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Is it ethical to stay LDS if you know this verse is teaching a damning heresy?

May 24, 2010

LDS bloggers on this and other blogs seem to have a different understanding of grace than I encounter when I talk to non-internet Mormons.  I never hear anything but the traditional interpretation of 2 Nephi 25:23 from non-internet Mormons.  And so this brings me to a question for internet Mormons who no longer hold to these traditional interpretations.

Moroni 10:32 says,

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ…”

If you are a Mormon who no longer believes this verse is true (but rather who sees in light of the clear teaching of the New Testament that this verse is a damning heresy), is it ethical for you to continue to give explicit or implicit approval to a church that says this verse is the word of God? This verse is teaching the exact opposite of the good news of the grace of Christ proclaimed by the apostles!  This verse, if followed, would sever a person from the grace of Christ!

Here’s the truth from God’s Word:

“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9)

How can such a lie with eternal consequences be merely shrugged off?

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240 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 4:13 am

    This is kind of asking me “did you lie when you cheated on your wife?”

  2. Brad permalink
    May 24, 2010 12:51 pm

    Seth, u didn’t answer the question, u avoided it. What would be your answer to the question Jessica posed? The 2 passages she referenced are opposites, so both can’t be true – which do u hold to and believe?

  3. May 24, 2010 2:08 pm

    Brad, I’d say your assertion that the two verses are opposites is wrong.

    Tell me Brad, how do Evangelicals reconcile the Epistle of James with the rest of their little “grace theology?”

    Answer that, and you’ll have my answer to why these two Book of Mormon passages are not “opposites.”

  4. May 24, 2010 5:04 pm

    How do you come to the conclusion that non-internet Mormon’s and Internet Mormon’s interpret Moroni 10:32 differently and how some claim that it is a “damning Heresey?”

    Can you provide specific examples of what you mean? And, are you honestly interpreting what one person says correctly?

    We all know that critic’s sometimes make the grave mistake of quoting out of context and this is exactly what appears you are doing is quoting two passages out of complete and total context.

  5. May 24, 2010 6:01 pm

    The Epistle of James is not in contradiction to the gospel of grace.
    Faith without works is a death faith — born again spirit filled believers are going to be producing good works for God’s glory — because of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, not because of our own efforts. We are justified by Faith unto Good Works. When we have placed our faith in Christ, good works will follow. If not, then our faith is truly dead. If I say I have been born again, then there will be good works …. and what is the purpose of those good works, friend? Tell me LDS what does the Word of God say is the purpose of our good works? To Glorify God!
    Jesus said this plainy.

    Kind regards,

  6. May 24, 2010 6:09 pm

    Good to hear gloria.

    And Moroni 10:32 is not a contradiction of 2 Nephi 25:23 either.

    Glad we cleared that up.

  7. May 24, 2010 8:08 pm

    Seth:

    Ok, I read thru both verses you cited from the BofM. I see them to mean in essence the same thing….. the belief that there is grace, after all one has done. I really don’t see the contradiction. Both are basically saying “grace” after denying oneself of ungodliness, coming unto Christ,,loving God with all one’s might, being perfected in Him, etc.

    So do you agree that one must get rid of “all ungodliness” before receiving the grace of Christ?

    I find that hard to do, Seth — because honestly speaking, I need, desperately need God’s grace to put off all ungodliness, to love Him with all I have……..
    without that grace, I can’t do it. It’s impossible.

    So, no I don’t see the contradictions, but at the same time I don’t embrace this view .
    I receive God’s grace by faith in Christ, and then comes the putting off the flesh, the being perfected in Christ, etc.

    Kind regards,

  8. May 24, 2010 8:19 pm

    Through repentance and Christ’s help, all things are possible gloria – whether you are a Mormon or not.

  9. May 24, 2010 8:41 pm

    Seth,
    I agree with Christ’s help ( in essence, His grace) we can rid ourselves of ungodliness.
    I believe this is the work of the Holy Spirit, conforming believers to the image of Christ Jesus.

    May I ask you then, do you believe one has to rid themselves of “all” ungodliness as Moroni says before one can “then” have grace?

    Kind regards,

  10. May 24, 2010 8:48 pm

    The problem gloria, is that you are taking the Atonement, and defining it by only ONE of its parts – Justification. The end result brought about by Christ’s grace.

    But that’s only one part of the Atonement. The other part is Christ’s work in our lives here and now.

  11. May 24, 2010 10:40 pm

    Seth,

    Is it your position then that Moroni 10:32 is speaking about Sanctification not Justification?

    Darrell

  12. May 25, 2010 5:00 am

    For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” (Augustine of Hippo)

    Seth’s argument of having both justification AND sanctification as a necessary means to gain salvation is very similar to grounds held by the Roman Catholic church; and in essence, the single most important issue that divided churches during the Reformation. Mike Reeves from Theology Network (UCCF) has a really interesting (four-part) lecture to this important subject; entitled, ‘Removing The Shackles

  13. NickyMac permalink
    May 25, 2010 10:40 am

    Ooh, I like that quote NM!

    Seth, it is interesting that you take the view that we are not justified by Jesus’ atonement but by the sanctification process also. I hadn’t thought of this interpretation of the verses that Jessica posted. I initially thought that 2 Nephi 25:23 implied that you do all you can to uphold the law while you are on earth and grace will take care of the rest.
    Moroni 10:32 does say something different, if I’m understanding it correctly. I interpreted it to mean that you must become perfect (i.e. ‘deny yourselves of ALL ungodliness’) and then you will receive grace. I was a little confused by this because if you became perfect, then there wouldn’t be need for grace.

    What I have learnt from studying the bible is that Jesus’ atonement covers all sins that we have done and that we will do. Paul calls it a ‘once for all’ sacrifice. Think of it like double jeopardy… The sentence has already been served, so we can’t be punished any longer (if we accept Jesus’ intervention).

    God never said that keeping His commandments would earn eternal life. Salvation, even in the Old Testament, was through sacrifice (i.e. lambs, goats…). The law was just a guideline about how to live and how to know what was right and wrong. Paul strongly emphasizes this when he said:
    “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin”(Romans 3:20).

    In fact, those who try and “earn their way into heaven” (as the saying goes) are lost. I think Paul says it better in Galatians 5:4,
    “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace.”
    He is not saying that the law is no longer God’s standard, he is just saying that it doesn’t save us. It can’t, because we can’t fulfill it.

    Seth, you said, “Through repentance and Christ’s help, all things are possible.”
    If you mean that Christ helps us to uphold His laws then I’m with you 100%. However, if you mean it in the sense that “I’m doing the best I can. God will understand.” Then I think there’s a problem. That’s not the way law works. A person can’t say I’m not a murderer/liar/thief/idolater anymore. Everyone is accountable for sins they’ve committed in their life.

    In James 2:10 it says,
    “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
    And again in Matthew 5:19,
    “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    When we think of the law we tend to only think of the 10 Commandments but the law was much broader than this. If we were obeying all the law we would: be circumcised, sacrifice in the temple under a Levitical priesthood, wear poly-cotton blends, not eat anything unclean (e.g. meat with blood or fat still in it), stone homosexuals…

    Also if you’re trying to live by the law and by what you can “do” (i.e. works), don’t forget that Jesus extended the law. It’s no longer “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) but it’s don’t “look at a woman with lust” (Matthew 25:27-28).

    If we try and live by the law then we are going to be judged by the law.

    So, do we continue to make yearly animal sacrifices or do we accept Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice (the new covenant)? If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, then the bible tells us that God sees us as perfect because he has credited us with the righteousness of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14).

    The law part that James refers to is not for justification (salvation) but because it is the will of God and we do it to show Him that we love Him. We should want to obey him.

  14. May 25, 2010 2:00 pm

    Nicky, how can Christ cover all the sins we will do, if he doesn’t know what sins we are going to do?

    And if he does know what sins we are going to do, how does he know it?

  15. May 25, 2010 2:19 pm

    Couple of points on Moroni 10:32

    First, I think only a bunch of seriously screwed up theological ideologues could take the phrase “do your best” to mean something inherently sinister.” That’s not pure religion talking – that’s your anxiety about mommy not loving you as a kid talking.

    Second, who made you the judge of what my “best” is? In fact, who made you competent to judge what your own personal “best” is? You guys talk like you know what Moroni 10:32 is asking you to do – but I don’t think any of you really have any idea. Once again, you’re just reading the scriptures in light of your own personal anxieties and concerns.

    Third, if there is a contradiction here (note the “if”), so what? Are you saying you can’t support a contradiction in your theology? Really?

    Because I’ve got a news flash for you – the Atonement IS a big theological contradiction. It’s chock-full of them. Evangelical notions of the Atonement are no exception. The whole thing is ridiculous on its face. There isn’t a single theory that I’ve encountered of how the Atonement works that doesn’t fall apart at some logical level.

    And you guys have the nerve to sit here and yammer-on about how YOUR own set of contradictions are supposedly better than mine? Who made you competent to judge? And which of you really, honestly “gets” what the Atonement is about anyway? Because I’ve been listening to you guys for a long time now, and I’ve never got the impression that any of you really “get” the subject. It’s all a bunch of smoke and mirrors, throwing out random Bible verses out of context as if they proved something, and then bleating about how “it’s a mystery” when confronted with contradictions you simply cannot get around.

    I swear, if I had a nickle for every time an Evangelical used the “its a mystery” line on me in a debate….

    But oh no, nothing to see here in our happy Protestant group-therapy session! It’s MORMONISM’S contradictions that really hack us off. Can you believe those Mormons, and their theology that doesn’t make any sense? What’s that? You say my religion is contradictory? Well, that’s OK – because…. it’s a mystery!! The Bible told me so.

  16. faithoffathers permalink
    May 25, 2010 3:05 pm

    Consider what Christ told the woman caught in adultery:

    “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

    How about His response to the young, wealthy man who asked “what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

    Christ said: “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the ccommandments.

    He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

    Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

    Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

    Mark records Christ’s words “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

    If a person looks at the 4 gospels and specifically at the words of Christ, you will find that His words are very contrary to the teachings of the “saved by grace alone” crowd.

    I have said it before that EVs really do seem to prefer Paul’s words over Christ’s. But what they refuse to recognize is the context for some of Paul’s words. He was teaching the gospel of repentence to a people who largely believed that the Law of Moses saved a person- it was the end instead of the means to an end. They were so focused on the details of the law. Paul’s challenge was to open their minds to the atonement, and he had to emphasize the role of grace, almost to the exclusion of works at times, to compensate and account for the profoundly ingrained tradition among those he taught.

    In my opinion, it is not the LDS who have lost sight of the true Christ, but the EVs who have isolated the very context-sensitive words of Paul to the exclusion of Christ’s.

    If Moroni 10 is contradictory to 2 Corinthians 12, then so are the words of Christ. He tells us we must “sin no more” to avoid being condemned. He told us that for us to be perfect, we must keep all the commandments.

    I expect posts rationalizing these words from Christ, and explanations for why they can only be understood through the prism of Paul’s words. I prefer to make Christ the ultimate standard through which the teachings of all others are viewed.

    fof

  17. May 25, 2010 3:30 pm

    But you see fof,

    Jesus was simply offering COMMENTARY on Romans.

    Didn’t you know? The entire New Testament is simply commentary on Romans. Really, Romans is the only book in the Bible you need to study. If you read any of the rest of the book, it’s just a bonus.

  18. May 25, 2010 4:56 pm

    faithoffathers ~ I have said it before that EVs really do seem to prefer Paul’s words over Christ’s. [SNIP] In my opinion, it is not the LDS who have lost sight of the true Christ, but the EVs who have isolated the very context-sensitive words of Paul to the exclusion of Christ’s.

    No, some EVs seem to prefer Paul’s words over Christ’s. There’s a whole faction of evangelicals and other Protestants who preach a more balanced understanding of the role of works in salvation. See “the New Perspective on Paul.”

    It just seems that, for whatever reason, these grace-ologists are more interested in engaging Mormons than the latter camp. It may sound strange, but if you really want to understand the scope of evangelical teachings on this matter, I recommend seeking out evangelicals who don’t even have Mormons on the radar and interacting with them.

    I prefer to make Christ the ultimate standard through which the teachings of all others are viewed.

    Except that we don’t have any of the writings of Christ himself. What we have are the teachings of Christ as conveyed through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which may or may not have been written by those individuals—and their emphases on his person and teachings can be pretty different, even among the Synoptics.

    So all you’re really saying is that you give Matthew, Mark, Luke and John priority over Paul.

  19. May 25, 2010 5:15 pm

    FOF and Seth,

    You are correct, Christ’s words do not contradict Paul’s, and contrary to your claim, it is not because we read Christ’s words through the lens of Paul’s writings. While some may do this, it is not necessary to avoid a contradiction. All one really needs to do is read Christ’s words in context.

    Nevertheless, rather than redirecting the conversation in order to avoid addressing the real question, can you stick to Moroni 10:32 and answer the questions at hand? How do you interpret this verse in order to prevent a contradiction? Do you read it as speaking solely to Sanctification?

    Darrell

  20. May 25, 2010 5:39 pm

    No Darrell, I think I will redirect, thank you very much.

    Because I have yet to hear a coherent explanation of the Atonement from you, gloria, Jessica, or a lot of the regulars over here and elsewhere.

    And I think you probably ought to have a coherent alternative before you start talking about what’s wrong in my house.

    FoF and Jack,

    I’ve been reading a bit of N.T. Wright’s book “Justification.” It’s part of that “New Perspective on Paul” Jack mentioned. Interesting reading, but not necessarily easy. I’ll probably have to read it a second time to really get it myself.

  21. May 25, 2010 6:18 pm

    That’s fine Seth. Your complete lack of response is testimony enough that you don’t have one. I’m not surprised.

    Darrell

  22. May 25, 2010 6:22 pm

    Playing along here…

    Just assuming Darrell, that I have no testimony of whatever it is you don’t think I have a testimony of (you weren’t too specific), what exactly are you offering as an alternative?

  23. May 25, 2010 6:38 pm

    Seth,

    Do you even read before responding? You do this over and over again… jump in with some ridiculous comment before reading what people type.

    I asked you specifically:

    Nevertheless, rather than redirecting the conversation in order to avoid addressing the real question, can you stick to Moroni 10:32 and answer the questions at hand? How do you interpret this verse in order to prevent a contradiction? Do you read it as speaking solely to Sanctification?

    You respond with:

    No Darrell, I think I will redirect, thank you very much.

    So, then I say:

    That’s fine Seth. Your complete lack of response is testimony enough that you don’t have one.

    To spell it out for you Seth: your unwillingness to offer a cogent answer to the original questions asked in this post, i.e., how Moroni 10:32 is not contradictory to 2 Cor. 12:9 (among other verses), is testimony to the fact that you don’t have one.

    All you have done is criticise Ev’s supposed “contradictory positions.” You have yet to give your position on the question asked in the original post.

    Darrell

  24. May 25, 2010 6:51 pm

    Actually Darrell, I believe we already debated this verse over a year ago. I could be wrong. The answer took a lot out of me then too. So I imagine you’ll just have to wait until I’m up to it this time around.

  25. May 25, 2010 7:03 pm

    BTW, I should point out that a good place to get some perspective on the different views evangelicals and other Christians take among themselves on these issues is Zondervan’s X Number of Views on Issue Y series. For example:

    Gundry, Stanley N., ed. Five Views on Law and Gospel. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996.

    Gundry, Stanley N., ed. Five Views on Sanctification. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996.

  26. May 25, 2010 7:16 pm

    Actually Darrell, I believe we already debated this verse over a year ago. I could be wrong. The answer took a lot out of me then too. So I imagine you’ll just have to wait until I’m up to it this time around.

    Kind of like evidence for the BOM – when it gets down to it, you don’t really have a response. Funny how certain issues become too “time consuming” or “difficult” for you to address Seth. Awfully convenient.

    Darrell

  27. Ethan permalink
    May 25, 2010 8:35 pm

    Hey kids,

    just a quick note on this debate. I don’t see the contradiction at all in either verse. It seems you are extrapolating a false choice from the texts. Both claim that the grace of Christ is sufficient for us to be saved. Why would anyone assume that Corinthians 12:9 removes any personal repsonsibility from the equation?

    I see grace here as a rope ladder lowered to us in a deep pit that we have landed ourselves in. The ladder is sufficient for our salvation, it’s all we need to climb out. We’d be wasted without it. If this visual is true then BOTH verses support the LDS solution to man’s dilemna. Grace is all we need, but without the work it is dead, a ladder just hanging there.

    If you remove the LDS view of eternity then there is a monstrous elephant in the theological room. If you remove the eternal nature of man’s development in a grand scheme then you have a terrible paradox regarding why the atonement was even necessary. Why does an all powerful God need help? And what was God doing before creation (why all the waiting around and then newness). Why is the universe so large and populated with endless worlds and systems?

    Why did Jesus even need to die? An interesting question and one which Seth posed and Darrell has not responded to with a logical reason. What did the cross accomplish for a God who was not powerful enough to brush aside our “sins” without it, why the atonement, why a saviour at all? These are powerful questions that are contextualized nicely in LDS philosphy. “The glory of God is intelligence” (even ours), and “This is my work and my glory,” to bring a person up to a level where the light of divinity operates within her until she becomes a queen and priestess over elements and worlds. That makes sense to me. Like sending my child to university and watching him inherit the Earth.

    Every Evangelical I have asked this to responds it is to “glorify God” or because God just said so. That’s really no answer at all. The alternative offered by you is the equivalent of that same parent bringing a child into the world to just be. No more “I am a child of God,” rather “I am a creature of God.” This of course gets to the most basic questions of our purpose.

    In short, Seth is right, I find it absurd to split hairs over what cor. 12:9 “really” means when you can’t even offer a meaningful explanation fo what the atonement and salvation are all about in the first place.

  28. May 25, 2010 8:54 pm

    Nice to have you back, Ethan.

  29. Todd Wood permalink
    May 25, 2010 11:01 pm

    Seth, 475 years, our translator, William Tyndale, gave a wonderful introduction to James:

    ” . . . hath nothing that is not agreeable to the rest of scripture, if it be looked indifferently on: me thinketh it ought of right to be taken for holy scripture. For as for that place for which haply it was at the beginning refused of holy men (as it ought, if it had meant as they took it, and for which place only, for the false understanding, it hath been chiefly received of the papists) yet if the circumstances be well pondered it will appear that the author’s intent was far otherwise than they took him for.

    “For where he saith in the second chapter faith without deeds is dead in itself, he meaneth none other thing than all the scripture doth: how that faith which hath no good deeds following, is a false faith and none of that faith justifieth or receiveth forgiveness of sins. For God promised them only forgiveness of their sins which turn to God, to keep his laws. Wherefore they that purpose to continue still in sin have no part in that promise: but deceive themselves, if they believe that God hath forgiven them their old sins for Christ’s sake. And after when he saith that a man is justified by deeds and not of faith only, he will no more than that faith doth not so justify everywhere, that nothing justifieth save faith. For deeds also do justify. And as faith only justifieth before God, so do deeds only justify before the world, whereof is enough spoken, partly in the prologue on Paul to the Romans, and also in other places. For as Paul affirmeth (Rom. 4) that Abraham was not justified by works afore God, but by faith only as Genesis beareth record, so will James that deeds only justified him before the world, and faith wrought with his deeds: that is to say, faith wherewith he was righteous before God in the heart did cause him to work the will of God outwardly, whereby he was righteous before the world, and whereby the world perceived that he believed in God loved and feared God. And as (Hebrews 11) the scripture affirmeth that Rahab was justified before God through faith, so doth James affirm that through works by which she shewed her faith, she was justified before the world, and it is true.”

    This afternoon, I have been linking Hebrews 11 and James. So I thought to deliver over to you a commercial in the theological discussion. I am seeing today, exactly what Tyndale, our English forefather in the Biblical translation, saw 475 years ago.

    And to be honest, Ethan, I don’t think Tyndale would think the thread discussion is an absurd conversation of splitting hairs. Neither the Geneva translators. Neither the King James translators. And on down the line.

    The bridge has not been crossed on this heart issue.

    For I certainly haven’t see someone like John MacArthur cross over the bridge with someone like Robert Millet.

    And by the way, has anyone checked to see if N.T. Wright is desiring of late to cross the bridge with Thomas S. Monson on the specifics of grace and works?

  30. May 25, 2010 11:13 pm

    I wonder if your regular commenter Father Greg would agree with your analysis Todd.

    The fact that N.T. Wright doesn’t really seem to regard Mormons at all seems in my mind a plus. It shows you don’t have to be a Mormon to arrive at certain conclusions from the Bible.

  31. May 26, 2010 12:55 am

    Nope to the first sentence.

    And concerning N.T. Wright, I am waiting for the first Mormon academic to ask him if they are interpreting him correctly and that they are on the same page in regards to grace and works.

    Or should we consider that N.T.Wright is closer in position to this first evangelical Englishman?

  32. Ethan permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:13 am

    Jack, I try to venture over here every so often, moth, flame and all the rest… I had a J. Alfred Prufrock moment so I couldn’t resist rolling the universe into a ball and throwing it your way. That’s what I like most about Mormonism, very macro. I’ll try to behave.

    Todd, good threads are fine, I was just musing over the fact that, as a Mormon, there seem to be bigger fish to fry in the comprehensive Evangelical salvation philosophy that deal more with root cause and paradoxes of evil and redemption and the like. What’s the point?

  33. Ethan permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:18 am

    Oh, and as to the “contradicting” verses above. Again, my sole point was that, regardless of Tyndale, within the LDS paradigm the two verses are harmoniously at home with each other. I have found many traditional paradoxes put to rest with a Mormon viewpoint, that’s all.

  34. May 26, 2010 3:44 am

    Welcome back Ethan!

    Just a couple of thoughts.

    The need for an atonement is not a contradiction unless one holds a wrong view of God. Many of these so called paradoxes arise from an incorrect understanding of God’s attribute of omnipotence.

    The traditional Mormon view of God actually creates more issues than it solves. For, under this view, there is no Necessary Being, and, as a result, there is no basis upon which to ground good/evil. As a result, the problem of evil is magnified 1000 times over, for there is no basis upon which to call anything evil. Furthermore, with this view there is absolutely no basis upon which to ground a contingent being’s existence.

    Finally, please bear in mind that there is a difference between a mystery and a logical contradiction. When two things logically contradict one another, they cannot both be true at one and the same time. A mystery is not a logical contradiction; it is simply something we cannot understand.

    For example, the Trinity is not a logical contradiction, because God is not 3 in the same way that He is 1. However, the traditional Mormon view of salvation (faith plus works, i.e., Moroni 10:32) does logically contradict the more modern view of salvation held by some Mormons (faith alone). Salvation cannot be through faith alone and through faith plus works at one and the same time.

    Darrell

  35. May 26, 2010 5:37 am

    Darrell, did you just go Social Trinitarian on us?

  36. May 26, 2010 3:25 pm

    Seth,

    Depends upon what you mean when you say social trinitarian.

    The traditional doctrine of the Trinity has always held that God is 3 in one sense (person) and 1 in another (nature/being).

    Darrell

  37. faithoffathers permalink
    May 26, 2010 3:39 pm

    Jack,

    You said:

    “We don’t have any of the writings of Christ himself. What we have are the teachings of Christ as conveyed through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which may or may not have been written by those individuals—and their emphases on his person and teachings can be pretty different, even among the Synoptics.”

    Are you questioning the accuracy and reliability of the gospels? You better watch it or your fellows may claim you are “bashing” the Bible like they do to me.

    As the words of Christ are primarily found in the gospels, I must be honest in saying that if I had to choose, I would stick with the words that are supposedly Christ’s. But, of course, I see how Paul’s words don’t contradict Christ. Rather he was emphasizing certain things to get through to communities that were very biased in one direction.

    If a person keeps track of every word utterd by Christ as imperfectly recorded in the Gospels and compares it to Paul’s writings, one certainly could conclude that they are contradictory. I just find it interesting that the group of EVs who can’t help but point the finger of heresy at mormons (not all, or even close as you point out) are the ones who choose to place the most weight on Paul’s words rather than Christ’s.

    Thanks for the suggested readings. I will look into those authors.

    fof

  38. May 26, 2010 4:56 pm

    Harmonization of Scripture.

    Too many these days think that it is a ludicrous idea. But the Christian, set free and anchored in scripture fundamentals, sees clear and beautiful harmony of the Spirit’s infallible Truth through all the various pens.

    It is both a remarkable and supernatural phenomena.

  39. May 26, 2010 5:39 pm

    Well Darrell, that doesn’t get us much of anywhere, because Mormon theology holds that the Trinity is three in one sense – person, and one in another sense (lots of variation of opinion on this end actually in LDS thought).

    Really the key dispute is over the nature of being.

  40. May 26, 2010 6:26 pm

    Seth,

    I agree.

    There are several points of dispute between Mormonism and Christianity in this area. To name just a few:

    1) Whether there is only one God
    2) If He has always existed as God
    3) Whether Christ has always been God
    4) Whether God progressed has a Father

    All these are really central to defining how God is one.

    Darrell

  41. May 26, 2010 6:33 pm

    Yeah, but you aren’t really talking about Trinity issues anymore at this point.

  42. May 26, 2010 6:52 pm

    Yes and no… these issues are central to defining how God is one, so they do play into the trinity.

    For example, if Christ is spirit born and progressed to become God (point number 3 above), then He was not always God. Therefore, saying Christ is one with God would violate what God has decreed about His nature, i.e., there have been no Gods before, after, or besides Him, for there was a God before Christ. The same could be said of God the Father having a Father.

    All of the above points play heavily into the coherency of how the Trinity’s oneness is defined.

    Darrell

  43. May 26, 2010 6:56 pm

    Joseph Smith taught that spirit form is eternal. It seems he viewed the spirit relationship we have with the Father as being adoptive in nature. Other LDS thinkers differed from his teaching and reduced the eternal part of man to that of “intelligence” followed by some sort of spiritual birthing process (whatever that would look like). I don’t really consider this later view to be all that scripturally compelling.

  44. May 26, 2010 6:57 pm

    One thing I was thinking though…

    If a finite being combines fully with an infinite being – does not that finite being then become infinite?

  45. May 26, 2010 7:09 pm

    Other LDS thinkers differed from his teaching and reduced the eternal part of man to that of “intelligence” followed by some sort of spiritual birthing process (whatever that would look like).

    Seth,

    You can’t pawn the doctrine of spirit birth off as something that a few rogue LDS thinkers came up with. It is spoken of in LDS scriptures and has been a central component of Mormon theology since the beginning.

    It is nice to see some LDS thinkers moving away from the teaching though. Hey, the closer you guys get to correct theology the better.

    Darrell

  46. May 26, 2010 7:34 pm

    What scriptures Darrell?

    And I never said it was a “few rogues,” just that they are one view among many. I think people underestimate just how much of modern Mormon doctrine was shaped by mainly three men – Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, and his protegee – Bruce R. McConkie.

  47. Ethan permalink
    May 26, 2010 10:16 pm

    Darrell, I’m talking about the nature and destiny of God’s Children (God’s creatures to you). I still have not had a logical explanation from Evangelicals explaining why the atonement/Salvation is necessary in the first place. You cannot avoid it making God either powerless or short sighted.

    Look at the following 2 points of view and ask yourself how each affects the nature of evil and suffering, free will, fatalism, even the very purpose of a darkened Earth life as a fallen stage on a larger track. (qouting heavily from Truman Madsen’s writings here):

    1. The LDS view:

    The quantity of souls is fixed and infinite.
    There is no beginning to us.
    Mind has no birthday.
    No one is older or younger than anyone else.
    We have always been separate from, and coexistent with other intelligences.
    Creation is never totally original.
    Immortality is not conditional – it is inevitable and universal.
    Death does not destroy the self.
    Suicide is just a change of scenery.
    No self can change completely into another thing.
    No one will ever lose their mind or consciousness.
    Nothing is something we never were and never will be.

    2. Orthodox Christianity:

    Creation is the absolute and mysterious act of God
    Free will is denied or foreshortened
    Consciousness and enlargement opportunities are focused on mortality

    In traditional Christianity man is derived from nothing and is completely contingent on creation ex nihilo by the actions of God. Everything except God is derived from total non-being. Hence, God is directly RESPONSIBLE for all that man is and does. Calvin faced this inevitable consequence squarely. He denied all freedom, asserting that all acts were the acts of God. Others have held that God created man (from nothing) for His own purposes, yet man is still (somehow) responsible for his salvation, which of course makes you a believer in salvation by the specific WORK of accepting Jesus. LDS on the other hand believe all are saved by GRACE alone and not of our works. You’ve got it backwards.

    See, if Mormonism is true, than the positions on the origins of man provided by orthodox Christianity are false. The question is not ‘to be or not to be?’, because no one can choose to be or not to be. Everyone simply and eternally is – an individual, free, conscious, and enlargeable. ‘Nothing’ is not the source of, a threat to, or the destiny of man. To believe in creatio ex nehilio makes you a nehilist, just looking back, not forward.

    The real question is ‘to become more or not to become more?’. This view presents the best and inescapable need for God and a Savior. Since what we become is largely the product of our own choices, and not the absolute creation of God, the need for a Savior is more clear.

    I agree with Madsen on this. This view supports a belief in free will/free agency, and presents the absolute need for a savior so clearly. Mankind is on a path to enlarge her capacity and requires the experience of a darkened world for growth. Thus, the atonement is provided to clean up the mess we make. This is by far a more logical atonement and one that does not make God a failure, rather a facilitator.

  48. Ethan permalink
    May 26, 2010 10:30 pm

    And there’s also my favorite Evangelical paradox of all time (next to Jack’s favorite regarding eternal gender roles of the physical resurrection of the sexes):

    What on earth (or in space) was God doing before he decided he was not actually in a perfect state and needed to create all of this to make his unchanging and immovable eternal state BETTER??

    I don’t know about you but MY mind just melted.

  49. Ethan permalink
    May 26, 2010 11:09 pm

    As to the original post, like I said above this is a false choice between the two verses. They both say the same thing, the BoM verse just has a more complete sentence (so common).

    If we use a lame car analogy, here is what each is saying in essence:

    Bible: Your’e stuck out of gas, but Christ’s grace of gasoline is sufficient for you to make it home.

    B of M: Your’e stuck out of gas, but Christ’s grace of gasoline is sufficient for you to make it home. So step on the gas and don’t waste His gift.

    This I think sums up how each verse is perfectly at home in an LDS paradigm. Both say the same thing and the Bible verse is not contradictory at all unless you impose an outside assumption.

  50. May 27, 2010 1:06 am

    Ethan,

    Welcome back – nice to see you. I have a slightly different take on your analogy. My read of Moroni 10:32 would put the analogy like this:

    You’re stuck out of gas, but Christ’s grace of gasoline is sufficient for you to make it home. In order to get the gas, though, you have to first make sure every single part of the car is in perfect working order and that the car is driving perfectly.

  51. May 27, 2010 1:15 am

    faithoffathers ~ Are you questioning the accuracy and reliability of the gospels?

    Not in the least. What I’m questioning is what the Gospel writers chose to include. All of the teachings of Jesus are not included, by their own admission, and the Gospel writers included what they did because they had specific intentions and audiences in mind, which may be why they did not emphasize grace. Paul emphasizes grace because he writes with different intentions and purposes. Since I believe that all of the books in the New Testament were providentially preserved by God as a divine guide for his people, I don’t subordinate Paul to the Gospels or vice versa. It’s all what God wanted us to have in my book.

    You better watch it or your fellows may claim you are “bashing” the Bible like they do to me.

    They haven’t yet, but I wouldn’t care much if they did. I’ve certainly been accused of much worse in the comments on this blog. Water off a duck’s back.

    I’ve never been much for arguing contradictions between the Bible and the Book of Mormon because I’m well aware that there are many things in the Bible which can be read as contradictory, but we insiders have ways of harmonizing them. Truth be told though, some days, I’m just not interested in harmonizing the contradictions. Some days, I really don’t see why they can’t both be right.

    Ethan ~ next to Jack’s favorite regarding eternal gender roles of the physical resurrection of the sexes

    Huh? You’re not doing that whole “evangelicals can’t explain the role of gender in the next life but we can” thing again, are ya?

  52. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 2:18 am

    Jessica, thanks for the response,

    I think you are missing the operative part of that NT verse:

    “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in WEAKNESS.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

    Did you catch that at the end? That is very significant. This verse has everything to do with overcoming the world (see Revelations 2 for seven promises to those who overcome the world, each happens to mirror LDS temple promises made by covenant). Let’s not even use the term “Works,” it’s such a cliche, on here it has lost all meaning. What it really means is that these hard experiences will be for our good, we are being taught by our father.

    Consider a closer verse in the BoM and think of Corinthians 12:9:

    “And if men come unto me (FREE WILL REIGNS SUPREME) (and tend to our “cars”) I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become STRONG unto them.” (Ether 12:27).

    A blueprint for development. Harvard Medical School produces fine doctors via similar paths. That path is HARD. Some people call it no pain, no gain. That is a universal truth and it is at the core of mormonism and LDS eschatology. I have no idea why you guys disregard this elegant reality.

    Personal development. Suddenly the purpose of having to slog through a dark, evil world is clear. Corinthians is echoing a core reality of the universe. The ways of this fallen world are an illusion. The real world is out there and we are to get back through experience with weakness. This has everything to do with “works.”

  53. May 27, 2010 2:36 am

    “Then said they unto him, ‘What shall we do that we might work the works of God?’

    Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28-29)

  54. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 2:44 am

    One more thing, for a ridiculously clear illustration of this principle of leveraging our weaknesses to transform ourselves into higher people, read D&C 93. It’s short and begins by holding up Jesus as the prototype. Basically it says, “This is how He did it. Now follow Him.”

    “I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.” D&C 93:3

    Not a trinitarian statement, but a growth chart on a kitchen wall. An acorn is in an oak tree and an oak tree is in an acorn. This is talking about the potential of things. I have a son in me because I was one, and my son has a father in him beacuse he will be one. Look, if you don’t have a sense of mission yet you better open up your pores. Trinitarian views are a horrific misreading.

    Section 93 ends by declaring that children come into this world full of the divine light of heaven and as parents we are NOT to allow that to go out. We are commanded to bring up our chidren in light and truth and the loss of that light will be partly on us if we have a hand in losing it.

    D&C 93, by far the greatest LDS scripture.

  55. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 2:52 am

    I agree:

    Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28-29)

    If you don’t believe in what D&C 93 promises then it all comes to nothing. That is why the first principle of the LDS Church is faith in the Jesus Christ. It is the catalyst to get everything rolling.

  56. May 27, 2010 3:07 am

    Yes Jessica.

    And what exactly must we do to obtain and maintain belief in Jesus Christ? Or are you one of those one-time “alter-call” types?

  57. May 27, 2010 3:36 am

    I think I’ve made it pretty clear in the past that I’m not a one-time “alter-call” type 🙂 (whatever that is…)

    https://ilovemormons.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/responding-to-the-easy-greasy-grace-gospel-charge/

  58. May 27, 2010 3:47 am

    Well Jessica, if that’s true, then the practical line between you and me on the grace-works issue becomes thoroughly blurred.

  59. May 27, 2010 3:48 am

    You cannot avoid it making God either powerless or short sighted.

    Ethan,

    Your critique of the Christian view of God as it relates to “The Problem of Evil” is actually not a critique of Christianity, but is, rather, a critique of Calvinism. This is not a view to which I subscribe. As such, I will respond by simply saying this: you have not supported your second premise, i.e., that the traditional view of God leads to the denial free will.

    There is absolutely no contradiction between God creating all things, free will existing, and the presence of evil. You claim that God creating all makes Him “directly RESPONSIBLE for all that man is and does.” This is unfounded and unsupported due simply to the fact that God created us as free creatures. As such, He is not responsible for our actions, for they are actions that we freely make. He does not will our actions necessarily, but does so contingently.

    As I mentioned earlier, the LDS view actually exacerbates the problem of evil.

    For true evil to exist there have to be objective moral values. However, the LDS paradigm provides no ground for the existence of objective moral values. Naturally, Mormons claim that objective moral values exist, but they spend no time providing a basis for their claim. You may point to God and say He is the ground, but this will not work in the Mormon worldview, for the Mormon God does not transcend moral law. Instead, He is a purely immanent (and contingent in the traditional LDS view) being.

    The Mormon view actually makes evil an eternal problem. Evil has always existed – basically cosmological dualism. (On a side note: this is actually kind of humorous. Mormons typically accuse Christians of hellenization, but in this sense it is actually the Mormons who have resurrected a Greek worldview.) In Mormonism, good and evil are in an eternal battle. Given the fact that God is not the basis for moral law and is, instead subject to it, the Mormon God is actually powerless to stop evil. In fact, one of the foundational claims of Mormonism is that everything must have its opposites, e.g., good and evil. In order for good to exist in Mormonism, evil must necessarily exist. As such, Mormonism gives us no promise of evil’s defeat. The God of Mormonism is powerless to do this… all Mormons can really hope for is for God to somehow keep it under control. That is not my view of heaven and it is certainly not the heaven spoken of in the Bible.

    Darrell

  60. May 27, 2010 3:57 am

    Actually Darrell, if you want to talk about a God who is powerless to stop evil, the God of Calvinism OR Arminianism qualifies.

    For example:

    1. God currently foreknows all that will happen.
    2. God foreknows that on this coming Saturday, Jane will run over little Billy with her truck.
    3. If God perfectly foreknows something, it cannot be otherwise than that thing will happen.
    4. Conclusion: God is powerless to prevent Timmy from being run over.

    The moment he intervenes, he makes his prior foreknowledge false, which is incompatible with your notion of perfect “middle knowledge.” So really, God has no choice but to sit and watch Timmy get run over, because he is as much a slave to the perfectly foreknown future as anyone.

  61. May 27, 2010 3:58 am

    Trinitarian views are a horrific misreading.

    Nope… they are actually in beautiful harmony with the countless times the Bible tells us there is but one God. It is the Mormon view of eternal progression, i.e., God the Father having a Father and us being able to progress to become Gods, that is a horrific misreading of the original place from where this LDS scripture was so callously copied.

    Darrell

  62. May 27, 2010 4:15 am

    Seth,

    If I am not mistaken, you and I have gone over this numerous times. There is a lengthy post and discussion on this issue over on my blog.

    http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2010/01/07/can-god-know-our-future-free-actions/

    Bottom line, your third premise is false. God is outside of time, and as such, there is no past, present, or future to Him. As such, your entire scenario falls apart.

    God does not view events from today into the future. He is eternally present to all events… He views them in one eternal now. You speak of foreknowledge, but it does not apply to God. It is simply an anthropomorphism. God is not at point “x” saying that at point “y” He knows Seth is going to write a blog post. God is eternally present to all moments and views them in the here and now to Him. As a result, your picture of God’s knowledge fixing future actions is a false picture.

    Second, as I mentioned in the previous comment, God knows events contingently, not necessarily. As a result, your reasoning about God’s “foreknowledge” fixing future actions comes back to bite you. For, if He knows them as future FREE actions, due to God’s omnipotence and perfect knowledge, they cannot be anything other than FREE.

    Darrell

  63. May 27, 2010 4:15 am

    Wow. I came back to check on Seth’s response to me and I see 61 comments to this thread! Wowza.
    Seth, I’m still interested in hearing a response to the question I asked you earlier.
    Do you believe one has to rid oneself of all ungodliness to “then” receive the grace?

    Kind regards,

  64. May 27, 2010 4:15 am

    Maybe this will take the thread in a different direction, but I want to bring it up.

    Can humans truly be said to have free will so long as we live in a world where God occasionally intervenes? I can understand humans having free will in a world where God has voluntarily chosen to never intervene—or perhaps never intervenes to further his own interests and only intervenes because of human requests (though I think this latter option is unpalatable as it makes God a pawn in human affairs).

    But so long as God is a player in the game, and is willing to intervene for the purpose of setting his own plans into motion (and I believe both LDS and traditional Christian theology teaches this), isn’t it really just a question of how long our leash is?

  65. May 27, 2010 4:18 am

    By the way, I have witnessed many “altar calls” before….. and yes, I have seen souls sincerely giving their life to Christ at that time. In fact a few weeks back a young LDS gal did just that at the end of my church service we attended……..
    I don’t think it’s something to make puns about . The sincere responding to the call of Christ is no funny matter.

  66. May 27, 2010 4:18 am

    Darrell, taking God outside of time doesn’t solve the problem – because the observable temporal reality remains.

    And God is a slave to it.

  67. May 27, 2010 4:24 am

    Gloria, do you believe it is possible to “fall from grace?”

    How do you prevent it?

    To answer your question – yes, we do have to rid ourselves of all ungodliness as a part of laying hold of Christ’s grace. Fortunately, he provides a way from us to do this.

  68. May 27, 2010 4:25 am

    Seth,

    Please clarify, as you said jessica, and I and others have not given you a “coherent explanation of the atonement”. I’m sorry, Seth I must have missed something because honestly I don’t recall you ever asking me such a question.

    I would be happy to “sit down” and talk about the atonement of Christ when you wish. Let me know.

    Kind regards,

  69. May 27, 2010 4:27 am

    Seth,

    Thanks for taking time to answer my question. I honestly didn’t know how you would answer it, thus the question.

    Now you asked me “if I can fall from grace?” Do you mean do I believe in the “once saved always saved” theology? I want to make sure I understand what you are asking me before I share.

    Thanks,

  70. May 27, 2010 4:28 am

    “Once saved – always saved” is a part of it. Yes.

  71. May 27, 2010 4:31 am

    He is not a slave to anything He creates. That is the difference between a transcendent God (Christianity) and an immanent only God (Mormonism).

    Adding the fact that God’s perfect, contingent knowledge is of our future FREE actions only serves to the seal the deal further.

    Darrell

  72. May 27, 2010 4:37 am

    That still doesn’t mean that God is capable of preventing little Billy from getting run over Darrell.

    God is the way he is, and the universe is the way he made it. Aside from the moment God set the universe in perfect motion, he honestly might as well not even be there. Your God is only important in the moment of perfect creation. After that – there’s really nothing much to say about him.

  73. May 27, 2010 4:52 am

    On what basis Seth? The traditonal God is both transcendent and immanent… after all He is inifinite. His contingent knowledge of our future free actions in no way prevents Him from being immanent in His creation. You are not supporting your claim.

    How is the LDS God is going to do away with evil, Seth. Mormons have no basis for a hope of an evil free Heaven. Evil in the Mormon paradigm is an eternal problem that an immanent, contingent God is powerless to defeat. In addition, evil must necessarily exist in Mormonism, for everything must have it opposites.

    Darrell

  74. May 27, 2010 4:55 am

    A universe without the possibility of evil would be utterly pointless Darrell.

  75. May 27, 2010 4:56 am

    You Protestants seem to be so concerned with making God sufficient, that you forgot to actually make him relevant.

  76. May 27, 2010 4:58 am

    In fact, I sometimes feel like worshiping some Protestant notions of God is really no different than worshiping some impersonal “law of the universe” or “the way things are.”

  77. May 27, 2010 5:05 am

    Nice to see that you’re in such a charitable mood tonight, Seth.

    I hereby give everyone permission to devolve this conversation further into the “my God is bigger than yours” shouting match. That’s always productive. Excuse me while I opt out.

  78. May 27, 2010 5:18 am

    But, but, mo-oom…

    He started it!

  79. May 27, 2010 6:33 am

    Seth, you’re the one who always says to tell you if you’ve gone too far.

    If you’ve changed your mind, okay. I’ll refrain from speaking up in the future and let you get on with this eye-for-an-eye business of trashing my religion.

  80. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 7:13 am

    Darrell, there is a fundamental difference in our approaches to the nature of evil. As such, Mormonism is still immune to much of the paradoxes that continue to force protestants into the position of atheist whipping boys.

    In short, Seth is right on the money. If a loving father knows his child will run into oncoming traffic and deliberately allows it, is he not diabolically evil at best? In what world is that OK? Atheists will beat you every time, and they are according to recent pew counts.

    We know the purpose of evil for protestants, correct me if I am wrong, but the Fall and it’s resulting carnage is a mistake that God did not intend, correct? The atonement is all about fixing that major oopsy. I recall fist-a-cuffs over the Fruit with you last summer. That was your view. Evil should not exist. Honestly, that makes it horrific and senseless. Why does a 2 yr. old get backed over by an SUV? What words would your pastor tell his mother? Have her gaze up into the order and design of the stars. Do they prove God is there? Does God care more for the stars than His children?

    Under this twisting knife, most Christians resort to “God’s mysterious ways.” Talk about a gnawing anxiety. Darrell, your “creeds” describe an asolute God who could have invented a Utopia free of pain from day one. Instead, the creedal God elected to inflict these horrors on us. Atheists call this God monstrous. Christians call Him “inscrutable,” talk big about love, but live in terror!

    The LDS view is radically different. It’s Plan of Salvation is a whole new paradigm for understanding evil. While God can prevent and induce some evils, He is not responsible for “the way things are” in the universe. He did not create all conditions and realities and He is bound to His own law.

    Any way you slice it, without the LDS concept of a refining fire to progress spirit and intelligence via the wilderness experience here in the darkness, there really is no point to it all. The LDS view puts the ball in OUR court. We are free to act or be acted upon. “Here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man” (D&C 93). We choose to allow the light of Christ to elevate us, or we block it out by our actions to our spiritual death.

    Darrell, you claim that evil will not exist in your afterlife. That is a paradox. Evil is not just action, it can exist as potential action or thought. Are telling me that every Evangelical who dies and enters heaven has perfect thought? How can such a place exist for flawed inhabitants who have just demonstrated a lifetime of evil works and carnal tendancies??!

    The Mormon view of heaven is the only logical one. Evil may exist all over, but the inhabitants of the Celestial realms are sanctified and have learned by degrees to bring themselves into compatibility with a higher state. Evil is checked at the door. That’s the entire point of it all! Hence, a universe filled with MANY spaces, regions, degrees, glories and heavens each operating under differing law according to the ability of it’s inhabitants to abide it. How great is God’s love for His children? A place for everyone, even those who have not desired to master evil thought and action. Everyone is happiest where they are most comfortable. Each decides her destiny. A more elegant system is not available in theology.

    The concept of evil cannot be destroyed anymore than joy can. Prove it.

  81. May 27, 2010 7:17 am

    Well said, Jack. Well said.

    Seth, I’ll get back to you tomorrow on that question you asked me.

  82. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 7:27 am

    Evil will always be a potential for any undisciplined mind. As such, the only safe place in the cosmos will be where people have collectively learned as a society to overcome such tendencies. A place where residents are perfected and can be completely trusted to act with godliness.

    Any other “heaven” would require God to constantly protect the rest of us from those who haven’t mastered their carnal minds. It would be a consant intervention by God to suppress the free will of all those of us who are not perfect. This is everyone I meet here on Earth!

    If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over, expecting different results, then you heaven is insane. Why would the same population be different than on Earth? Your heaven will need police, it’s Arizona for goodness sake. Is eternal progression expendable? Darrell, this should keep you up at night. A nightmare paradox.

  83. May 27, 2010 1:23 pm

    One of my Mormon friends made an interesting suggestion on the issue of Christ’s grace.

    He posited that through the Fall, men and women become incapable of any good thing. However, Christ has has provided a way around this. He posited that the “Light of Christ” is actually an operative part of Christ’s grace that works upon all people on the earth and makes them capable of good and capable of choosing life in Christ.

    “and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.” Moroni 7:24

    In essence, the Light of Christ overcomes the “total depravity” of man and puts him in a position to freely choose God. It’s a free expression of Christ’s grace – overcoming the “natural man” and allowing a free choice to be made.

    This is not the whole story of course, but I thought it was an interesting observation.

  84. May 27, 2010 2:30 pm

    Prevenient grace

  85. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 3:22 pm

    I think that’s correct. Prevenient grace sounds like an LDS concept. I just finished reading what I consider the greatest LDS book of the last decade, “Light In The Wilderness” by Catherine Thomas, an adult convert to LDS who went on to get a PhD in theology. An revolutionary book. It deals with this issue of light.

    Basically it states that all come into the world infused with this light as a bullwark against the effects of the fall and to the degree that we allow it to operate within us we succeed or fail. This light animates all things, even nature and the musical vibrations of elements at the most basic level (she uses string theory as an example of its cohesive force).

    Typing on an iPhone bites

  86. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 3:33 pm

    This mirrors what is taught in D&C 93:31-40

    Light is given to all children who come down with it in them. Then Satan removes the light and it’s a struggle from that point to keep it. When Adam and Eve walk out from the paradise environment they retain a paradise within them and that is the guiding agent.

  87. May 27, 2010 4:01 pm

    It may sound like an LDS concept, but just so we’re clear, it predates Joseph Smith in the traditional Christian world by a long shot—possibly going back as early as the Council of Orange (AD 529). But it was revived by Arminius in the 16th century and is mainly taught by Arminian Christians today.

    Calvinists have something that they call prevenient grace, but it’s better known as irresistible grace.

    I’ve long said that I think Arminianism is closer to what’s usually taught and believed in Mormonism than any other Christian teaching on grace, foreknowledge and free will, including open theism. And it makes sense, given that Joseph Smith had some admiration of Methodism.

  88. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 5:21 pm

    Truth does not belong to Mormonism. We are all god’s children and since all come down to earth with this light in them, I am not surpised to see it manifesting all over. That wouldn’t surpised me, if truth is eternal then who said what first doesnt matter. This doesn’t discount Mormonism.

  89. May 27, 2010 5:43 pm

    This doesn’t discount Mormonism.

    ????

  90. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 6:25 pm

    Come on Jack! Truth, whatever it is, is universal. If we hold that all children come to earth endowed with a guiding force that directsus and informs subconscience impressions and even calls up veiled intimations of eternal experience, then it would be naive to assume that forms of this truth would not be popping up everywhere like anti Mormons at the manti pageant (oh yes, I’m going).

    That doesn’t endorse fragmented versions of it mingled with the philosophies of men. Mormonism just appears to have a fulness…

  91. May 27, 2010 7:02 pm

    Thanks for the link Jack.

    The only problem on the prevenient grace idea is that we still have to determine what exactly we have been enabled to freely choose. Some Arminians, for example, might say that the only thing prevenient grace enables us to freely choose is the acceptance of Christ. But what constitutes acceptance of Christ?

    It seems to me there is room for heated debate over the particulars of what is involved in “accepting Christ”. For instance – could Mormon or Catholic ritual be conceivably cast as a pre-req for truly and authentically accepting Christ under a Biblical framework?

  92. May 27, 2010 7:41 pm

    Ethan, I’m very familiar with Mormon sayings that truth can be found wherever and other groups may have remnants of God’s truth while Mormonism has the fullness. I actually think the idea causes as many problems as it solves, but I’d best not get side-tracked. My “????” was meant to express my perplexity that you would think my comments were meant to discount Mormonism in any way. I only wanted to clarify that prevenient grace was not some kind of new idea that we recently picked up from Mormons. It really makes little difference to me whether Mormons preach something like it because they copied the Methodists or whether both groups independently got it from the same divine source. It could even be that the idea is not horribly innovative and both groups reasoned it out on their own.

    I guess that, these days, I’m just more and more puzzled by Mormon defensiveness.

    Seth, I’m afraid I’m not theologically savvy enough to know all of the different strains of prevenient grace.

  93. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 8:02 pm

    Jack, I thought your Armenian parallel was implying that JS ripped off the concept- my bad.

    As for defensiveness, one Mormon search on google or YouTube makes it obvious that LDS have a PR issue, not to mention mis-information issues (some points are valid). From what I have seen, as the LDS blogger generation has refined their approach it seems to be getting less defensive.

    I would say that it is even more offense these days as Mormons are realizing that the LDS position can be quite strong, and that the orthodox position is vulnerable to attack in places.

    I do wish many LDS would be less defensive. We don’t have to be

  94. Ethan permalink
    May 27, 2010 8:44 pm

    Also, if you have ever spent any time observing the Christian apologetics on atheist sites you will observe the same defensiveness. That’s one of the ironies of the anti Mormon sites, usually the same kinds of attacks are being levelled at you. Tangled and messy church history, paradoxes, lack of proofs, etc

    they attack you, you attack us, I guess Mormons should find someone to attack. Seth and I will start a blog called I Love Jews and we’ll just rip on their faith and history. Except anti-semitism is not PC like anti-Mormonism is. last I checked Darrell doesn’t subscribe to rabbinical teachings for salvation, why not blog against their false faith?

  95. May 27, 2010 10:17 pm

    Ethan,

    Darrell, there is a fundamental difference in our approaches to the nature of evil.

    I agree with you. This difference stems from our differing concepts of God and creation.

    If a loving father knows his child will run into oncoming traffic and deliberately allows it, is he not diabolically evil at best?

    LDS are left with the same question: is your God diabolically evil for not stopping evil? The LDS answer is that God allows it for growth, i.e., eternal progression. In fact, one LDS view of God holds that this is how He became God.

    The Christian answer to this question is very similar: God allows it because He loves us, and has withheld judgment for a short time in order to allow people to come to Him. Once all who will come to Him have done so, evil will be judged.

    Here is the thing though; you cannot criticize our answer without at the same time criticizing yours. If our God is diabolical for allowing evil (to avoid judging those who will accept His gift of salvation), then your God is just as diabolical for allowing evil for eternal progression. The LDS view of God deems Him capable of stopping some evil (after all, Mormons believe that God parted the Red Sea and saved the Israelites from destruction… this was stopping some evil), so why doesn’t He stop more evil? You live in a glass house… be careful how many stones you throw.

    Atheists will beat you every time, and they are according to recent pew counts.

    Are you honestly judging the “winner” based upon the court of public opinion? If that is case, Mormonism has major issues, for the latest polls show that less than 50% of the public have a favorable view of the Mormon religion. Seriously… come on!

    Darrell, your “creeds” describe an asolute God who could have invented a Utopia free of pain from day one.

    This is where we are having a disconnect. If you believe this is the traditional Christian God, I can understand why you think there is a contradiction. Like I said, most of these issues arise from a misunderstanding of God’s omnipotence.

    The traditional Christian God created us as free creatures. As such, He cannot force us to choose good, i.e., forced freedom is a contradiction and, therefore, not possible. Perhaps He could have created a Utopia… but it would not have involved free creatures.

    It’s [Mormonism’s] Plan of Salvation is a whole new paradigm for understanding evil.

    The LDS paradigm has the same issues that atheists have: no basis upon which to judge anything as evil. What is the ground for something being “right” or “wrong” in the LDS plan? It is not God, for the laws transcend God. So what is it? Who declares what is good? What right does God have to say something is right since the law transcends Him? Who gave Him the power to declare and judge right from wrong?

    There is no answer to these questions for Mormons. You are basically left saying, “Well, we just know.” That is the same position in which atheists are left. So the true paradox here is how Mormons preach morals (which is a good thing), but really have no basis upon which to ground those morals (which is illogical).

    Darrell, you claim that evil will not exist in your afterlife. That is a paradox.

    Why? Where is the contradiction? You claim it is a paradox, but provide no proof for your claim.

    I know Mormons are fond of the BoM teaching that all things must have their opposites, but there is absolutely no philosophical or logical basis for such a claim. Why must evil exist in order for good to exist?

    In the traditional Christian view, we willingly choose to give our lives to God. We, in essence, hand our lives over to Him. In the afterlife, we enter into God’s overwhelming presence and become partakers of His morally perfect nature. Our wills will be so enraptured by His presence that the desire and will for evil will be done away with.

    This does not do away with our freedom, because we willingly chose to give ourselves to Him. Only those who want to be with Him will be, and those who wanted to remain in rebellion will do so.

    The concept of evil cannot be destroyed anymore than joy can. Prove it.

    Under your paradigm, you are correct. However, with the Christian God it can be brought to an end and will be. This is the great hope and joy of the Christian religion. There is nothing that transcends God, so all will be made right, and all evil will come under His judgment. That is kind of the point of Revelation 20 – 21… all the “former things have passed away.” How beautiful the day will be.

    Darrell

  96. Ethan permalink
    May 28, 2010 12:09 am

    Darrell,

    ” God allows it because He loves us, and has withheld judgment for a short time in order to allow people to come to Him”

    so the LDS view is that “all these (evil) experiences shall be for your good,” for man’s development. Your view is that he loves us, and something about later judgement for evil. There’s no contest here on which gives more meaning to life!

    Let’s frame the two this way: A student suffers through 8 yrs of med school. One says it’s for his education, one because his professors love him enough to afflict him for no reason. But the textbooks will pay later.

    You said: “We, in essence, hand our lives over to Him. In the afterlife, we enter into God’s overwhelming presence and become partakers of His morally perfect nature. Our wills will be so enraptured by His presence that the desire and will for evil will be done away with.”

    First, this most certainly does involve a loss of agency. But more importantly, it is the most naive take on human nature ever. Even the best humans have demonstrated in mortality that we tend toward evil. Why would you assume that dropping the same race into a change of scenery is going to change them? If your answer has to do with God’s power then you are losing free will. Your God is a policeman. Residents there are not disciplined enough to act and be just like God on their own.

    Massive difference.

    The LDS view enables free will to be present because of the sanctification of those “who overcome” the carnal world evils (works, Rev 2-4). This is achieved via a full frontal grabbing of the bull’s horns in life. D&C 122 is the answer for suffering and evil.

    Evil isn’t a thing. Your heaven cannot ever make evil dissapear since evil is the result of people making choices (free will).

    The only kind of a heaven where evil will not exist is one where ALL inhabitants have advanced to a state where the are fully trusted to do exactly what God would do (Godlike, diety). Is your church perfecting it’s own? If not, you will never be free of evil tendancy. Who gets to go to your heaven? Will God override the Agency of the slackers? How can he not and still ensure free will? It’s a paradox.

  97. May 28, 2010 12:23 am

    Hi Ethan,

    I am, in fact, pretty familiar with atheist-Christian interactions, and I can’t say that I see the same kind of defensiveness. For example, in my 18 years as an evangelical Christian, I have never seen a critic being told to butt out because he or she is not an evangelical Christian, while I have repeatedly heard Mormons tell outsiders to stay out of something simply because they are not members. I’ve even had Mormons tell me to stay out of issues which I have every right to comment on as a parent whose daughter is a member of record, like my concerns with the YW program.

    I certainly agree with you that I hope Mormons can learn to be less defensive. I believe evangelicals are every bit as attacked by outsiders as Mormons are, if not more so. We’ve simply learned to not care so much.

    I guess Mormons should find someone to attack.

    Already done. See JS-History 1:18-20.

    It’s been a pleasure talking with you again, Ethan.

  98. Ethan permalink
    May 28, 2010 1:42 am

    Jack,

    I agree 100 percent. Sorry you dealt with people like that. I hope to God I am not like that, let me know if I cross a line. Mormons who believe that other Christians are as sincere or close to God or whatever need to be drop kicked. Even though it seems like we talk past one another (Darrell we’re both guilty), the first step is to understand one another and then keep it civilized. This blog is one of the only decent ones, even though there is a clear agenda to destroy the LDS faith.

    Are you sure Kirk Cameron isn’t defensive? Left Behind was universally panned…

  99. Ethan permalink
    May 28, 2010 1:46 am

    Oops I meant NOT as sincere

  100. May 28, 2010 3:58 am

    Even though it seems like we talk past one another (Darrell we’re both guilty), the first step is to understand one another and then keep it civilized.

    I agree with you Ethan. Our first step should be to understand one another. We should never purposely mischaracterize one another, and we should always try to keep it civilized. We all have our reasons for being here. My purpose is to plant seeds of truth in hopes of eventually bringing some Mormons to Christ. Unfortunately, sometimes things are said which come across very poorly. My goal is never to purposely offend, and for the times I have, I apologize.

    Except anti-semitism is not PC like anti-Mormonism is. last I checked Darrell doesn’t subscribe to rabbinical teachings for salvation, why not blog against their false faith?

    I came out of Mormonism and have family members actively involved in the faith. As a result, I have an enormous heart for those lost in Mormonism. On our blog, Billy and I speak to many false religions, teachings, and philosophies. It is an apologetic blog and we have had numerous conversations with atheists. We have a weekly meeting with a local atheist and agnostic group where we discuss Christianity and atheism. Our goal is to educate the atheists about the coherency and intellectual viability of Christianity, and, of course, to open their minds to the reality of a living God who loves them.

    Ethan, what you call anti-Mormonism I see as true love (I know you disagree). It is much like Paul’s treatment of the Judaizers. They were professing to be followers of Christ, but in reality were lost in a legalistic lie. Paul didn’t just try to “understand” them; he also spoke out against them, with the goal of bringing them to the truth and defending the Christian faith against their toxic ideas. Christianity’s goal with Mormons should be nothing less.

    There’s no contest here on which gives more meaning to life!

    True meaning Ethan? Or, a meaning which inflates man’s pride? There is a huge difference. Life isn’t about us… it is about God and others. Last time I checked the greatest commandment said absolutely nothing about “us.”

    First, this most certainly does involve a loss of agency. But more importantly, it is the most naive take on human nature ever.

    Actually it is the ultimate form of free will. God allows us a time at a “epistemic distance” (just a little W.L. Craig there 🙂 ) for us to choose Him or choose evil. Those who abide with Him forever have freely CHOSEN God and have accepted Christ’s offer to crucify their sinful nature. As a result, God grants us the morally perfect nature we have freely CHOSEN. In reality, this is true freedom, we choose it and once received we are free from the bondage of sin.

    This is achieved via a full frontal grabbing of the bull’s horns in life. D&C 122 is the answer for suffering and evil.

    Very pragmatic and frontier American, but also very naive. You can grab the bull by the horns all you want, but as you yourself admitted:

    ” Even the best humans have demonstrated in mortality that we tend toward evil.”

    Humans can never perfect themselves. Last time I checked, there are still locks on the lockers in the House of the [Mormon] Lord. If Mormons are going to enter the next life with the exact same nature in which they leave this one, I guess there will be locks on houses and lockers in Heaven as well. Doesn’t sound like the Heaven spoken of in the Bible.

    Ethan, I do find it interesting that you have yet to address the fact that the LDS paradigm provides absolutely no foundation for necessary ethics. Your God cannot be the ground, for He is neither a necessary nor a transcendent being. Somehow He has obtained a position which is more or less a manager or enforcer of laws to which He Himself must answer. Smith at least tried to explain how He received this right to manage and enforce the law by postulating a God which gave rise to Him. Unfortunately, this just backs the problem up and leads to the philosophically incoherent idea of an actual infinite. Bottom line, a God which is entirely immanent in the universe and is transcended by law cannot give rise to necessary morals. Consequently, preaching absolute morality is an internally incoherent position for Mormons to take… they are the ones in the ultimate paradox.

    Darrell

  101. May 28, 2010 7:21 am

    Again, Jack — Well said, Well said.

  102. May 28, 2010 7:34 am

    Do the Mormons here realize just how many anti-Christian sites there are out there????

    Can a LDS reader here please share with me what the hang up is with them about people blogging about their religion in a critical way? I mean honestly folks — Christianity has been under attack since Christ’s time. We expect it. We’ve moved past it. It happens and we know it will. We don’t go around go worrying about. We don’t visit every anti-Christian site and say ” tsk,tsk how dare you blog negatively about My Jesus!” How absurd that would be .

    I think the LDS church is still in a very young stage of it’s development, maybe why there is still that tinge of “persecution complex” coming thru or something.

    Honestly I just don’t get it.

  103. May 28, 2010 5:02 pm

    Gloria, it was only 100 years ago that we were subjected to one of the worst campaigns of US government religious persecution in American history – bar none.

    We’ve been left alone because we’ve been largely irrelevant to the lives of most modern Americans. An isolated quirk easily ignored. As our church has become more and more influential however, the knives have started to come out again. I follow the news stories on Mormonism every day. I read what the Huffington Post is saying about us. I have been subjected to language about my faith that you wouldn’t find anywhere else except maybe a KKK rally.

    And for the record, there are plenty of Evangelicals with a massive persecution complex. Just go to your local Evangelical homeschooling co-op if you’d like to meet a few.

  104. May 28, 2010 5:47 pm

    Seth, with all due respect, Mormonism is also the only religion in American history whose members went to such lengths to openly perpetuate a notoriously illegal practice. I don’t agree with everything the U. S. government did to Mormons in the second half of the 19th century, but I do believe polygamy had to go. I don’t believe polygamy should be protected by First Amendment rights. Given that Mormons weren’t interested in cooperating on phasing out polygamy, what was the government supposed to do?

    And that is the problem with Mormon claims to persecution. Mormons seem to be in persistent denial that they share any significant portion of the blame in the treatment they receive. I mean, Mormons were instrumental in shutting down the ERA and gay marriage in California. Of course the Huffington Post hates you.

    But back to the point I made earlier: evangelicals are regularly mocked in the media, in film, and in television. I could name ten television shows or movies without even trying where the bad guy is some nutty Southern-Baptist-esque religious fundamentalist. How often do we see Mormons as villains in films or television shows? Almost never? Jesus Camp probably received far more attention and viewership than The God Makers ever did. For whatever reason, we seem to care a lot less about people taking shots at us than Mormons do.

    I agree that there are many paranoid fundamentalists out there, and there is some overlap between fundamentalism and evangelicalism, but they generally aren’t the people I have in mind when I talk about evangelicals. Neo-evangelicalism happened for a good reason.

  105. May 28, 2010 6:01 pm

    It was supposed to mind it’s own damn business Jack. Because we weren’t hurting anyone.

    And we weren’t doing anything illegal either. Not a single one of the Mormon polygamy instances was prosecutable under US bigamy laws. That’s why the US government re-wrote the laws specifically to entrap Mormon polygamists. It was a horrible abuse of lawmaking power – laws of evidence, innocent-until-proven-guilty – all of it was thrown out.

    Polygamy was a convenient rallying cry – but don’t think for a moment that polygamy was the reason for the crack-down. The reason for the crack down was that senators on Capital Hill saw Brigham Young as an obstacle to their westward land-grab ambitions. Some of the more honest senators freely admitted this at the time – that they didn’t really care about polygamy one way or the other, but wanted Brigham’s political power destroyed.

    If polygamy had been left alone to sort out it’s own kinks (which were no worse than those found in monogamy), then it would be just as viable a marital system today as monogamy is. But instead, the US government stomped on it, stole our property, drove perfectly nice men into hiding, impoverished their families, made bastards out of hundreds of children, drove married women into poverty, and basically ruined our culture. Polygamy was driven underground and into secrecy. It is that culture of secrecy that bred the abuses you witness today – not the polygamy itself.

    The abuses highlighted in the Texas raid on the FLDS are not the fault of polygamy. They are squarely the fault of the United States government – whom I hold directly responsible for the creation of that system of abuse.

  106. May 28, 2010 6:16 pm

    Seth, Mormon polygamy started with Joseph Smith telling women ages 14-58 that they would secure the salvation of themselves and their entire families by marrying him. That doesn’t sound like an innocuous situation to me.

    I’m dropping it there though. I won’t turn this thread into “the pros and cons of historic Mormon polygamy part XXXVII.”

  107. May 28, 2010 6:21 pm

    Yeah Jack, except that’s not what the US Government cared about when it raided the hell out of all of us in Utah.

    No one back then gave a cup full of spit how young or old Joseph’s wives were. That is solely a modern scruple we have tacked-on to the history. The only thing they were on about is how MANY wives he had – not their age. So let’s keep the issues here clear.

  108. May 28, 2010 6:34 pm

    And we weren’t doing anything illegal either. Not a single one of the Mormon polygamy instances was prosecutable under US bigamy laws.

    Seth,

    Laws are typically brought into fruition because of people are not governing themselves rightly. They are generally reactive in nature rather than proactive. I could really care less if polygamy was illegal then or not: the point is, it should have been. Smith’s stealing of little girls and other men’s wives to make his earthly and heavenly bed more pleasurable is about as sick an act as I can think of.

    Darrell

  109. May 28, 2010 6:34 pm

    I was explaining part of why I don’t support protection of polygamy under 1st amendment rights. I think it’s a breeding ground for abusive theology and I’m not so confident it would have gotten better had it just been allowed to continue.

    I have little doubt that 19th century opposition to polygamy did not go much further than argument by outrage, but I think they still had the right conclusion even if it was for the wrong reasons.

  110. May 28, 2010 7:07 pm

    Jack, I could start a campaign to end monogamy on exactly the same grounds.

    Would you like me to dig up a few examples for you Darrell? And never mind that you have zero proof that Joseph ever had sex as a motive, that he ever slept with any of his wives aside from Emma, and that you have little basis for determining whether having more would have made bedtime any better for him. I think I can safely file your sentiments here under my “making crap up on the Internet” file.

    Finally, name me one problem in polygamy that isn’t equally a problem in monogamy.

    American Protestant culture need not take out its centuries-long tradition of sexual abuse, female oppression, hatred of the body (especially the female body), sexual guilt, and Victorian baggage, and Hollywood neuroses out on us Mormons. You’ve got problems enough of your own.

  111. May 28, 2010 7:24 pm

    Jack, I could start a campaign to end monogamy on exactly the same grounds.

    I seriously doubt that.

    Darrell doesn’t even have “proof” that you’ve slept with your wife. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

  112. May 28, 2010 7:25 pm

    And never mind that you have zero proof that Joseph ever had sex as a motive, that he ever slept with any of his wives aside from Emma . . .

    All my resource documents are at home, but if I am not mistaken there are a few women who testified of Smith’s advances. In addition, didn’t Emma walk in on him in bed with a woman? I’ll have to look some stuff up tonight. It has been a while since I read on Smith’s polygamy escapades.

    Finally, name me one problem in polygamy that isn’t equally a problem in monogamy.

    You mean other than the ones we’ve seen coming out of Texas in the last two years?

    Darrell

  113. May 28, 2010 7:30 pm

    Darrell, just about everything we’ve seen coming out of Texas, I’ve read about happening in my local newspaper. On a smaller scale – but all there.

    Every – last – abuse.

    Am I supposed to blame that on Protestant monogamy?

  114. May 28, 2010 7:31 pm

    Finally, name me one problem in polygamy that isn’t equally a problem in monogamy.

    Early Mormons observed a significant difference between monogamy and polygamy. Brigham Young stated: “Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it is frequently happening that women say they are unhappy. Men will say, “My wife, though a most excellent woman, has not seen a happy day since I took my second wife;” “No, not a happy day for a year,” says one; and another has not seen a happy day for five years. It is said that women are tied down and abused: that they are misused and have not the liberty they ought to have; that many of them are wading through a perfect flood of tears, because of the conduct of some men, together with their own folly.” (JD 4:55, Brigham Young, September 21, 1856)

  115. May 28, 2010 7:37 pm

    if I am not mistaken there are a few women who testified of Smith’s advances.

    13 court affidavits from 13 of his wives.

    In addition, didn’t Emma walk in on him in bed with a woman?

    I believe this was alleged in at least two cases. I don’t know how good the sources are on those though.

    I think that the best proof that Smith slept with his plural wives is found in Jacob 2:30 and D & C 132. It kind of takes sex if one is going to make an attempt at raising up seed or having women bear the souls of men.

    However, I wouldn’t peg sex as Smith’s primary motive for initiating polygamy. I think his motivations were far more complex than that.

  116. May 28, 2010 7:59 pm

    You asked:

    Finally, name me one problem in polygamy that isn’t equally [emphasis mine] a problem in monogamy.

    I cited the events in Texas. Then, as a defense, you cite similar occurances in non-polygamous relationships in your local area that are on

    . . . a smaller scale [emphasis mine]– but all there.

    You changed what you were requesting. Nice try!

    Darrell

  117. May 28, 2010 8:03 pm

    I should be clear here that I don’t consider it a problem if he did consummate more marriages than the one with Emma. In fact, I’d consider it a little unpleasant if he did NOT consummate at least some of them. However this whole “raging sultan of sex” thing seems to me nothing more than an attempt to take advantage of the large number of Protestants (and Mormons) out there who consider sex disgusting. It’s fear-mongering and scare tactics operating in a large absence of evidence.

    In particular, we have little evidence that Joseph consummated the marriages people like to harp on the most – those shared with other men, and those with his youngest brides. Not that I’m sure I care if he consummated these either – as a matter of whether Joseph still qualifies as a prophet, that is.

    Which is all quite beside the point guys.

    The US government most certainly DID NOT invade Utah and throw our people into prison over Joseph Smith’s polygamous particulars.

    They threw the LDS leadership in prison as a part of a Manifest Destiny land-grab.

  118. May 28, 2010 8:25 pm

    I don’t see what scale has to do with it actually.

    And if you want to be that way – actually the abuses in MONOGAMY are far more prevalent, widespread, and persistent than those in polygamy. Spousal abuse is far more of a monogamous than polygamous problem if you want to talk sheer numbers.

    Go visit your local women’s shelter Darrell – then talk to me about the virtues of monogamy.

  119. May 28, 2010 9:01 pm

    They threw the LDS leadership in prison as a part of a Manifest Destiny land-grab.

    I think this is every bit as much of an oversimplification of the situation as the “Joseph Smith sultan of sex” argument is.

    I never bring up early Mormon polygamy because I think sex is filthy or disgusting. I bring it up because I think sleeping with women who aren’t your wife without your wife’s knowledge and consent is completely inappropriate and unfitting behavior for an ecclesiastical leader, and it’s appalling to me that the LDS church can’t be bothered to give a damn. Acknowledging that Joseph Smith was not perfect hardly fixes this problem. He should have been defrocked at best and excommunicated at worse—after all, it’s not like Smith ever hesitated to excommunicate other people for adultery. Instead, everyone lives in blissful ignorance of these problems and sings “Praise to the Man” from the hymnbook on Sunday.

    Sending men on missions for the church and making advances at their wives in their absence also rates pretty high on my list.

    The whole point in bringing this up at all, though, was to explain why I don’t support first amendment rights for polygamy. I think polygamy routinizes patriarchy and provides a breeding ground for all kinds of abuse. I think early Mormon polygamy was an example of this, though it certainly wasn’t the worst the world had ever seen.

    And no, I don’t believe you can say the same thing about monogamy. Yes, monogamy used to be a patriarchal institution, but so was the surrounding culture. As the culture got more egalitarian, monogamy adapted. In contrast, I can’t think of a single polygamous community in the U. S. or Western Europe (largely egalitarian societies) that teaches egalitarianism and allows women to have multiple husbands just as the men can have multiple wives. They stay patriarchal in the face of an egalitarian society.

    Let’s take the spiritual abuse example. I’m sure a guy can manipulate a woman into marrying him by claiming God wants her to and she’ll go to hell if she doesn’t. But with monogamy, he can only do that once. A polygamist can do it as many times as he pleases with as many women as he pleases. There’s nothing to stop him.

    Can we point to some examples of polygamous relationships that are healthy, egalitarian, mutual, and don’t involve any kind of coercion or abuse? Sure. But these cases are extremely rare. You know why incest is illegal? Other than that there are health concerns when it comes to having children with blood relatives that close, we know that incestuous relationships are almost always abusive and manipulative, with the older sibling or parent taking advantage of a younger sibling or child. Sure, we can point to some rare cases where they seem to be mutual, healthy and completely voluntary, but these are the exceptions, not the rules. You can’t allow a system that has repeatedly shown itself to be destructive and abusive based on exceptions.

    So no, I don’t believe you can rescue polygamy by arguing that the monogamists do it, too. I realize that the factors surrounding the U. S. government’s attacks on polygamy were complex, and they were hardly concerned with egalitarianism or the ages of the women being married or anything I’ve listed here, but I’m thankful to God that I don’t live in a society that allows polygamy. I can only imagine the creeps who would have picked up on it based on what they saw in Utah and used it to spread their poison in open daylight under the protection of the law.

  120. May 29, 2010 12:13 am

    I never bring up early Mormon polygamy because I think sex is filthy or disgusting. I bring it up because I think sleeping with women who aren’t your wife without your wife’s knowledge and consent is completely inappropriate and unfitting behavior for an ecclesiastical leader, and it’s appalling to me that the LDS church can’t be bothered to give a damn. Acknowledging that Joseph Smith was not perfect hardly fixes this problem. He should have been defrocked at best and excommunicated at worse—after all, it’s not like Smith ever hesitated to excommunicate other people for adultery. Instead, everyone lives in blissful ignorance of these problems and sings “Praise to the Man” from the hymnbook on Sunday.

    Well said Jack!

    Darrell

  121. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 1:57 am

    Jack: “I think sleeping with women who aren’t your wife without your wife’s knowledge and consent is completely inappropriate and unfitting behavior for an ecclesiastical leader

    What about sacrificing your son without telling your wife?

  122. May 29, 2010 2:02 am

    What about sacrificing your son without telling your wife?

    Which ecclesiastical leader did that?

  123. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 2:34 am

    Abraham, the greatest of all leaders. Was his wife on Mt Moriah with him when he decided to kill his son? The fact an angel intervened doesn’t change what would have happened, he was going through with it. Should he have been defrocked for attempted murder?

  124. May 29, 2010 2:49 am

    Yeah, let’s compare God “supposedly” telling Smith to get his jollys with young women to God using Abraham to foreshadow the sacrifice which would atone for the sins of mankind. Not to mention how Smith actually followed through with hit (man, how convenient for him that God wanted him to do that) and God stopped Abraham. Yeah, right! That gives me a good laugh.

    Darrell

  125. May 29, 2010 2:50 am

    Weak, Ethan.

    I’m gonna assume you’re kidding and don’t actually expect me to address that.

  126. May 29, 2010 2:51 am

    I echo the sentiments that I heard at Eliza R. Snitch’s blog the other day . . .

    I wish God would give me one of those polyandry Abrahamic tests. I would totally pass.

  127. May 29, 2010 3:21 am

    “I bring it up because I think sleeping with women who aren’t your wife without your wife’s knowledge and consent is completely inappropriate and unfitting behavior for an ecclesiastical leader, and it’s appalling to me that the LDS church can’t be bothered to give a damn.”

    Which does not accurately describe what happened in any case. Emma knew about the wives. She kept changing her mind about them constantly – sometimes allowing it, other times refusing, and the whole time Joseph has a commandment to live up to. So he did the best he could.

    “Acknowledging that Joseph Smith was not perfect hardly fixes this problem.”

    No, it doesn’t fix the problem as you’ve caricatured it. But it does fix things just fine if you believe Joseph was actually commanded to do this. Since you don’t believe he was, this kind of makes faithful explanation of the situation unavailable to you.

    “He should have been defrocked at best and excommunicated at worse—after all, it’s not like Smith ever hesitated to excommunicate other people for adultery.”

    No, he should not have. He was given a difficult commandment and made the best of things with a few missteps along the way.

    Don’t bother Jack, you’re not going to really move me on this one.

    “I think polygamy routinizes patriarchy and provides a breeding ground for all kinds of abuse.”

    Which is exactly what monogamy did back then too. I don’t see that this makes any sort of point for you.

    “Yes, monogamy used to be a patriarchal institution, but so was the surrounding culture.”

    This is ridiculous Jack. No one here ever allows Mormons to use the “surrounding culture” argument, I don’t see why you should get a pass on monogamy.

    Let me rephrase that sentence: “Yes polygamy used to be a patriarchal institution, but so was the surrounding culture.”

    Doesn’t work Jack.

    “As the culture got more egalitarian, monogamy adapted. In contrast, I can’t think of a single polygamous community in the U. S. or Western Europe (largely egalitarian societies) that teaches egalitarianism and allows women to have multiple husbands just as the men can have multiple wives. They stay patriarchal in the face of an egalitarian society.”

    Rather irrelevant observation. Monogamy is and has been LEGAL in the US. Therefore the modernizing and liberalizing influences of the progression of American society were available to liberalize the institution of monogamy. Since you folks all drove the polygamists to live in caves however, these liberalizing influences were NOT available to polygamy.

    Yes, modern polygamy is a mess.

    And it’s largely US society’s fault that it is that way.

    “I’m sure a guy can manipulate a woman into marrying him by claiming God wants her to and she’ll go to hell if she doesn’t. But with monogamy, he can only do that once.”

    This is naive. Ever hear of serial monogamy? How about cheating on your wife? It’s just as easy for a monogamist to do this as for a polygamist – especially in a society where the woman was subjugated to the man.

    “Can we point to some examples of polygamous relationships that are healthy, egalitarian, mutual, and don’t involve any kind of coercion or abuse? Sure. But these cases are extremely rare.”

    They are rare because you have set up a paradigm in which they CANNOT be anything but rare. American society has set itself up in such a way that polygamy is very, very hard to do. It takes a bit of gall to point to a scarcity you yourselves created as evidence of anything.

    “You can’t allow a system that has repeatedly shown itself to be destructive and abusive based on exceptions. ”

    And it wouldn’t have been that way if the Feds hadn’t driven it underground. Utah polygamy had checks and balances – it had social constraints – it had rules – it had counterbalances to the husband’s power. And all of this could only have improved and liberalized if allowed and left alone. But the US so brutalized polygamy that it never really recovered. This loss, I lay squarely in the lap of the United States government, and would like to see an apology.

    “I can only imagine the creeps who would have picked up on it based on what they saw in Utah and used it to spread their poison in open daylight under the protection of the law.”

    Again, the “creeps” only flourish because it’s illegal. Same reason prohibition didn’t work.

    Your forebears created a monster – no question about it.

  128. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 3:37 am

    Darrell: Actually, it is you who has still not answered any of the paradoxes of your faith.

    You said: “Humans can never perfect themselves. Last time I checked, there are still locks on the lockers in the House of the [Mormon] Lord.”

    How do you know that humans cannot perfect themselves? That belongs on an opinion page. Mormons aren’t perfect. Just because we are learning here does not mean that we cannot continue to progress after. That is why the LDS eternity is vastly more sophisticated than your “now we’re here, presto, then we’re there” view. LDS allow for people to become godly so heaven can be a place of safety and order. Your heaven is formed the second you die and is therefore being flooded by carnally minded Jesus lovers with good intentions I’m sure. Don’t forget what paves the road to Hell.

    As for your alleged LDS problem of morality, just because we are eternal beings with God does not mean that God is not necessary or ethical. Without the role that God plays in our development we would never become more. Ethics are necessary because without the absolute morality of God’s guidance we would not advance or have exaltation. All hinges on Him.

    You still haven’t really answered the paradox of unperfected people not turnig heaven into another Earth. Your only argument is that somehow God will mysteriously make everyone holy without them doing anything. Still sounds precariously like he’s robbing their free agency.

    Of course there are many other paradoxes that don’t really add up. LDS theology has solid answers for every one of them (even if you don’t like them). Such as:

    1.What was God doing before he created all of this?

    2.Why do we have resurrected gender in heaven? Why have males and females at all in heaven?

    3. How can you believe in creatio ex nihilo when it breakes all known laws of physics, specifically E=MC2 (1st Law of Thermodynamics) which basically proves eternal matter, that mass and energy are never created or destroyed in a closed system, they just change forms (LDS organization vs your nehilism). Einstein would like Mormons.

    4. Evil & suffering. You have shown extensively on this thread that it is essentially senseless, a mystery of God. That it exists only to be able to “judge” sinners later. You also haven’t answered why God did not create a utopian paradise from day one. You have not answered why God created and diabolically unleashed Satan. You have not explained why a Tree of Knowledge existed.

    5. You have not explained who created God.

    6. You have not accounted for rampant polygamy in the Bible, other than to throw history’s noblest patriarchs under the bus as villains (wasn’t Joseph Smith a libertine?)

    7. You have not even accounted for the wayward theological drift of your own faith, swaying drunken to and from from Catholicism, to reformation, to neo-Evangelicalism, to every shade in between. Where’s your root?

    See, I am quite content in a faith that has profound answers to each of these. I sometimes feel like I’m sitting at the kids table with your faith. No disrespect intended, but seriously.

  129. May 29, 2010 3:59 am

    Seth ~ Which does not accurately describe what happened in any case. Emma knew about the wives.

    Did she know about the Partridge sisters? How about Fanny Alger?

    She kept changing her mind about them constantly – sometimes allowing it, other times refusing, and the whole time Joseph has a commandment to live up to.

    Actually, I think she said “No” a lot, then said “Yes” when Joseph refused to let her do the endowment and be sealed to him unless she accepted polygamy, then it was “No” a lot more.

    Since you don’t believe he was, this kind of makes faithful explanation of the situation unavailable to you.

    You got me there. I certainly don’t believe any of this was from God, and apparently neither did Emma Smith. Maybe God should have sent that angel with the flaming sword to Emma like he did Joseph.

    Then again, I think Emma would have kicked that angel’s [butt].

    He was given a difficult commandment and made the best of things with a few missteps along the way.

    I know. Like, 27-33 missteps.

    Don’t bother Jack, you’re not going to really move me on this one.

    You’re not the one I’m writing to convince anymore, Seth. Silent observers, remember?

    Therefore the modernizing and liberalizing influences of the progression of American society were available to liberalize the institution of monogamy. Since you folks all drove the polygamists to live in caves however, these liberalizing influences were NOT available to polygamy.

    I disagree. I believe it’s demonstrable that people experiencing a way of life in hiding from the general public are just as likely to trend against hierarchy and into egalitarianism, even when the predominant culture is hierarchical. That was the case with the early Christian church. For all its problems with persecution, early Christianity was insanely popular among women because it treated them so kindly against the grain of the dominant patriarchal culture. It wasn’t until it became a public, institutionalized religion that it really got into the business of oppressing women.

    That polygamist culture maintains a patriarchal institution in spite of a predominant egalitarian society is a firm testimony to the inherently patriarchal nature of the system.

    Ever hear of serial monogamy? How about cheating on your wife?

    Yes, I agree, serial monogamy and cheating on your wife breeds abuse. Let’s disavow them and encourage society to treat them as morally repugnant.

    Your forebears created a monster – no question about it.

    Yeah, that’s right Seth. “My” forebears. Because it’s not like you come from Midwestern Lutheran stock or something.

    You have a good night.

  130. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 4:00 am

    I almsot forgot my fav paradox of all, the cosmos. Go see the IMAX film playing right now called “Hubble 3D” and then do your best to explain to me how you reconcile this. There are more galaxies than grains of beach sand on Earth. Each galaxy has for itself billions of stars, each with planetray systems, and now according to recent discovieries life is almost gauranteed to be all over the pace.

    How does that square with your theology? What’s going on out there. Mormonism has very elegant explanations for worlds without end and lots has been written. Why do you hold that we on the Earth are the center of everything? Why would God build all of this for nothing? Let’s answer that one.

  131. May 29, 2010 4:11 am

    For myself, I believe that polygamy – which includes BOTH polygyny and polyandry, is a beautiful concept. I do not think it should be reinstated at present – the practice has been far too brutalized for a safe implementation.

    But I think – at it’s theological core – polygamy merely expresses an eternal truth that there is room in the human heart for more than one person. This is simply self-evidently true to me.

    Does a good man under current US laws love his second wife any less than his wife who died 15 years ago? Does a woman love her second husband any less in a reversal of the roles? Which of your children do you love most?

    Marriage in LDS theology, is a mortal symbol and sacrament of the same sort of unity and love enjoyed by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A perfect indwelling unity of love not simply limited to one person – but extended to all of us via Christ’s infinite Atonement. I see no good reason – aside from purely practical and temporary mortal concerns – why the holy sacrament of marriage – meant to approximate God’s own love – should be solely monogamous.

    Joseph Smith was given a new paradigm – a new covenant. I see his revelation on polygamy as an indication from heaven that the human heart is not closed. It is, in fact, limitless. And God is allowed to set the bounds of his own sacraments.

    Some here may think they are merely attacking polygamy when they try to reduce it to “mere sex.” But what they are actually desecrating is marriage itself.

    Because you are suggesting here that the only reason a man would want to get married, is for the sex.

  132. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 4:24 am

    Sorry Jack/Seth for going concurrent with your poly discission.

    Darrell, There’s one more elephant in the room on this. Joseph Smith worked all of this out during a ridiculously short 14 year career. Not to mention the challenges that he faced during all of this. Are you kidding me? A blinding flash of light and knowledge that literally burst out of nowhere. No Phd in ancient religion, no distinguished pedigree of the academy. I know you’ve spurned this angle long ago, but it is not something to brush aside. Do so at your peril. A dirt farmer produces an amazingly complex, radical theology that dovetails exponentially with the Judeo-Christian tradition, answers the toughest questions that have plagued beard-pulling thinkers for millenia and then he dies poor at 39 yrs old.

    And whatever you think of Nibley or Peterson, it is offensive to discredit the growing body of bulls-eyes that Joseph should never in a million years been able to hit on archaic patterns and things that are impossible for him to have known. It doesn’t add up.

    I understand that you are never going to give even a nanometer for any evidence that may underscore a fatal miscalculation on your part, but Smith’s life and product is it’s own testimony.

  133. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 4:27 am

    And Seth.. wow man, that may be one of the greatest articulations of the polygamous principle ever. That makes perfect sense.

  134. May 29, 2010 4:36 am

    Okay. Here’s my pathos argument for monogamy.

    I see monogamy as symbolic of the union between Christ and the church. One Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph. 4:5)—one bride.

    Yes, monogamists today can love two different men or women due to death of the first spouse. For example, I firmly believe that my father is going to love his new wife just as much as he loved my mother who died a year and a half ago from cancer.

    But the loss of my mother was an unnatural event. Death came through the fall. Humans were not meant for death—we were meant for immortality, to last forever. The love my father has developed for his new fiancee has come about through nature’s failure. It is not the way it’s supposed to be.

    There actually is a passage in the Old Testament where God portrays himself as the polygamous husband of Judah and Israel (Ezekiel 23). But again, this situation is the result of failure. Judah and Israel were never meant to be two separate kingdoms. I would say that most of the cases of polygamy in the Old Testament (but not all of them) are remedies for some kind of failure. Sarah’s inability to bear children, Jacob being tricked into marrying Leah when he loved Rachel, etc.

    I don’t think there is a passage in the Bible that prohibits polygamy, and I know that I differ from other evangelicals in that opinion. However, there is a passage in the Bible that lays out monogamy as the ideal. Adam and Eve were meant to live forever, yet God created just one of each. One male, one female.

    That’s the way it was meant to be.

  135. May 29, 2010 7:00 am

    “The love my father has developed for his new fiancee has come about through nature’s failure. It is not the way it’s supposed to be.”

    I don’t really get what you mean here. Are you saying that if things were the way they were supposed to be, he would not love his new fiancee?

  136. May 29, 2010 7:01 am

    And I know I’m getting a bit personal here. Feel free to take it back to the hypothetical level if you want.

  137. May 29, 2010 7:39 am

    3. How can you believe in creatio ex nihilo when it breakes all known laws of physics, specifically E=MC2 (1st Law of Thermodynamics) which basically proves eternal matter, that mass and energy are never created or destroyed in a closed system, they just change forms (LDS organization vs your nehilism). Einstein would like Mormons.

    Your kidding right?

    Einstein Explains the Equivalence of Energy and Matter

    “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind. Furthermore, the equation E is equal to m c-squared, in which energy is put equal to mass, multiplied by the square of the velocity of light, showed that very small amounts of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy and vice versa. The mass and energy were in fact equivalent, according to the formula mentioned above. This was demonstrated by Cockcroft and Walton in 1932, experimentally.”

    con-vert-ed

    2.noting anything, formerly of the type specified, that has been converted to something else: His yacht is a converted destroyer escort.

    For mass to be formed. It had to be CONVERTED from energy. Once mass is converted to energy it is destroyed. ATOM BOMB

  138. May 29, 2010 1:13 pm

    You’re fine. I wouldn’t have brought it up if I wasn’t okay with discussing it. I’m saying that he wouldn’t have ever fallen in love with his new fiancee because my mother should still be alive. Mom was 51 when she died and 100% healthy until the day she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was the same age as my father (well, two weeks older). They should have spent the rest of their lives together.

  139. NickyMac permalink
    May 29, 2010 1:33 pm

    Sorry if what I’m about to say has already been addressed. I really tried to read all the comments but I’m obviously too slow to keep up 🙂

    Seth you asked, in reply to my post, “How can Christ cover all the sins we will do if He doesn’t know what kind of sins we will do?”

    To me this sounds like you don’t believe that God is omniscient… If God is perfect it goes without saying that He would have perfect knowledge. Also God is eternal which means He is not limited by time (in agreement with Darrell’s position). Time doesn’t exist for God. He is the Alpha AND the Omega. He can see the beginning and the end because it’s all there in front of Him. There are many verses that claim God’s prior knowledge of us. Example:

    1 John 3:20, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

    Isaiah 46:9-10, “…Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”

    Isaiah 42:8-9, “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things I do declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

    Psalm 139:16, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

    This also broaches the topic of God’s sovereignty. I’m not sure what Mormons believe, but most Christians believe that God predestined those who would receive salvation. God doesn’t have to have knowledge of our sins as if it were a gage to determine who is worthy. The bible says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Romans 9:15-18). None of us deserves to be saved, or to be free from punishment, but Jesus made the once-for-all sacrifice because otherwise ALL would perish.

    I’d be curious to know how you interpret the parable of the merciful servant, Seth, if you don’t believe that Jesus paid for all our sins? (Matthew 18:21-35). God didn’t tell the unmerciful servant that he was going to have to work to pay off the debt; he completely absolved Him. As to the “Go and sin no more” verses, that someone mentioned, this is with reference to the responsibility that we have; not a ‘clause’ to God’s forgiveness.

    Ethan you asked, “Why did Jesus even need to die?”

    Jesus needed to die because it was either Him or us. God is a just God and the bible says “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). If you sat in a courtroom and saw a man get off for a crime—say murder—because the judge had the ‘power’ to do that… you wouldn’t consider him to be just, would you? God must punish sin. However, in the courtroom scenario Jesus would have been the person who steps up and says, “I will pay the sentence for that criminal.” It was supposed to be the ultimate act of love.

    Also, I think you take Calvin’s teachings about predestination too far. I don’t agree that “all acts are the acts of God”. We still have free will and we still make choices but God enables us and gives us what we need to do this. Even with Salvation God first draws us towards Him and then we can make the choice to follow Him (John 15:15).

    Jack, you mentioned free will… I read this article on the Calvinist view of predestination and for the first time I understood the truth to it (before reading this I was against it).

    http://www.calvinistcorner.com/predestination.htm

    Basically, it talks about how we are sinful by nature and we make choices according to that nature—which will always be sinful. If God intervenes, however, and makes us into a new creation (grace) then we are ABLE to choose Him.

    One more thing… I’ve heard the argument so many times: “If God knew this, then why…”
    It’s a common ANTI-Christian argument, to be honest.
    I’ve especially heard: why would God create man that He knew would sin?
    Do you not think that it is loving for God to allow people the freedom of choice? Even if we make the wrong choice, which people do, God still shows love by allowing us to reject Him. God could intervene completely. He could wipe us all out if He wanted to. He could stop that person from killing that other person but we only see that one action. God sees so much more. God never just deals with one person’s life. Take Joseph in the bible, for instance. There tends to be a focus on God’s faithfulness in bringing Joseph out of slavery into prominence (also fulfilling the dreams He gave him). However, God isn’t so one-track-minded. He allowed Joseph to go through all that crap because eventually Joseph would be in the place where He could save a whole nation from starvation. Pretty amazing if you ask me. God’s plans are all-inclusive.

    The fall was not a mistake, Ethan. God knew that it would happen. God also knew that He would have to become man and die.

  140. May 29, 2010 2:21 pm

    Nicky, I do believe that God is omniscient.

    He knows all things that exist to be known.

    The choices of free beings – by definition – do not yet exist to be known.

    So an omniscient being would not know them.

  141. May 29, 2010 2:26 pm

    Jack, it seems to me that this is simply begging the question.

    He would not have loved the second, simply because he would not have been allowed to love the second by the paradigm that society imposed upon him – and perhaps the limits of mortality as well.

    But this does not work as a convincing argument why a person would not love two. And it also ignores that however monogamous his love might have been at one point, it is not now. What are you supposed to do with all that love after death?

    Chuck it?

  142. May 29, 2010 3:18 pm

    Seth, I’ve already said in other places that if marriage is supposed to last after death, then one has to allow for eternal polyandry and polygyny, if only because of widow[er] situations. That’s not an issue for me. What you want polygamy to be is pretty unobjectionable in my book.

    But that’s not what the LDS church teaches about polygamy. It has never been about giving love priority above all. Some of Joseph Smith’s own wives admitted that their marriages to Smith had nothing to do with love. (Example: “It was not a love matter, so to speak, in our affairs, -at least on my part it was not, but simply the giving up of myself as a sacrifice to establish that grand and glorious principle that God had revealed to the world.” – Lucy Walker) Brigham Young taught that a woman could break her sealing to a man of lower rank in the church for no reason other than that a higher ranking priesthood leader would take her:

    The second way in which a wife can be separated from her husband while he continues to be faithful to his God and his priesthood . . . If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her, he can do so, otherwise she has got to remain where she is . . . To recapitulate . . . if a woman claims protection at the hands of a man possessing more power in the priesthood and higher keys, if he is disposed to rescue her and has obtained the consent of her husband to make her his wife, he can do so without a bill of divorcement. (Conference Reports, October 8, 1861, reported by George D. Watt)

    By all means, consult the FAIRWiki for the full context. I’ve cited what they regard as the more accurate “Watt version” of Young’s talk.

    The theology that drove polygamy wasn’t about love, it was about jewels and crowns. Men were better off accumulating as many jewels as they could; women were better off setting their jewel in the shiniest crown they could find. That is the truth about early LDS polygamy, and I believe that remnants of that theology are still found in current LDS sealing policies and temple liturgy.

    I would love to see the LDS church get over all of that and switch to your beliefs concerning polygamy. I think it’s gonna be a while.

  143. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 4:32 pm

    jm, you said: “For mass to be formed. It had to be CONVERTED from energy. Once mass is converted to energy it is destroyed. ATOM BOMB”

    That is actually not the case, the root of energy and mass are fundamentally the same thing. It cannot be destroyed.

    From the 1st Law wikipedia page: “The first law of thermodynamics, an expression of the principle of conservation of energy, states that energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but cannot be created or destroyed.”

    From the E=MC2 Wikipedia page: “The equation E = mc2 indicates that energy always exhibits mass in whatever form the energy takes. Mass–energy equivalence also means that mass conservation becomes a restatement, or requirement, of the law of energy conservation, which is the first law of thermodynamics. Mass–energy equivalence does not imply that mass may be “converted” to energy, and indeed implies the OPPOSITE. Modern theory holds that neither mass nor energy may be destroyed, but only moved from one location to another.”

    This continues to be a problem for ex nihilo and a home run for a dirt farmer who boldly went out on a limb, to his ridicule, 70 years before Einstein, to declare unapologetically that the elements in our universe are in fact eternal and that God operates on a principle of organization of existing elements. Light (energy) operates on matter. This concept is infused the D&C.

  144. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 5:37 pm

    Nicky:
    everything you are saying makes perfect sense and actually jives well with the LDS position. Where you have problems is in the purpose of it all. Keep this in mind: the LDS position puts man’s development as the purpose of this epic drama we are part of. If that seems foreign, think of a father’s role here. Raising kids is the point, was your childhood easy? But look at you now kid (if I could pinch your cheek….) 🙂 This is the most natural thing on Earth and also a reflection of eternity.

    Now, contrast that with the orthodox position. I’m Darrel’s words, we have nothin to do with it, it is all about glorifying God. Okay, but what if God’s glory IS His children? I’m only 35, but already my kids are my glory. When hey succeed I do too.

    So here’s why I rip my hair out over Protestants. If the point is a heaven in the end where evil is banished, all men (ok, and Jack) are sinless (perfect?..), and we have utopia, then why not start out that way? Actually we did in the Garden, but then why lead us into falling by putting Satan there and a Tree of Knowledge?

    The fact is, under your paradigm (and without the Lds one) God could have just made the Garden a utopia without sin to begin with. Why nit create it as heaven immediately?

    In other words, the LDS paradigm is like a medical student who MUST suffer the refinement of knowledge to reach his potential as a doctor. The Protestant view is that med school never should have happened (curse Eve!). We don’t need degrees, just show up at the hospital and the administrator will cover you.

  145. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 5:42 pm

    Sorry about the typos, iphone keyboards and caffeine don’t mix well.

  146. Ethan permalink
    May 29, 2010 7:06 pm

    Nickey, consider 4 axioms that define the LDS purpose of everything:

    1. The elements are eternal. That means we are living in a pluraverse, not a universe.

    2. Intelligence is uncreate. Not created nor destroyable, even by God. Inherent in this is autonomy for freedom (agency).

    3. God’s ordering and sustaining of the pluraverse includes the making of other worlds and ultimately glorifying this one.

    4. Due to the freedom of our intelligence, and the given elements that co-exist with God, He is doing all that he can do to bring us to our full potential. But he cannot (notice CANNOT) unless we let him. He cannot force us to our destiny.

    Watch how the following realites are understood. Each has been a “dualistic” debate for ages with Christian tradition holding that each is incompatible, one or the other must be. Using the 4 LDS axioms above, a paradigm emerges where they are compatible:

    1. LDS combines the natural and the supernatural. We are theocentric humanists.

    2. LDS Heaven and Earth are not radically different. Heaven is actually going to be Earth. (Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit… You better believe it.)

    3. LDS Spirit and body are not radically different. Spirit is refined matter, purer than we can detect now, but physical at it’s root.

    4. LDS Time and Eternity are not radically different. Eternity is simply endless time. Joesph Smith put an “S” on eternity. There are eternities.

    5. The most challenging of all. There is no radical distinction between God and man. Yes, a radical gap (like say, between a 60 yr old President of the U.S. and his babbling two year old), but ultimately there is something divine in us. Not just a spark, but in due time the whole thing. Mormons would have saved some headache if we would have changed the couplet we use from God to Christ: “As man is, CHRIST once was. As CHRIST now is, man may become. Fully Christ-like (D&C 93), Christ is the prototype in every sense. That is the LDS Christology and part of the meaning of our atonement.

  147. May 29, 2010 8:45 pm

    Jack, we may never know what exactly the LDS Church’s position of polygamy would have been – because it was basically beaten out of us by the Feds. Not that I’m pretending it wouldn’t still be patriarchal right now if it had been allowed to continue. Given the LDS Church’s trends on other issues in this area, it seems a safe bet that it would still be on Brigham Young’s patriarchal model.

    But the point is that I don’t see theology as a fixed immovable.

  148. May 29, 2010 10:04 pm

    I agree with you, Seth. It’s not immovable. Time moves everything.

    You take care.

  149. May 29, 2010 11:20 pm

    Wow, I am off the blog for less than a day, and there are about a book worth of comments.

    Ethan,

    Thanks for the conversation. It is actually nice to be able to discuss these issues, and I really appreciate the fact that neither of us is getting “heated.”

    I think you and I are not on the same page about what a paradox is. You are using it to describe things which are in no way paradoxes, but are, rather, mysteries. A mystery is something that we don’t fully understand, but it contains no logical contradiction. A paradox, on the other hand, is something that appears to be a logical contradiction. The key point to remember is that something being a mystery in no way speaks to the viability or truth of the object. A paradox, however, can have major issues, because, as we all know, a logical contradiction is by definition impossible.

    With that in mind, I am going to address your “list of traditional Christian paradoxes.”

    What was God doing before he created all of this?

    Not a paradox. Perhaps it is something you would like to know, but it in no way speaks to the viability of truth nature of the Christian religion. The Bible is silent on this point.

    Why do we have resurrected gender in heaven? Why have males and females at all in heaven?

    Who is to say we do? An argument can be made from Gal. 3:28 that we don’t. Add to that fact that Christ taught that we aren’t married in Heaven and Mormons have even greater problems.

    Evil & suffering. You have shown extensively on this thread that it is essentially senseless, a mystery of God. That it exists only to be able to “judge” sinners later. You also haven’t answered why God did not create a utopian paradise from day one. You have not answered why God created and diabolically unleashed Satan. You have not explained why a Tree of Knowledge existed.

    Actually, I answered this repeatedly, but you appear to have ignored it. Forced freedom is a contradiction in terms. God created us as free creatures, and, as a result, He cannot force us to do what is right. We were given the opportunity to choose God or to choose rebellion. We rebelled, and in His matchless, eternal grace, God provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him by providing a Savior. There is no contradiction in any of this.

    Now, perhaps you want this story to be more about Ethan and his abilities to somehow “perfect” himself, but that says more about your pride than it does about viability of the Christian paradigm on the nature of God.

    In reality, there are many, many views on this issue in Evangelical Christianity. We have hardly scratched the surface in the few comments we have shared. Honestly, we can go into more detail if you would like, but the bottom line is, there is no paradox.

    You have not explained who created God.

    This one is simple. No one. He is the one and only eternal, uncreated, self-existent, necessary being. There are actually several factors that demonstrate this. First, the Bible is very clear that there are, never have been, and never will be any Gods besides Yahweh. Consequently, if God was “created” by another God, then Yahweh has lied to us numerous times over.

    Second, the Mormon idea of an infinite regress of Gods, which appears to be what you are alluding to here, is a paradox in and of itself. An infinite regress would be an actual infinite, and an actual infinite leads to logical contradictions. As a result, it cannot exist.

    Third, an infinite regress is not sufficient to ground the existence of contingent beings. In an infinite regress all beings are contingent. This being the case, there is no necessary being upon which to ground the “here and now” existence of the contingent beings. It is not necessary that a contingent being exist, i.e., its non-existence is possible; therefore, there must be a grounds for the current existence of a contingent being. Yet in the infinite regress you have none.

    You have not accounted for rampant polygamy in the Bible, other than to throw history’s noblest patriarchs under the bus as villains (wasn’t Joseph Smith a libertine?)

    Again, this is not a paradox. In reality, it is not even a mystery. Why should I have to account for the polygamy in the Bible? There is also murder, adultery, racism, etc. Do we have to account for those as well? You think that somehow Smith’s resurrection of a long lost disgusting practice somehow makes Mormonism more viable? If that is case, you guys should also bring back child sacrifice. Maybe then you can get over a 50% acceptability rating with the public. Come on!

    You have not even accounted for the wayward theological drift of your own faith, swaying drunken to and from from Catholicism, to reformation, to neo-Evangelicalism, to every shade in between. Where’s your root?

    Ah yes… the stock Mormon “How can your church be true when there are so many denominations” line. You couldn’t resist, could you. Again, you are calling this a paradox, but it is not one.

    Where’s my root? In Christ! What the Mormon paradigm fails to see is that the root has never been in a church or a man… it has always been in Christ. The church has gone through multiple reformations, and it may go through even more before the second coming. But, as Christ so testified, “the gates of hell will never prevail against it.”

    Now, since you think that Smith really did restore the true church and bring back all the plain and precious truths left out by the evil early church leaders, how to you account for the fact that he screwed up Isaiah in the BoM? Many of the changes he made are not at all supported by the parts of Isaiah discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls. So much for his prophetic ability.

    How can you believe in creatio ex nihilo when it breakes all known laws of physics, specifically E=MC2 (1st Law of Thermodynamics) which basically proves eternal matter, that mass and energy are never created or destroyed in a closed system, they just change forms (LDS organization vs your nehilism). Einstein would like Mormons.

    In your simple analysis you left out several aspects of current cosmological evidence that actually lead to quite the opposite conclusion. First, you failed mention the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the law of entropy. The “usable” energy in the universe is being depleted. All things break down and naturally fall apart. Just take a look at your body in 10 years and tell me if I am lying, or, stop painting your house for 20 years and tell me where that gets you. As a result, if the universe, space, time, and matter are eternal then we shouldn’t be running out of “usable” energy.

    Second, the universe is expanding. When Einstein saw this in 1929, he was forced to realize that the “fudge factor” he had placed in the theory of relativity was the “greatest blunder of [his] life.” Einstein WANTED to support the steady state theory (Mormons would loved that). Unfortunately, the discovery that the universe is expanding forced him to reevaluate, for it leads to the inevitable conclusion that the universe had a finite beginning, i.e., the big bang.

    This is further confirmed by the third point. Scientists have discovered the radiation afterglow from the big bang. Astronomer Robert Jastrow said that the evidence is so overwhelming for the big bang that supporters of the steady state theory, e.g., Mormons, “have tried desperately to find an alternative explanation for the radiation afterglow, but have failed.”

    Fourth, in 1992, scientists discovered ripples created from the explosion of the big bang. The ripples are so well precisioned for the formation of galaxies that “any slight variation one way or the other” and life could not exist.

    Fifth and finally, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity demonstrates that the universe had to have a beginning. His theory has been proven to five decimal places and it demands an absolute beginning for time, space, and matter. It says that time, space, and matter are co-relative, i.e., you can’t have one without the other. When you combine this fact with an expanding universe, radiation afterglow, ripples created by the big bang, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics, you have a 5 point scientific argument for a finite beginning to the universe, time, and matter from nothing.

    There are additional philosophical issues with trying to explain a beginningless universe. In Mormonism’s paradigm, time has always existed. Time is a succession of moments, and therefore, a beginningless universe would mean that there have been an actually infinite number of successive moments in time in the past. Unfortunately, this is a paradox, because an actual infinite (as pointed out above) leads to several logical contradictions and is therefore, impossible.

    I almsot forgot my fav paradox of all, the cosmos. Go see the IMAX film playing right now called “Hubble 3D” and then do your best to explain to me how you reconcile this. There are more galaxies than grains of beach sand on Earth. Each galaxy has for itself billions of stars, each with planetray systems, and now according to recent discovieries life is almost gauranteed to be all over the pace.

    All I will say to this is go read Isaiah 40. It gives a pretty good explanation.

    Darrell

  150. May 29, 2010 11:43 pm

    Ethan

    Here are a few issues that Mormons have that are quite easily settled by traditional Christianity.

    1) Where is the grounds for good or evil? Mormonism has no grounds. It simply says it “exists” eternally. It transcends God and God is just one being in a long string of Gods. As such, He does not ground evil… He has simply been made our judge to decide if we conform to what is right.

    2) Why is the matter in the universe amenable to God’s control? In Mormonism, God did not create it, does not transcend it, and does not have ultimate power over it. As a result, why does it listen to Him?

    3) How is the Mormon God omnipresent? The Bible teaches clearly that He is, yet since He is emobodied, He can’t be. Talmage admitted as much… looks like the Mormon God doesn’t line up with the Bible in this area.

    4) How could time have always existed? As I mentioned in my above comment, this would mean we have an actual infinite number of moments in the past, and an actual infinite leads to several logical contradictions.

    5) Since the Mormon God cannot know the future, how did He predict all of the things that happened around Christ’s sacrifice. There are MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE, Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled with the utmost precision. Yet the finite God of Mormonism could not have predicted them. He is stuck in time??? How did He do it??

    6) In the Mormon paradigm, evil is part of nature. It is just part of the normal order of things. As such, why do we feel outrage or indignation when evil is done? Our own response to it appears to indicate that evil is not natural – it is something that we should avoid, but why? It can’t be that your God says so, for He did not create the law, He just follows it.

    I could keep going with this, but I have spent enough time on it for today. Suffice it to say that each of these points are answered extremely well in the traditional Christian paradigm. Biblically speaking, philosophically speaking, historically speaking, and scientifically speaking, the traditional view is internally and externally coherent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said with the Mormon paradigm.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  151. May 29, 2010 11:55 pm

    Darrell, even if you posit God being outside time and time being simply a function of our own local “bubble universe” – who is to say he has not voluntarily bound himself temporally as far as our local universe is concerned?

    Secondly, what is stopping physical matter from being omnipresent? What basis do you have for saying that physical matter cannot be actually everywhere present?

    And just because evil is a logical necessity does not mean I have to support it. Why should I?

  152. May 30, 2010 12:58 am

    Seth,

    I am not sure what problems you are trying to solve by positing that God has volunatarily stepped into time, but I guess you could do so. We would have further questions to ask. Is He still transcendent? Can He see the future? Etc.

    By nature, embodiment limits a person. They are limited to a here rather than a there. The LDS God has a body of flesh and bone. As such, His flesh and bones cannot be physically next to me and at the same time that next to you. James E. Talmage admitted as much:

    It has been said, therefore, that God is everywhere present; but this does not mean that the actual person of any one member of the Godhead can be physically present in more than one place at a time. . . . His person cannot be in more than one place at any one time. (Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith, Pg. 43)

    What is good and what is evil is a judgment. It necessitates a mind. Principles don’t have minds, and as such, cannot be grounded in themselves. The only thing that can be necessary is a being with a mind. Postulating anything else as necessary is incoherent.

    Darrell

  153. May 30, 2010 1:00 am

    That’s a nice effort from Talmage, however what basis does he, or you Darrell, have for saying that the rock in your backyard is only in one place?

  154. May 30, 2010 1:02 am

    I’m also a little late to this particular topic, so I might have missed it earlier… but exactly what Bible verses are you using for your argument about omnipresence?

  155. May 30, 2010 1:07 am

    That’s a nice effort from Talmage, however what basis does he, or you Darrell, have for saying that the rock in your backyard is only in one place?

    The same basis by which I can say you are sitting at your computer in Colorado and not in NC, that monkey’s don’t fly, and that fish don’t walk. The nature of the object. Embodiment, by nature, means living IN a body, and a body, by nature, can only be in one place at a time.

    Or, perhaps you are ready to start saying that fish can walk and that monkey’s can fly?

    Darrell

  156. May 30, 2010 2:19 am

    How do you know that matter is not in more than one place at a time?

    My point is that it seems to be a bit silly to be saying what God can and cannot do based on your assumptions of a mere four dimensions, when modern physics is positing the existence of dozens of dimensions and perhaps more.

  157. Ethan permalink
    May 30, 2010 6:18 am

    Darrell,

    I’m just going to be blunt here. I don’t appreciate delusions of adequacy.

    1. What was God doing before He created us?
    – No answer. A Mystery. LDS have an answer.

    2. Gender in in heaven?
    – No answer, apart from the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard. If your pastor EVER preaches androgeny, run….and cover your crotch. Then you reference a scripture that merely says no wedding ceremonies are done in heaven because Earth is the place to have them done. Nowhere does it say marriages won’t exist in heaven. Gender is at the core of our identities, it is our most defining feature. LDS have an answer for your eternal anatomy.

    3. Eternal matter?
    – You give an answer in defiance of the 1st Law of Physics and E=MC2. Since when did Evangelicals support the Big Bang. It merely posits that the universe was very concentrated before it expanded. Not even Dawkins has a beginning before this, and certainly no evidence for the nothingness of your nehilism. For all we know the same matter/energy has been expanding and contracting forever in endless tides. LDS have an answer that jives with these laws.

    4. Evil & Suffering?
    – Your answer is that God created and designed EVERYTHING from the ground up. Evil should not exist then. Satan should not exist. Why play sick mind games with his new creatures? You’re only philosophical undergirding for lifetimes of pain is a weak, abstract and meaningless choice between accepting or rebelling against God? Why would God even design a rebellious state when it’s not required? This one is a mind bender. LDS have a profound answer (the best ever).

    5. Who created God?
    Your answer is the biggest paradox of all. How does God happen Darrell? Like creation it is a msytery. LDS have an answer and I don’t see how other intelligent, self aware beings in existence is a logical contradiction. If you had to think to type that then it sounds logical to me.

    6. Polygamy among our noblest prophets?
    – Your answer is that the majority of the canonized prototypes for our salvation (the life examples of the Patriarchs) are brothel worthy libertines who love some tail. I guess not even one of those guys could overcome it. Bravo, Darrell! Not even an atheist can so properly attack the Word of God. We LDS have an answer that doesn’t make us afraid to actually meet these families in heaven for having condemned them, or won’t these rascal polygamists make it to heaven?

    7. Theological drift of Christianity?
    No answer. Just a 4000 sect object lesson in how unreliable sola scriptura can be and an absurd appeal to a scriptural authority that has undergone more face lifts than Liberace. Let’s see…the oldest NT original dates from the 4th century, and the oldest OT from approx the 9th, ages after the events! I’m sure THAT’S reliable. Not even one misguided monk with free agency handled these docs?

    Then, as assurance that the “Church” (which you just wrote off as expendable) will never stumble, you pull out “the gates of hell” qoute in Matt 16, a verse which is talking about baptism for the dead and the souls of men who have been locked in Hell until someone with the keys of a sealing power opens the way for them! Come on Darrell, do gates attack? No, they bar passage from the grave (Hades in the Greek NT). This verse has more to do with Easter joy than Sauron and Mordor.

    8. The endless galaxies and worlds?
    HUGE no answer. Isaiah 40 really says nothing about such a massive waste of space. God must be ADHD or have alot of free time. We are talking about a scale here that neither of us can even begin to comprehend. LDS have an answer.

    And Seth is rigth about the spatial dimensions, I believe there are 26 theoretical ones now, so I have to laugh at your assessment of the “limitations” of LDS omnipresence. God operates independent of our time and according to Einstein (and 1840’s Joseph Smith) time is relative to space and other factors. D&C 88:7-13 is a good place to start for God’s omnipresence. No paradox here if you’ve ever watched TV.

    Now, there may be some who buy this Darrell. I give you credit for providing responses for these mysteries. It is clear to me who has better answers. The fact that Joseph Smith worked it all out to be essentially harmonious with the Bible during a shocking 14 year career is icing. I guess we need an objective, non invested jury to decide who has a better grasp on these vital questions.

    Oh, and I am well aware of what consititues a paradox without underhanded ad hominem jabs. Sorry if I didn’t preface every point with perfect usage. Big deal, shall I run my posts through the Harvard Review? Don’t muddy the waters.

  158. NickyMac permalink
    May 30, 2010 11:05 am

    Seth, your point that omniscience wouldn’t know our choices that haven’t yet been made… it seems that you cannot escape the mentality of time. That’s fair enough because I don’t think any of us can wrap our heads around it not existing. But God could not prophesize, could not plan, could not do any of the things He’s done if He didn’t know our choices. The bible says:

    Heb 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

    Psalm 139:3 “You comprehend my path…”

    Also in verse 16 of Psalm 139 it states that our days are written in His book.

    I’m sure there are heaps more.
    You asked Darrell what verses talk about God’s omnipresence:

    Jeremiah 23:23-24, “Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord.”

    Acts 17:27, “God be not far from every one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being.”

    Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

    Ethan (brown icon), I know exactly what you’re getting at. My own sisters ask me the same question all the time. Why didn’t God just make us that way…?

    I don’t agree that Protestants don’t believe in God perfecting us. When we say that God didn’t want mankind to sin, it’s because we believe that He wanted man to choose HIM. He allowed there to be a choice. Heck, he created both the trees. But if Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned, if they told the serpent to go jump, they would only become stronger and have more faith.
    When I personally don’t choose God in a situation and ignore his voice, I feel far away from Him. I no longer hear from Him. The times where I have chosen God, I’ve had more faith and more strength to face the next trial.

    So, yes, God allowed there to be two trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But I don’t believe, as LDS do, that God purposed us to sin so we could learn. If, in fact, Adam and Eve didn’t sin then I’m sure they would have been all the stronger for it having faced a temptation and chosen correctly (i.e. chosen God). But, they did sin. They made the wrong choice and God knew that they would, so He had a plan to bring them back to Him. If God didn’t allow us the choice then we would never have chosen HIM. When you chose to love someone, the relationship is so much stronger.

    Don’t forget the reason we exist: for God’s glory. Even those who reject God are bringing God glory. Have a read of Romans 9:14-24. To sum up, God chose to harden Pharaoh’s heart to display His glory. It says in verses 19-21:
    “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed I, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”

    Ethan (blue icon), you mentioned how intelligence is not created. That’s where we differ. Christians believe that Adam and Eve were created WITH intelligence. LDS believe that Adam and Eve were basically a blank slate. How would Adam have had the creativity to name all the animals and be given dominion of the earth if he was so ignorant (and, likewise, Eve was intelligent enough to be Adam’s “helper”)? I don’t believe that they were ignorant.
    I think the confusion lies in the name of the tree: knowledge of good and evil. It wasn’t necessarily that the tree itself or that knowledge was bad. The “sin” was disobeying God.

    I don’t know what a pluraverse is. Is that to do with how you believe that there are other universes? I’m really not sure. But how can you possibly believe the elements are eternal? In Genesis it says that in the beginning there was a void, a nothingness. God spoke and then there was.

    Intelligence in itself has always existed because God has perfect knowledge and God is eternal. But Christian’s don’t believe that man preexisted. We are made in God’s image which means we were MADE to be intelligent like Him.

    It scares me that you think that there isn’t a “radical distinction between God and man”. You can come up with whatever theology to explain why you think this is but just look at all the men used by God in the bible and every single one of them thought that they were unworthy to even be USED by God. God is so far greater than us that we can’t even comprehend it.
    God is making us into the IMAGE of Jesus. This means to be that He is bringing us back to what He originally intended us to be—what Adam and Eve WERE.

    (Note: words that are capitalised are not me yelling… I just don’t know how to make them bold or italicised, haha).

  159. NickyMac permalink
    May 30, 2010 11:22 am

    Can I make a comment on the polygamy topic? Every LDS perspective I have read about polygamy seems to be from a male. I’d like to hear a LDS female perspective on the issue.

  160. May 30, 2010 1:51 pm

    Nicky, my wife pretty-much agrees with my views on polygamy – including the view that it’s probably impractical in this life given the present society – and that I personally wouldn’t make a very good polygamist husband (I’m way too self-absorbed).

    But, she’s also pretty secure in our relationship – which seems to be the usual problem with polygamy. And note that the word polygamy encompasses both multiple wives, and multiple husbands. That’s how I was using the word.

    “If your pastor EVER preaches androgeny, run….and cover your crotch.”

    ….

    Geez Ethan… there had to be a better way to phrase that.

  161. May 30, 2010 1:52 pm

    Nicky, I am more than confident that even a God who voluntarily chooses not know all our choices – by making them truly free – is still capable of knowing enough to ensure his promises and prophecies.

  162. May 30, 2010 3:54 pm

    Okay. Since Ethan keeps on beating the “gender in the next life is a problem for evangelicals!” drum, let’s discuss what Mormonism teaches about gender in the next life. Let us take a hypothetical LDS couple: Anna and Bob.

    At the time of their initiatories, Bob, having been raised LDS, was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood at age 12 and the Melchizedek Priesthood at age 18. Had he not been a member of the church—if someone were performing his work for him posthumously—he’d be ordained to the priesthood posthumously during the initiatories. The liturgy of the washing & anointing tells him that he is being prepared to become a King and Priest unto the God.

    Anna will never be ordained to the LDS priesthood in this life, because she is a woman. She will not be ordained to the priesthood posthumously either, because she is a woman; men are the only full priesthood holders, here and in the eternities. Her washing and anointing prepares her to become a Queen and Priestess unto her husband.

    Stop and think about that. Why is Bob a priest unto God while Anna is a priestess unto Bob? Why isn’t Bob a priest unto Anna? Or Anna a priestess unto God? Nothing in the temple liturgy is insignificant. It all means something.

    Hierarchy. God => Husband => Wife. You see it over and over again throughout LDS temple liturgy.

    When Anna and Bob go through the endowment, they will each be given a new name. Anna has to tell her new name to Bob. Bob is instructed not to tell his new name to Anna. Why? Because, in the resurrection, God will first resurrect the men by calling them by their new name. The men will then resurrect their wives by calling them by their new names. Again, God => Husbands => Wives.

    During the endowment, Anna will covenant to hearken to Bob as he hearkens to God. Bob will covenant to obey God. He has no reciprocal covenant to Anna. This pertains to gender in this life, but it maintains the general pattern of the endowment’s teachings on gender. God => Husbands => Wives. This never changes.

    When they do their sealing ceremony, Bob will covenant to receive Anna to himself. Anna will covenant to give herself to Bob and receive Bob to herself. This is actually the one thing about the temple ceremony that has recently changed in an egalitarian direction; it used to be only giving on Anna’s part. Still, there’s no giving covenant for Bob. It’s still a hierarchy.

    Should Bob and Anna be among the elite few who receive the Second Anointing in the church, it’s the same deal. Bob becomes a King and Priest unto God. Anna is a Queen and Priestess . . . unto Bob.

    Let’s say Anna dies prematurely and Bob falls passionately, deepy in love with a new woman. Bob can be sealed to his new bride with the expectation that they’ll both be his in the next life. The children he has with his new wife will belong to Bob and his new wife.

    If Bob dies prematurely and Anna falls passionately, deeply in love with a new man, Anna cannot be sealed to the new man. Any children she has with the new man will be sealed to Bob and herself. She’s allowed to be sealed to both men when all parties are deceased, but ostensibly this is only so that she can choose which man she wants to be with. She can’t have both, and it won’t change the fact that the children of husband #2 are sealed to Bob.

    So, what will Bob be doing in the next life? Well, he’ll be doing what God the Father is doing and has done for us: creating and organizing the world, communicating with his children, presiding over creation, etc. His children will know his name and call upon him by it. What will Anna be doing? Well . . . whatever Heavenly Mother is doing right now. Except that we have no freakin’ clue what Heavenly Mother is doing right now. There are no women present creating and organizing the world in the endowment; Eve appears ex nihilo upon creation while Adam (as Michael) has a pre-existing role. Early LDS leaders such as Orson Pratt taught that women would be bearing spirit children in the eternities, and taught that exalted men needed more wives so that they could populate their worlds faster. That certainly isn’t the prescribed official teaching by any means, but it fits into the LDS temple liturgy and sealing policies like a glove. It makes perfect sense why women can’t be sealed to multiple husbands. Can’t be diverting their affections and spirit-child-bearing time between the husband-Gods of entirely different universes.

    Ethan is absolutely correct. The LDS church has figured out what to do with gender in the next life whereas evangelicals are a lot less certain on the topic. The problem is, as far as women are concerned, the answer absolutely sucks. Whatever problem Mormonism may have solved with its innovation of eternal marriage, it created about a dozen more with screwy sealing policies and gender subordination. Does that really sound preferable to what evangelicals are offering?

    I can’t speak for the other women here, but when an LDS leader tells me that I’m gonna be a priestess to my husband instead of a priest to God, I’m the one who runs the other way. And if Mormonism is true, and the current temple liturgy teaches the true nature of the universe, do me a favor: just put me in one of the TKs. Because if I can’t have sex there, maybe I can at least have equality.

  163. Ethan permalink
    May 30, 2010 4:22 pm

    Nicky:
    Fair enough. You’ve done a good job presenting your reasoning for your view of the nature of man and what the Fall was all about. I guess we’ll just have to disagree, although this is probably the most important point of all.

    I just happen to believe that there is an immutable law of the universe that personal development and therefore our ultimate experience with joy, comes from opposition and struggle. I find this to be self-evident. There are examples of it throughout life. It’s how we got to where we are now and it will be the way our kids emerge as adults. For me there is something horrific in the pre-Fall state in the Garden. Like a Stepford Wives Pleasantville innocence. And I can’t figure out why all of us are paying for Adam’s sin if we were not meant to be here.

  164. Ethan permalink
    May 30, 2010 6:07 pm

    Jack,

    I’m for women’s rights. But I’m also for family units and whatever it takes to acheive success there. My wife and I are completely on the same page and have put our children’s progression above BOTH of our careers. I choose to work at home and get less pay and acclaim to be near my kids. In 2002 my wife was accepted to Harvard and I was accepted at Oxford. Instead, we opted not to go, moved to SLC and started an internet company from home.

    I think we have to have faith that the eternities are unimaginable. That a loving God takes care of His daughters. I think you may be underestimating the title of Queen and Priestess. To me this implies full priesthood power. Also, as Nibley showed in the ancient Apocrypha, the ordinances may be analogous to the way light (Holy Spirit) operates on matter (organizing power) and last I checked, women recieve these side by side, not behind men in the temple.

    I think the temple is an anologue and a type and symbol of a higher reality. Some people are thrown by the endowment’s abstraction. I would not be surprised if every action and word in the temple turned out to be a symbol and it’s actual meaning is going to turn out to be something wildly different in another world. I think all of this is for teaching. A changing temple ceremony is therefore not a problem since it is just the medium, not the message.

    As for the lack of Evangelical doctrines, I was merely pointing out what I see to be a massive oversight in traditional Christian theology. My Evangelical friends, even some youth pastors I know very well, had not even considered the problem before I mentioned it. I’m not trying to play “gotcha,” it’s just a very defining feature of humans.

    I think the Young Women’s motto is an explosion of women’s rights. Did you know that Utah was first in the US to allow women to vote before the Feds threatened war which led to a fiery LDS suffragist movement? Also, the first city council in the US to be entirely composed of women leadership was in rural LDS Utah.

  165. May 30, 2010 8:11 pm

    Hi Ethan,

    I think the temple is an anologue and a type and symbol of a higher reality.

    Well, I agree with you here. I simply think that the “higher reality” being taught is one where the women are subordinate to the men, and I don’t see any way around that without changing the liturgy. I would cringe through any ceremony that told me I was going to be a priestess to my husband. I’m not his eternal housepet.

    Did you know that Utah was first in the US to allow women to vote before the Feds threatened war which led to a fiery LDS suffragist movement? Also, the first city council in the US to be entirely composed of women leadership was in rural LDS Utah.

    Yup. I also knew that Utah had the first female state senator (Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, a Democrat polygamist wife who ran against her Republican husband for the seat and beat him) and Mormons had the first female senator of Florida (Paula Hawkins). But the church has significantly regressed in its teachings on gender in the last 130 years.

  166. May 30, 2010 9:07 pm

    Jack,

    I am with you on being a priestess God vs. my husband. As a former Mormon, can I just say how utterly and completely awesome that is!!!!! One of the most awesome things about being out of the LDS is realizing my eternity is not based on “who” I am married to or “where” I was married — my eternity is based on Jesus & what He did. When I got my mind wrapped around that one, I just wanted to shout Hallelujah!!!!!!!

    Thank you Jesus!

  167. May 31, 2010 2:39 am

    Ethan,

    I’m just going to be blunt here. I don’t appreciate delusions of adequacy.

    Then you should stop having them. 🙂

    What was God doing before He created us? – No answer. A Mystery. LDS have an answer.

    It’s extremely easy to come up with answers to things when you have zero concern for scriptural accuracy or reality. I could say that God was picking His toenails before He created us. Does that make me a prophet?

    You give an answer in defiance of the 1st Law of Physics and E=MC2. Since when did Evangelicals support the Big Bang.

    You need to do some more studying on Evangelical views. There are many Evangelicals who hold to the Big Bang and Old Earth creation.

    My answer in no way defies the the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. This law is only applicable to “closed systems.” Current Cosmological evidence has actually led to the view that our Universe is not a closed system. Kind of funny how this goes hand in hand with the traditional Christian view of God being both Transcendent and Imminent. In our view, the universe is most certainly not a closed system. Try again.

    Your answer is that God created and designed EVERYTHING from the ground up. Evil should not exist then.

    Evil is not a thing. It is a privation of good, as such, God did not create it. Again, you really need to do some studying on Evangelical theology before you speak so confidently about us having a “paradox.”

    Your answer is the biggest paradox of all. How does God happen Darrell?

    This is where it gets really interesting. You claim my position is somehow a paradox, yet what you fail to see is that your position, i.e., an infinite regress of Gods, is a paradox of mammoth proportions.

    You cannot ground the existence of anything by postulating an infinite regress of causes. An infinite regress would be an actual infinite, and an actual infinite leads to multiple logical contradictions. As such, it is IMPOSSIBLE.

    The only way to ground the here and now existence of anything at all is to postulate a Necessary Being, i.e., a first cause who is an uncaused cause whose non-existence is not possible. Unless you are ready to start believing that logical contradictions, i.e., something can be both true and false at one and the same time, are possible, I suggest you reevaluate your position.

    The endless galaxies and worlds? HUGE no answer. Isaiah 40 really says nothing about such a massive waste of space.

    Well, we will just have to agree to disagree on that one.

    Isa. 40: 25 – 26 “’To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

    Seems pretty clear to me who created everything.

    The fact that Joseph Smith worked it all out to be essentially harmonious with the Bible during a shocking 14 year career is icing.

    Let’s take a quick look at what he “worked out.” He created a God who contradicts the teachings of the Bible on numerous counts, postulated an infinite regress of Gods which leads to multiple contradictions, brought back the long since dead Greek worldview of Cosmological Dualism, wrote a text that has needed over 5000 changes yet somehow claimed it to be the “most correct book on earth,” translated the Book of Abraham from what has been proven to be an Egyptian Funeral Text, sent men on missions simply so he could have their wives for himself, manipulated 14 year old girls into marrying him by promising salvation to their family, etc., etc., etc. Yeah, sounds like he worked it all out in 14 years.

    I will give Smith this… he was extremely charismatic, intelligent, and good at controlling and fooling people in order to get what he wanted. But, then again, so were a lot of other awful men throughout history. The only difference is most of their lies and deceit died with Him. Unfortunately, Smith’s have lived on to affect the lives of millions after his death.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  168. May 31, 2010 3:02 am

    Ethan,

    Oh, and I am well aware of what consititues a paradox without underhanded ad hominem jabs.

    No jab was intended. I just didn’t want your mischaracterization, unintentional though it may have been, to stand. There is a big difference between a paradox and a mystery. Just be sure you are accurate in the future before throwing the former word around.

    Darrell

  169. May 31, 2010 4:00 am

    There are only problems with an “actual infinite” because certain theologians arbitrarily decided there were. I see nothing wrong with an actual infinite, infinite regress, or whatever else. The Kalaam Infinity argument sets up an utterly artificial set of parameters, and then goes on to say what is or is not possible within those artificial parameters. But if you reject the premises behind the argument, it pretty-much falls apart. This is a common problem with most of “classical” Christian apologetics (not saying anything here about OTHER schools of Christian apologetics – which I tend to like a lot better). The classical arguments tend to hold certain foundational claims as “self-evident” when actually, they are thoroughly controversial.

  170. May 31, 2010 4:05 am

    And Darrell, are you trying to throw out every single gripe with Mormonism you have in one thread? Because trying to follow your train of thought is getting a bit annoying. I’m kind of wondering at this point if you’re going to try and find a way to shoehorn a mention of Mountain Meadows into your argument as some sort of bonus prize.

  171. May 31, 2010 4:23 am

    Seth,

    Nice attempt to poison the well, but the arguments against an Actual Infinite, while used IN certain Kalaam Cosmological arguments and by certain theologians, they aren’t based there.

    As for my numerous “gripes,” don’t read them if you don’t want to. Didn’t you notice who they were addressed too? Ethan twholes whole dump truck of “supposed” evangelical issues at me, and I was just answering in kind.

  172. May 31, 2010 4:25 am

    I meant to say, “Ethan THREW a whole dump truck…”.

    I hate iPhone typing!

    Darrell

  173. May 31, 2010 4:26 am

    Well, I’ll agree that you and Ethan have been a pretty good match for each other.

    I’ve thought he was overreaching here for the past couple days, but had my own stuff to deal with.

  174. NickyMac permalink
    May 31, 2010 6:51 am

    Seth,
    Okay maybe I should have been more specific than just saying promises and prophecies. Do you believe that God has a plan for everyone’s life? (Jeremiah 29:11). Do you believe that God tests us? (Psalm 66:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). Do you believe that God permits us to be tempted, having full knowledge of what our capabilities are in these areas? (1 Corinthians 10:13). If you believe all these things how come you don’t believe in a God who preempts our choices? He must have known that the Jews would reject Jesus and ultimately kill Him, since that was part of His plan. So why can’t He also know who of US will reject Him? Most of the time when we are being “tested” it is not to show God where our choices lie but are for our own benefit. Have you ever given something up for God? I’m sure you have. I have too. Once you do that, it’s kind of like your heart swells with the knowledge that you DO love God (sorry if that sounds a little corny). I never feel like God doesn’t know what I’m going to do because I believe in His ultimate control. That makes me feel safe. How about you?
    If God knows man’s heart then He knows what we will choose. And that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t erase free will. It just means that God’s plan includes our choices.

    Ethan,
    I know what you mean about agreeing to disagree. Thanks, I’ll respect that.

    Sometimes I wonder if blogs like this are such a good idea because no matter how convincing an argument is, it doesn’t appear to directly impact what anyone believes. Then I remember how I stumbled across this blog when I was looking into Mormonism and it helped ME. It seems to be the only place that represents both sides fairly. I appreciate that.

  175. May 31, 2010 2:29 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if blogs like this are such a good idea because no matter how convincing an argument is, it doesn’t appear to directly impact what anyone believes. Then I remember how I stumbled across this blog when I was looking into Mormonism and it helped ME.

    In the time since I’ve been commenting and interacting on blogs, I’ve seen two LDS people (neither of whom were very frequent commentators) make the decision to stop attending the LDS church and start checking out other churches. I’ve seen plenty of other Latter-day Saints come to a better understanding of what evangelical Christianity is. And while I can’t speak for other evangelicals, I certainly feel like I understand so many things about Mormonism better since I began interacting with the Bloggernacle and the LDS-Evangelical blogging network, and I’m very grateful for that. I feel like my expectations for interactions with Mormons are much healthier, and I’ve received ideas on how to have a happier, more spiritual interfaith marriage.

    I personally haven’t seen any people make the decision to join the LDS church as a result of interactions on blogs, but I’m sure there are LDS people who would say reading blogs has had a positive impact on their faith.

    And if you want to go outside of blogs, I know of six people who used to be true believing defenders of the LDS church who stopped believing in the last 12 years (though none of them switched to another form of Christianity); I think it’s safe to say that online discussions through message boards and e-mail lists were an influence for all of these people. I also know of one person who switched from evangelicalism to a more liberal form of Christianity and one person who joined the LDS church in part due to discussions on message boards.

    Plus, Seth sort of indirectly influenced my husband when he was starting to have doubts, because Seth is a rascal like that.

    Bottom line of all this being, online discussions can definitely have an impact on faith. Don’t discount them just because the major participants don’t appear to be budging.

  176. May 31, 2010 3:03 pm

    I’m not really keeping score here.

    I’m committed to the LDS Church. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want the actual truth – regardless of whether it harms LDS or Evangelical or atheist vested interests.

    My primary goal in blogging has always been to develop my own thought about life, humanity, and God. Whether people convert to one position or another is their own business.

  177. NickyMac permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:52 am

    Sorry, Seth. That wasn’t a stab at either you or the other LDS people who frequent this blog. It’s just that I’ve noticed in every post there are generally two sides who are fixed like a rock in their beliefs. You are right and this blog isn’t just about people changing their beliefs but increasing their knowledge. That’s exactly what it’s done for me. And, like Jack said, for her and others too.

  178. faithoffathers permalink
    June 1, 2010 10:18 pm

    Jack,

    I read your comments on gender with great interest. Couple comments.

    I think this is a big issue to us moderns. I don’t think there is any generation that doesn’t think its perspective is the correct one. And that is certainly true of us in modern western societies.

    But I think we are just as likely to be biased in ways we may not recognize. And gender is an area that, I believe, we are very biased. Some of that is good, some maybe not so good.

    One problem I see is that many of us define equal with sameness. To be equal, some women feel they must be the same as a man. I think that is unfortunate. Maybe this has no pertinence to your point- probably not.

    I agree with Ethan that the eternities are likely to be very different than what we envision now. I think men are probably tested on this earth a little differently than women are. And women are tested a little differently than men- all for good reason that only God understands completely.

    I honestly believe women are God’s crowning creation. Heavenly Mother is not mentioned- not because she is not worth mentioning, but because she is above reproach, too great and holy and priceless to expose to the depravity of mankind and his tendancy to degrade and desecrate, not out of any weakness or helplessness of the female gender. Again- all my opinion.

    I think that when this earth is finished, we will see why things are the way they are. I will admit that this gender thing and the LDS ordinances and doctrine can be a major test of faith- for women and men. But I absolutely believe it is based on truth.

    I suppose the ancients could well have asked themselves “why do I have to sacrifice my flocks and crops to God? Who benefits? Seems so useless and destructive of precious life and resources.”

    There may not ever come in this life an explanation that will satisfy our modern feelings on the matter.

    We mortals tend to see details that, from our perspective, tend to separate us and draw comparisons between us. I think those details will disappear after this life and it will make sense.

    We also tend to place value on things that may not be deserving of that value from an eternal perspective, place and position being among them. Consider Christ’s response to His apostles when they asked which of them would be greatest in His Kingdom.

    That may be a cop-out from the perspective of some. But I fully believe it.

    My wife, who has really struggled with the same issue and feelings, told me just his week that she was impressed during a leadership meeting she attended in which she was the only female (R.S. president). She said she realized at one point in the meeting that the male leaders in attendence never mentioned their own needs or the needs of the men- they were primarily focused on the women and children of the ward. She said it helped her a little in her understanding and perspective on this whole thing.

    I see men as custodians. We mortals just tend to focus on the cool badges of the custodians.

    For what its worth.

    fof

  179. June 2, 2010 1:46 am

    Hi faithoffathers,

    I appreciate your thoughtful response. I’ve always liked you and I know that it comes from your heart.

    Boyish nickname aside, I like being a woman. I like propping my feet up on my coffee table and painting toenails with my little girl and showing her how to put on make-up. I like wearing skirts, and I probably wear them more than any other woman that I’ve seen around my seminary campus. My hair is incredibly versatile; I can do it super-curly like I’ve just had a perm, or in soft, natural curls, or bone-straight, and then I can do all kinds of pony-tails and buns and stuff like that, all with 20-30 minutes in the morning. Next week I’m starting pole dancing lessons at an all-girl fitness club. Yup, that’s right, pole dancing lessons, because my husband (who is a dancer) got them for me for Valentine’s Day, and darned if I’m not going to use them.

    So, do I want to be the same as men? Well, if it means giving up any of the above activities, probably not. I’m not in favor of gender obliteration.

    In several of the New Testament epistles, Paul compares wives (and by extension women) to the church and husbands (men) to Christ. Most people read that and jump to the conclusion that women are permanently, necessarily subordinate to men. What else could it mean? Men are in charge of women just like Christ is in charge of the church, right? They have to be loving and gentle and benevolent, but they’re still in charge.

    I think that’s a very unfortunate misunderstanding of Christ’s relationship to the church. I think of Jesus’s actions in washing the disciple’s feet and what that meant. Jesus was the God of the Old Testament; he was the ruler of the universe. He was perfection and holiness and strength and goodness, and he set it all for naught and came down here and became the servant of all. He emptied all of the power he had and became like us so that we can become like him. Literally, like him: in holiness, in strength, in perfection, in goodness, in immortality. He’s didn’t come here to take benign custody over us; he already had that before he came here. He came to enable and empower us, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Rom. 8:29) Mormons of all people ought to understand this.

    Christianity isn’t supposed to be about men having benign custody over women. It’s supposed to be about those who are strong and empowered laying it down and enabling those who are disempowered so that they can be like them, whether that be masters to slaves or the wealthy to the poor or men to women.

    So, do I want to be the same as men? In some sense . . . yes. As a matter of fact, I do. I want the freedom to pursue any calling in the church or vocation in life according to my gifts.

    I’m just waiting for more men to realize the truth about what Christ did for us and lay it down.

    Hope you have a good night.

  180. June 2, 2010 2:40 am

    Jack,

    Good thoughts. I’ve thought a lot lately about how some men like to focus on Ephesians 5:22, yet they forget about the verse just before it:

    “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

    And also about verse 25:

    “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her…”

    If more husbands did this, we certainly would have less divorce in this country.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  181. June 2, 2010 2:48 am

    Jack, I don’t think that’s what Nephi meant when he encouraged us to “hold to the rod.”

  182. June 2, 2010 3:21 am

    Jack, I don’t think that’s what Nephi meant when he encouraged us to “hold to the rod.”

    What, you don’t think he had this in mind?

  183. June 2, 2010 3:23 am

    Darrell ~ The interesting thing about Ephesians 5:22 is that it completely lacks a verb. The verb usually translated “submit” has to be supplied from v. 21.

    Or in other words, v. 22 was never meant to be quoted without v. 21. There’s a lot more I could say about that passage, but those are some of my thoughts on it.

    Take care.

  184. Ethan permalink
    June 4, 2010 8:26 pm

    Jack,

    If I believed exaltation was exactly how you describe it I would have concerns to. I’m in FoF”s camp on eternity (Corinthians 2:9).

    1 Cor. 11:11 also makes it clear that salvation is not an individual effort. Both men and women are dependent on each other. I personally don’t think there will be any subordination in heaven, just endless male/female synergy. Yin Yang and all the rest.

    I would strongly argue that the LDS position on women’s roles is the greatest that has ever existed in any culture during the history of Planet Earth. Including Berkeley feminists. LDS views of women in the afterlife are nothing short of Queen, Priestess and even Goddess. There isn’t a higher view of women in world history, and that’s not hyperbole.

  185. June 5, 2010 12:48 am

    Problem is, Ethan, you and FoF aren’t using actual examples from LDS temple liturgy or doctrine to back up your assertions that women aren’t subordinate in the next life in Mormon teaching. Even your usage of 1 Cor. 11:11 doesn’t cut it. Being necessary is not the same thing as being equal. Just because I need a pinch of salt to make chocolate chip cookies doesn’t mean salt is just as good as chocolate.

    I personally don’t think there will be any subordination in heaven, just endless male/female synergy. Yin Yang and all the rest.

    You do know that Yin Yang was historically used by the Chinese to justify female subordination, right? See Hsiao-Lan Hu, “Rectification of the Four Teachings in Chinese Culture,” in Violence Against Women in Contemporary World Religion: Roots and Cures, ed. Daniel C. Maguire and Sa’diyya Shaikh (Cleveland, Oh.: Pilgrim Press, 2007): 108-30 if you ever want a good read on the subject.

    I would strongly argue that the LDS position on women’s roles is the greatest that has ever existed in any culture during the history of Planet Earth.

    You’d be wrong. Religions and philosophies that teach that a woman’s highest and most noble calling is that of wife and stay-at-home mother are a dime a dozen.

    LDS views of women in the afterlife are nothing short of Queen, Priestess and even Goddess. There isn’t a higher view of women in world history, and that’s not hyperbole.

    If Queen and Priestess to my husband is the highest possible next-life fate for me among all the world’s religions, I think I’d rather just become an atheist and get it over with. And I think it’s very unclear that LDS women will ever truly be “Goddesses.” If being a Goddess means staying in the shadows and not being allowed to communicate with my children because I’m too noble and holy to be subjected to their abuse, I sure don’t want the job.

  186. Ethan permalink
    June 5, 2010 1:57 am

    If anyone calls you salt I’ll drop kick them.

    Besides, married Goddess commanding the elements of space and time beats retired winged shuffleboardist on the lido deck of U.S.S. Protestant anyday! hee hee

    And what’s the difference between subjection to God or husband, if your husband could become like God? (Caution: you have to enter the LDS paradigm to imagine God as a partnership ((a singular God as a wholely complete male/female unit))). I don’t resent God for aligning gender roles the way they are now. but I still say the LDS position of exaltation is one of equal partnership as A GOD.

    In fact, you could say that the “single” terrestrial/Protestant heaven is the oppressive one in which the sexes remain seperated and the unequal distinction of each become divisive. (Go to a girl’s night out, then a boy’s night out and tell me they are not different worlds). There is a wholeness to male/female coupling that would be sorely missed.

  187. June 5, 2010 3:08 am

    And what’s the difference between subjection to God or husband, if your husband could become like God?

    Wow. Just, wow. Thank you for proving my point.

    a singular God as a wholely complete male/female unit [SNIP] I still say the LDS position of exaltation is one of equal partnership as A GOD.

    Then why does the LDS church specifically teach that the Godhead consists of three distinct persons? Aren’t there a minimum of four and possibly five or six (or unlimited, if the male members of the Godhead are permitted to be polygamists)? Seems pretty inconsistent to castigate Protestants for teaching that there are three persons occupying one being when you’re secretly hiding at least one extra female being within the person of God the Father.

    As far as Protestantism is concerned for me, there isn’t supposed to be any gender subordination in the here and now and there won’t be any in the hereafter. I get to be a priest to God in this life and a goddess in the next life and I get to do it all without my husband’s help. My husband doesn’t preside over me or get the final say when we disagree or any such nonsense; we’re equals who lovingly serve each other and make decisions in our household together. At church, I can be a pastor or an elder or a deacon or I can work in the nursery taking care of little kids like I did last Sunday. I can stay in school and get my PhD and become a church historian, or I can stay home and take care of my special needs daughter while my husband works like I did for the first three years of her life, and no one is going to come along and say that one of those choices is superior to the other or attack my femininity if I choose the former (well, no one whose opinion I respect, anyways). If there’s a downside to this deal, I’d really love to hear it.

    Yes, there are still Protestants arguing that women are meant to be subordinate in this life, and even Protestants arguing that women will be subordinate in the next—the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is the most obvious group doing this. You know what though? Protestants used to use the Bible to justify slavery and racism, and they got over that. I think they’ll get over this, too.

  188. Ethan permalink
    June 5, 2010 3:40 am

    Jack,
    It’s a faint straw man. I don’t believe that women are meant to be subordinate here or there either. I am saying that I see LDS exaltation differently than you do. I see nothing but glory for women. I’m saying that the eternal destinies of God’s children are beyond our current ability to grasp. I believe women will be side by side, not behind, their husbands as they receive crowns of glory and dominion to rule together , both holding equal priesthood and authority. I simply disagree with your view of it.

    In my house I always defer to my wife. She would laugh at your assertion that men somehow rule over them like some medieval cartoon. She does her part and I do mine. We both want Zion, we believe in its ideals and power. We work better as a team. We are all of us young Gods even now, we were meant to be creators too and the face of your child will remind you of it. We create all the time, this is the definition of Godhood.

    Here is the best articulation of why being single does not work out:

    D&C 132:
    “15 Therefore, if a aman marry him a wife in the world…and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage…are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
    16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven…
    17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.
    19 …if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant,shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life…it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (Abrahamic covenant)
    20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

    Not a mention of subordination here, just an exponential increase. What’s not to love?

  189. June 5, 2010 4:18 am

    I simply disagree with your view of it.

    You can disagree with my view of it all you want. I’ve used clear examples from the temple liturgy to back up my position. You’ve used baseless assertion and sentimentality.

    [My wife] would laugh at your assertion that men somehow rule over them like some medieval cartoon.

    Yup, lots of LDS men on these blogs tell me this, and I have little doubt their marriages are functioning in a more or less egalitarian fashion. I also have little doubt that their wives neither know their husbands’ temple names nor quietly keep their hands down when it comes time to promise to hearken to their husbands during the endowment, and that if they actually showed up on this blog to try and articulate a logical case for how the church does not subordinate women (either in this life or the next life), they’d be just as bad at it as their husbands, if not worse.

    What’s not to love in D&C 132? How about the fact that the whole freakin’ revelation is about polygamy and how men get to have multiple wives but women can’t have multiple husbands? Or the part in v. 61-65 where it says that a husband has to ask his first wife for her consent to take more wives—but if she says no, he can go ahead and do it anyways?

    If I were Mormon and I were undertaking the Sisyphean task of arguing that the church teaches equality of the sexes, I think the last thing in the world I would want to mention is D&C 132.

  190. Ethan permalink
    June 5, 2010 4:21 pm

    Jack,
    Here’s why the temple liturgy has nothing to do with it:

    You assume that all the Temple constructs and arrangements, which are designed to give light during the wilderness journey of Earth life, will exist after exaltation. The temple presents five covenants and five attached promises to get us home. ALL FIVE of the covenants we make are regarding Earth life only, including hearkening to husbands as the patriarchal heads of the family in the system that God established from Adam down. This is not an LDS invention, why can’t a god fearing man preside over and protect his family?

    This does not mean a women’s place is barefoot in the kitchen. Anyone who doesn’t see the synergistic operation of male and female in a home is distorting God’s creation. This is inalienable truth, as natural as rain and flowers.

    The view you preferred for heaven is still not accounting for the sexes at all. This is still a rejection of God’s design and will always ring slightly hollow for anyone aware of their gender, either physically, emotionally, or physcologically (ps: we’re very different). Venus and Mars are still better together and the LDS didn’t make it so, they just accounted for it when it really matters.

    The LDS view does not put women down unless you project your fears of abusive relationships onto it. When godly men and women come together to form a solid unit there is greater leverage. God’s law, not mine. Sorry, I stand by that truth and welcome it hereafter.

  191. Ethan permalink
    June 5, 2010 4:37 pm

    Also, women are only under covenant to gove heed to their husbands as their husbands give heed to the Lord. The minute a husband stops following God all bets are off. Women are therefore under no more covenant here than to simply follow to God. There’s no difference.

    Proclamation on the Family:
    “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

    Here is the blueprint for a happy marriage on Earth and beyond. Any man not abiding this is not going to be exalted:

    “…..the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man……We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion…..No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile …… and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” D&C 121:34-46

  192. June 5, 2010 7:31 pm

    Hi Ethan,

    You assume that all the Temple constructs and arrangements, which are designed to give light during the wilderness journey of Earth life, will exist after exaltation.

    I assume nothing. The temple liturgy and LDS sealing policies very clearly posit an order that is going to exist after this life, and my original comment on the issue went to great lengths to distinguish between things that pertain to the next life and things that pertain to this one. It doesn’t matter a great deal because LDS theology subordinates women in this life as much as it does the next, but I noted, for example, that the hearken covenant pertains to this life and not the next.

    why can’t a god fearing man preside over and protect his family?

    Why can’t a capable god-fearing woman preside over and protect her family in conjunction with her husband? Why does one spouse have to be the designated preside-nt of the other?

    This does not mean a women’s place is barefoot in the kitchen.

    Then I think it would be wise for the LDS church to stop teaching things like this:

    “The husband is expected to support his family and only in an emergency should a wife secure outside employment. Her place is in the home, to build the home into a heaven of delight. . . . I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the café. No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children.” ~ Spencer W. Kimball, “The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 73 [cited in the 2003 Eternal Marriage Student Manual]

    “The greatest mission of woman is to give life, earth-life, through honorable marriage, to the waiting spirits, our Father’s spirit children who anxiously desire to come to dwell here in this mortal state. All the honor and glory that can come to men and women . . . is but a dim thing whose luster shall fade in comparison to the high honor, the eternal glory, the ever-enduring happiness that shall come to the woman who fulfills the first great duty and mission that devolves upon her to become the mother of the sons and daughters of God.” ~ Melvin J. Ballard, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, comp. Bryant S. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1949), 203–4 [cited in the 1993 Young Women Manual 2]

    “Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own?” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise Up, O Men of God,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 61.

    Does that not sound like something of a barefoot-and-pregnant attitude towards women to you? And these are all fairly current teachings, not junk that I dug out of the Journal of Discourses or something.

    The view you preferred for heaven is still not accounting for the sexes at all.

    This is rubbish Ethan. I’ve articulated my view of sex in heaven to you on this blog before, and I don’t believe male-female identity disappears in heaven. I reject the notion of human marriage in heaven because Jesus Christ rejected the notion of human marriage in heaven (Matthew 22:30). All of the LDS apologist explanations and FAIRWiki articles in the world aren’t going to change the fact that rejection of marriage in heaven is the historical and ancient interpretation of Jesus’ teaching there as well as the most natural reading of the text.

    The LDS view does not put women down unless you project your fears of abusive relationships onto it.

    Psychobabble nonsense. Women with a lifetime of perfectly healthy relationships to the men around them have come out of the temple weeping about what it teaches about women. It doesn’t take a psychological complex to see hierarchy there, though I’m beginning to think it might take a psychological complex to deny it.

    Also, women are only under covenant to gove heed to their husbands as their husbands give heed to the Lord. The minute a husband stops following God all bets are off. Women are therefore under no more covenant here than to simply follow to God. There’s no difference.

    There is a difference, because that still makes the man the initiator of godly leadership in the marriage. If there weren’t a difference, women would simply covenant to follow God. Besides, there’s also the pre-1990 version of this part of the endowment where women covenanted to obey their husbands. Are you honestly going to try to tell me that a promise of obedience does not denote hierarchy?

    Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man

    Ethan, I have never claimed that Mormons advocate a tyrannical hierarchy of the sexes. When it comes to religions that teach hierarchical gender roles, I actually think Mormonism is one of the most benevolent.

    But benign, loving, gentle, servant-minded hierarchy is still hierarchy, and while it’s one thing to teach gender hierarchy in this life, extending that hierarchy to the eternities makes for some incredibly ugly gender theology.

    That’s why I cannot for the life of me understand anyone saying that gender in the next life is more of a problem for evangelicals than it is Mormons.

  193. Ethan permalink
    June 6, 2010 12:19 am

    Alright Jack,
    You’ve made your point (one of the most cynical takes on LDS gender roles I’ve ever heard). I couldn’t disagree more with your analysis of Mormon women. I know many LDS women who find a level of satisfaction that is deeper than you can imagine by following the LDS model of living. These are sophisticated and intelligent women. Many of them keep many balls in the air and do it very well. Some have had brilliant careers and been great family women, some have chosen to focus exclusively on family life, realizing that true joy is found there. You will never convince me that LDS exaltation is one of female subordination, or that LDS life here, when done correctly, is not still the best prescription around. Especially today, and even for women.

    I guess those of us who see the synergistic power in marriage relationships (which would absolutely apply to a mere change of scenery in another world (fundamentally we are the same)), and the leverage a male/female team provides, will continue to look forward to that possibility.

    You said: “That’s why I cannot for the life of me understand anyone saying that gender in the next life is more of a problem for evangelicals than it is Mormons.”

    Bull. Complete smoke screen. This remains a huge problem for eternal Evangelical gender identity and it’s function, or lack thereof. The more I contemplate that society the more wonky it appears. Downright bizarre.

    Anyway, have a good weekened.

  194. June 6, 2010 4:21 am

    Ethan, you may disapprove of what I’ve done here in laying out what your church teaches about women in the next life. But you know what you must really dislike?

    That you haven’t been able to articulate a single logically coherent alternative to my interpretation utilizing official LDS teaching and policy. 2000 words spent on this topic and you haven’t gone past the argumentative equivalent of “NO U.”

    Now you’ve moved on to pointing out how many LDS women are happy with the system, or in other words, “But my slaves like it on the plantation!” No, I don’t think the LDS system is anywhere near what American slavery was. But people who advocate systems that subordinate others are always pointing to the alleged satisfaction of the subordinated parties as proof that there’s nothing wrong with the system—always while ignoring or rationalizing away the loud and obvious cries from the people who aren’t okay with it.

    This remains a huge problem for eternal Evangelical gender identity and it’s function, or lack thereof.

    That just gets less and less convincing every time you say it.

    I will indeed have a good weekend. And if you ever want a good read on what I’ve come to believe on gender, consider checking out Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy edited by Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis and Gordon D. Fee. Yes, that’s right, I’m all for that gender complementarity that you’re so fond of; I just insist on having it without the garbage hierarchical roles. Gender complementarity is a beautiful thing. Gender subordination is not.

    You take care.

  195. Ethan permalink
    June 7, 2010 5:03 pm

    That you haven’t been able to articulate a single logically coherent alternative to my interpretation utilizing official LDS teaching and policy

    I’m keeping this simple because it gets convoluted with waves of theology and biblical “he said.”

    Actually, a much better approach on eternal gender is to strip away ALL theology here. Let’s forget for a moment that we belong to any sect. Let’s simply look at the self evident truth before each of us. Allow me to further break this down since we’re not getting through:

    1. We have males and females here. Everyone from all faiths agrees on the purpose and design of this reality and what it means for life now. I think we all agree that if we removed all the meaning and left the anatomy, we would find that bizarre.

    2. We have males and females in Heaven. Same reality. But mysteriously the LDS Church is the only religion that assigns a purpose and meaning to this reality. Protestants, while accepting the reality of this circumstance, have nothing to say on the matter. We are not married, which implies that either there is no sex or Heaven is a giant fornicating Woodstock. If there is no sex, then we retain the relics of mortal anatomy as dead weight forever and that’s just odd. Very odd.

    I’m not making any other point here. No LDS doctrine matters really, no Bible verse matters. This is a self evident physical reality.

    Some people, including Jack, believe this is a non-issue. To each her own. I must be out of my mind to even consider this, right? Does anyone besides Jack have anything to say about this. Make me feel OK about it. Make me believe it’s not an issue. Please.

  196. NickyMac permalink
    June 8, 2010 7:07 am

    You can’t mistake Jesus saying that there will be no marriage in heaven. He doesn’t hint at it. He doesn’t use a parable. He says, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30).
    Plus we know that death ends marriage (Romans 7:2-3), hence why in our vows we say “Till death do us part.”

    The reason there will be no marriage, is because there will be no need for it. God established marriage here on earth for: companionship, sharing the workload and populating the earth (Genesis 2:18 & Genesis 2:28). But in heaven, man will not be lonely because we will be a united people who meet our “groom” who loves us. We will no longer need to work, so we won’t need a “helper”. We will no longer need to procreate because there will already be billions of people.

    Ethan, you only gave two options: marriage in heaven, or “a giant fornicating woodstock”. This is assuming that there will definitely be sex in heaven.

    There cannot be reproduction in heaven because it violates God’s principle of free will. If children were born in heaven they wouldn’t have the ability to choose to accept or reject God because there is no allowance of rebellion or sin in heaven. Angels didn’t receive grace. They were thrown out of heaven on their first act of disobedience to God. Which means that any children born would be forced to accept God.

    I don’t necessarily agree that our resurrected “bodies” will be gendered like they are now. Or at least, if they are, it won’t matter. In Galatians 3:28, it says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ.”
    I like how it says in The Message version of the bible that “In Christ’s family there can be no division”.

    Just because women came from man, doesn’t mean being in relationship with him is her only purpose.

    I imagine heaven to be a far better place than earth. In fact, when I was talking with the LDS missionaries, the one thing they said that really depressed me was the idea of families in heaven. Even thinking for a second that heaven was just going to be the same ol’, made me feel depressed (especially coming from a family so messed up). In my mind I imagined something much more spiritual… something that involved us worshipping God – being so consumed by Him that nothing else mattered. That is what the angels do, by the way. On earth their role is ‘messenger’ but in heaven they exist to sing songs of praise to God (Revelation 5:11-13). It doesn’t mean we won’t have relationships with each other. I sort of see life being like church everyday or something 🙂

  197. June 8, 2010 1:11 pm

    Nicky,

    Lots of LDS reject the idea of Celestial pregnancy – myself included.

    Joseph Smith himself taught that spirits were eternal (not just “intelligences” – “spirit”) – which seems to preclude spirit pregnancies. I personally believe we became children of God via a free choice on our part and God’s part – adoption basically.

    Besides, the idea that you would need a pregnancy, gestation, and vaginal delivery to birth an insubstantial spirit is just silly for anyone who thinks about it more than ten seconds.

    As for Christ’s words about marriage, Mormons agree that mortality is the place to marry and be given in marriage. That’s why we marry people for time and all eternity IN MORTALITY. In Romans 7, Paul is making an analogy to the practical situation in society. I don’t think you can get too much mileage off this scripture passage for what is or is not the case in heaven.

  198. NickyMac permalink
    June 8, 2010 3:31 pm

    Seth,
    Ok. I see what your stance is but yet LDS still believe that there is marriage and sex in heaven. Wouldn’t you agree that they was designed for the purposes of that which is here on earth? There is no need for it in heaven. The point I was, evidently not clearly, making was that if there’s no need for procreation and no need to be linked intimately to another person for companionship, then there is no need for sex.
    The bible never mentions anywhere about relationships in heaven other than our relationship with Jesus.

    That verse has been translated as “given in marriage” and not “are married”, as you say, but how would you then understand the context of it? The Pharisees were asking Jesus who a woman would be married to in heaven if she had had seven different husbands on earth. Their question wasn’t about whether the woman would marry in heaven but whether she would BE married in heaven. Jesus basically replies that they don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t understand the scriptures or the resurrection. They were transferring the current way of life onto the resurrected life. Jesus’ reply, as you interpret it, doesn’t make sense- or answer their question. I believe, and it makes sense, that Jesus was saying that at the resurrection we will be beyond marriage. Our emotions will be in relation to God, like the angels.

    I love this quote that I read somewhere:
    In heaven you will have unbelievable closeness with people of both genders. Everyone will beam with delight to see you. No one will be the slightest reserved, shy, snobbish or prejudiced. You will feel connected, understood and accepted like no one on earth has ever experienced. The warmth, intimacy and depth of eternal relationships will be literally out of this world. It is my conviction that the mental clarity we will enjoy means no one will ever be tongue-tied or left groping for words. This, combined with increased understanding, emotional wholeness, transparent honesty and divine love will make deep, intimate communication effortless. Heavenly relationships will be so much more fulfilling than earthly ones that for anyone in heaven to want marriage would be like an adult wanting a pacifier.”

  199. June 8, 2010 3:38 pm

    Correction Nicky, SOME LDS believe that.

    And let’s think about this for a moment. If you really believe that people will be perfected, doesn’t that make comparisons based on your experience and knowledge of these things in mortality just a tad speculative? Do you honestly really know what intimacy in heaven would entail or be like? I doubt you do, and I doubt any Mormons do either.

    And one other thing – who says that the LDS heaven precludes the exact kind of love and intimacy that your quote at the end is talking about?

    Even in Mormon theology, we have symbols and sacraments. I consider marriage to be a sacrament that draws our minds toward the more perfect reality of heaven. No earthly sacrament perfectly captures its heavenly object. The point of marriage is to draw the human mind toward a higher Celestial reality. Any speculation beyond that is pointless, and often unhelpful.

  200. June 8, 2010 6:00 pm

    It’s not just the “in heaven” part that leads Protestants to conclude that we won’t be married in the next life. It’s Jesus’ statement that we will be “as the angels.” What does that even mean for Latter-day Saints? Protestants have searched the scriptures and find that there aren’t any definitive places where female angels are mentioned* (incidentally, no female angels have made canonized appearances in Mormonism, either). On top of that, there weren’t any ancient traditions involving female angels; angels were either genderless or male. We see all of that and then read Jesus’ words and say, “Okay. So angels don’t have male-female pairings, and neither will we.”

    In Mormonism, there’s basically three categories of people that can function as “angels”:

    (1) Spirits who are still in their pre-existence phase and haven’t received bodies yet.
    (2) Resurrected beings who made it to the celestial kingdom, but lack a temple sealing and are therefore consigned to serving another deity.
    (3) Resurrected beings who do have a sealing and are exalted (or are on their way).

    So which of those did Jesus have in mind when he said people will be “as the angels”? They all have problems fitting into Jesus’ statement on marriage. Matthew 22:30 makes little sense in the context of LDS theology no matter how you take it. I’m surprised Mormons even bother trying to limbo around it and don’t simply write it off as an error in the text.

    Going back to the wider question of marriage in heaven, in my mind, Seth is absolutely right that marriage points us toward a higher reality. I think that all healthy and wholesome human relationships point us toward a higher reality: child-parent relationships, friend-friend relationships, husband-wife relationships, and even our time spent as singles. I see marriage as a type for the relationship between Christ and the church. I don’t believe marriage is going to end in the next life; I believe it’s true purpose is going to be fulfilled. Nor do I think that God is going to have to neuter everyone to keep us from pairing off and having sex anyways; I think the reality of our union with God is going to be so incredible and so sublime that wanting sex or a human married relationship is going to seem awfully pedestrian—like wanting to play with your 1989 edition Gameboy while viewing the Iguazu Falls.

    Seth has heard all this from me before, but those are my feelings on the issue for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t heard it.

    * Zechariah 5:9 describes two women with the wings of storks. I’d love to think that this is a reference to female angels, but it’s a highly symbolic vision and the passage itself gives little detail.

  201. June 8, 2010 6:09 pm

    You can head to FAIR’s Wiki website, type in “marriage” in the search box and get the pretty standard LDS answer to why Jesus’ remarks do not preclude married people in heaven, or rule out Mormon temple marriage.

    For my own part, I’m not sure that there is really as much of a difference between the Mormon and Protestant notions of love in heaven as people like to make out. The only real difference I can see is that Mormon theology has a focus on preserving our lateral bonds between people IN ADDITION to the vertical bond we will all share with God the Father via Christ.

  202. June 8, 2010 6:52 pm

    I think that the FAIR Wiki article on the subject is a prime example of hermeneutical gymnastics. But this is not the place to debate it.

  203. June 8, 2010 7:13 pm

    On a more positive note though, ignoring what the Bible has to say on the matter, I think that eternal marriage is a concept that does work philosophically, at least at some level. I can accept the system I articulated (that human marriage is replaced by the union of God and the church), and I can accept that men and women are permitted to spend eternity as a unit with any and all of their earthly spouses. Those are the only two valid possibilities for me if the Bible is ignored.

    It’s more of the specifics of LDS sealing policy on the matter that I reject, particularly the idea that God has to authorize my marriage in heaven before I can effectively be married to Paul. If Paul and I are consigned to one of the lower kingdoms or the “ministering spirit” level of the celestial kingdom, and we want to shack up together and say that we’re married, what’s God going to do about it?

  204. NickyMac permalink
    June 9, 2010 1:15 am

    Sorry, Seth. It becomes a little confusing when an LDS person on this blog says one thing and then I comment on it as a general LDS belief and to find it’s not. Most LDS people I have spoken to have firmly held that position though.

    Actually I had read some of FAIR’s articles about marriage in heaven, especially the one commenting on Matthew 22:30, before I commented. I’m not intentionally one-sided 🙂
    I suppose you are right in that I ultimately don’t know, because the bible doesn’t paint a perfect picture of what heaven is like.

    The point that I was trying to make was, what Jack said more eloquently, that heaven is about the Church as the bride and Jesus as the groom and that relationship. I’m of the opinion that marriage excludes people. It creates unity between two people. Whereas the church is about unity with all believers. And we do see that quite a bit in the bible whenever Jesus talks about the afterlife. The lack of mention of anything else leads me to believe it will either not be needed or it will be some weird surprise that we will find.

    I’m not talking about you Seth, or even LDS people, just in general: I always wonder about those who get upset about the idea of not being married to their partner in heaven… Who comes first in their life? God, or their husband/wife? I guess I haven’t faced that trial because I’m not married yet but I believe that even another person can become an “idol” in our life. Our focus shouldn’t even be on anything like that.

    When I was researching about Mormonism last year, I went onto the mormon.org website and had a look at people’s testimonies and was shocked to find that so many of them were about how they were moved by the LDS belief about families in the afterlife (especially if a loved one had died). Even some of my LDS friends state that what drew them to the church was the community aspect which made them feel apart of a family. Comparing that with the heart-felt testimonies I hear in my own church which glorify God’s grace, saving them from things that I hope never to go through, there’s just a huge difference.
    I’m not saying that it’s the same for all LDS people, its just that I’ve noticed a lot of LDS have this as their focus.

  205. June 9, 2010 1:35 am

    Nicky, the reason so many are happy to discover the LDS Churches beliefs about the hereafter, is because generally speaking, the rest of Christianity does a frankly terrible job of addressing it. Anything Evangelical religions have to say about the afterlife is usually extremely vague and noncommittal.

    Hell is bad, and heaven is nice. And that’s about as far as it goes with you guys.

    This is deeply dissatisfying to many, many people.

  206. June 9, 2010 3:09 am

    Seth,

    Heaven in my view, and in the view of my believer friends, is a lot more than “nice.” Everlasting life with the ultimate Being who satisfies the soul completely, wipes away every tear, destroys evil, and is the One perfect provider and sustainer will be greater than anything we can comprehend.

    I can understand peoples desires to know more “details.,” but just because a religion provides those details by no means they are accurate. Especially given the fact that some of those details appear in conflict with the Bible.

  207. June 9, 2010 3:18 am

    Darrell, it isn’t enough to posit an ultimate being and say how awesome he is, and you get to be a part of it.

    You have to account for the human element. You have to let the person see how he or she FITS into the picture.

    Traditional Christianity does not do the best of jobs at this. And it isn’t sufficient to tut-tut the person and tell them to “stop being so selfish.” You have to show people their place in it all.

  208. June 9, 2010 11:05 am

    Seth,

    What you are suggesting seems to say that it all about “us,” e.g., What does it do for me? What do I get out of it? Show me the money! 🙂

    The Christian perspective is that it is not all about “us,” instead it is about letting go of “us.” It is about God – recoginizing His preeiminence in our lives, making Him Lord, realizing our utter insignificance, trusting Him, loving Him, worshipping Him, and being satisfied in Him. The Greatest Commandment tells us as much.

    The Mormon position doesn’t just tell a person what their place is… it flips the whole thing on its head and makes it virtually all about us and less about God.

    Darrell

  209. June 9, 2010 1:58 pm

    Like I said Darrell, it does you no good to respond to genuine human needs and questions with essentially:

    “quit being selfish – just learn to lump it.”

    the sabbath was created for man, not man for the sabbath. And religion is the same way – created FOR human beings.

    Any religion that cannot justify itself as beneficial and relevant for human beings is a failure.

    And acting like a crank, and telling everyone to “toughen up a bit” isn’t going to sell your cause any better.

  210. June 9, 2010 2:30 pm

    I can think of a whole bunch of areas concerning the Mormon afterlife where the answer is “we just don’t know” or “God will sort it out in the end.”

    Yeah, Mormons may have filled in more of the details about the afterlife than evangelical Christians have. But answered questions are a lot like missing links. Every time you fill one in, you create two more.

  211. June 9, 2010 2:57 pm

    God satisfies the genuine human need Seth… after all there are 2 billion Christians in the world, many of whom are utterly satisfied with the answers we have. And, if want to get into looking at the details of which religions appear to satisfy more, we can always start comparing the social statistics of Mormon and non-Mormon communities.

    What you call a “genuine human need” really is nothing more than a desire to get further answers as to what Heaven is like. This is really not a “genuine human need” it just “genuine human curiosity.”

    I firmly believe that curiosity in and of itself is not bad… in reality, it can be a wonderful thing. The problem comes when ones curiosity becomes so overwhelming that it leads to postulating answers that violate scripture.

    In some respects, in this area Mormons remind me of the Children of Israel while Moses was getting the Ten Commandments. They just couldn’t be patient, so instead of waiting for further guidance they built a God of their own and began worshipping it. Mormons have done the same thing with the hereafter… they have developed a bunch of “answers” as to what Heaven will be like. The problem is these answers in many respects violate what God has already told us.

    Christianity has an answer for what our purpose is Seth. The truth is you just don’t like the answer and have chosen an “answer” that you like more. (BTW, I could easily start playing your game here, i.e., it is your own insecurities that have led you to “needing more of an answer.” Don’t project your own insecurities on the rest of humanity.) Problem is, whether or not you “like” it says nothing about its truthfulness. After all, the Children of Israel appeared pretty happy and satisfied worshipping false idols. That certainly didn’t make the idols true.

    Darrell

  212. June 9, 2010 4:08 pm

    Guess it just depends on whether you believe in a God of the status quo or not Darrell.

    Millions of Christians can’t be wrong. God spoke once perfectly, and then stopped talking. Theology by consensus.

    And your golden calf attempt is just silly. Because these kind of stories have multiple applications. Let’s try a different one.

    God had a lot of NEW things to say to the Israelites, but they were too afraid to listen to it – so they RETURNED to the status quo religion of Egypt. Except in your case – you don’t have a golden calf.

    You have an inerrant book.

    There, how was that? Funny how these stories have so many different applications, isn’t it?

    Which is why I suggest we simply not go there. I can find just as many instances of idolatry in the Evangelical/Berean/Lutheran tradition as you can in mine.

    But ultimately, what’s the point?

  213. June 9, 2010 4:57 pm

    Which is it Seth? Does Christianity leave mankind with a vastly unfullfilled need or not? You can’t have it both ways.

    I am not proposing Theology by consensus, just pointing out that your accusation that Christianity leaves a “genuine need of mankind” unfilled does not ring true with reality. A third of the world appears to be okay with the answers provided by the Christian God.

    The Children of Israel didn’t reject further revelation from God, Seth. They weren’t patient enough to wait for it. Interestingly, this appears to be exactly what Smith did in the 1800s. He wasn’t patient in regards to the theological questions of his day, e.g., what happens to the mankind in heaven, do we have to be baptized to receive salvation, what about the indians, etc., and chose to create his own answers. Presto! Bingo! Mormonism.

    Mormonism has a tremendous appeal to people who want every little detail spelled out for them. That is part of the reason it can be so dangerous. Spelling out the answers doesn’t mean they are right.

    Darrell

  214. June 9, 2010 6:29 pm

    What’s going to happen to me – my identity – and my relations with other human beings isn’t a “little detail” Darrell. The fate of the earth, the silence of the heavens, and the loss of sacred ritual are not “little details.”

  215. June 9, 2010 6:34 pm

    At any rate, I don’t disagree with Jack’s remark that in answering the questions it does answer, Mormonism winds up opening a lot of other unresolved questions. I wasn’t really addressing that. I was simply talking about why a lot of people sign up for Mormonism.

    And they sign up with full internet access, and often a good deal of awareness of the criticisms of the LDS Church – and in open defiance of countercult temper-tantrums about Joseph Smith’s character.

    Answering these people’s needs by simply telling them they are being selfish is probably counterproductive.

    Just a thought.

  216. June 9, 2010 6:47 pm

    I never used the word selfish, or implied it for that matter.

  217. June 9, 2010 6:55 pm

    Darrell, it is the implicit meaning when you say that I need to quit worrying about what I need, and focus instead on your “awesome God” is it not?

  218. June 9, 2010 6:57 pm

    It is more about seeing ourselves and God in the proper perspective and relationship.

    Really and truly, the differences boil down to who God is and who we are. Almost every point we ever discuss boils itself down to those two points.

    Darrell

  219. June 9, 2010 7:01 pm

    I just don’t see why denigration of myself and my fellow human beings needs to be a part of paying proper honor to God.

    I would find it rather distasteful if my children felt that the only way to properly honor me was through self-loathing. I would want them happy and confident as a part of the family. Respectful of me, but glorying in their own wonderful attributes and properly grateful to me and my wife for how the things I have provided them with are helping to make them exceptional.

    Constant moaning about how wretched people are seems to me to be a rather poor repayment of the blessings of God.

  220. June 9, 2010 7:31 pm

    You are building strawmen here Seth. Nobody said anything about denigration of self, constant moaning about how “wretched people are,” or desiring ones children to be unhappy.

    Proper perspective God and self, of the ontological differences between the Creator and the created (the Potter and the clay), is a far cry from the way you are portraying it. In reality, it leads to happiness and confidence that is pure, everlasting, and properly founded.

    Darrell

  221. June 9, 2010 7:41 pm

    Alright, but what makes you think that maintaining some theoretical notion of ontology is necessary for these things? I don’t think the understanding of ontology really makes much difference in whether one feels awed by God or not. I think the ratio of devout Mormons who are humbled by the thought of God is just as high as the ratio among devout Evangelicals to be perfectly honest.

  222. June 9, 2010 8:20 pm

    Our basic views of the hereafter, i.e., whether or not life with God can and will truly satisfy our “basic human need” as you call it, are ultimately founded in our views of God and man. If one holds that man is truly God in embryo, I can understand the belief that life with God would not be “enough” to truly satisfy. However, if God is truly the one and only necessary being, and we are truly contigent upon Him and Him alone for our very existence, then I believe the view that everlasting life with Him will be better than anything I can ever comprehend.

    Our foundational differences involve whether there IS an ontological distinction between God and man. As I mentioned earlier, I think that almost every difference we discuss here boils down to: 1) The nature of God and 2) The nature of man.

    Darrell

  223. June 9, 2010 8:43 pm

    Of course life with God is enough to satisfy a Mormon Darrell.

    We just have a different notion of what that entails than you do.

    And why do I need God to be some incomprehensible “ground of my being” to worship him?

  224. June 9, 2010 9:04 pm

    That is not what many of your previous comments suggested Seth.

    For example:

    Anything Evangelical religions have to say about the afterlife is usually extremely vague and noncommittal. Hell is bad, and heaven is nice. And that’s about as far as it goes with you guys. This is deeply dissatisfying to many, many people.

    …it isn’t enough to posit an ultimate being and say how awesome he is, and you get to be a part of it.

    Any religion that cannot justify itself as beneficial and relevant for human beings is a failure.

    Are you now saying the Christian teaching that we will have life with God IS enough to satisfy?

    Darrell

  225. June 9, 2010 11:52 pm

    All I was doing was telling you why other people sign up. I wasn’t being encyclopedic of my own views. For myself, I am dissatisfied with what Protestantism offers – for a variety of reasons. At any rate, all my comments did was question why the Mormon paradigm is inadequate to achieve the positive things you were talking about. I never said the positive things you’ve mentioned are the only benefits to be had in a life of worship.

  226. June 10, 2010 12:23 am

    Joseph Smith and all other religious leaders haven’t come close to getting it right about heaven. How can we know this? Because the scriptures tell us that no one has conceived of how awesome it is going to be!

    “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor. 2:9).

    Heaven will be infinitely more pleasurable than the highest worldly pleasures imaginable!

  227. June 10, 2010 1:30 am

    Nice try Jessica.

    Except that Joseph Smith himself said that even the Telestial Kingdom (the lowest level of heaven) surpasses all human understanding.

    So we Mormons already have that angle covered – thanks.

  228. June 10, 2010 1:42 am

    You’re in such a chipper mood today, Seth! 🙂

  229. June 10, 2010 1:45 am

    Here’s something to cheer you up!

    From the blog stats…

    someone found this blog yesterday by typing this into a search engine:

    “seth r” mormon +2010

  230. June 10, 2010 2:08 am

    Another poor lost soul on the Internet do doubt.

  231. June 10, 2010 2:15 am

    That was me. I love being a thorn in Seth’s side so much that I follow him wherever he goes on the bloggesphere! 🙂

    Darrell

  232. June 10, 2010 3:09 am

    I just tried running that search on Google and it appears to bring up every single blog on the entire internet!! If you are following Seth around the internet I don’t know how you find time to work and go to school! 🙂

  233. June 10, 2010 3:17 am

    It’s a blessed miracle my kids have food and clothing.

  234. June 10, 2010 3:26 am

    Seth gets a few stalker hits at Tim’s blog sometimes, too. Not nearly as many stalker hits as me, I’m afraid.

    This is by far the creepiest stalker hit to make it to my site lately:

    “who did shawn mccraney have sex with?”

    Probably his wife, you pervert!

  235. NickyMac permalink
    July 5, 2011 3:20 am

    I was preparing my notes for my Bible Study group when I came across this verse:

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3).

    For some reason I remembered the discussion from this post and how everyone was arguing, from a biblical perspective, whether the universe was created ex nihilo or ex materia. It seems to me that the bible teaches us that the world was indeed created by a spoken word alone. It is important to have faith in the things that God tells us even if it is something that we can’t see/understand for ourselves. That is, if you are concerned with what the word of God has to say and not science…

  236. Seth R. permalink
    July 5, 2011 2:12 pm

    NickyMac, this has nothing to do with pitting science against the Bible.

    Let’s just stick with the Bible and analyze Heb 11:1-3.

    “The universe was formed….”

    What does “formed” mean?

    Does it mean ex nihilo? Or does it mean “formed” in the same sense a sculptor “forms” a statue of a horse – out of pre-existing materials?

    The scripture verse doesn’t say.

    “what is seen was not made out of what is visible.”

    This doesn’t demand ex-nihilo either. Are electrons “visible?” Is air always visible? Microbes? Energy? Dark matter? The world that was invisible to Paul was massive. But much of it was very much in existence.

    So the whole thing about visibility doesn’t demand ex nihilo either. It works just as much with creation out of an already existing universe.

  237. NickyMac permalink
    July 7, 2011 1:49 am

    The word formed has a double meaning so it can either mean ‘arrange’ or ‘to make.’ So I suppose we bring our own views to the verse. I’m not going to try and argue which sense of the word the author of Hebrews meant it, but I wil say that I believe he meant ‘created from nothing’. Either God created the invisible first and used it to create the visible, or He created it all from nothing. Either way it supports the ex nihlio position.
    You’re right that this verse doesn’t talk about God creating the invisible but other verses do.

    “For in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him and under Him” (Colossians 1:16).

    By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host…For He spoke and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:6, 9).

    Then as you read through the book of Job, it gets more specific as to God’s role in both the creation of the world and the maintaining of it.

    I may even amend my statement and say that before God created the universe, there wasn’t nothing because He existed. And God didn’t create the world from nothing. He created the world using His powerful words.

  238. Seth R. permalink
    July 10, 2011 3:11 am

    Fine. I respect your right to read it that way. But I think the other verses suffer from the same problems your first one did.

  239. Lethologica permalink
    July 30, 2011 9:07 am

    If your spirit-babies worship you, spank them!

  240. July 7, 2013 2:05 pm

    Reblogged this on jesuswords4today.

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