 pm

    The similarity should be no surprise. All of us are facing the same new data and the same progress in human morality.

  168. October 7, 2009 12:07 am

    That’s kind of my point though, Seth. For all of its lack of authority, churches which believe in sola scriptura still seem to get the evolution job done. Sometimes we even get the job done faster than the authority churches because our disagreements allow us to expose each other’s weaknesses and show where change is needed. As iron sharpens iron and all that.

  169. October 7, 2009 2:27 am

    It has come to my attention that it’s possible not everyone understands why I, as Christian, a Republican, and a self-proclaimed conservative, do not like Conservapedia and would not put any faith in their upcoming Bible translation.

    Eric D. Snider explains it better than I can:

    Something Wiki This Way Comes

  170. shematwater permalink
    October 7, 2009 5:37 pm

    Just a few words to Darrel and Gundeck

    First, no where in the account of the First Vision do we read that Joseph Smith ever touched the Father, or the Son. That invitation was not extended at that time. Thus, while the First Vision did dispell the error of the Triune God, it did not reveal every detail of the nature of diety. As Isaiah says, the Lord reveals all things “Line upon Line, Precept on precept.” Joseph was given what he needed at that time, and nothing more. If he was told everything there would have been no need for the visits of Moroni, or the other angels that ministered to him.
    Now, the evidence you speak of is not very solid, and is more conjecture and hearsay, much of it having been disproven over time. It is evidence taken only by those who want such things to be true.

    Gundeck: You want me to show where continue revelation is promised, but let me ask you to show where revelation has stopped. Yes, Christ is the greatest person to have lived, and his mission is the greatest revelation to have been revealed, but it is not all there is. It it was than why did John ever record his Revelation on the isle of Patmos?
    No, I do not demand more revelation, nor do the LDS members in general, for to do so is to seek signs. However, we will not deny God his right to give revelations, and this is the difference. You may not demand more, but you also reject more. We do not demand more, but we accept all that does come.
    As it says in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29: 9-10 “And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my dwork is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.”
    Thus, we will wait patiently for God to reveal his word according to his own pleasure, and we will welcome his words from all nations, and not reject them simply because some religionists 1500 years ago tried to silenced God.

  171. October 7, 2009 6:34 pm

    Shem,

    The LDS Church teaches that JS LEARNED DURING THE FIRST VISION that God the Father and Jesus Christ have “Glorified Bodies of Flesh and Bone.” Here is an excerpt from The Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual found on LDS.org:

    ————————————————————-

    “Many truths were revealed in the First Vision. Emphasize that the visit of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith is rich in doctrinal significance. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I submit that in the few minutes that Joseph Smith was with the Father and the Son, he learned more of the nature of God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord than all the learned minds in all their discussions through all centuries of time” (Church News, 24 Oct. 1998, 6).

    • What are some of the truths we can learn from the First Vision? (Summarize responses on the chalkboard. Answers could include those listed below.)

    a. God the Father and Jesus Christ live.

    b. The Father and the Son are real, separate beings WITH GLORIFIED BODIES OF FLESH AND BONES [emphasis mine].”

    —————————————————————

    Here is the link to check it out yourself.

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=9c529207f7c20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=32c41b08f338c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    So, if, as you say, JS only learned that they had separate bodies, why would the church teach that he learned they had “Glorified Bodies of Flesh and Bone”? In addition, why as late as 1835 was he teaching that God the Father is a spirit, for the church says he found out in 1820 that God the Father has a body? Sorry, Shem, it does not add up.

    “…much of it having been disproven over time.”

    Please tell me specifically what I have said has been disproven and please provide evidence of such.

    Thanks!

    Darrell

  172. October 7, 2009 6:52 pm

    You know, I’ll be honest here Darrell, that part always confused me too.

    Did Joseph actually touch God? If not, how would he know for sure whether the image was corporeal or not?

    I mean, two separate beings is a logical enough conclusion, but physical?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Although, it does seem to be a logical enough conclusion to make about God, based on the Bible.

  173. October 7, 2009 7:39 pm

    Good to see we don’t always disagree, Seth! 🙂

    “Although, it does seem to be a logical enough conclusion to make about God, based on the Bible.”

    Well, on that one we do!! 🙂 All the Bible verses that speak to the Omnipresence of God and speak of God as a Spirit tend to make the idea of him being coporeal unrealistic.

    Darrell

  174. October 7, 2009 7:42 pm

    Well correction there.

    The original Greek says “God is spirit.”

    Not “God is A spirit.”

    And let’s face it, I am spirit Darrell. And so are you. It’s just we happen to be other things as well.

    And honestly, I can’t see how a person can:

    a) be a trinitarian
    b) believe in a literal resurrection
    and
    c) claim that God doesn’t have a body.

  175. October 7, 2009 8:08 pm

    Perhaps you mean “be a “modalist” because if a person is a Trinitarian there really are no issues with your formula.

    Darrell

  176. October 7, 2009 8:10 pm

    Tell me Darrell –

    Is it One God or three?

    Please engage me on this issue, because believe me, I’d just love to go down the rabbit hole of trinitarian silliness again today.

  177. October 7, 2009 8:24 pm

    Why go down the road if you think it is silly? We have already gone there before and you know the answers, so what is the point? You just refuse to accept them.

    Nevertheless, I will answer.

    There is One who eternall manifests/exist in three persons.

    Darrell

  178. October 7, 2009 8:28 pm

    If God the Father is truly and fully one with Jesus Christ, then he has obviously already fully embraced the reality of corporeal form. Making your theological objections here more or less a moot point.

  179. October 7, 2009 8:52 pm

    Not at all, you are forgetting the dual nature of Christ.

    Christ as a man has a body.

    Christ as God is omnipresent.

    Darrell

  180. October 7, 2009 9:07 pm

    A beautiful, powerful paradox.

  181. October 7, 2009 9:13 pm

    Maybe Todd. Just seems like nonsense in the name of convenience to me. Basically an attempt by early Christians to look good for the other monotheists.

  182. October 7, 2009 9:15 pm

    Btw, nice discussion on Fosdick. Gundeck, two of my good, seminary buddies are PCA ministers back East. And interestingly, we do have an OPC outpost in Idaho Falls.

    And I wouldn’t say it is always bickering among believing ministers. As Jack would suggest, it is good “iron sharpening iron”, Seth.

    My contention would be with the Fosdicks of today. Yes, nothing new under the sun.

  183. October 7, 2009 9:21 pm

    (chuckling)

    Our early American President, Thomas Jefferson, would agree with you, Seth.

    Yesterday, I was reading his 1823 letter to Adams and other quotes in the 1820s. He maintained it all to be a deception, this attempt to claim One God and yet assert Jesus as God. I laughed when he really thought that the monstrous John Calvin believed in three Gods.

  184. October 8, 2009 1:25 pm

    And I wouldn’t say it is always bickering among believing ministers. As Jack would suggest, it is good “iron sharpening iron”, Seth.

    Oh no, I said something Todd liked. I’ll have to be more careful next time. 😉

  185. October 8, 2009 1:33 pm

    🙂

  186. October 8, 2009 1:44 pm

    You put a smile on my face this morning, Jack.

    Case in point for LDS friends. The vocal evangelical BJM and the vocal fundamentalist ETW see eye to eye on some things.

    Now how is this good for your rep or mine?

    🙂

  187. shematwater permalink
    October 8, 2009 4:12 pm

    DARREL

    I do see your point, but I would also like to focus on the wording of what you quote.

    First, the quote from President Hinckley does not say exactly what Joseph Smith learned in the First Vision.
    Second, the lesson manuel states that these are things we can learn from the First Vision, not what Joseph Smith learned. We can learn more from that vision because we have history to help us. Joseph Smith was just starting out. He had no extra sources to help him.
    We can learn this from the First Vision because the First Vision speaks of both the Father and the Son being glorified, brighter than the sun at noonday. As we now know that a spirit is not a glorified being, when we read the account of the First Vision we learn that the Father has a physical body, for there would be no other way for him to be glorified.

    Now, you can argue that this is speaking to learning solely from the First Vision, but I would have to disagree. It is from the Manuel for Gospel Doctrine, which is a class for advanced members, those who already have an understanding of these things. This lesson is not for those investigating the church, nor is it for those who have been members only a short time. Thus, those who will be receiving this lesson have learned the plan of salvation, and all that I have mentioned. And thus, with this knowledge the First Vision teaches the physical and glorified body of Christ.

  188. October 8, 2009 7:21 pm

    Shematwater,

    The problem that I have with your use of 2 Nephi 29: 9-10 to imply that there is continuing revelation today is that it is conveniently dated 559 – 545 B.C. From this we can imply that the author was only referring to the existent scripture. I do not think that this passage (unless you are willing to admit that it contains anachronisms bringing into question its authenticity) helps you when we have been told that the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

  189. October 8, 2009 8:16 pm

    Todd, believe it or not, whatever our differences, I would do almost anything to put a smile on your face.

    Sitting in my evangelicalism & fundamentalism class as I write this, thinking of you.

  190. shematwater permalink
    October 9, 2009 2:44 pm

    GUNDECK

    The implication of this passage is that God will continue to reveal his will, words, and works to man whenever his kingdom is on the Earth. This does not imply that revelation has stopped, or would stop in the future. If it did then the very revealing of the existance of the Book of Mormon record would have been contrary to its message.
    I believe that God continues to speak to his people, for every age of the world has different difficulties and responsibilities, and the only way to ensure that these are overcome and fulfilled is through direct guidance from God.
    I also believe that there are additional ancient scriptures that have yet to be found. I look forward to a time when those books talked of in the Bible, which we do not have, will be brought to the saints. I also look forward to the record kept by the Lost Tribes of Israel who took their journey to the north, from whom I am descended.

    As to the quote you give from Jude, it poses no problem what so ever. I would also point out that if you are quoting from the KJV you have misquoted, and if you are not than what you quote doesn’t really matter to me, as I do not use any other translation (except the JST).
    The King James puts it like this “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE DELIVERED UNTO THE SAINTS.”
    Notice here that it does not say “once for all” but merely “once.” Thus, the faith was revealed to the saints at one time, but this does not mean it cannot be revealed again. The change you make implies “Once and for all,” and thus it carries a very different meaning from what is in the KJV. As I use the KJV this verse is in perfect harmony with continued revelation.

  191. October 9, 2009 7:10 pm

    Shem,

    I understand how you read 2 Nephi 29, I am only pointing out that either you have to acknowledge anachronisms in the Book of Mormon or accept that this passage may in fact be referring to any future prophesy that Nephi did not have. When you examine the record Nephi departed Palestine somewhere between 600 and 592, he would not have had the following books of the Bible: Jeremiah (parts), Ezekiel (parts), Daniel (parts), Haggai (all), Zechariah (all), Malachi (all), Ezra/Nehemiah (all), Esther (all, a personal favorite), it is also questionable how much of the Chronicles or Kings that would have had. He could of been referring to any of these or to the entire New Testament. Another valid reading 2 Nephi 29 that was pointed out to me centers on the word Gentile. It could be referring to any non-Hebrew holy book, a rejection by Pagans to the Revelation of the God of Abraham. Finally 2 Nephi 29 may be seen by the Muslims as pointing to the inspiration of the Koran.

    I did not misquote Jude 3 in fact the word translated “which was once” in the AV is translated “once for all” in many translations. I think that you are making a great deal out of nothing. It matters not that the faith was “once for all” or “which was once” delivered this injunction to the Saints is not to look for more but to contend earnestly for what they have. If anything your insistence on removing the word “all”, and the claim that this would have theological significance only brings into question who the faith was delivered to but not how many times it was to be delivered.

    I am pleased that you are able to trace your ancestors to the Northern Tribes of Israel, that is a feat. I understand that being related to the Northern Tribes may slant your take on 2 Kings 17:3-6 but it is not generally thought of as a “journey to the north” but as the “Assyrian Captivity” or “First Exile”. I point this out only because there is a very good possibility that having the prophesies of Amos, Jonah, and Hosea we have the Scripture surrounding this event.

  192. shematwater permalink
    October 12, 2009 5:28 pm

    Gundeck

    Nephi speaks to the witness of two nations. If he was only refering to the Old Testiment books not yet written than there would still be only one nation witnessing. He was refering directly to the Book of Mormon, as it would later be revealed to men by God, and indirectly to all revealed word no matter were it comes from.

    Yes, I do understand that this can be seen by unlearned as a support for pagan and other writings, but only with a limited understanding of the what is actually being said. The revealed word comes to the prophets, who them spead it through the world. All the revealed word, no matter where it comes from, will be in complete agreement with the rest. God has made known that the Bible is his revealed word, and any writing the contradicts what is found in it cannot be from God, for God is unchanging (also stated in the passage from Nephi). Thus pagan, and other writings, if they teach contrary to what is in the Bible cannot be part of this revealed word testified to by Nephi.
    Now, I know you can claim that the Book of Mormon and the otehr standard works of the LDS church contradict the Bible, but I have not yet seen it, even though many people have tried to show it. Of course, sinse I also believe it it was not preservedin its purest form, but was restored by Joseph Smith (not entirely, but as much as God allowed) it does make it difficult.

    As to the Twelve tribes, the journey north that I speak of is not recorded in the Bible, but in the Apocrypha. While I do not except these books as scriptures, they are still very valuble for the intruction of men, and in them we read of the Lost Tribes leaving Assyria, journeying north to a land that was not yet settled by man. They became the germanic tribes of northern Europe and Scandinavia, as well as western Russia. (I take the 2 Kings reference very litteral.)
    I am English by Descent, but I am of the tribe of Joseph through Ephraim.

  193. Stephanie permalink
    October 12, 2009 10:01 pm

    I am English by Descent, but I am of the tribe of Joseph through Ephraim.

    Wow, Shem. This is a very interesting statement indeed. I have often heard LDS refer to themselves as “Israelites” or something to that effect. But, I thought that it was meant in a figurative sense. Are you saying that you believe that you are a literal descendant of Ephraim?

    Stephanie

  194. October 12, 2009 10:19 pm

    Mormonism always freely blurs the line between literal and symbolic.

  195. October 13, 2009 12:39 pm

    Shematwater,

    Being that I am unlearned I must be mistaken but all you have done is make a claim that this passage cannot have any alternative meanings. If you are not gong to acknowledge this passage as anachronistic then you may want to look at some of these other possibilities a little closer to see why they cannot be the correct interpritation, because examining the historical context your view would seem the least likely. Maybe you can help me with the conflict in these passages. It appears that 2 Nephi 29:2 is claiming that the words of Nephi will be spoken by God? Isn’t it usually the other way around?

    I am not trying to trick you, I honestly believe that when Joseph Smith wrote this passage he had your interpretation in mind, I am just saying that if this was in fact an ancient American document a close reading of the document shows that the claims you are making could in fact be referring to any revelation that was rejected after the 600 BC time frame.

    Also being unlearned can you point me to what book of the Apocrypha tells this story of the Israelites being the origin of the Germanic tribes? What you are talking about seems to be a new form of British Israelism.

  196. shematwater permalink
    October 13, 2009 3:43 pm

    Stephanie
    Yes, I believe I am a literal descendant of Ephraim. The reason is the blessing of the Patriarch given to me. Maybe you have heard of such things. The patriarticle blessing is a very important blessing for all members, as it is a person guide to your life. It is intended for you, and only you (and maybe your parents or spouse) can interpret the meaning of it. One purpose of this blessing is to declare your descent in israel. Mine tells me I am of the seed of Joseph through Ephraim. If I was not a literal descendant it would have told me I was adopted into a tribe.

    GUNDECK

    The meaning of verse two speak directly to the coming Forth of the Book of Mormon. God gave the message to Nephi, but most likely the actual words were those of Nephi. As it says in Ether 12: 23-24, The Jaredites were mighty in writing, but the Nephites were not, indicating that they used their own words to teach the message of God.
    Thus, God promised to bring their words (the Book of Mormon) to their descendants (the American Indians). Again, this cannot be a reference to the Old Testiment books, or other books written in the old world, as these would not have been the words of Nephi and his seed, which is what is promised to be brought forth.
    This is why this cannot be a direct reference to other writing, because it speaks directly to the words of these men and their descendants. Now, it does also refer to other ancient records that came from God, but only those that came from America, because these would be the words of Nephi and his seed.

    The quote I gave before does make a blanket statement regarding all of God’s revealed word, but again, it could not refer to the books of theBible that we currently have. The simple reason is because this passage is a prophecy concerning our time, and is directed towards those who already have the Bible, and so reject other revealed word.

    The interpretations you speak of can be seen, but only if you do not concider all that is being said in this chapter. Taking one verse by itself can always be twisted to mean different things, but as a whole the words have only one meaning.
    Now, I will say that it may be possible to find other meanings, but not the ones you give, for the reasons I have explained. I will also say that with this particular chapter I have yet to see another meaning that truly fits all that is being said.

  197. October 14, 2009 12:07 am

    Shematwater,

    I hate to beat a dead horse but you you seem to want to interpret various parts of this chapter in different manners. First you claim that vs 2 is only referring to Nephi and his descendants and excludes other Jewish prophets as a whole (taking a very narrow view), then you want to talk about all of God’s revelation (taking a broad approach). Besides as I understand it all of the Nephites died, so fixing this revelation to only the descendants of Nephi creates other problems for your view? According to your Churches doctrine the American Indians are not Nephites but Lamenites, or am I mistaken?

    You also make much out of the “witness of two nations” in vs 8 without explaining why this could not have been the Divided Monarchies of Israel and Judah beginning in 931BC (+-) with the reign of Jeroboam, surprising since you make so much about your lineage from the Northern Kingdom.

    The more I read the Book of Mormon the more I am convinced that there a many alternative interpretations to the traditional versions we hear. It seems that if we are to accept this book as authentic you would have answers as to why these alternatives could not be possible from the historical context. All you have been able to provide so far are unsubstantiated assertions, while I can refer to particular historical events such as the existence of prophesy by Jewish prophet after this revelation (continuing revelation?), the existence of the New Testament (another Bible?), the Koran (and another?), the Divided Kingdoms (two nations?) and the end of the Nephite people (must mean the Jewish race?) to bolster my interpretation. Interesting, I feel so unlearned.

  198. Stephanie permalink
    October 14, 2009 1:38 am

    Yes, I believe I am a literal descendant of Ephraim. The reason is the blessing of the Patriarch given to me. Maybe you have heard of such things. The patriarticle blessing is a very important blessing for all members, as it is a person guide to your life. It is intended for you, and only you (and maybe your parents or spouse) can interpret the meaning of it. One purpose of this blessing is to declare your descent in israel. Mine tells me I am of the seed of Joseph through Ephraim. If I was not a literal descendant it would have told me I was adopted into a tribe.

    Shem,

    Thank you for clarifying your views. I certainly have heard of the Patriarchal Blessing but did not know about this aspect of it. I suppose I had assumed that (like Seth explained) this was to be interpreted in a figurative or symbolic sense. But it appears that you are asserting that you are a “literal descendant” of Joseph.

    During the 1800s the question of the Lost Ten Tribes was much debated. And the View of the Hebrews provided the idea that perhaps the Native Americans were Jewish. As Gundek mentioned earlier, your suggestion sounds like British Israelism—a thoroughly debunked theory. The reason that I bring this subject up is that it really touches a nerve. I know that you personally would never adhere to such ideas, but this subject is fraught with notions of racial superiority. In fact, the only people that I know of who really adhere to these ideas are white supremacists.

    I personally believe that the same research that drives church-sponsored genealogy programs should be used in the Patriarchal Blessings. In other words, we can know what ethnic group we belong to using history, genealogy, and DNA. There is no indication at all for saying that the Anglo-Saxons were descendents of Joseph.

    Further, I disagree with this line of argument on for eschatological reasons. While different from replacement theology, this teaching essentially dismisses the true role of Israel both now and in the end times. The Apostle Paul strongly denies this teaching in Romans 11, “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid” (v. 1). He goes on in the same chapter to predict

    And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
    For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins (vv. 26-27).

    As a people, the Jews have suffered tremendous persecution throughout the ages. Anti-Semitism is currently on the rise in Europe. For a continent that suffered the terrible effects of World War II, they have easily forgotten the lessons they learned. I do not think that it is right to steal another’s ethnicity by asserting that you are also a literal descendent. The history of the Jews and the history of the Anglo-Saxons both have their own share of grief and misery but they are distinct and separate. I think we should leave it that way.

    Stephanie

  199. shematwater permalink
    October 14, 2009 6:02 pm

    Stephanie

    First, all those who are baptized into the church are of the house of Israel, either literally or by adoption. Joseph Smith also taught that at baptism, those who are not literal descendants are physically changed in a way imperceptable to mortal eyes making them the literal descendants (I am sorry that I do not have the exact reference but I will look for it).
    As to stealing ethnicity, and supremecists, I assure you nothing of the kind is in the doctrine, though I understand why people see it. I am no better than any other person of any other race, and simply being a descendant of Israel does not garuantee me anything. But I am of that line, and I really don’t care how much you want to complain about it.
    As to Israels role in the past and the future, I believe in it with all my heart, for they are the chosen of God, and the Jews will inherit the Palistinian area in the millenium. I look forward to that day. However, I am not a Jew, I am an Ephraimite, and my inheritance, promised by God if I am faithful, is here in the United States.

    GUNDECK

    Your view is incorrect. First, verse 2 states directly that it will be the words of Nephi and his seed, making the meaning of this verse a very narrow meaning. It is not my view making it that, but the words of the verse. My broader view comes much later, when the words of the passage indicate a much broader meaning.
    Let us look at it again, first understanding that this is a prophecy concerning the last days (or our day).
    Verse 2: And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; – This section here cannot refer to anything written in the old world, as it refers to the record of Nephi and his seed.
    (continued) and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel; – With this we must keep the understanding that this is an end times prophecy. As teh Bible did not come forth in the end times this also cannot be speaking of the Bible.
    Verse 3: And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. – Thus we understand that when all this occurs the Bible will already be had by the Gentiles.
    Verse 7: Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? – All nations have received the word of God at some time.
    Verse 8: Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? 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. – To the question of two nations. Yes, Israel was split into North and South, but only for a little while. Add to this that most of the Bible we have is from the Sourthern nation, and that there was only one nation at the time of Christ writting the New Testiment, it is easy to see that the nation that produced the Bible is the Jews, not the other tribes. Adn even those writings not written by the Jews were preserved by the Jews. Thus, the Bible came form only one nation, and thus we need a second one to fulfill the Law of Witnesses spoken of here (which is also why we read of the stick of Joseph and Judah being separate in Ezekial).
    Verse 9: And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. – Here we are told strait out that if two writings do not agree only one can be of God, for he is unchanging.
    (Continued) And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another…. – We are told that he will continue to speak to men for all eternity.
    Verse 11: For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them…. – And here we are told that there are other records of scriptures that have not yet been brought forth. We ahve from the West (Book of Mormon) and the East (Bible) but we do not have from the North, or the south. Of course you could say the Bible is the West, and the Book of Mormon from the Islands of the see (refering to the american continents) and thus we are missing from the East (Asia), north (Europe), and south (Africa).
    Verse 12-13 makes the direct prophecy that the record of the lost tribes shall be brought forth. It is also mentioned that there is scripture given to nations outside of Israel that shall come forth.

    There really is no other interpretation on this chapter, at least not one that I have seen, and certainly not any that you have brought forth.

    As to all the Nephites being dead, you need to read the Book of Mormon again, and actually try to understand it. In the beginning the people were devided by bloodlines. However, after the visit of Christ all the people lived as one, there being neither Nephites nor Lamanites. Four generations later the people split again, but not by bloodlines this time. This time it was split the wicked on one side the righteous on the other. The wicked took on themselves the name of Lamanites, but that does not mean they were all pure descendants of Laman. Nor does it mean the Righteous were all pure descendants of Nephi. Thus, all the American Indians, while they are descended form the last group to be called Lamanites, can trace ancestry back through all the sons of Lehi and Ishmeal. (you can read this in the Index at the back of the tripple combination, or online).

  200. faithoffathers permalink
    October 14, 2009 8:01 pm

    Some prettty cool topics- some of my favs. I have really missed out on this thread. Bummer.

    Regarding Israel and the Jews: One must define what it means to be a “Jew” or Israelite.” It is not a simple thing and involves a lot of history and genetics.

    Did you know that the majority of the “Jews” in the nation of Israel today are actually descendents of eastern European converts to Judaism from the 12th to 16th centuries?

    From the beginning of the history of Israel- that is from the time of Jacob- the “Israelites” have seen huge fluctuations in population numbers as a result of wars with other conquering nations as well as proselyting and intermarriage. (Why do you think the strict instructions on not marrying outside the covenant were given- because that was the natural tendancy and frequent practice).

    The diaspora, although we like to think of it in distinct events, in effect has occured throughout their history. It is impossible today to determine through geneologies, genetics, or any other measure who doesn’t have the blood of Jacob in their veins. The genetic tests we do have are only able to make associations between a minority of modern “Jews” and near eastern ancestry before the 1st mellenium B.C. Most “Jews” today have no detectable gene that would identify them as a “Jew.”

    It has been shown that immigrants almost uniformly adopt many of the cultural and religious traditions of those populations into which they immigrate. It has also been shown that, for many reasons, those immigrating groups intermarry at a very high rate (limited marriage options within their own group for one). Although Jews have historically been somewhat less inclined to blend in with other groups, they nonetheless do enough that, over enough time, it becomes next to impossible to identify them.

    In America, 54% of Jews marry non-Jews. This is not atypical if you look at Jews throughout other parts of the world.

    I have seen some population geneticists estimate that over 80% of the world’s population likely has some DNA from Jacob (Israel). This may sound unbelievable, but considering all the factors that would result in such a intermixing throughout the world, it is not likely far off from the truth.

    The current world population of “jews” is estimated to be 13 million. Interesting note- Where is the largest population of “Jews” in the world today? AMERICA. Second is the nation of Israel. No other nation comes close. Why is this interesting? BOOK OF MORMON. BOOK OF MORMON. That book is literally filled with instruction and prophecy regarding Israel’s latter-day role in the world and in the preparation for the second coming. According to that book, what are the nations with greatest spiritual significance in the last days- America and Israel. Where would the law and word of the Lord come from- America and Israel. Interesting that the bulk of the immigration of Jews to America and Israel happened AFTER the BOM was published.

    The BOM prophesies that “this land” (America) will be lifted up above all other nations. The Jews would be here in great numbers and along with the Gentiles would be lifted up in great iniquity. God’s Kingdom would be restored here and be sent to all the nations of the world. Ultimately, all nations would eventually turn against Jerusalem (nation of Israel) and Zion (America).

    In short, the BOM contains huge amounts of insight regarding the House of Israel and America. In fact, that is one of its main messages. But one cannot simply pluck from it that fruit without putting in the work in understanding it. The casual reader or the nit-picky critic will never find those gems.

  201. Stephanie permalink
    October 15, 2009 3:14 am

    Dear fof and Shem,

    Thank you for your answers to my questions. I really appreciate the dialogue.

    Here is one of my problems with this doctrine. Imagine for a moment that you were a member of a family. Some people loved your family. Some people flat out hated your family. You suffered persecution and extermination just for being a member of this family. Your identity was very much wrapped up in that family. Then, imagine, that a new religion springs up and claims that members of their religion are actually and literally members of your family. Cheerfully announcing which uncle of yours they claimed as their ancestor! Does no one see a problem with this?

    We see no record of this in the New Testament record. There are literal Jews and literal Gentiles. The book of Romans deals with the fact that the church has been “grafted in” to Israel (ch. 11). There is no record of early Gentile believers proclaiming that they were also literal descendents of Jews.

    The church has reversed its position in the past when it comes to racial issues. In some instances the BoM has been edited to remove the connections between dark skinned=bad person and white skin=good person. Of course, we cannot dismiss the fact that the so-called “Lamanites” are actually descended from the bad son of Lehi. This is the reason why Native Americans have historically been described by LDS as slothful and in a degraded state. Also, we mustn’t forget the offer of the priesthood to black men. Incidently, this revelation followed the civil rights movement in the U.S. I actually had the experience of working with an LDS woman who told an African American co-worker to his face that he was descended from Cain. I imagine the only reason she was not fired was that our boss and company owner were both LDS. I imagine that the church will have no other option in the future but to revise the way it does its patriarchal blessings. The beginning of the BoM was edited following DNA research which showed that Native Americans are not Jewish. Instead of asserting that the Lamanites are the “principle ancestors” of the Native Americans, the current version of the BoM’s Introduction now reads, “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

    I mulled over this today and still found that I couldn’t believe that this is really taught and believed by the LDS church so I asked an LDS friend of mine today and she confirmed that she was given her “lineage” during her Patriarchal Blessing. I asked her, somewhat incredulously, if she believed that she was a descendent of Jacob and she responded “no” but said she was sure that some people did. I’m sure that there are some in the church who do not take this literally. I certainly hope that they are the majority.

    Stephanie

  202. shematwater permalink
    October 15, 2009 4:24 pm

    Stephanie

    I don’t know if they are the majority, but even if they are they are wrong.

    Now, as to the whole family sinario you put forth, it really makes no sense. Talking about an individual family is not the same as speaking of an entire nation. Especially not after thousands of years. I am descended from King John (or prince John from the Robinhood Stories). Do I really care who else is descended from him? Of course not, because there are too many who likely are and thus worrying about it is absolutely stupid. Israel (Jacob) lived three thousand years ago. Any Jew who is going to claim they know every single person descended from him is crazy.

    However, even if I wasn’t a direct descendant, by the Laws of Adoption I would be just as entitled to the promised blessings as anyone who was if I was faithful. This is the grafting in. descent really has very little to do with eternal reward, as God has power to make a person a descendant of Israel, which he does through baptism.

    Now, as to your comments about the New Testiment times, of course they didn’t make the claim, because Israel had not been scattered through the world at that time. But two-thousand years have passed since then, and all the tribes of Israel have been spread through-out the world. A lot can happen in two-thousand years, and it has happened.

    As to the church changing things regarding race, I really don’t want to get into it on this thread, but just so you know, they ahve not changed anything of any importance that they did not already know would change.
    The changes in the Book of Mormon are laughable, especially in the introduction. It is only a person who wants there to be something wrong that would use this in any way.
    A very simple reason for the change: Having now mixed with Europeans and Africans, the Lamanites are not the only descendants of American Indians anymore. (Six hundred years can do a lot. Not as much as two-thousand years, but still).

  203. faithoffathers permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:48 pm

    Stephanie,

    When we say we are descendents of Ephraim or Joseph or Jacob, we are saying that Joseph was one of the literally millions of people from whom we descended.

    It is a fascinating topic- the intermixing of people, ancestry, and progeny. If we go back merely 10 generations, each of us has genetic input from 1024 individuals within that generation. Go back 20 generations and the number is 1,045,576. Another 10 generations (total 30 generations back) and you get 1,073,741,824. Of course, this assumes there is no incest, intermarrying, etc. But you get the idea.

    There were 41 generations between Jacob (Israel) and Jesus, a period of around 2000 years. Assuming the same life expectancy in the 2000 years since Jesus, we get around 80- 100 generations since Israel. You can see that with any degree of intermixing, we each have genetic input from an enormous number of people. And as I said in my prior post, I have heard some population geneticists claim that as many as 80% or more of the worlds population has some genetic input from Abraham.

    It is just that some groups have a greater percentage contribution from Abraham or Jacob due to intermarrying within his (Jacob’s) descendents. Make any sense?

    To say that any particular descendent “owns” an ancestor or lineage is not realistic or true. I do not claim to be a Jew, nor do other LDS. The definition of Jew has changed over time as they have mixed with non-Jew populations. At one point, being “Jew” meant being from the tribe of Judah. Later, it meant being from any of the 12 tribes of Israel.

    In reality, if a person believes the Biblical story, we are all “actually and literally members of [the same] family.” After all, if the Biblical genealogies are true, there were 22 generations between Adam and Jacob (Israel). And between Jacob and us, there have probably been around 80 to 130 generations. So it is not a stretch at all for a person to claim they share common ancestors from 80 or 100 generations ago. In fact, it is somewhat crazy to claim they don’t.

    Now consider what God promised Abraham. He said, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” He also said “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” One important fulfillment was of course the fact the Savior would come through Abraham’s descendants. But there is more. After Abraham’s seed had dispersed throughout the world and intermixed with other peoples, “Israel” would again be gathered- largely meaning that the descendants of Abraham would learn the gospel and the ancient covenants and accept Christ and His gospel. Thereby, “all families” of the earth would be blessed- a huge number. The allegory in Jacob 5 in the BOM beautifully portrays this covenant and promise.

    Sorry for the long post, but this is a fascinating and under-appreciated topic.

    fof

  204. October 16, 2009 1:25 am

    Shem,

    I do not dispute that your view is a possible interpretation of these passages when you look at them from the 19th-21st century perspective. For example your take on the narrow view of vs 2 may be correct but it does not take into account the different uses this could have had for a 7th century BC Jew. We know for instance that the seed of David sometimes refers to his entire tribe, all of Israel, and some times is used in a very narrow aspect such as only the royal line.

    When you move into verse 3 we do not know what the definition of “a bible” is from the context. Is it the parts of the Bible Nephi had? The entire Old Testament? Is it both the Old and New Testaments of the Protestant canon or only the New Testament? Could it include the Roman canon? This could be a reference to the Marcion controversy of the second century AD where the Old Testament was rejected. We just don’t know. I think this could also be referring to any “holy” book that gentiles used, including pagan religious books. This term “a bible” is not used in the Bible we have, so it is difficult to know what the original wording was and without the Book of Mormon in the original language it is impossible to determine.

    In verse 8 we know that the divided Kingdom lasted for 400 years a long time even in biblical years. This is substantially longer than the united monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon, and roughly the same length as the time of the Judges or the time spent in Egypt.

    While you claim that verse 9 is support for continuing revelation you should remember that your own Church claims that revelation stopped for 1700+ years from the great apostasy to the restoration.

    Reading this closer I think verse 11 could in fact be talking about the missionary journeys of Paul, especially with the references to islands. That Paul liked to travel.

    Noticeably missing from verse 12 is a time of reference when the Northern tribes will write, there is nothing to infer that these passages is referring to the time of the exile, this could in fact be referring to any scripture written by prophets to the Northern kingdom.

    My point is that only by reading this chapter anachronistically, from the 19th-21st century perspective, can you assume that your view is correct.

  205. Stephanie permalink
    October 16, 2009 2:55 am

    Dear fof,

    I agree with you that this is a very interesting topic! I can see what you are saying and I agree with you in theory. Theoretically anyone of us (Jew or Gentile) could have an ancestor in Abraham. Obviously the entire Middle East claims to be descended from him. And, I also agree that the further you go back the more relatives and ancestors you have. I have a huge Mormon extended family and am probably distantly related to you! 🙂

    However, just because I may be very, very distantly related to a European royal family doesn’t mean that I’m a princess. You don’t take the 1 part per million and say that that one drop makes up the majority. To use the logic that you provided everyone is Jewish. Why then do I need a Patriarchal Blessing if I already am Jewish?

    I found this from Wikipedia.

    Genetic studies indicate various lineages found in modern Jewish populations, however, most of these populations share a lineage in common, traceable to an ancient population that underwent geographic branching and subsequent independent evolutions.[56] While DNA tests have demonstrated inter-marriage in all of the various Jewish ethnic divisions over the last 3,000 years, it was substantially less than in other populations.[57] The findings lend support to traditional Jewish accounts accrediting their founding to exiled Israelite populations, and counters theories that many or most of the world’s Jewish populations were founded entirely by local populations that adopted the Jewish faith, devoid of any actual Israelite genetic input.[57][58]

    DNA analysis further determined that modern Jews of the priesthood tribe—”Kohanim”—share an ancestor dating back about 3,000 years.[59]This result is consistent for all Jewish populations around the world.[59] The researchers estimated that the most recent common ancestor of modern Kohanim lived between 1000 BCE (roughly the time of the Biblical Exodus) and 586 BCE, when the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple.[60] They found similar results analyzing DNA from Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews.[60] The scientists estimated the date of the original priest based on genetic mutations, which indicated that the priest lived roughly 106 generations ago, between 2,650 and 3,180 years ago depending whether one counts a generation as 25 or 30 years.[60]

    I watched a PBS documentary on the “Cohanim gene” a couple years ago and it was very interesting. They have done research on other population groups that claim to be of Jewish descent (such as the Lemba in S. Africa) and have found that the percentage of people in that group with the Cohen modal haplotype was the same percentage as found among known Jewish populations (such as in Israel). It is about 10% of the Jewish population that carries this gene. In the case of the Lemba there were other factors than DNA that created an entire picture. They had kosher-like dietary restrictions, had Semitic sounding names, had an oral tradition of being Jewish, etc. All of these factors together make up a strong case for the Lemba being descendants of Jews.

    There is much more to being Jewish than simply having a long lost distant relative 4000 years ago who happened to be the same as a long lost distant relative of Jews today.

    Personally, I have no problem owning my heritage as a Gentile. There is something a little humbling about the fact that 1000 years ago my Viking and German ancestors were a bunch of pagans. Thank God for His grace in allowing me to be “grafted in” to all the blessings offered in Christ! Who needs to be a literal descendant when you can be an adopted child of God the Father?

    Stephanie

  206. Stephanie permalink
    October 16, 2009 3:00 am

    Shem,

    The changes in the Book of Mormon are laughable, especially in the introduction. It is only a person who wants there to be something wrong that would use this in any way.
    A very simple reason for the change: Having now mixed with Europeans and Africans, the Lamanites are not the only descendants of American Indians anymore. (Six hundred years can do a lot. Not as much as two-thousand years, but still).

    Perhaps you are not taking into account that the Introduction of the book of Mormon was written less than 200 years ago! The Native Americans had already been intermarrying with people of other ethnicities for hundreds of years. Why the sudden change in wording after DNA research showing that Native Americans aren’t Jews?

    Stephanie

  207. faithoffathers permalink
    October 16, 2009 4:10 am

    Stephanie,

    Nothing you presented contradicts what I posted. In fact, you emphasize points I made in my post such as: Jews have typically intermixed to a lesser extent with other populations compared to other immigrating groups.I have read a fair amount about the Cohen Modal Haplotype and other genetic markers among Jews. It is present in only 2-3% of non-Cohen Jews (10% total as you mention).

    Bottom line is that a minority of modern Jewish individuals posses genes that can be traced to common ancestors dating roughly 3,000 years ago. This really does nothing to disprove any of LDS claims to lineages to Ephraim/Joseph. First off, we don’t consider ourselves Jews (except for those who come from what we all consider “Jewish heritage”- most often Jewish converts).

    Are you are using the word “Jew” in your posts to denote anybody who has descended from Abraham? If that is how you are defining “Jew,” then yes- most people are Jew. One of my main points is that “Jew” needs to be defined before you criticize the LDS claims. In short, we claim that a significant percentage of the world has Israel as an ancestor. In patriarchal blessings, among other things, we are told which tribe our lineage is through.

    There has been a huge outward movement of genes from the “original” “Jews” and there has been huge inward movement of non-Jew genes into the people known as “Jews.” So “Jew” is not what it used to be 3,000 years ago. In most LDS contexts, “Jew” means somebody from the tribe of Judah, one of 12 tribes.

    It is a complicated topic. Thanks for hashing it out.

    fof

  208. Stephanie permalink
    October 16, 2009 4:40 am

    fof,

    I think the problem is that if Shem is correct in providing church doctrine, he is painting a much different picture than what you are saying. Here is what he said.
    As to the Twelve tribes, the journey north that I speak of is not recorded in the Bible, but in the Apocrypha. While I do not except these books as scriptures, they are still very valuble for the intruction of men, and in them we read of the Lost Tribes leaving Assyria, journeying north to a land that was not yet settled by man. They became the germanic tribes of northern Europe and Scandinavia, as well as western Russia.(I take the 2 Kings reference very litteral.)
    I am English by Descent, but I am of the tribe of Joseph through Ephraim.

    This is a much different statement than saying that there has been intermarriage over the years. He is saying that the lost tribes of Israel settled Europe! They became the Germanic tribes of Europe and Scandinavia and Russia!! So, to me, what this means is that the Caucasian are believed to be descended from Jews. I know this is what Shem believes, but are you in agreement with him? This theory has been completely discredited.

    The fact is, the article I quoted stated that intermarriage among Jewish populations was lower than other people groups. Using this theory it would seem unlikely that you could be related to Jacob. Keep in mind that Abraham had two sons. One of those sons had 2 sons. One of those sons had 12 sons. A lot of people might be related to Abraham (think the entire Middle East!), fewer will be related to Isaac, fewer will be related to Jacob, and fewer will be related to Ephraim. I have tracked my personal genealogy back as far as I could. I think some researcher that does work on ancestry.com has a great sense of humor because I realized that the farther and farther back I searched the less and less credible my ancestors appeared. It seems that one of them is Jack Frost. But, needless to say, as far back as I could trace my history it was entirely Northern European. Now, this doesn’t mean that people don’t intermarry–I’m sure they do. And, I’m sure that many people have a more diverse genetic history than my own. But, consider that the greatest shifts in population groups has occurred during the recent past with the modernization of transportation. One example is that of the Native Americans. They were completely isolated genetically on this continent. There is going to be very little intermingling with other groups of people. Similarly, the history of China is ancient and very isolated. We have not seen historically groups of Jews moving to China and intermingling with them.

    Are you are using the word “Jew” in your posts to denote anybody who has descended from Abraham?

    No. I don’t believe that is what makes a person a Jew. Two religions claim Abraham/Ibrahim as their ancestor.

    In Judeo-Christian religions however, Abraham is seen as the father of Isaac and grandfather of Jacob. So, when he is claimed as a literal ancestor from that perspective than it appears that the person who makes that claim is stating that they are Jewish.

    Stephanie

  209. faithoffathers permalink
    October 16, 2009 8:48 pm

    Stephanie,

    Shem is speaking of a few specific events that may have resulted in descendants of Jacob migrating to other parts of the world. I am arguing about a larger perspective- that over the last 4,000 years, the blood of Israel has spread throughout the world and intermixed with other populations. I think to argue against this assertion would be arguing against the most commonly accepted research on the whole topic of human genetics. Of course there are pockets within the world where there is a higher percentage of genetic contribution from Jacob. And you have populations that have more recently intermixed, or have remained more isolated for a longer time (those we recognize today as Jews).

    Again- please explain how you define the word “Jew.” It is surprisingly complicated.

    By the way, for what it’s worth- I actually have portions of my family tree that go back quite a way. I can trace more than one line back to Jacob. I certainly do not consider this genealogy written in stone.

    I will dig into the topic a little more to hopefully show more in the way of convincing research regarding the breadth of Israelite dispersion.

    Thanks,

    fof

  210. shematwater permalink
    October 16, 2009 9:41 pm

    GUNDECK

    My point is that it is supposed to be read fromthe view point of the 19-21st centuries. It is written for our time. We are the audience that Nephi and God were speaking to when this was recorded. As such we must interpret it from our perspective, because that is the perspective it was meant to be interpreted from.
    For several chapters before this Nephi is quoting Isaiah, teaching the people about what will happen in the future. Then, in 29: 1 he says “…at that day when I shall proceed to do a amarvelous work among them…” We know from the previous chapters that the day referenced is our day, the last days. Thus these things are going to be happening in our day.
    As to the wording, this was translated by God, through Joseph Smith. The words given carry the meaning that they would have had when Joseph Smith translated it. Thus, when it says Bible it is refering to what would have been called a bible in the 1800’s.

    STEPHANIE

    Yes, when it was first written the Indians had mixed with Europeans, however, it was not to the extent that it is today (hence it was princable, now it is among). However, these were men who wrote this. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

    As to the ideas I presented concerning my descent from Ephraim, let me say this.
    Just a note, Abraham had eight sons, not two, and thus a great many more are his descendants (see genesis 25).

    Now, I have no real objection to people saying the germanic tribes were not of Jewish Descent, but then I never claimed this. As FoF said, when I speak of Jews I mean the actual descendants of Jacob’s son Judah, who are of the Tribe of Judah. As such, the descendants of Joseph wouldn’t be able to trace their ancestry to him and would not be Jews. As I said, I am not a Jew, I am an Ephraimite.
    Second, when I hold that the lost tribes became the Peoples of Europe and Western Russia, this is partly speculation on my part. The reasons I believe this is because of the account in the apocrypha (one of the Macabees I believe) and partly because I am as European descent and I am an Ephraimite. I cannot tell you where they originally settled, nor can I point to any ruins a say this was a city of the lost tribes. However, they did go North, so you tell me where they went.

    In the modern day a Jew can be either one of that faith, or one of that descent. I am neither, and thus I am not a Jew. However, I am an Israelite, which is very different than being a Jew.

  211. Stephanie permalink
    October 16, 2009 11:50 pm

    Dear fof and Shem,

    Thanks again for the respectful dialogue. This is a fascinating subject.

    Fof,

    I am arguing about a larger perspective- that over the last 4,000 years, the blood of Israel has spread throughout the world and intermixed with other populations. I think to argue against this assertion would be arguing against the most commonly accepted research on the whole topic of human genetics.

    It depends upon which portions of the world to which you are referring. North and South America and Australia have historically been very isolated genetically. Globalization has produced a great intermingling of people in the recent past. I don’t want to assume that you take the church stance on the history of the Lamanites, but if you do you must realize that you are not accepting the commonly accepted research on the heritage of the Native Americans. The most commonly accepted research does not support a group of Jews traveling by sea to the New World.

    Shem,

    However, these were men who wrote this. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

    Well it depends. If the Jews are not the primary ancestors of the Native Americans how do we know that the entire story isn’t false? There are critical flaws which have an impact on doctrine and those that don’t. To me, this is one of the ones that does. If there were no sizable Jewish population here in America why do we have the wide spread diversion described in the BoM? They had traveled from Central America all the way to New York state and had massive battles wiping out huge populations. This does not sound like the FAIR theory that the Jews were just a drop in the genetic bucket of the already-populated Americas.

    Just a note, Abraham had eight sons, not two, and thus a great many more are his descendants (see genesis 25).

    You are right. What I meant was that two huge population groups claim one or the other of his two sons Ishmael and Isaac.

    Second, when I hold that the lost tribes became the Peoples of Europe and Western Russia, this is partly speculation on my part. The reasons I believe this is because of the account in the apocrypha (one of the Macabees I believe) and partly because I am as European descent and I am an Ephraimite. I cannot tell you where they originally settled, nor can I point to any ruins a say this was a city of the lost tribes. However, they did go North, so you tell me where they went.

    I’m with you on the speculation part. I also enjoy trying to figure out who the Lost Tribes might be or where they might have ended up. Very intriguing.

    FoF and Shem

    This is the part that I fail to understand. The Scripture addresses the issues of Jew and Gentile many times in the New Testament. Romans 1-3 discusses the state of the lost world—Jews, Greeks and Gentiles. And Paul makes it very clear that, “there is no respect of persons with God” (2:11) In our condemnation as sinners we stand united. God does not overlook sin on account of heritage. But just as condmentation is universal, so is the offer of justification.

    Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcision by faith” (3:29-30)

    So if God universally condemns and offers justification through faith why would we bicker about who is a literal/metaphorical son of Ephraim? Paul defines what he considers a Jew and I agree with his description (since you asked, fof, :-)). “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29).

    If God is only looking upon the heart why do we need a patriarchal blessing which defines a linage from Jacob?

    Stephanie

  212. October 17, 2009 12:08 am

    All the battles in the Book of Mormon were small enough scale to fit with the limited geographic model. In fact, military march times in the Book of Mormon demand a limited geographic model.

    And there is no need to demand entire armies migrating to New York – just Moroni.

  213. October 17, 2009 11:51 am

    Shem,

    Then we are in agreement. These passages can only be understood correctly if you read them anachronistically, removing yourself from the historical context of the original prophesy, constituting a type of “prophesy” almost unique to the Book of Mormon. We do not find this style of prophesy in the Prophets of the Old Testament that is serving only people in the future by using language that could only be understood correctly in the future.

    So now with a hear to for unknown type of revelation we should test this against the Word of God that has been accepted by the Church. We have to ask ourselves is this an authentic 6-7th century BC or a self serving pseudepigraphic apologetic built conveniently into the Book of Mormon?

  214. Stephanie permalink
    October 17, 2009 6:17 pm

    Seth,

    FAIR has been heavily promoting the limited geography model. To me, this feels like a cop-out and doesn’t support the church teachings over the last 150 years. I’d be willing to bet $100 bucks that the reason they promote this theory is that there has been very scarce amounts of geographical/archeological/linguistic/historical/genetic findings that have supported the idea of Israelites moving to the Americas some 2500 years ago. Therefore, instead of seeing a large scale population boom from these people, we should only be looking for a tiny population. This is why DNA from Native Americans has not been shown to be from the Middle East. If secular evidence supported the BoM, FAIR would not be making these claims at all. One FAIR video that I watched spent almost the entire first half of the presentation explaining how small an impact the sons of Lehi would have had on the already burgeoning population of the Americas. Where in LDS history do we find that the Americas were already populated? Prior to the arrival of Lehi and sons, the Americas had already been populated by the Jaredites–a massive group of people who came to America via the ocean after the tower of Babel. Ether 15 describes these people as wiping themselves out in a massive battle.

    He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly atwo millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children. (v. 2)

    Why don’t we have any record of Jaredites if they had this huge of a population? Archeology doesn’t lie–surely there would be some remains somewhere on this earth that would point to the existence of Jaredites.

    One reason that I don’t like the limited geography model is that it essentially dismisses the historical interpretation that the LDS church has used since its inception. The hill Cumorah is a problem. First of all, why would the plates be in New York if there was never a battle there in the first place? Some have postulated that there are two hills with the same name. No problem. But where is that other hill? We need to find the site of the where this would taken place. “And now it came to pass that after the agreat and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the bLamanites, until they were all destroyed” (Mormon 8:2). I know some have added up the numbers of people involved in this battle and have reached the conclusion that there were about 230,000 men killed. This would be a big enough archeological find that it should show up somewhere.

    When Joseph Smith declared that the BoM was the most “correct book on earth” I would hope that it would at least be recognized by scholars as historical. It cannot even assert that it is that. We need to really examine the models that FAIR is putting out because I don’t think that they are staying true to LDS history or are putting forth plausible explanations for the complete lack of major finds that support their claims.

  215. October 17, 2009 6:29 pm

    Stephanie, Mormon scholars have been pushing a limited geography based on the ACTUAL TEXT of the Book of Mormon for almost 100 years now. And our critics still act like this is something we just “invented” to wave away recent criticisms. Some of our more ignorant critics even act like we invented it just to address the DNA argument that arose in the last few years.

    Bogus.

    Pure and simple.

    This model is based in exegesis – not apologetics. It fits with what the book actually tells us. When the scripture says one thing, and the only thing challenging it is a bunch of untested assumptions from long dead Mormons…

    Well duh.

    Of course we’re going to go with the scriptural text.

    I was taught a limited geography growing up in 1980s Richfield, Utah. A tiny little Mormon community still mostly based on farming. 1980s Stephanie – far from any centers of Mormon apologetics or intellectualism. It was in the study manuals.

    What do we have to do? Put up a neon sign for you?

    The continental model has been out of favor in the mainstream for a long time now.

    Time to move on already.

  216. October 17, 2009 6:30 pm

    And any archeologist can tell you that lack of major finds in the field is the norm, not the exception.

  217. Stephanie permalink
    October 17, 2009 8:40 pm

    And any archeologist can tell you that lack of major finds in the field is the norm, not the exception.

    Seth, I am aware that others have believed in the limited geography model–it was taught by Hugh Nibley and others. I don’t mind if we “move on.” But the claim that you make above is not true. It is not possible for a civilization to exist in a location and leave no trace of itself. One of the reasons that I really don’t like this model is that it shrinks down the size of what we are looking for–thus making it seem “normal” that we can’t find anything. Yet, other civilizations that were spoken of in the Bible but no longer existent today (such as the Hittites or the Philistines) left archeological records of themselves in the places where they lived. We have archeological records of the people that lived Mesoamerica–the Aztecs and Mayans left all sorts of remains that we can actually see. Why didn’t the Nephites leave record of themselves? They were a culture with an advanced writing system and yet they leave no trace of themselves.

  218. October 17, 2009 10:11 pm

    Stephanie, if the Nephites left behind remnants of themselves, how would you know it was them?

    I submit that people have been looking at the remnants of the Nephites all along. They just don’t know what they are looking at.

  219. October 17, 2009 10:44 pm

    When the scripture says one thing, and the only thing challenging it is a bunch of untested assumptions from long dead Mormons…

    Including the long-dead Mormon whose untested assumptions form the foundation for the scripture in the first place?

    Come on, Seth. Joseph Smith identifying Nephite lands and righteous Lamanite remains in Illinois and Missouri creates a problem.

  220. October 18, 2009 2:33 am

    Joseph’s own statements about the geography evolved over time, suggesting that his own opinions on location were very much a work in progress.

    Besides, I’m really quite done with the line of argument – “Joseph was a prophet – so everything he ever said must have been authoritative.”

    People have brains. They can judge for themselves whether Joseph was correct here. In fact, the obligation of every Mormon is to test every last statement of Joseph Smith and see if they agree with it or not. I have done this (as best I can) with every statement of Joseph’s with which I am familiar.

    I find this to be a powerful, meaningful, and vibrant personal interface with modern day prophets. It is highly useful to me and makes the prophets an important and crucial part of my exploration of who God is and what his plan for me is. If others are willing to throw away everything that I know I have, just because they feel they aren’t getting enough 100% guarantees, then so be it.

    That doesn’t make it any less meaningful for me.

  221. faithoffathers permalink
    October 18, 2009 3:05 am

    Stephanie,

    Nephi said as much regarding the Jews: “For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.” 2 Ne 30:2.

    At some level, you are right- all are alike in God’s eyes. Some could similarly ask why Christ was sent to the Jews and not the gentiles. Was God a respecter of persons? In my mind, I realize I don’t understand everything. But I believe it has to do with the covenant to Abraham. For some reason, God desires to reward that great and obedient man and use his posterity to bless the whole earth. I am sure there are other reasons as well. Consider the olive tree allegory- it demonstrates one beautiful means of accomplishing the Lord’s desired goal. By scattering this family throughout the world and among all other families, and then gathering all with that heritage, God employs biology to gather and save the greatest number of His children while honoring His covenant to Abraham.

    On the BOM-

    It was postulated in 1841 in Times and Seasons by Joseph Smith that MesoAmerica was the center of the Nephite history. In fact, later, he declared that Guatemala was where Zarahemla existed anciently. If you take his word as a reference, the internal descriptions in the BOM creates a geography that fits the limited theory quite well. There is actually pretty solid evidence that Joseph believed the BOM events took place in southern Mexico and Guatemala.

    But even if modern readers of the BOM got it completely wrong by thinking it all happened over the entire hemisphere- I don’t see that as all that important. People reading the book certainly bring their own assumptions and come away with different thoughts about geography. Some readers don’t even think much about geography. I really don’t see any problem with modern folk getting the geography wrong.

    By the way, Moroni traveled from THE Cumorah in MesoAmerica to the hill in New York. It was Oliver Cowdery who began calling the NY hill “Cumorah.”

    Did you know that historical records claim that each of the ancient Hun warriors had on average 10 horses. Yet historians are baffled with the absolute lack of any horse remains from the period anywhere occupied by Atilla and his boys. Archeology is not what us lay-people often think.

    Why don’t we have archeological evidence of the tribes of Israel enslaved
    in Egypt? Why are not Joseph or Moses found in the Egyptian historical record? Why are there no evidences of the exodus- half a million people crossing the desert. I would think they would make quite a mark on their route. (Maybe they had gone green and took measures to erase their “footprint” on mother earth).

  222. October 18, 2009 3:05 am

    “Joseph was a prophet – so everything he ever said must have been authoritative.”

    That’s not it, Seth. I’m willing to let Joseph Smith be wrong about a lot of things.

    But everything we know about the Book of Mormon comes from Joseph Smith. Its claims to divine origins all came through him, and he claims to have met repeatedly with the spirit of one of the men who allegedly wrote it. Accepting what he said about who gave the book to him and rejecting everything else he said about where the book took place just strikes me as wildly inconsistent. It’s something Smith ought to have known.

    I’m sorry if I come off as a cynic who’s just trying to tear down your faith. That wasn’t my intention. These things were a struggle to me too once.

  223. October 18, 2009 3:39 am

    faithoffathers ~ Why don’t we have archeological evidence of the tribes of Israel enslaved in Egypt? Why are not Joseph or Moses found in the Egyptian historical record? Why are there no evidences of the exodus- half a million people crossing the desert. I would think they would make quite a mark on their route. (Maybe they had gone green and took measures to erase their “footprint” on mother earth).

    There is a huge difference between gaps in the archaeological evidence for an entire civilization and ZERO archaeological evidence for an entire civilization.

    And before anyone says it, I don’t need archaeological evidence for things like the resurrection or the theological claims of the Book of Mormon. Those are matters of faith. I don’t even need archaeological evidence for the existence of Abraham or Ammon.

    But I do need archaeological evidence for the existence of Nephites and Lamanites as a civilization. Not having it is a serious problem.

  224. Stephanie permalink
    October 18, 2009 3:51 am

    Why don’t we have archeological evidence of the tribes of Israel enslaved in Egypt? Why are not Joseph or Moses found in the Egyptian historical record? Why are there no evidences of the exodus- half a million people crossing the desert. I would think they would make quite a mark on their route. (Maybe they had gone green and took measures to erase their “footprint” on mother earth).

    fof,

    These questions do not even closely compare with the broad problems with the BoM. We have historical and archeological records from Israel. We know they were a people group. They are alive today. We have the country of Egypt. It still exists! Joseph and Moses are historical figures that secular scholars accept! I am not demanding that you provide me evidence that Moroni existed. But if his people existed it should would make your case easier. As far as the Exodus goes, there are secular scholars that support the Biblical view. Further, the people that actually experienced this event wrote it down and preserved it for us in very ancient texts. In contrast, the BoM is not an ancient document and so we cannot even begin to quibble over the particulars. Compare the differences. The Israelite language was Hebrew–we can read Hebrew today. The Nephites wrote in Reformed Egyptian. There is no such language today and no record of there ever being one. The Bible is translated from ancient documents–many extant copies pre-date Christ. The BoM is written in English and no original text remains to compare it with. The Jews wrote about worship in the Temple. We have a Temple Mount in Jerusalem and remains of the ruined templed from 70 AD. The Nephites had a temple in the New World. We don’t know where it is. The Bible describes towns and places that are on the news today–Damascus, Bethlehem, Babylon, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Galilee, etc, etc. The BoM describes towns and vast cities as well–none of which we have been able to find.

    I think Seth is making the claim that perhaps the Nephites were actually the known people groups of Central America–the Aztecs or Mayans. But the cultures are so radically different from Israelite culture that there can be no comparison. They didn’t speak Reformed Egyptian, they didn’t practice Jewish temple worship. They didn’t write on gold plates. They don’t have Middle Eastern DNA.

    I think the only conclusion to come to is that the people and events described in the BoM did not occur on this planet. As a fictional account it is a nice piece of literature. Why does it have to be fact?

    Stephanie

  225. Stephanie permalink
    October 18, 2009 3:55 am

    Wow, Jack. I guess we were typing at the same time. 🙂

  226. October 18, 2009 4:48 am

    Stephanie, there is no way they would have any evidence of “Middle Eastern DNA” – even if everything the Book of Mormon says is true. You just aren’t getting the way major population genetics works.

    And you are also missing the fact that even the culture described in the Book of Mormon is radically different from ancient Israelite culture. After Nephi and company exit-stage-right, the culture described in the Book of Mormon takes a completely alien turn. It’s hardly Jewish at all. If it weren’t for the monotheism and prophecies of Christ, you’d hardly know the Book was related to Old or New Testaments at all.

    But the parallels between Nephite/Lamanite culture and ancient American cultures is rather striking.

    In short, they don’t look Jewish because the weren’t Jewish.

    Which is exactly what we’d expect from a cultural spinoff group that split from the main body and went off and did its own thing for several hundred years in an alien land.

    You’re not going to be finding menorahs, Hebrew writings, and an Ark of the Covenant. Nephi and his family were a part of a Jewish subculture to begin with, and they skipped town and sailed halfway across the world into a new land with alien surrounding cultures. Even if everything the Book of Mormon says is true, that reality is going to absolutely wipe out any archeological possibility of finding the equivalent of “Little Jerusalem” in some Mayan ruin somewhere.

    Staggering how clever Joseph Smith was to have programmed all these escape routes into his text…

    Honestly, if Joseph was a fraud, the sheer genius and scope of his fraud would be about as miraculous as Moses parting the Red Sea.

    Something seriously abnormal was working on this guy. You don’t produce a work of that much depth, surprises, and resilience without something strange going on. There’s just no way anyone in the 19th century was capable of producing something like this. Not Spaulding, not Sidney Rigdon, not the combined intellectual might of all the most learned men of Joseph’s day. I don’t think there was a man alive in that entire century capable of coming up with the Book of Mormon.

    At times, I frankly don’t know what the Book of Mormon is exactly. But it sure as hell isn’t a 19th century product. That assertion, ladies and gentlemen, is beyond belief.

    Alas, people are simply incapable of seeing this unless they read beyond all the “it came to passes” and actually look at the record with real scholarly vigor (something most of our critics aren’t willing to do – because they assume the whole thing is bosh to begin with).

  227. October 18, 2009 4:52 am

    By the by Jack, my response to you was responding to you. But it was also preempting the usual “done-a-million-times-before” attack that I was expecting to come from certain other commenters here.

    So it was kind of a combo meal in that respect.

  228. October 18, 2009 1:15 pm

    Stephanie ~ Heh, guess so. Since Holland’s talk I’ve been hearing that “but the Bible has the same archaeological problems!” argument from a lot of different corners of the blogosphere. If I weren’t so busy I’d do a blog post on it myself.

    Seth ~ I agree that the Book of Mormon is enigmatic and extraordinary given its source. I don’t agree that we know for certain that it isn’t a 19th century document. Even if it did have the traits of a pre-19th century document, the phenomenon of producing a document that seems to predate his time wouldn’t be unique to Joseph Smith.

    Alas, people are simply incapable of seeing this unless they read beyond all the “it came to passes” and actually look at the record with real scholarly vigor (something most of our critics aren’t willing to do – because they assume the whole thing is bosh to begin with).

    Who are the folks who are looking at the record with this “real scholarly vigor” to your satisfaction? FARMS Review? Journal of Book of Mormon Studies? BYU Studies? Do those really strike you as objective sources?

    Why do you think they don’t publish all of their findings of “parallels” and “bulls-eyes” and word studies supposedly showing different authorship for different books within the text in peer-reviewed journals where other scholars in the relevant fields can scrutinize those claims?

    It’s not because all non-LDS scholars are “critics” who dismiss the book immediately without giving it a chance. There’s plenty of people who would study it with interest if they thought it was a real record of pre-Columbian civilizations. They just aren’t seeing it.

    The only scholars who are seeing it are those who had accepted the book’s claims to ancient origins before they began to examine it because they’re adherents of Mormon traditions. Cart before the horse.

  229. faithoffathers permalink
    October 18, 2009 3:42 pm

    Stephanie, Jessica-

    My point about the Israelites in Egypt- I am saying there is no evidence within the cultural history of their captors that they were ever there.

    My point is that the Nephites were very likely in a place where they were surrounded by other peoples- at least that is the current thought.

    How are these two civilizations different?

    If the Israelites had been destroyed in Egypt (like the Nephites were in MesoAmerica) would there be any evidence for their existence in Egypt?

    We have discussed this at length on this blog- that is the correlations between MesoAmerica and the BOM. They are not insignificant. In fact, they are fairly impressive. Don’t know if you want to go down that path again. But to say there is absolutely no connection between MesoAmerican history and the BOM is simply an uninformed statement. There are striking parallels in culture, history, warfare, language, religion, and their origins according to regional legend.

    Jessica- You hit upon something that I have noticed. There are few people in the gray zone on the BOM- a person either thinks it is a complete fraud, or it is a fundamental basis for their spiritual life and has changed who they are. I find this very interesting.

    Also, you said- “Why do you think they don’t publish all of their findings of “parallels” and “bulls-eyes” and word studies supposedly showing different authorship for different books within the text in peer-reviewed journals where other scholars in the relevant fields can scrutinize those claims?”

    To which peer review journals would you suggest they submit them? Honestly, it is an extremely unique question and debate. There just are not “scholars” interested enough in the BOM outside the RELIGIOUS folks either for or against the book.

    You also say “There’s plenty of people who would study it with interest if they thought it was a real record of pre-Columbian civilizations. They just aren’t seeing it.”

    You even say in your sentence what I am arguing regarding “scholars”- “IF THEY THOUGH IT WAS A REAL RECORD OF PRE-COLUMBIAN CIVILIZATIONS.” That belief requires a person to also believe in angels, prophets, God, Urim and Thummim, Priesthood, etc.. The requirement to simply believe in God removes a big percentage from the list of scholars.

    Giving the BOM a chance requires a person sincerely consider that it could be true with all the religious and supernatural that it claims. From the group of scholars we refer to, I think the number of those who would consider all this before knowing anything about the book is extremely small.

    I do not think this is an accident. I honestly think God wants it that way. Pres. Benson said “the Book of Mormon is a great sifter.” I agree with him.

    Thanks for the exchange- I really sense both of you are honest.

    fof

  230. October 18, 2009 7:00 pm

    faithoffathers ~ I think you have me and Jessica mixed up. I don’t know how that happens, because she’s a heck of a lot nicer than I am. 😛

    Re: the BoM v. Exodus: You’re comparing lack of evidence for a civilization that existed from 600 BC to 400 AD (1000 years) to lack of evidence for a civilization that could have existed from around 1665-1450 AD—as little as 215 years.* The Israelites were in Egypt for a much shorter time than the Nephites and Lamanites were in America, and these events took place at a much earlier and less-attested date. I really don’t think that’s the most compelling parallel scenario.

    (*Assuming the dating of the Samaritan Pentateuch & Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text)

    We have discussed this at length on this blog- that is the correlations between MesoAmerica and the BOM. They are not insignificant. In fact, they are fairly impressive. Don’t know if you want to go down that path again.

    I think I missed these conversations, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m not an expert in Mesoamerican archaeology, culture and history. I don’t want you to present these correlations to me, I want you to present them to other Mesoamerican scholars and hear what they have to say. If they’re really impressive and not insignificant, that shouldn’t be a problem.

    To which peer review journals would you suggest they submit them?

    Again, I’m not an expert in Mesoamerican studies, but one of these looks good. If there’s one thing the world isn’t short on, it’s scholarly peer-reviewed journals on any number of topics.

    That belief requires a person to also believe in angels, prophets, God, Urim and Thummim, Priesthood, etc.. The requirement to simply believe in God removes a big percentage from the list of scholars.

    I disagree. I think scholars are perfectly capable of evaluating these alleged Mesoamerican parallels without accepting the document’s provenance.

    On that note, even non-LDS scholar Margaret Barker—the darling of the Mormon scholarly Old Testament community—stated that she thinks the Book of Mormon is not of ancient origins. I don’t think she can be accused of being insincere or not thoroughly considering Mormonism’s claims.

  231. October 18, 2009 7:51 pm

    Whoops, my second paragraph above should say “1665-1450 BC,” not AD.

  232. Stephanie permalink
    October 18, 2009 11:50 pm

    Seth

    The reason I used the term “Middle Eastern DNA” is that some LDS that I have interacted with have argued that Lehi was not necessarily “Jewish” and so may not have had any of the typical markers seen in Jewish populations today. However, we can be quite certain that he was at least from the Middle East (not Siberia) and so he would be most genetically similar to people in those ethnic groups. If you google “Middle Eastern DNA” you come up with primarily LDS websites discussing Lehi. I’m just trying to use ya’ll’s lingo! The following quotes are from Mormon wiki

    In other words, by intermarriage, every Native American is likely to have descended from Lehi on some branch of his family tree. Again by intermarriage, Lehi’s blood and ethnic ancestry (Middle Eastern DNA) may play only a small part in the heritage of any Native Americans.

    While DNA studies show only a smaller correspondence between modern Middle Eastern DNA and Native American DNA, they certainly do not preclude the possibility of the Book of Mormon account and LDS beliefs being absolutely true.

    FAIR says,

    Furthermore, the Middle East is located at the crossroads of three continents, and has seen a great deal of immigration, mixing, and intermarriage. To use modern Middle Eastern DNA as the “standard” against which to measure what Manasseh and Ephraim DNA must have been like 2600 years ago is extraordinarily sloppy science.

    I agree that “Middle Eastern DNA” is a poor term. 🙂

    You say, “If it weren’t for the monotheism and prophecies of Christ, you’d hardly know the Book was related to Old or New Testaments at all.”

    I agree. But the Aztecs and the Mayans were not monothestic.

    At times, I frankly don’t know what the Book of Mormon is exactly. But it sure as hell isn’t a 19th century product. That assertion, ladies and gentlemen, is beyond belief.

    For what its worth, I don’t hold to the “Joseph was a fraud” theory. I know that he was capable of deception at a certain level (lying about his affairs, for example). But, beyond that he would also be very sincere. I believe that he truly believed in what he taught and wrote. I believe that a lot of his prophecy was self-serving at times. But, this doesn’t make him a complete fraud. I think that it is much more likely that he was deceived. Personally I hold to the theory that he did see an “angel” and that he very well may have received plates. He was very much involved in interacting with the spiritual realm and I find it very likely that he received the Book of Mormon from a spirit. I just don’t believe it was an angel from God.

    Stephanie

  233. October 19, 2009 12:36 am

    Well, as far as discerning the spirits behind Joseph’s writings – you do that by looking at the fruits of what he wrote.

    The fruits of the Book of Mormon are not evil.

  234. October 19, 2009 5:57 pm

    Seth,

    Looking at the fruits of something is not the sole test for truthfulness. 2 Cor 11 makes it pretty clear that some will be ministers of righteousness and even profess to be followers of Christ, yet they are not. Looking solely at the “works” and “fruits” of the BOM and its followers is leaving a vital part of the test for truthfullness out. We have also been commanded to compare new prophecy and scripture to previous prophecy and scripture to judge its truthfullness. This is where the BOM fails.

    Using your test we can look at many other writings which claim to be divine and demonstrate their truthfullness as well – The Koran for example.

    Darrell

  235. October 19, 2009 6:20 pm

    Seth,

    I apologize for my poor wording above. I should have said “Looking at the fruits of something is not the sole test for truthfulness…” but should have added “truthfullness of the spirit behind it.”

    Sorry about that!

    Darrell

  236. October 19, 2009 8:59 pm

    Yes Darrell. Of course it contradicts the Bible. You’re absolutely right.

    Have a nice day.

  237. October 19, 2009 11:39 pm

    I am glad you are starting to see the light about Mormonism, Seth. When are you going to be seeking out a new Church?

    🙂

    Darrell

  238. October 20, 2009 12:06 am

    I figured I’d go atheist since God is obviously incapable of making correlating the Book of Mormon and the Bible. And who needs that kind of stuff?

  239. October 20, 2009 12:25 am

    Seth needs a hug.

  240. shematwater permalink
    October 21, 2009 3:46 pm

    Gundeck

    On a final note: I agree that the Book of Mormon is written in a different way than the Bible. The Old Testiment was written to record history. The New Testiment was written to instruct the saints. The Book of Mormon is the only one that was written and designed for the gentile nations. It is a missionary work, designed to bring People to Christ. This is it’s primary purpose.
    Now, it is also true that Nephi himself may not have written in it this way. He was simply recording history, much like the Old Testiment. It was Mormon who took that historical record and abridged it into the Book of Mormon. Thus, the original we do not have, but those parts that God wanted us to have. Also, as I said, this was not translated directly from the original language to English, but by the Power of God it was translated so as to convey the meaning that was needed for our days. The idea was not changed, but the wording may have been to make it more easily understood for us.
    Say what you want about it, but this is how the Book of Mormon came forth, and this is the reason chapter 29 of 2 Nephi can have no other meaning than the one I have given.
    As to this being a reason to discard it as not being scripture, the idea is rather silly. The style of the writing is goin g to be that of the men who wrote it, just as the style of the verious books of the Bible are different from each other. You claim that it should be questioned because it gives prophecy in a different manner than the Bible. With this idea we should reject the Gospel of John, as it tells the story of Christ in a manner completely separate from that of the other gospels.

    To Everyone Else
    Sorry, for posting so late, but I have been busy with a new job.

    Speaking of Fair, I think they try too hard to show how the Book of Mormon could have worked with known archeology. Much of what they say I disagree with, as it doesn’t match what is actually in the Book of Mormon.
    Concerning the geography, no man knows what it really was and I really don’t care. What God says is scripture, and what is scripture is true, thus the accounts of the Book of Mormon are true.
    The limited area theory works, but only to a certian point. It is near the End of the Book of Alma that men went into the Land Northward, and possesed it. Several thousand went, as well as ships. It was in the last century B.C. that they began to settle this land, but they did settle it.
    Thus, for the last 500 years the people covered both North and South America. We have the account given by Joseph Smith concerning Zelph, the White Lamanite who died in the final battles of the Nephites in Southern Illunois. Also, I do recall Joseph Smith stating that the Hill in New York was the same hill that the Nephites were destroyed on, though let me find the reference. Also, (and I will find the reference) Brigham Young said that the Rocky Mountains were filled with the spirits of the Gadionton Robbers.
    What it all comes down to is that the men at FAIR are just men. What they say is speculation, though it is based on research.

    Personally, I think the mounds of North America are the foundations of the buildings and cities of the Nephites in North America. Those in South America and Mexico are primarily the Lamanite cities. One reason we do not have a full record of the Nephites is that many of the mounds have not been excavated, as if anything is found the Government will claim the land and many people don’t want to loose it.

  241. Stephanie permalink
    October 21, 2009 9:26 pm

    Hi Shem,

    Congratulations on your new job! Its always so stressful starting at a new position–I hope its going well for you. 🙂

    I agree with your assessment of FAIR and believe that they are often intellectually dishonest–all to prove their point of view. They are hardly an objective source.

    I had thought that Joseph Smith taught the same thing but was not sure. The quote that you mentioned from Brigham Young in also interesting.

    Stephanie

  242. October 21, 2009 11:11 pm

    Stephanie, do you have any particular proof that FAIR is “intellectually dishonest?”

    They are partisan, of course. Which they will freely admit up front if you ask them. But that’s not the same as being intellectually dishonest.

    Tell me, do you consider Mormonism Research Ministries to be “intellectually dishonest?”

    If not, why?

  243. October 21, 2009 11:21 pm

    Or you might as well ask it of any partisan organization. The GOP, the Democrats, Levis. All of them definitely have a view they are pushing and they are loyal to it.

    But that doesn’t make them “dishonest.”

  244. October 21, 2009 11:23 pm

    And I disagree with Shem that those passages he cites require people spreading all over thousands of miles.

  245. Stephanie permalink
    October 21, 2009 11:36 pm

    Seth,

    I’m actually much more familiar with FAIR than I am with MRM. I don’t think I’ve ever even visited their website–with the exception of visiting Mormon Coffee a couple of times. Most of the stuff that I read on Mormonism is either LDS or from Signature Books or a secular or Christian publisher. I heard Sandra Tanner speak once during an MRM conference that I attended. From private research, I believed what I heard at the conference was factual. The reason that I believed this was because the speakers directly quoted from Mormon sources.

    I realize that it is not fair to completely paint FAIR with one brush. I think that they can be brutally honest about LDS history. I think that their research on Joseph Smith and his wives is quite honest. I watched a conference talk called “Book of Abraham for Dummies” and thought that was a good representation of historical fact.

    However, when it comes to the DNA issues, I find that FAIR really lacks. And, this is why I view their organization as intellectually dishonest. Even though the evidence points to the fact that Native Americans are not Jewish, they skate all around this issue. When a person knows that the facts don’t agree with their position, and yet they continue to assert their position I view that as deceptive. I watched a FAIR video on the DNA evidence for the BoM and their response to critics research. One of the first statements made was by Michael Ash who claimed that Simon Southerton was not qualified to be an expert because he was a plant geneticist (which is true). Then FAIR goes on to interview Michael Ash throughout their video. What are Ash’s qualifications as a DNA expert? I have no clue! I don’t even know where he went to college! Or if he went to college! Or what his credentials are. Yet, he apparently has the authority to say that somebody else isn’t an expert. I ordered Ash’s book Of Faith and Reason and found it extremely lacking in scholarly research. Please see my post on Mormons and Coffee drinking to see some examples of his “research.” His “scientific” data about the ills of coffee drinking is ancient and not from scholarly sources.

    Anyway. I over-spoke when I said that FAIR was intellectually dishonest. I should have said that I thought they were honest about history and dishonest about science. But, Seth, I think you should cut me a little slack for overstating my position because I think you do it yourself pretty frequently. 🙂

    Stephanie

  246. October 22, 2009 2:55 am

    Grrr…. DNA….

    Jack, should I restrain myself here or not?

  247. October 22, 2009 3:10 am

    It will be less fun if you do.

    /popcorn

  248. Stephanie permalink
    October 22, 2009 3:26 am

    Seth,

    I was certainly not attempting to open up a DNA debate. I was just answering why I thought that FAIR could be intellectually dishonest. This is one area that I think that they are. Like I said, I think they provide good information on many other subjects.

    Stephanie

  249. October 22, 2009 4:18 am

    Including the DNA argument.

    It’s completely narrow-viewed to think that “Southerton is a plant geneticist” is the only argument FAIR has on the DNA topic. Southerton isn’t wrong on this because he’s a plant geneticist. He’s wrong because his entire argument is based on a straw man of LDS arguments to begin with.

    Kevin Barney wrote a well-cited article on the subject that you can read here:

    http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/Brief_Review_of_Murphy_and_Southerton_Galileo_Event.html

    And if you think the someone is “intellectually honest” simply because they quote “Mormon sources,” take this quote:

    “God. . . will make me to be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth to me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it.”

    Joseph Smith is reported to have said this. What an arrogant guy! He was claiming to be God to the people! This quote comes from “The Godmakers,” Chapter 15, pg. 211.

    Well, did you notice something in that quote? Yeah, there’s an ellipses in there (the … thing).

    Let’s look at the actual quote:

    “God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel and He will make me be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth to me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it.”

    You read the rest of the speech and Joseph Smith was talking about being exhausted from speaking for hours and repeatedly made reference to Moses having Aaron as a mouthpiece.

    Given the context of the following scriptural passage:

    “He shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Ex. 4:16).

    it becomes obvious that Joseph was simply likening himself to the situation of another prophet – Moses, and his mouthpiece – Aaron.

    But you wouldn’t know that to read the passage with ellipses and twisted to support a hostile conclusion. This sort of creative use of ellipses is rather common in anti-Mormon sources. Which is why it is crucial to always read the original sources when dealing with critical material regarding Mormonism.

    On the Tanners, the following article may be of interest:

    http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2000_History_or_Propaganda.html

    I don’t give two straws if you or anyone else “got everything from Mormon sources.” It’s how you use the quotes and context that makes all the difference.

  250. October 22, 2009 1:06 pm

    Dang it, Stephanie, I think you ruined a really good pending SethRant™.

    On FAIR: I don’t think I would call them intellectually dishonest, but they are biased to the core. I think of MADB (Mormon Apologetics Discussion Board) as the CARM of Mormonism. The conversations there aren’t quite as intellectually bankrupt, but the moderating is ridiculously heavy-handed against critics. Another guy I know was arguing with one of the mods there and she was using the “most women don’t want the priesthood, so it’s fine” argument. He pointed out that numerous women’s organizations were likewise opposed to suffrage in the early 1900s. The moderator claimed that he had violated the forum rule against Godwin’s Law, deleted his post and suspended him. The suspension was later increased to a permanent ban with no further posts from him.

    MADB isn’t officially affiliated with FAIR, but anyone who knows the history of the board knows that it was founded by the same people who run FAIR and most of the moderators and apologists who post there are FAIR members.

    There’s a lot of people I respect in FAIR to be sure, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve really come to see how agenda-driven and biased their answers are. I read FAIR’s answer to the “paid ministry” charge before commenting on the other thread on LDS leaders getting paid and it made me chuckle. I like how FAIR spends most of the article arguing that Mormonism doesn’t have a professional clergy, an argument that neither Bill McKeever nor Sandra Tanner ever made even though the Wiki claims it’s responding to their criticisms specifically. Would it have killed FAIR to admit that yes, LDS leaders get paid, that it’s more than what the average pastor makes, and that it’s completely hypocritical for Mormons to attack other Christians for having paid ministers when their own top leaders get paid more? Apparently it would have.

    I also like how the article doesn’t even link to the online articles by McKeever and Tanner that it’s responding to. Better watch out, wouldn’t want people to read something that doesn’t come from FAIR, FARMS or BYU and learn that maybe Mormon apologetics isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  251. October 22, 2009 1:32 pm

    I never pay attention to religious message boards of any stripe. The format seems to almost always bring out the worst in everyone. So I can’t really speak to that.

  252. shematwater permalink
    October 22, 2009 4:03 pm

    Stephanie

    Thank you.

    I do not generally seek out scientific information to prove anything that is a matter of faith, which is why I generally do not listen to FAIR or any other organization. I believe what I believe, and I need no earthly scholar to back it up.
    However, on some points I do have to speak out, because they have been proven to support the Book of Mormon and yet are still used against it (such as horses). I do not do this very often, nor will I start such a discussion.
    I think that the people at FAIR are going to find trouble down the road, but not from science. They try too hard to prove the Book of Mormon through scientific evidence, and thus thwy will have trouble with faith, and if they are wrong with God himself. This is why I emphasized that what they say is all speculation, and should be taken as such, and I think they should clarify this themselves.

    As to them being in North and South America, I think that Finding Zelph, a white Lamanite, in Illinois is proof enough that they were at least that far north. We also Read in Heleman 3: 8 that they covered the whole earth “from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.”
    From what is actually said in the Book of Mormon this is how I think it was all laid out.
    The Jeradites landed in North America and that is where they built their civilization. I do not think they went farther south than Central America, and then only to hunt (Ether 10: 19) The People of Zarahemla landed in Central America, in the area the Jeradites went to hunt, which is why they found Coriantomr, as it would be logical for him to go there when he was the only one left.
    Lehi and his Family landed in central South America, most likely Peru, which became the Land of Lehi. When Nephi fled from Laman and Lemuel he moved into the northern parts of South America, what would now be Columbia and Venezuala. In the days of Mosiah the people again fled North (Omni) entering the Central American region and finding the People of Zerahemla.
    By this time the Lamanites had spread over all of South America, having taken the Land of Nephi.
    For about 75 years the Nephites lived in the Central America region. Zerahemla was a in the Southern parts, and Bountiful was the Northern area, with the Mexican Deserts being called Desolation. North of this is the land that was peopled by the Jaredites found by the People of Zarahemla (Alma 22: 30-32)
    When Haggoth and the People went into the Land Northward this land is what was meant, the land North of Desolation which was once population by the Jaredites.
    After Christ’s death the entire face of the land was changed. I think this is when the Rocky Mountains rose to the heighth they are, creating the great American Desert. This also caused a large sea, or lake, to drain away (evidence suggests such a lake existed, now called Bonneville). Other great changes occured, which is why we cannot prove anything concerning the geography before this time.
    After all this the people again spread over all the land. In the final battles of the Nephites they gathered in Desolation, and once that land fell they retreated North for three years.
    This is how I understand it, and what I believe. Can I prove any of it? No. But from the text of the Book of Mormon this is what seems most likely.

    (sorry for rambling)

  253. October 22, 2009 9:46 pm

    shem,

    I don’t particularly care if you want to hold to a continental geography model, as long as you have enough flexibility and openness of mind not to have your testimony ruined the moment someone presents evidence to the contrary. It’s all cool with me.

    But if you analyze the detailed accounts of Nephite cities and marching times of armies, you come up with a much different model than the one you presented. That’s just Book of Mormon text talking there.

    Zelph has been addressed by FAIR. You can look up what they have to say on the subject if you feel so inclined.

  254. Stephanie permalink
    October 22, 2009 11:44 pm

    Seth,

    You wrote a post that went into moderation. I’m such a low-tech blogger I can’t get it out of moderation–I think that it has a couple of links in it. I’ll see if Jessie can get it approved.

    Stephanie

  255. Stephanie permalink
    October 22, 2009 11:51 pm

    Wow. I fixed it myself. 🙂

  256. Stephanie permalink
    October 23, 2009 12:08 am

    It’s completely narrow-viewed to think that “Southerton is a plant geneticist” is the only argument FAIR has on the DNA topic.

    But that wasn’t my main beef with FAIR. I didn’t like how Michael Ash points out that Southerton is not qualified to speak to DNA issues and then Ash is interviewed as some sort of a self-styled expert himself. I’ve looked but can’t seem to find any scientific qualifications for Ash. How is he even speaking on a DNA documentary and tearing down scientists. I wasn’t aware that he was a scientist. That was my concern with the Southerton issue.

    I’m a little confused about the Godmaker’s quote. Ellipses can make a person look like they said anything! Completely agree with you that context and full text quoting are very important in truthful research. But, I’m confused how it relates to whether or not FAIR is being factual in their DNA presentation. Are you saying I’m like the Godmakers video? 🙂

    As the dialogue with Shem so clearly points out, most Mormons do not necessarily embrace the limited geography model. I know that it has been taught by members of the church throughout their history (Nibley being one, I think) but it certainly doesn’t seem to be a mainline view. And it seems like a strange dichotomy to have the majority of practicing LDS believing one thing (like Shem) and the minority of apologists interacting with secular and Christian scholars projecting something entirely different. I think that there is a lot of “LDS Myth” that some church members read and don’t think critically about. I’ve read stuff that says that the Book of Mormon has never been contradicted by archeology. Or that science was going to “prove the Book of Mormon.” These little idioms are unsupported statements that people somehow cling to and then often don’t research things for themselves. This probably sounds terrible, but I have encouraged practicing LDS that I know to visit FAIR. I do this partly because I think that most practicing members are more like Shem than they are like you Seth. I think most people want to believe that the Book of Mormon is factually true to the understanding that they had growing up in the church. And when they find that there is a whole sector of scholarly LDS who don’t hold to more “traditional” views it can be quite eye-opening.

    Stephanie

  257. October 23, 2009 12:16 am

    Shematwater,

    I am not claiming that the Book of Mormon should be rejected solely because of its style. The reasons to reject the Book of Mormon are numerous and its peculiar style of addressing the theological controversies of the 19th century is just one. You point to the individual style of the authors of the books of the Bible, John in particular, but John seems to take particular care to explain when the disciples did not understand Christ’s teaching (cf. John 2:22) avoiding anachronistic writing.

    Your claim that “The Book of Mormon is the only one that was written and designed for the gentile nations” is demonstrably false. Whom for instance was John writing for?

  258. October 23, 2009 12:16 am

    Stephanie…

    Do you really think that “dialogue-ing with Shem” demonstrates what “most” Mormons believe? Sounds to me more like you are picking and choosing here.

    And, for what it’s worth, FAIR has had full fledged geneticists pick apart Southerton’s argument.

    Not that we needed to cart one out – the main problems with Southerton’s argument are in his grasp of the Book of Mormon rather than his grasp of genetics.

    Heck, the guy even admits in his own writing that his assertions completely fall apart if you aren’t assuming a continental model of geography.

    The Godmakers quote was simply to point out that your argument that the Tanners and company are “legit” simply because “it all came from Mormon sources!” is completely full of holes.

  259. Stephanie permalink
    October 23, 2009 12:37 am

    Seth,

    Firstly, my actual statement about Tanner and Co was as follows.
    I heard Sandra Tanner speak once during an MRM conference that I attended. From private research, I believed what I heard at the conference was factual. The reason that I believed this was because the speakers directly quoted from Mormon sources.

    The assumptions that you are making are as follows. 1) That the quotes were taken out of context and misquoted. 2) That I take everything that the Tanners and Co say as “legit.” 3). That I don’t do my own personal research. 4) That the conference issues addressed controversial topics. The conference talks that I went to mostly dealt with doctrinal issues and cultural issues. I didn’t attend any talks on Joseph Smith, DNA, archeology, Lehi, Limited Geography Issues, polygamy etc. I don’t remember any “gotcha” quotes. 5) That the Godmakers movie is the best that Mormon outreach ministries have to offer. I think that I am capable of understanding when a quote is taken out of context. I may be dumb, but I’m not blonde.

    Do you really think that “dialogue-ing with Shem” demonstrates what “most” Mormons believe?

    No I don’t. Its just that the vast majority of LDS that I know believe more similarly to Shem than they do to you. Remember, you’ve been around the Internet a few times. You may not represent a totally mainstream, Sunday-go-to-meeting Mormon. 🙂

    Stephanie

  260. October 23, 2009 2:09 am

    Its just that the vast majority of LDS that I know believe more similarly to Shem than they do to you.

    Dittos.

    Darrell

  261. October 23, 2009 2:50 am

    Not really an argument.

    It implies that once they all believe differently, you’d have no beef with them. Which I’m not sure is an accurate statement either.

  262. October 23, 2009 3:22 am

    Just because FAIR has addressed something doesn’t mean the issue is settled. Sometimes their answers suck.

  263. October 23, 2009 3:49 am

    As far as I know, I don’t link to the sucky stuff.

  264. October 23, 2009 3:51 am

    The Zelph article sucks. You didn’t link to it, you just referenced it.

  265. October 23, 2009 4:09 am

    Oh.

    I’ll have to check on that someday…

  266. October 23, 2009 1:54 pm

    BTW, for what it’s worth my own husband believes in the limited geography model, and he isn’t an apologist in any way, shape or form. He did do his BoM classes at BYU, one before his mission and one after, but he’s never been much of an adherent of FARMS or FAIR.

    I did a Book of Mormon Institute class in Washington state back in 2000 wherein the teacher taught both the limited and continental geography models. He also taught that maybe Angel Moroni magically moved the golden plates from Central America to upstate New York, which gave me a good laugh. It’s the Mormon equivalent of “perhaps God put the dinosaur bones in the earth to fool people” and I don’t think the apologists are very fond of it.

    My own experience has been that I’ve met plenty of “chapel Mormons” (if you want to call them that) who believe in limited geography, but I’ve also known more Mormons than usual who attended BYU, so that could be a factor.

  267. October 23, 2009 4:15 pm

    Jack,

    The circles we run in could have something to do with our different experiences. I am a little older than you and, outside of a short stay in Colorado, have spent most of my life on the East Coast (Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina). During my life in the Church almost everyone I spoke with considered Hill Cumorah in Upstate NY to be the very Hill Cumorah spoken of in the BOM and the actual site of the battle in the BOM. Nearly everyone held to the Continental model.

    That being said, I have seen that change over the past 5 or so years. I do believe the limited geography model is gaining some footing among typical church members. To be honest, it almost has to as it is pretty obvious that there aren’t millions of bodies buried in Hill Cumorah in Upstate NY. The church has to change its position in order for it to hold any water. The problem they have now is what to say about the Church’s earlier claims that Hiull Cumorah in NY IS the site of the BOM battles… those past prophets are getting more and more errant all the time.

    Darrell

  268. October 23, 2009 4:58 pm

    Darrell, I don’t really hold with a Nephite presence in North America. I don’t rule it out, but I lean toward a Central American location (although I’d be happy to switch to Peru if further evidence shores it up).

    That said, I don’t rule out a North American model as obviously wrong.

    The fields of Europe and Britain were home to almost thousands of large conflicts throughout the Middle Ages. We know about these battles because they are well-documented and the locations are well-known.

    But even with those advantages, finding preserved evidence of those battles is remarkably hard. The evidence simply rots or rusts away – or vanishes under hundreds of years of looting and site disturbance.

    Upstate New York was looted extensively for artifacts, and most of them just vanished that way. Undocumented and untraceable.

    So, I guess the short of it is – upstate New York seems unlikely – but never say never when talking about archeology.

  269. shematwater permalink
    October 23, 2009 5:59 pm

    The real truth of the matter is that nobody really knows the geography of the Book of Mormon, and anything said about it is speculation. As such I really don’t bother discussing with those whose sole purpose is to find fault with the Book of Mormon and LDS church (not that I am accusing anyone on this thread, as I have obviously discussed it).

    Now, to restate what I have already said, but Seth disagrees with, and seems to not understand what it was that I said:

    Up until about 50B.C. I agree with the Limited Geography Model. I understand the marching times, and the Book Of Mormon does state that it was only a day and half journey across the narrow neck of land (Central America).
    The problem with sticking to this idea after this time is that we have no marching times given after this time. There were nearly 500 years between the last detailed recording of battles and the end of the Book of Mormon. It states in the Book of Mormon that they traveled to the land Northward, which was north of Desolation where they had found the destruction of the Jaredites, and later that they covered the entire face of the land. All this indicating North America.
    Also, there are ruins in the south western states, which seem to suggest an ancient civilization.
    There are also the references I gave (which I am trying to find) from early church leaders. Another little bit of information that I am working of finding the actual references (sorry, but I have limited rescourse at this time). First, the Temple at Manti, it was built because while Moroni was wondering and finishing the record he dedicated that site for a temple. Also, Joseph Smith said that all the records used by Mormon were in the Hill in New York. Mormon had taken them there, and hidden them, which would indicate that that is where the last battles were fought.

    As I said, no one can prove anything, and so all is speculation. But taking into account all that the Early Leaders said as well as the actual text of the Book of Mormon, a Continental Model seems most likely in my mind. I am not disregarding anything.

  270. October 23, 2009 6:08 pm

    Stephanie,

    You focused on Shem’s advocacy for some sort of continental model.

    What you didn’t emphasize was his admitted agnosticism on the issue.

    This is important. A lot of Mormons will tell you that “oh, I think X, Y, and Z” about something. But to then simply report that as something key in the religious belief landscape of the the religion is premature.

    The held belief may not be that important to the members. It may be something that they’d be willing to change their minds about easily enough if presented with evidence in a constructive way. Shem himself emphasized that he doesn’t waste a lot of time thinking about Book of Mormon geography – presumably because it’s not that crucial to his religious practice.

    Mormonism’s critics are often in a rush to find evidence that “most Mormons” believe in the paradigm that makes it most easy for the critic to deconstruct the belief system. Critics would LIKE “most Mormons” to believe in a vast continental empire chock-full of Hebrew traditions because that makes for a bigger target.

    But they’re missing the REAL majority view in Mormonism on geography.

    And the real majority view is “I don’t particularly care – now where’s my Home Teaching lesson….”

    That’s been my experience at Church, and if our critics bothered to probe a bit – I think they’d find the same.

  271. October 23, 2009 7:38 pm

    And the real majority view is “I don’t particularly care – now where’s my Home Teaching lesson….”

    I agree with Seth on this one. Most Mormons are in the don’t-know-don’t-care category on BoM geography, and it doesn’t really matter what the majority view thinks anyways. Most evangelicals are in the futurist pre-tribulation category on the Rapture and the Book of Revelation, but that doesn’t automatically invalidate the Preterist position, for example.

    I still maintain that what Joseph Smith thought of BoM geography and Native Americans and Lamanites does matter though.

  272. October 23, 2009 7:47 pm

    Seth,

    Even if Hill Cumorah in Upstate NY was violently looted, there would still be traces of some of the over 1 million people who supposedly died there in battle. The easy way to rule this spot out would be to do an excavation. Since the Church owns it, why not do it? I have hear rumors that they have done small amounts of research in the past – with no success. Does anyone have any info on that?

    IMO, the reason they don’t pursue this further is to avoid the embarrasment of being shown it is not the spot that early church leaders claimed it to be. Better off leaving it in the realm of speculation. Afterall, not all truth is useful.

    Darrell

  273. October 23, 2009 7:54 pm

    Jack,

    FYI, the reason I even bring up what the majority of “chapel” Mormons think is precisely becuase of the reason they think it. Who do you think the majority of Mormons listen to and follow? FAIR and FARMS or the Church Leaders? It is well known that the early church leaders taught Hill Cumorah in NY to be the site of the BOM battle and the the American Indians are the Lamanites. That view still holds sway today… and I for one get tired of Internet Mormons who try to pretend that the early church did not teach this.

    Darrell

  274. October 23, 2009 9:08 pm

    Which Church leaders Darrell?

    Orson Pratt?

  275. October 23, 2009 9:10 pm

    Or it could just be because we’ve got better things to do that waste money on wild-goose chases set by people who would like nothing better than to see funds and efforts diverted from the missionary program Darrell.

  276. October 23, 2009 9:32 pm

    For one, yes. There are others as well. Here are some quotes.

    The great and last battle, in which several hundred thousand Nephites perished was on the hill Cumorah, the same hill from which the plates were taken by Joseph Smith, the boy about whom I spoke to you the other evening.” (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Feb. 11, 1872 Journal of Discourses Vol. 14, pg. 331)

    The passages which I have quoted from the Book of Mormon and the more extended discussion of this subject by Elder B. H. Roberts which was published in The Deseret News of March 3, 1928, definitely establish the following facts: That the Hill Cumorah, and the Hill Ramah are identical; that it was around this hill that the armies of both the Jaredites and Nephites, fought their great last battles; that it was in this hill that Mormon deposited all of the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron, except the abridgment which he had made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered into the hands of his’ son, Moroni. We know positively that it was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites, and that it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them. ” (President Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report, April 1928-Morning Session)

    “The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the State of New York .” (Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith , chapter 14)

    It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history….” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation , Vol.3, Bookcraft, 1956, p.232-43.)

    In addition, here is a link to a letter sent on behalf of President Gordon B Hinckley to Bishop Darrell L. Brooks in response to an inquiry by a member of his ward as to the location of the Hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon.

    Darrell

  277. October 23, 2009 9:35 pm

    Or it could just be because we’ve got better things to do that waste money on wild-goose chases set by people who would like nothing better than to see funds and efforts diverted from the missionary program Darrell.

    Sure, Seth… and all the while the Church is funding excavations in other countries. Yeah right.

    One thing you do have right there is the fact that it would be a wild goose chase… for a goose that does not exist.

    Darrell

  278. Stephanie permalink
    October 23, 2009 11:21 pm

    In addition, here is a link to a letter sent on behalf of President Gordon B Hinckley to Bishop Darrell L. Brooks in response to an inquiry by a member of his ward as to the location of the Hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon.

    Wow, Darrell. That is quite the letter.

    Stephanie

  279. psychochemiker permalink
    October 23, 2009 11:24 pm

    You know Darrell,
    You make me feel proud of lay Mormon intellectual abilities.
    -PC

  280. October 24, 2009 12:16 am

    Stephanie,

    Yes, it is quite the letter. After the contents of this letter went somewhat public, the Church apparently received quite a bit of flack. As a result, a full three years later in 1993 a second letter was sent to Bishop Brooks stating that the “Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography” and “there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.” It is amazing how The First Presidency can go from such and emphatic position on the location of Hill Cumorah to stating that they basically don’t know where it is. Sounds an aweul lot like the American Indians going from the “Principal Ancestors” of the Lamanites to simply being “among” their ancestors. That revelation the prophet receives from God must be really clear cut.

    Darrell

  281. October 24, 2009 12:27 am

    Just shows to me that they are willing to receive correction and incorporate it Darrell.

    Good for them I say.

  282. October 24, 2009 12:42 am

    Correction is a good thing, no doubt. To me, it is just funny how that correction seems to come at just the time science catches up with them. Kind of makes you think the correction is not coming from revelation, but is instead coming from man. Hmmmm?

    Darrell

  283. October 24, 2009 1:11 am

    Is correction from man a bad thing?

  284. October 24, 2009 1:30 am

    Not at all. But when a Church is supposedly guided by a prophet who speaks face to face with God, why are they waiting for man to show them they are wrong? What else have the messed up? Perhaps the BOM is really just a work of fiction? Perhaps JS made the whole thing up? Perhaps it wasn’t really God who visited him?

    Darrell

  285. October 24, 2009 1:49 am

    Darrell ~ My point was that I’m willing to grant Mormons some latitude in moving away from stupid doctrines. I agree that the reason these doctrines are often popular is because certain leaders have espoused them.

    I’m a bit more of a stickler when it comes to Smith and the Book of Mormon though. If Smith was wrong about the Hill Cumorah and BoM geography, I don’t see why we should trust him on how the BoM came about to begin with.

  286. October 24, 2009 2:34 am

    Jack, I DON’T entirely trust Joseph Smith.

    That’s never been the question with me.

    The question is – where do we go from here.

  287. October 24, 2009 2:58 am

    Seth, why do you believe in the Book of Mormon at all? What do you believe about the Book of Mormon?

    Open-ended questions, answer them however you want. I already know that your answer doesn’t involve warm fuzzies in your chest.

  288. shematwater permalink
    October 26, 2009 5:55 pm

    Just a few words.

    I am perfectly willing to alter my opinion, but it is going to take a lot more than any mortal scholar is capable of. Partly because it doesn’t matter, and so I am perfectly willing to wait and discuss the geography with Mormon himself, or Nephi, or any other of those great men who lived in that time on this continent. The only earthly scholarship that is going to convince me is a map of the area made back in those times with all the same names on it as are found in the Book of Mormon. Again, this is simply because it doesn’t matter, and so if there is a slight chance I am right I prefer to be stubburn.

    Now, Darrel, concerning you great letter, you really don’t understand the way things work if you claim this is from Gordon B. Hinkley. With all the letters that are sent to the First Presidency to think that they personally answer each one is rediculous. They have many secretaries and workers who answer the letters. Those that can be answered by these secretaries (such as doctinal points) are answered by them, as this letter obviously was. It is written and signed by the secretary, not the President. It is only those requiring the First Presidency that are viewed by them.
    Thus, a well meaning secretary took the quotes and teachings of early leaders and answered a question that he felt was of a simple enough nature so as not to require the Prophets attention. One the letter became public, because of the wording, the First Presidency was forced to make a statement regarding the issue, which they did. It was not a change in the minds of the leaders, but them correcting another who made a small mistake.

  289. October 26, 2009 6:42 pm

    Shem, the unverified letter Darrell linked to was signed by some sort of secretary, and not any of the First Presidency themselves. Not that I think this distinction matters. An office should be held accountable for stuff that goes out under its own letterhead. If the letter is legit in the first place, that is.

  290. October 26, 2009 8:11 pm

    The letter’s legit.

    If it wasn’t, I’m pretty sure F. Michael Watson (who is now serving in the First Quorum of the Seventy) simply would have denied writing it by now.

  291. October 26, 2009 9:13 pm

    Well Jack, I consulted the bones and dug up that apparently a few people asked F. Michael Watson to clarify what he meant, and got the following letter from him, dated 23 April 1993 (three years after Darrell’s letter):

    “The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.”

    So there you are, I guess.

  292. October 26, 2009 9:27 pm

    Seth,

    I referenced the 1993 letter above. And, it is not a clarification… it is a full fledge 180 degree turn.

    Darrell

  293. October 26, 2009 9:29 pm

    Right you are Darrell.

  294. October 26, 2009 9:38 pm

    Seth ~ I don’t have a problem with F. Michael Watson clarifying / changing his mind / whatever. I was just pointing out that the 1990 letter wasn’t faked by anti-Mormons or something. The provenance seems pretty certain.

  295. October 26, 2009 10:12 pm

    Right. I was just fact-checking.

    You have to do that whenever anyone makes almost ANY claim about Mormonism.

  296. October 26, 2009 10:49 pm

    You have to do that whenever anyone makes almost ANY claim about Mormonism.

    I know. Especially after Fast & Testimony meeting.

  297. October 26, 2009 11:03 pm

    Hmm… you know, I just realized that joke could be taken the wrong way. I meant fact-checking claims such as “the three Nephites helped me change a spare tire,” or the story of the cloud shielding the Hawaiian Temple from Japanese bombers during Pearl Harbor.

    I wasn’t trying to imply that sincere heartfelt testimonies ought to be “fact-checked.”

    Guess a joke probably isn’t funny if you have to explain it…

  298. October 26, 2009 11:06 pm

    Jack, while I am fine with the church moving away from erroneous teachings, I do believe moves such as this one speak to the false nature of the prophets who lead and have led the church. Why in the world would they (JS and those that follow him) get this one wrong, and if they are wrong on something like this, what else have they messed up (while, I think they have messed up a lot – I ask that question for those faithful LDS reading this).

    Some LDS members (amateur apologists) realize the problem this creates. It is why many are so afraid to admit that the church has actually taught that the Hill Cumorah in NY is the very Hill Cumorah from the BOM. It is in this regard that I find the 1990 so powerful, for it was in response to an inquiry sent directly to the prophet and mentions “the references in the writings of General Authorities” that refer to the Hill Cumorah in NY being the Hill Cumorah in the BOM. Even they realize General Authorities have taught this!!

    The stark change from the 1990 letter to the 1993 letter is somewhat humorous. The 1990 was so emphatic about the location, but in the 1993 letter, they now admit that “there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any [at least they got this right] specific site.” This coming out of the office of the First Presidency represents a stark change from the days of JS sending out missionaries to the Lamanites (American Indians) and Hill Cumorah being celebrated as a historic battle site.

    It appears that the liberals in Mormonism are having an effect. Perhaps we will see a move in the future for the church to actually admit that the BOM is a work of fiction?? Afterall, 100 years ago not many would have predicted the church’s position today.

    Darrell

  299. October 27, 2009 12:23 am

    Seth,

    How large is the group in the Mormon Church that believes in the inspired fiction theory? Or is this just a vocal minority on the internet?

  300. October 27, 2009 1:58 am

    Beats me Gundeck. I don’t subscribe to it.

    You’ll also probably want to be more specific about which demographic WITHIN the LDS Church you are talking about. We’re not the religious equivalent of the Zerg you know.

  301. October 27, 2009 8:59 pm

    Seth,

    I was just wondering.

  302. October 27, 2009 9:57 pm

    I will say that I doubt the “inspired fiction” framework has a large following among active church-going Mormons in the United States.

  303. October 27, 2009 11:31 pm

    Seth,

    I agree with you. However, another factor to consider is this – we may not know about all those who hold this opinion due to the fact that they tend to keep their lips closed about it for fear of church discipline.

    Darrell

  304. shematwater permalink
    October 28, 2009 6:04 pm

    Personally, I can understand the content of both letters, and the reasons for them, and it doesn’t bother me in the least, nor does it seem like any great change in doctrine or opinion.

    The first was given in response to an individual. The fact is that many early leaders have said this, and when we believe them to be prophets we trust their word.
    However, the second was given because of the confusion the first caused. Early church leaders believed this, and so many members do, but as it cannot be proven we should not discuss it in open forums, but stick to the doctrine.
    I really think the second letter was written because people were using the first in arguments of aercheology, which was never the intension.

  305. October 28, 2009 6:59 pm

    …when we believe them to be prophets we trust their word.

    I am curious as to your take on this Shem. How do you determine when to believe them to be prophets?

    Darrell

  306. shematwater permalink
    October 29, 2009 4:37 pm

    Darrel

    When they speak in the official copacity they are prophets (unless the President stands to correct them). This would include general conferences, stake confrences, general Piesthood and Relief Society meetings, as well as the many firesides and special presentations they do throughout the years. This also includes the Ensign articles written by them, proclomations spread by them (such as The Family). This includes those books commissioned by the church to be written (such as Jesus the Christ).
    In addition to this I will accept their word when spoken at any time if it does not directly contradict the standard works.
    In general when they give their opinion they state such, and I look out for such statements, especially when they are being quoted by those opposing the church.
    A good examples of this, from Brigham Young:
    On October 8th 1854 he gave a great discourse all about how the world was creaated and the one God with which we have to do. He spoke of Adam as Micheal, being a god under Eloheim who created this Earth, ate of the fruit until it made him mortal and became the father of the human family on it. However, he frequently makes several statements that all he is doing is speculating on the subject, simply because he wants to and he knows people among the saints want him too. He uses liberal use of the term “reckon” which is a termof speculation, which he states is his intended purpose later when he saysw it is like the Northerner saying “I guess.” This discourse has been used as a way to prove LDS doctrine, but the entire thing is the specualtions of Brigham Young, which he states in it, and in one place even says that the things he is talking about cannot be known by mortal men.
    Thus, in this discourse his words can be taken as personal opinion and not as the words of God through his prophet.
    (if you want a copy so that you can read this I can e-mail it to you, but you will not find it unline)

    This is my take on the accepting the words of prophets as true, and how I judge them to be so.

  307. Patrick permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:51 pm

    THE CHURCH IS TRUE, AND THE DOCTRINE IT TEACHES IS TRUE. IT IS JESUS CHRIST’S CHURCH AND ALWAYS WILL BE. I ONJLY KNOW THAT THROUGH GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT. SO STOP AURGUING ABOUT IT WHY DONT YOU. I KNOW YOU ALL BELIEVE SO STOP AND KEEP THE FAITH. REMEMBER CTR… CHOOSE THE RIGHT AND CURRENT TEPLE ERCOMEND…!HEHEHEHEHEHEEHEHEHEEHEHE
    THANKS FOR LISTNING!

  308. Patrick permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:53 pm

    MORMONI 10:3-5 BOOK OFMORMON

  309. Patrick permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:55 pm

    if you dont believe or undeerstand one thing or another a general authority has said then you can go in prayer to your Heavenly FatherGod and he will tell you the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost!

  310. Patrick permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:58 pm

    hey

  311. September 24, 2010 2:08 am

    Hey Patrick,

    Welcome to the blog!

  312. January 26, 2013 6:43 am

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