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Oh Prophesy to Me

June 28, 2010

The opening pages of church-produced Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints detail the necessity of a restoration. The argument can be summed up very briefly as follows: the power of the priesthood and many gospel truths were removed from the earth following the death of Christ. This began a long period of spiritual darkness known as the apostasy. Although many churches and Christians were honest in their intent, they did not have the authority and fulness of the gospel. But the dawn of the nineteenth century and the birth of Joseph Smith’s church were the springboard for a new awakening. As the book declares, “The long night of apostasy was about to end” (1996, p. 1).

The apostasy really is a pivotal issue that divides LDS from traditional Christians. Attempts from both evangelicals and LDS to reconcile, build bridges and seek unity are really fruitless when the very foundation of the one faith is that the other faith is apostate. The message that Joseph Smith declared that he received from God was that all the other Christian denominations were wrong and all their leaders corrupt.

Biblical prophecy has been used to support the claims of apostasy and restoration. In fact, the LDS Church has an entire list of references for the apostasy of the early Christian church.  These include the Isaiah prophecy of darkness covering the earth, Jesus’ warning of wolves entering the flock, and sections from the Book of Mormon that declare the non-LDS church to be “abominable above all other churches,” building themselves up to “get gain.”

Biblical prophecy is vital for traditional Christians and LDS to understand. Not only does it help us to know God’s plans for the future, but it helps us to believe Him by witnessing His faithfulness in the past. The Old Testament is rich with prophecies that foretell Messiah—prophecies that line up in great detail with Jesus. He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), from the tribe of Judah (Isa. 37:31), a descendent of David (Isa. 16:5), from Nazareth of Galilee (Isa. 9:1-2). He would have a miraculous ministry (Isa. 29:18), including ministry to the Gentiles (Isa. 49:6), but would be despised and rejected by men and rulers (Isa. 53:3; Psa. 118:22) and hated without cause (Psa. 69:4). He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12), which would then be returned and thrown into temple (Zech. 11:13). He would be pierced in His hands and feet (Psa. 22:16) and be served vinegar to drink (Psa. 69:21). His death was the payment for our sins (Isa. 53:5-6; Zech. 12:10). Not a bone on His body would be broken (Psa. 34:20). Soldiers would cast lots for his clothing (Psa. 22:18). The events of Jesus’ crucifixion took place within the precise timeframe of Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:25-26).

These Messianic prophecies are just some of the scriptural promises that have been a faith-building source of study to Christians for centuries.   Adding to the rich history of prophecy already established by Scripture, Joseph Smith also had a prophetic voice.  History has shown that his “Thus saith the Lord” did not always result in correctly forecast events.  However, many of his predictions are still included in the Doctrine and Covenants. Relevant to the issue of apostasy, Smith solemnly promised that the restored Church of Jesus Christ would never apostatize.

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

LDS today take great comfort in this promise. The church’s history may be under assault—fraught with marriage scandals, bank scandals, murder, racism and forgery—but these challenges would never send the church into apostasy. Joseph Smith prophesied that the work would continue until God said it was done.

But another Prophet proclaimed a very similar message much earlier in church history—earlier than the very inception of the church. The very Man that was prophesied of over and over in the Old Testament was also the author of prophecy in the New Testament. He accurately foretold His own death and resurrection (Matt. 20:17-19), the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Gentiles (Luke 21:23-24), the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:1-2), and the great commission prophecy of worldwide evangelism (Matt. 24:14). He promised that the church would survive and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matt. 16:17-18).

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

How could He have been so wrong?  How could Joseph Smith be able to do something that He could not?

I recently had Mormon missionaries at my house.  At the end of our conversation they took the opportunity to bear their testimony of the church.  I’d like to use this opportunity to bear my own testimony.  I testify to the LDS church that lights never went out on Christ’s church, darkness did not cover the face of the earth, and a new light did not dawn at the birth of Joseph Smith. The Man who fulfilled all prophecy and whose word is ever true promised that HE would build His church. Both Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ claimed that their churches would survive all the assaults of the enemy. Are you clinging to the promise of the True Prophet and King or instead to the words of a fallen man?

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354 Comments leave one →
  1. Ethan permalink
    June 28, 2010 10:13 pm

    You are comparing apples to oranges with these two prophecies about the church.

    Joseph Smith’s prophecy is that the Church institution would not fail.
    Christ’s prophecy is that the power of the grave will not block the passage of the dead church members into heaven.

    “…The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” is a reference to the grave, or people who have died and are locked out out from heaven. The Greek word for “hell” used here is “Hades,” the underworld of the dead. The word for “Church” used is in the partitive genitive form, meaning “her’s” or “those who belong to her (the church).” Church in this verse then is referring to members of the church. It is literally saying: The gates of the grave will not keep the dead members out of heaven. I have overcome the grave.

    Also, the word “gates” is a clue to this passage. What do gates do, do they attack? No, they lock you out. Jesus says “I am the way,” so he is the one in control of the gates of death, why would he smash them when Peter can easily open them with the key he recieved (authority). Christ IS the gate. When a gate “prevails” that means it has shut someone out. Also, Satan has power in THIS world only, he has no power hereafter, so he would not have power over the dead or the “gates’ holding them back there.

    Matthew 16:17-19, with its combination of gates, keys, and rock, definitely hinges on the subject of salvation for the dead, and the work by which they are admitted to the presence of the Father. It is otherwordly and has nothing to do with the survival of the early Church.

    See 1 cor 15 especially verse 55, isaiah 38:10 and psalm 16:9-10 for patterns of the death/gates situation.

  2. June 28, 2010 11:29 pm

    Ethan,

    I’m mulling over your response. It is interesting and I’ve never encountered this view before. Help me to understand your perspective. You say Matthew 16:17-19, with its combination of gates, keys, and rock, definitely hinges on the subject of salvation for the dead, and the work by which they are admitted to the presence of the Father. This doesn’t seem like a normal, literal reading of the passage. In fact, it completely misses the object of the sentence. The object is not “gates” or “hell” it is the church. “Gates of hell” is not the key to understanding the passage because it is a figure of speech. Imagine I said, “Ethan is so hungry that if he doesn’t eat his stomach will turn inside out.” Instead of understanding the clear literal meaning (i.e., Ethan is hungry). You begin to analyze the meaning of “turn” and “inside out.” You’ve missed the point.

    Further, why would Christ say, “I will build my church” if He clearly didn’t intend to do so? Was He confused or simply being deceptive?

  3. shematwater permalink
    June 28, 2010 11:49 pm

    I like what Ethan says, and he may be right. However, I do agree partly with Stephanie that the passage is not quite so obviously this as Ethan says.

    However, Ethan does make one very good point. In Matthew Christ is talking about the membership, not the intitution. He build the church on the Rock, or himself so that the faithful members could be saved. That power of salvation cannot be stopped. But it does not imply the intitution, or the authority, of that salvation would not fall.

    Of course, one would ask how you could be a faithful member when the institution does not exist? This is why Ethan is making the reference to Salvation For the Dead.

    For me it is like this: The church is set up, and no one who remains faithful to it will be overcome by Satan. But it makes no garuntee for those who do not remain faithful. This is the only direct meaning from the Matthew passage.

    There is also the comparrison to Ancient Israel, who were promised that the Lord would give them the land of Canaan. He fulfilled this promise, but then drove them out due to wickedness. In like manner Christ promised to preserve the Church, but due to wickedness he withdrew his support.

  4. June 29, 2010 1:15 am

    Very well put Stephanie. This passage is very problematic for the LDS position of a great apostasy. Christ promised his church would never be removed or prevailed against by the powers of darkness, and it hasn’t. How wonderful a promise.

    Along these same lines… the LDS position about “plain and precious truths” being removed from the Bible has equal problems. For example, Smith made multiple changes/additions to the Bible that have no support whatsoever. The Great Isaiah Scroll found at Qum’ran demonstrates that the changes he made to Isaiah (supposedly to restore lost truths) are utterly wrong. In reality, the changes he made are nothing more than fabrications of his imagination. Smith didn’t restore lost truths because there were no truths lost. Why? Because there was no great apostasy.

    Darrell

  5. June 29, 2010 1:22 am

    Shem and Ethan,

    I really don’t understand how a normal, literal reading of the text results in the teaching of salvation for the dead. Are you saying that if you read Matthew 16 straight through–in context–you would get to this passage and instantly know that was that Christ wasn’t talking about the church (as it appears that He is) but was instead talking about salvation for the dead? It seems like you are twisting a passage that challenges Mormon doctrine to reach a doctrine that isn’t even addressed in this passage. I am curious though, are there any New Testament scholars who support this view?

    Shem, you said: In like manner Christ promised to preserve the Church, but due to wickedness he withdrew his support. If this logic were to follow through to the LDS church we would have to say that Christ withdrew His support of the Mormon church due to wickedness. Unless you want to argue that the early LDS history doesn’t include wickedness.

  6. Ethan permalink
    June 29, 2010 2:21 am

    Steph,

    The object of the passage (the church), is the most central part. However, the point is that this passage does not make reference to an institution on the Earth. The “church” reference are the individuals who make up the church, those who belong to it. You only need to get as far as the familiar symbolism of gates and keys to see that this is not talking about a satanic attack, but a passage from one place to another. Reading “keys” and “gates” as a is strange.

    You mentioned the context. Actually, this is the home run. In the verse just before Jesus asks Peter to re-affirm his messianic role, which was to free mankind from the grave, opening up the way to heaven.

    In the verse just after He frames the conversation in heaven where it belongs. He tells Peter that the keys he has are for a gate to the kingdom of heaven, not an earthly church. The rock is in heaven. The gate is in heaven and the keys too. Then comes the salvation work for the dead: “What you seal on Earth is sealed in Heaven.” Basically, power to seal something on Earth that opens gates for something in heaven. Proxy work. Keys/gates, no mistaking this.

    It all comes down to what gates and keys do. This is the only logical reading. Satan doesn’t send gates to destroy us.

  7. June 29, 2010 4:05 am

    Ethan,

    I get what you are saying…its just that it doesn’t make sense to me! 🙂 I’ve read the NT many times and have never come to this conclusion from a normal, literal reading of the text. Are there New Testament scholars who support this alternative reading?

    Also, I noticed you didn’t really touch on the issue that I brought up, but it is a very significant one. If “wickedness” will result in Christ removing Himself from His bride, why did He not remove Himself from the LDS church? Are you saying that the LDS church has never been wicked? Or that they are somehow less wicked than the early first century church? I’m curious about your view on this subject.

    Stephanie

  8. Ethan permalink
    June 29, 2010 2:00 pm

    Steph,

    I did a quick google and found this non-LDS reading immediately:

    http://www.hchmedia.co.uk/library/Mat%2016%20%5B18%5D%20Gates%20of%20Hades.pdf

    Notice his conclusion at the end. I think some fundamentalist conditioning may be influencing the “no apostasy” readings. People are fond of the romantic notion of dark forces not destroying the Church. But I agree with this guy, he is saying basically what I have said: that the word HADES is impossible to confuse as the realm of dead spirits. This is Greek 101. So this verse actually says nothing about apostasy either way since it deals with the afterlife.

    Your other question is a good one. I would say that the early Church was no less righteous than the LDS movement….at first. From my point of view the latter part of the NT reads like a massive meltdown. The apostles are frantically scrambling to hold things together as the wolves descend and truth hemorrages. There are truly many evidences for general apostasy, the need for a reformation not the least among them. By contrast, the LDS Church, although suffering setbacks, has maintained a cohesive orthodoxy from day one and a regenerating quorum of apostolic authority, gifts of the spirit, etc., all of which vanished from the early Church and are now sorely missing in Protestantism.

  9. shematwater permalink
    June 29, 2010 5:57 pm

    Beautiful Ethan

    Stephanie
    I do not think you would get this from a general reading of the passage as it stands in any english translation. In all truth I never thought about this before, as I am not real familiar with the Greek. But it makes so much sense now, especially after reading the link provided by Ethan. I still say that it is not obviously dealing with Salvation for the Dead (though I understand the logical progression to it), but the meaning is clearly not speaking against the apostacy.

    As to the wickedness of the early LDS church, many did fall into apostacy, and it was due to their wickedness. However, the leadership of the church has remained in tact, and the authority remains.
    Ancient Israel lost its leadership and Authority when it sought after a king. Nothing really went too well for them after this.
    The Early church lost the leadership and authority when the original Apostles were killed.
    In both of these there remained many who were righteous and faithful to the Lord. But once the leadership failed the majority followed, causing a loss of the promised blessings. I have always maintained that many who lived between the apostacy and the restoration were great people, faithful to that which they had and believing with all their hearts. But they were still in apostacy because the authority was lacking.
    The LDS church has not lost that authority, nor will it. God places all men on the Earth at the time he wants them to be on the Earth. He placed pharoah at the time of Moses because he new that he would resist Moses and allow God to desplay his power. He raised up David to be a king. He placed the twelve apostles in Galilee so they would follow Christ. He also placed all those who persecuted the church, and those wolves and false teachers that caused the apostacy. This is what Paul means when he talks of the Election of Grace in Romans 9. In this day God raised up his church for the last time, and he will send those spirits that will remain faithful and keep it on the Earth. It will not fall to eniquity because God has placed men in it today that will prevent such.

  10. shematwater permalink
    June 29, 2010 5:58 pm

    Sorry: Romans 11

  11. June 29, 2010 11:12 pm

    Ethan,

    If as you claim this passage is “otherwordly and has nothing to do with the survival of the early Church” can you please explain just what Jesus meant when he told Peter “On this rock I will build my Church…” Do you mean to claim that this means that Christ is only building an “otherworldly” Church? Does this passage have nothing to do with the physical Church on Earth? Was Christ only referring to a spiritual church? This is a rather dualistic reading of Matthew, don’t you think?

  12. June 29, 2010 11:27 pm

    Ethan,

    Thanks for the link! Looks like a good message. I don’t understand how it supports your view that the theme of the verse is salvation for the dead. In fact, the author repeatedly assures the reader that Christ intended to build His church and was able to do so. The opening paragraph makes it obvious that the author does not agree with your assertion.

    The great statement of Matthew 16:18 is that Jesus the Messiah will build His Church. That is the main point. He will gather His people, build His community. Nothing will prevent that happening. Nothing can withstand the declared purpose of God that in and through Messiah His promise to Abraham will be fulfilled and all the families of the earth will be blessed. The church of Christ will fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God, and it won’t happen without (or “outwith”) the church.

    Further, it is Jesus who builds His church, and not men. We are labourers, even co-labourers, but the church is never “ours” but His. Therefore the success of the world-wide church rests in the hands not of men but of the One who has “all authority in heaven and upon earth”, who has “taken up His power and begun to reign”, and “must reign until every enemy is under His feet.”

    I’m not arguing about the word hades. I agree with your definition–it is the commonly agreed upon Biblical understanding of the Greek word. I appreciated the viewpoint of the pastor’s article that you linked. But the definition of hades is not relevant to understanding the main point of the verse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you still seem to be saying that the main point is salvation for the dead. Again, I ask if you can provide a New Testament scholar who supports this view.

    I’d like to respond to your assessment of the alleged early church apostasy. You said, From my point of view the latter part of the NT reads like a massive meltdown. The apostles are frantically scrambling to hold things together as the wolves descend and truth hemorrages. Since we’re being honest 🙂 I guess I’d have to say that my perspective of the early LDS church is that it was a period of rampant licentiousness, amoral behavior, control and manipulation, blasphemy, and attempting to make money through religion. I’m struggling to understand how a church with as much negative history as the LDS church has would choose to lob assaults at the early persecuted church. I’m actually amazed that you would describe the sins of the early LDS period as “setbacks.” You mention “cohesive orthodoxy” but the orthodox view has evolved. Remember the Adam-God doctrine? Remember the mark of Cain? The LDS church had the gifts of the Spirit during this time period when the Protestant church did not? The Protestant church was undergoing a great revival in America during the time of the establishment of the Mormon church. The Second Great Awakening was marked by the fruits of the Spirit. This was the time that Christians became abolitionists, and teetotalers. Evangelism was at a peak with the circuit riding ministers. Desire for holiness was profound at this time and this was accompanied by a great increase in the prayer life of believers. The contrast of the revived Church in America with the LDS movement at that time couldn’t be more profound.

  13. June 30, 2010 12:51 am

    Shem said:

    As to the wickedness of the early LDS church, many did fall into apostacy, and it was due to their wickedness. However, the leadership of the church has remained in tact, and the authority remains.

    I’m not arguing that members of the early church didn’t apostatize. Some did! However, the letter of John to the seven churches clearly shows that, while some were corrupt, others were faithfully serving.–even under much persecution. And this was in the time period at the end of the New Testament. Supposedly the time period when the “lights were going out.” You mention that people in the LDS church fell into apostasy and I would agree. But it was more than just members. Leaders of the early LDS church have scandalous histories. You know this as well as I do. It really bothers me that a church with well documented scandals would choose to viciously attack the early persecuted church. Instead of stating specific sins that they supposedly fell into, generalized slander is smeared on the entire time period. If Christ kept His promise and did “build His church” do you realize that the LDS are slandering His Church?

  14. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:16 am

    Gundek & Steph,

    This discussion is about apostasy and whether Matt 16 promises the church would survive on Earth. Salvation for the dead is not really the issue so let’s not move the target…yet.

    All I am claiming is that, like this pastor says, Matt 16 DOES NOT describe the forces of Satan trying to destroy the church. We both agree that it deals with the dead spirits in “Hades” who are locked behind a gate of death and that Peter has the key to the “kingdom of Heaven.” This has nothing do to with apostasy and is not a valid argument against apostasy. Even this pastor agrees, and this is the crucial point I was making about the verse.

    Now, this pastor’s opinion about survival of the church is nice, but he is not using Matt 16 as support. He is vehemently claiming it is not about this world.

    So, to summarize: Each of us can have whatever opinions we want about general apostasy. We just can’t use Matt 16 as support either way.

    Now that we have that settled, I doubt that any Protestant NT scholars will notice the salvation for the dead theme here. That’s no surprise. However, we LDS see another layer here that dovetails with our doctrines. ALL of the pillars of the concept of salvation for the dead are present:

    1. A gate locking out dead spirits from Heaven.
    2. A priesthood leader with a key to the gate (the rock the Church is built on).
    3. A mandate to do sealing work on earth that is binding in heaven.
    4. In the next chapter (17) we have reference to Elias returning to prepare the way and restore the promises made. Thematically, very LDS “hearts of the fathers,” etc.

    That is the LDS temple work of baptism for the dead in a perfect nutshell. You may not see this, but LDS folks certainly do.

  15. June 30, 2010 2:24 am

    I am sorry Ethan but you are arguing against a straw man and you haven’t settled anything. First you should read your compatriots arguments. Shematwater among his other claims asserts

    “The Early church lost the leadership and authority when the original Apostles were killed.”

    I think that we can agree that this is a common explanation of the Mormon style apostasy. If the death of the Apostles was sufficient to set in play a great apostasy then the “gates of Hades” (death) most certainly “overpowered” the early Church by removing the “leadership and authority”. Unless you have another cause and effect for the apostasy that does not include the death of Peter this passage is about as clear a refutation of your position as we could ask for.

    You should also understand that the interpretation of the “gates of Hades” as death certainly falls into the historic “Christus Victor” understanding of salvation as a Christ’s victory over sin and death. Sin of course being what closed the gate to heaven and imposed the penalty of death in the first place.

    I am still wondering how you view “On this rock I will build my Church…”? Was this only a spiritual building or did Christ intend to build a physical Church? If Christ meant to build a physical Church was death to be allowed to cause its apostasy? Did Christ intend for the apostles to die off without setting up the required perpetual bureaucracy? Was this an oversight on His part? I would think that you can see how this is vital to a correct understanding of this passage. If the LDS view is that Christ was only promising to build an “otherworldly” Church as you suggest then I must admit that I have totally misunderstood almost everything I ever read about Mormonism.

  16. June 30, 2010 2:26 am

    This has nothing do to with apostasy and is not a valid argument against apostasy. Even this pastor agrees, and this is the crucial point I was making about the verse.

    The pastor’s topic is hades, not the apostasy. However, to suggest that the pastor would agree with your view is a bit of a stretch. The pastor in this article clearly believes that Christ will build His church.

    So, to summarize: Each of us can have whatever opinions we want about general apostasy. We just can’t use Matt 16 as support either way.

    “Matt 16” is not a “support” for a position. It is a statement by a person who claimed He was God. Trying to reinvent the definition/meaning of a passage to fit it into a “salvation for the dead” teaching lesson just doesn’t work. Read over again what the pastor said the point of the verse was. “Jesus the Messiah will build His church. That is the main point.

    Now that we have that settled, I doubt that any Protestant NT scholars will notice the salvation for the dead theme here. That’s no surprise.

    I wasn’t requesting a Protestant NT scholar who shared your view. I simply said New Testament scholar. I offer up the challenge to you as a genuine request. When two opinions differ on the meaning of a passage it is not true that both views are equally plausible. Scholars who study the text in its original language are able to offer up their perspectives on this text. It is not responsible Bible study to interpret something completely outside of the normal/literal meaning and expect others to take you seriously when you haven’t proven that your view is a normative, scholastic perspective.

  17. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:39 pm

    Hades is the greek holding place for dead spirits.

    I agree and this pastor agrees.

    End of argument- you decide what that means for Matt 16 and how you can possibly interpret it any other way.

  18. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:56 pm

    Steph,

    You are deflecting the point. The pastors article was NOT about the church surviving. He simply started off by asserting his belief that the church would survive. Then he says “It is the phrase which follows this major statement which I wish to understand further….

    He then proceeds to spend the entire essay defending MY position about how Matt 16 has nothing to do with Satan destroying the EARTHLY church! Here a just a few of his quotes:

    “The thought that “gates” should fight is simply silly.”

    “My NASB sets aside the confusing use of “hell” here and gives the literal Greek word used — the gates which Jesus speaks of here are those of HADES — the grave, the domain of the dead.”

    ““Hades” or “Sheol” mean “the grave”. or “the abode of the dead”.

    “Unfortunately our English Bible translators have used the word “hell” for both “Hades”

    “It is a great text for Easter Sunday, the enemy here being thoroughly defeated is “Death”

    And his grand CONCLUSION:

    “I would conclude therefore that “the gates of Hades” is NOT a code denoting the powers of darkness. Search the Scriptures, and you will not find one verse which identifies Satan or demons with Hades. “Hell” is not depicted in Scripture as the nerve centre of the kingdom of darkness, and Satan does not have his board meetings there. In fact demons are not “from hell”, rather their final destination is “hell” [Gehenna, the lake of fire].

    “In fact, Jesus is making no statement whatever about the opposition of the enemy here, except as regards His overcoming the power of death. Rather, He is stating that death will not prevent His building His church..The death of His followers will not prevent His completion of His “ekklesia”, since He will raise them Himself on the Last Day.”

    Matt 16 is about Hades and the dead spirits there. How you can mistake Matt 16 for anything else is negligent and shoddy scholarship.

  19. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:06 pm

    Gundek,

    The Rock is Peter (Petra), Jesus church is founded on Peter’s authority. Peter has the keys to the church.

    The “Church” here is in the genitive partitive form of the Greek. That is specific to mean “Hers” or “Those who belong to her” (The Church). Any Greek student will tell you this is talking about the INDIVIDUALS in it, not the institution itself. The gates will not hold back the people. Combine that with the obvious meaning of “Hades” and this is clearly talking about dead people behind a gate. End of story.

    Any attempt to spin this as some sort of Lord of the Rings scene with satanic black demons marching out to kill the church is just silly. Gates don’t attack. Hades is the dead spirits NOT ON EARTH. Jesus says the key given to Peter opens a gate to “The Kingdom of HEAVEN.” Not one of these things is earthly, why would you impose an earthly context?

  20. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:22 pm

    Here’s Matt 16 as it should be translated in a ridiculously over the top language for those who aren’t getting this:

    Jesus speaking:

    “Listen up you guys, I have given this guy Peter the keys to heaven! In fact, Peter is going to be the foundation for all of you individual church members since he has the keys that I gave him. You want to get out of Hades, let Peter use his key. That’s really cool, now those of you who are dead and locked behind the gate of hades, don’t sweat it, Peter has the key and this gate will not hold anyone back because I have overcome death. Since Peter has the key on Earth, I texted him and we agreed that anytime he uses his key on earth, it will open up a gate in heaven too!”

  21. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:33 pm

    18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it……19 And (not a new message starting, this is a continuation of the previous sentence, he says AND, so the gate/key concept is being used here.) I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

  22. Ethan permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:35 pm

    This is so obvious it hurts.

  23. June 30, 2010 7:43 pm

    Ethan,

    The Greek word used for “Peter” and the word used for “Rock” in this passage are not one and the same word. They sound the same, but in actuality they can have different meanings. Peter’s name is Greek was Πέτρος . It denotes a small rock. The word that Christ used when he said “and on this rock will I build my Church” was πέτρα. It denotes a large rock similar to bedrock and conveys stability. As a result, your interpretation that Christ was saying He was going to build His Church on Peter is not necessarily accurate. I understand why you interpret it this way (as do Catholics), but it is not necessarily the accurate interpretation.

    Some have taken the position that Christ was using a play on words and the “this rock” that He was referring to was not Peter, but was something else. Given the differences in the words, the most logical reading is that the “this” that He was referring to was what He was praising Peter for having… faith. Christ started out by asking for a confession of faith and He ended the discourse by telling them not to reveal to anybody what they believed Him to be. Their confession of faith was the whole point of the discourse… as a result, it only makes sense that this is exactly what He was referring to.

    Reading through your analysis of this entire passage, I feel compelled to note that even if one assumes your interpretation is correct, given the LDS paradigm, the passage still has Christ telling a lie. The Mormon claim is that during the great apostasy the authority to act in the name of God, i.e., the Priesthood, was taken from the earth. There were no baptisms for the dead, no early baptisms, no Gifts of the Holy Ghost, etc. As a result, the ability for the dead to overcome the gates of hell was frustrated. There was nobody on earth to operate the “key” and open the gates of hell to release all those trapped in prison. As a result, Christ’s claim was an utter lie. The gates of hell did prevail by keeping people trapped inside.

    Honestly, I think your reading creates more problems for your position that it solves.

    Darrell

  24. June 30, 2010 8:39 pm

    This is so obvious it hurts.

    Ethan, I’ve asked you a total of four times to provide evidence that your view is a mainstream, normative interpretation of this passage. So far, instead of providing evidence, you point to a pastor’s Easter sermon on the gates of hades. Yes, it is interesting and I agree with the pastor’s points. Especially the point that the main point of the verse is that Christ will build His church. I’m not asking you for scholarship to support your view of the gates of hades. I’m asking you for evidence that this verse is teaching salvation for the dead. Are there any NT scholars who support this view?

  25. June 30, 2010 10:51 pm

    It seems pretty clear that a kingdom does not use its “gates” to beat enemies into submission.

    It uses gates to deny entry, or prevent exit. Not to attack.

    So it makes no sense to frame this as a description of how hell will attack the Church.

    Stephanie, Catholics are obviously going to have a much different take on this verse than you do, and they always have.

    And you keep forgetting here – you are talking to Mormons. MORMONS.

    Since when have we ever cared what your historical normal use is?

  26. June 30, 2010 11:30 pm

    Ethan,

    You are sounding more like someone “trying” to channel Hugh Nibley rather than a Greek 101 student.

  27. June 30, 2010 11:49 pm

    “Since when have we ever cared what your historical normal use is?”

    That is my quote of the day, thank you

  28. shematwater permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:00 am

    First, I think Darrel is right that Peter is not the Rockon which the church is built, but I do not think it is faith either. The Rock his church was to be biult on was himself, for he is the cheif corner stone. He built his church on his own power, and because he is God the gates of Hades could not withstand him.
    He gives the keys to Peter because he will no longer be on the Earth in a regular manner, and he needs, in a sense, a gatekeeper. Everything else that Ethan says is beautifully simple and I agree with everything he says.

    Now, STEPHANIE
    I never said the apostacy was complete by the end of the New Testiment, and neither did Ethan. He simply said, and I agree with him, that the New Testiment itself is full of the evidence that it had already begun. Even in revelation not all the churches were righteous. To most of them God sent a warning because they were falling. No one has ever given an exact date at to when the apostacy was complete, because no one knows. We only know that it started at the time of the apostles.
    As to the leaders of the church, half the scandals are more because you disagree with religious beliefs, and the other half are false creations of lieing men seeking the destruction of the church. So far I have seen no record of any scandal involving any of the Presidents of the church that really was such.

    GUNDECK

    Christ did build his church. But as Ethan pointed out, this verse is speaking of the membership and not the institution.
    The death of the Apostles did not allow the gates of Hades to withstand Christ. To take a literal meaning of the Greek, as given by the wonderful pastor that Ethan linked to, this verse speaks only to the physical death. Meaning that all those who die in Christ, or are the body of the church, will be raised from the dead as the body of the Church. Death no longer separates the faithful from the glory of Heaven. That is all it means, and I think this is the literal meaning of this verse as explained very nicely by that pastor. As such it has no reference to our existance here. It is simply a garuntee for what is to come for the faithful.

    DARREL
    There is no lie, especially from the LDS point of view. You seem to assume that baptism for the Dead can only be done for a person by one living at the same time. This is not true. All those who lived during the Apostacy will have their chance, which is the reason we do such work now, and why we do such geneology work. I am reminded of President Woodruf’s great vision of the few hundred men and women that came to him requesting their work to be done. Among them were George Washington, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Marie Antoinette, and many other from this very time period. Death, or the gates of Hades, has not withstood the power of Christ, and the dead continue to feel the blessings of it. And thus, no lie was told.

  29. shematwater permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:10 am

    Oh yeah, Stephanie

    Just because most people don’t want to accept something is not proof it is wrong. I like what Seth said, as we really don’t care that much about general, common, or normal opinions. We don’t really care how many other people agree on something. If we think it is wrong we will tell you.
    I think Ethan has given enough scolarly evidence to prove one point, which is the main point I think he was going for (even though it got kind of lost). That point is this: the simple fact that original Greek and one who knows that language show this idea is enough to discard the verse as a definite proof against the Great Apostacy.

    (Oh, and if you actual understood the Adam-God doctrine you would know that it still taught and accepted. It is just not called this because too many outside the church have given this label to a false, twisted meaning of the true doctrine.)

  30. July 1, 2010 1:10 am

    Gundeck, the point was that it is rather silly to complain that Mormons are not being “traditional” when the entire point of the religion is that the tradition has been getting it fundamentally wrong for nearly 2000 years.

  31. July 1, 2010 1:19 am

    Shematwater,

    I will let Ethan explain his source but the “Church” cannot be in the genitive partitive form of the Greek for 2 reasons. First “Church” is the direct object of the verb. Second there is no specific “partitive genitive” form in the Greek language. “Partitive genitive” is a syntactical category not to a specific grammatical form.

    Your interpretation brings the question when did Christ stop building His Church?

  32. July 1, 2010 1:28 am

    Seth,

    I understand what you meant. I just thought it was unique.

  33. July 1, 2010 2:00 am

    Shem,

    Let me see if can explain my point a little clearer. Christ’s said that the “gates of hell” would never prevail against the Church. Ethan’s position is that this is a literal statement rather than a figurative statement, i.e., that the gates of hell literally refers to actual “gates” which are locked trapping people in hell (Mormon spirit prison). However, given the Mormon paradigm of a great apostasy in which the Priesthood and Keys to “unlock” these literal gates were no longer on earth, the gates of hell most certainly DID prevail against the church. All of the people who died on earth during the roughly 1700 years of the great apostasy went to hell. Even though many of these people professed faith in Christ, they have been suffering in prison. In reality, only a few of them have been given the opportunity to be let out.

    In addition, given the fact that the Mormon God cannot predict what future free creatures will do (as professed repeatedly by Seth and Ethan), Jesus nor the Father could have known for sure that a restoration would ever take place. As such, God did not really “know” if Baptisms for the Dead would ever be performed, and He (and as a result, WE) cannot be sure that the gates of hell will ever be overcome by all the people who are trapped there. God cannot be sure that their names will ever be found, and that they will ever be baptized for. This is the problem with a finite God… He cannot be sure that anything will happen. The gates of hell have prevailed for hundreds of years over many members of the church who have professed faith in Christ and very well may continue to prevail over them. This sounds very little like the gospel of Christ which tells us that when we profess faith in Christ we “have (present tense… not a future promise) eternal life.” None of the people who are in hell “have” eternal life and with a God who cannot predict what future free creatures will do, none of them can know for sure if they will ever have eternal life.

    Darrell

  34. July 1, 2010 2:15 am

    Darrell, this only proves my point that the only biblical difference between Mormons and Evangelicals is which verses we choose to take literally, and which ones we choose to take symbolically.

  35. July 1, 2010 2:36 am

    Seth,

    I agree that this is a huge contributor to our differences. Thing is, it doesn’t matter which ones we choose to take as literal or symbolic. What matters is which ones are literal and which ones are symbolic and this makes a big difference when defining what God we worship. As such, it is very disturbing to see a person or church flippantly disregard hundreds of years of scholarly research and historical analysis simply because they are dogmatically taught to believe something different based upon extra-blblical resources that have no basis or evidence. This does not bode well for defining which verses are symbolic and which verses are literal.

    Darrell

  36. July 1, 2010 2:38 am

    that have no basis or evidence.

    Sorry… I meant have no historical basis or evidence.

    Darrell

  37. July 1, 2010 3:07 am

    Well, you know me Darrell. I’m not much for this theology-by-consensus stuff.

  38. July 1, 2010 3:17 am

    When in danger “poison the well.” Nice way to avoid engaging Seth. Sounds a lot like the reasoning that members of the flat earth clan use to avoid all the evidence for a round planet. Works for them too.

    Darrell

  39. July 1, 2010 3:31 am

    Which still leaves us with the question…

    Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

  40. July 1, 2010 4:46 am

    Shem said:

    First, I think Darrel is right that Peter is not the Rockon which the church is built, but I do not think it is faith either. The Rock his church was to be biult on was himself, for he is the cheif corner stone. He built his church on his own power, and because he is God the gates of Hades could not withstand him.

    This is one of the reasons I like you. 🙂 You really do think things over and give a thoughtful response. I agree with the above statement 100%.

    As to the leaders of the church, half the scandals are more because you disagree with religious beliefs, and the other half are false creations of lieing men seeking the destruction of the church. So far I have seen no record of any scandal involving any of the Presidents of the church that really was such.

    To prevent derailing my own post, I will not specifically address the scandals and specific sins of the past leaders of the LDS church. They have been discussed and re-discussed ad nauseum. Suffice it to say, your denial of these events and sins does not make them go away. The history of the LDS church’s founding years has been extensively documented by LDS and critical scholars. They may quibble on the implications of that history, but the facts themselves remain generally undisputed.

  41. Ethan permalink
    July 1, 2010 5:06 pm

    All I will say in follow up here is, yet again, Hades is an umistakable reference to dead spirits who have passed on and gates don’t attack, they hold you back.

    Let’s bring this full circle, we are trying to answer the basic question of whether Matt 16 is proof that Jesus declared the institutional Church would never apostatize. We have given enough solid evidence that Matt 16 is not dealing with this issue at all really.

    Therefore Stephanie, your inquiries (4 times) about salvation for the dead, priesthood authority or church scandals aren’t the point. We can discuss those on their own somewhere else. But the original post here was to hold Matt 16 in the face of Mormons and say, “There could not have been an apostasy, see!”

    That is just simply not true, Matt 16 does not contradict any LDS doctrine, rather, as we have shown it can be used to bolster it.

    Now, let’s talk about the other things….

  42. July 1, 2010 6:41 pm

    That is just simply not true, Matt 16 does not contradict any LDS doctrine, rather, as we have shown it can be used to bolster it.

    Actually, it does contradict LDS doctrine – even when using your interpretation. As I pointed out in my comments, under LDS doctrine the gates of Hell have prevailed against the Church, continue to prevail against the Church, and very well may continue to prevail against the Church all to God's chagrin.

    Darrell

  43. July 1, 2010 6:44 pm

    Ethan,

    Where do you find that “Hades is an umistakable reference to dead spirits”. It seems to be very plausible that the “gates of Hades” refers to either death or more probably the power of death. This would have the passage read something like;

    ” And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and DEATH shall not prevail against it.” or ” And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the POWER OF DEATH shall not prevail against it.”

    If we take your view this passage would read something like;

    “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and DEAD SPIRITS shall not prevail against it.” or “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the POWER OF DEAD SPIRITS shall not prevail against it.”

    Plus Hades is the place that dead spirits go, not what dead spirits are called. I am confused about how you can get from the “Church” to “individuals who make up the church”, particularly dead ones?

  44. July 1, 2010 6:48 pm

    Well, I think we’ve established the meaning of this passage as being thoroughly controversial.

    Next topic anyone?

  45. Ethan permalink
    July 1, 2010 7:11 pm

    No no. That’s actually not what I was saying.

    Darrell, you can’t back that up. Jesus says the gates SHALL not prevail (future tense). ie, Jesus will have victory over the grave (Hades) in the end. There is no reason to assume that if they prevail for a season that Jesus was forever wrong. When all of the saints come flying out of their graves, trust me, His word will be fulfilled. This is harmonious with evangelical and LDS teachings.

    Gundek, pot-ey-to, pot-ah-to. We’re saying the same thing: That Matt 16 is talking about the afterlife (Either the spirits themselves or the place they abide). Either way it has nothing to do with earthly things like general apostasy.

    From Wikipedia: HADES…”The New Testament uses the Greek word hades to refer to the temporary abode of the dead (e.g. Acts 2:31; Revelation 20:13).”

    So Matt 16 is saying the “gates of the temporary abode of the dead.” The gates of DEATH will not overcome the those who are part of Christ’s Church Body. This is radically different than the topic of earthly institutional apostasy. Not even close.

    Don’t fell threatened by this guys, like that UK pastor, all Protestants can embrace this truth. It doesn’t prove the LDS Church is true. It’s just ridiculous to use it to prove there was no apostasy. That is wildly out of context.

    Can we agree on that?

  46. July 1, 2010 7:12 pm

    I am quite enjoying this one. I am looking forward to Ethan explaining how an accusative noun can be identified as a partitive genitive form.

  47. Ethan permalink
    July 1, 2010 7:36 pm

    gundek: Look at the last object in the verse…..”gates shall not prevail against IT. The “it” that the gates of hades will not prevail against is in the genitive.

    Translated as such: “Upon this rock I will build my (one) church (accusative), and the gates of hades shall not prevail against (the parts) her’s (genitive, or possesive).

    Here’s a word by word greek showing the forms:
    http://biblos.com/matthew/16-18.htm

    When you put “her’s” or “those who are her parts” (members) in the context of a gate in the temporary abode of dead spirits. You do not have the topic of apostasy at all. You have victory over death. So this verse does not apply at all to the original post.

  48. July 1, 2010 8:40 pm

    Ethan,

    Yes “autos” is a a genitive. But it is a genitive of the object of the noun Church. A partitive genitive refers to parts of the whole, there is nothing in the context of this passage that limits the whole (church) into parts (members). Nobody would argue that the Church is not made up of members but the language in this passage is concerned with the whole.

  49. July 1, 2010 9:28 pm

    Darrell, you can’t back that up. Jesus says the gates SHALL not prevail (future tense). ie, Jesus will have victory over the grave (Hades) in the end.

    The problem is Jesus also told us that when we confess faith in Him we have (present tense… not a future promise) eternal life. However, as it stands now according to your interpretation of this verse and Mormon doctrine, there are people in Spirit Prison (hell) who have confessed faith in Christ. Therefore, they do not CURRENTLY have Eternal Life. They are trapped in Hell due to the apostasy and the resulting inability to overcome the Gates of Hell. As a result, the gates have prevailed against them.

    In addition, given the nature of the Mormon God who cannot predict the future actions of free creatures (again, your understanding), He cannot promise that they will ever have eternal life. He has no idea if the future actions of free creatures will result in the names of those in Hell being discovered. In addition, even if they are discovered, He cannot be sure that free creatures will be righteous and willing to be baptised for them. In reality, this God is powerless to promise virtually anything to the poor creatures trapped in hell. He may have provided a way for them to be let out, but due to the apostasy He cannot promise if anyone will work out the plan to allow them to exit Hell.

    Darrell

  50. Ethan permalink
    July 1, 2010 11:26 pm

    iPhone, beware of typos…

    Gus, we’re moving into semantics here. Gundek, he genitive form still allows for a possessive reading (belonging to) so autos can still imply parts of a greater whole. Even if you are right about it referring to the church as a whole, that would mean the CHURCH is in hades (dead) and will resurrect. That’s a mormon apostasy position. Your better off referring to individuals like the pastor did.

    Guys, none of your arguments change the fact
    that this verse is talking about gates holding back the dead in hades and not apostasy.

    Darrel, maybe God, who saw everything from
    the beginning, knew how this would play out. And maybe Matt 16 is not a promise to preserve the institutional church at all.

    all play out.

  51. Ethan permalink
    July 1, 2010 11:43 pm

    Is a Latter-day restoration any different than a radIcal, earth shaking medieval reformation? How?

    If its not the same thing, does that mean that if the reformation never happened, and the pre Protestant church existed, that would still be alright for you today?

  52. shematwater permalink
    July 2, 2010 12:24 am

    DARREL

    You do not understand the doctrine of the LDS concerning the spirit world that is refered to as Hades. From the time of Christ’s death there has been missionary work being done in this world. Spirits in Paradise have been crossing through the “Gates of Hades” to preach to the spirits in prison. All those who except the true gospel are brought out of Hades, and into Paradise. As such, the “Gates of Hades” have not prevailed, even in the time of the Apostacy. They have been opened by Christ, and all the faithful who accept him pass through into the spirit Paradise to await the the second coming and judgement.
    The Spirits in Prison are not kept in prison, except by their unwillingness to become part of the Church of Christ.

    The LDS doctrine fits this perfectly, when you actually understand what the LDS doctrine is.

    STEPHANIE

    I have yet to see the proof. That is what I have said. I know many stories told, and I have seen attempts at proof. But I have never seen any actual proof. (Like the unproven claim that Joseph Smith married women who were already married.)

    Now, I love the scriptures. I love the Bible. I love discussing the Bible with anyone. Anyone who simply wants to talk about the Bible, without the hidden desire to prove the LDS wrong, will find me very logical in my interpretation of verses, and very willing to give what I would consider the obvious interpretation of a verse, without the LDS doctrine helping me to see more. And I appreciate that you enjoy such. Thank you.

  53. July 2, 2010 1:09 am

    Ethan,

    Claiming that a genitive can be paritive kind of misses the point. The genitive form itself needs to be further classified before you can interpret is function. In Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics the basic rules for identifying the parititive (wholative) genitive is defined as:

    “This is a phenomenological use of the genitive that requires the head noun to have a lexical nuance indicating portion. For example, “some of the Pharisees,” “one of you,” “a tenth of the city,” “the branch of the tree,” “a piece of pie.””

    Don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself. Missing from your argument is any identification of a grammatical structure signifying a portion of the whole. Without any indication in the syntax of “portion” (part of) in the passage we simply don’t find the lexical support for your interpretation.

    I am at a loss how you can identify the Church as being in Hades. The dative phrase “on this rock” clearly identifies the location where Christ will build His Church. This phrase shows a nonphysical or spiritual sphere and to assign a physical location seems to go beyond the passage.

    There is a significant difference between the Protestant Reformation and the Mormon restoration. I would suggest that you read Calvin’s Prefatory Address to King Francis in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. He says in part:

    “Surely the Church of Christ has lived and will live so long as Christ reigns at the right hand of the Father. It is sustained by His hand and defended by His protection; and is kept safe through His power.”

    The Westminster Confession of Faith the binding doctrinal Standard for the ordained laity and clergy in my denomination says:

    “This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. (Rom. 11:3–4, Rev. 12:6,14) And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them. (Rev. 2–3, 1 Cor. 5:6–7)”

    The Manual for Church Doctrine According to the Church of Scotland explains:

    “The Reformers believed that it was the Roman Church that had departed from the Apostolic Church… The Reformers sought not to destroy the Church as a united and visible body, but to strengthen it and cleanse it… In the eyes of the Reformers there was no real disruption at the Reformation – baptism and ordination were held as valid and the Reformed presbyter emerged from the Roman priesthood; the Catholic Church Reformed was no national sect, but the universal Kirk…”

  54. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 1:25 am

    Gundek,

    Autes-it (ref 846 on biblos.com), definiton 3: personal/possissive pronoun. According to Biblos it has a possessive component.

    If the “location” of the Church on the rock is the only necessary proof for no apostasy, then why is there the Hades connection, which we have shown at length to be the realm of dead spirits behind a locked gate? Hades is part of the same sentence and represents a physical location. What role does Hades play in your interpretation? Why does Peter have a key to a gate that enters the kingdom of heaven? How do you interpret the end of verse 19 about sealing on earth and heaven?

    As for the reformation, that seems like kind of a gloss. Most evangelicals I know are very hostile to Catholicism. Would you be cool then if all of your children and your wife joined the Roman Catholic Church and started praying to Mary, paying indulgences and believed the Pope was the prophet of God? Because this was the Church for 1500 years.

    Protestants are better off claiming there was an apostasy and that the reformation was the restoration.

  55. July 2, 2010 1:50 am

    I am too tired to be typing tonight. Here it is again without all the typos. Sorry!! I will proofread better next time.

    You do not understand the doctrine of the LDS concerning the spirit world that is refered to as Hades. From the time of Christ’s death there has been missionary work being done in this world. Spirits in Paradise have been crossing through the “Gates of Hades” to preach to the spirits in prison. All those who except the true gospel are brought out of Hades, and into Paradise. As such, the “Gates of Hades” have not prevailed, even in the time of the Apostacy. They have been opened by Christ, and all the faithful who accept him pass through into the spirit Paradise to await the the second coming and judgement. The Spirits in Prison are not kept in prison, except by their unwillingness to become part of the Church of Christ.

    Shem,

    I was a member of the LDS Church for most of my life. I served in multiple callings, one of the last of which was as a Member of the Stake High Council. As such, I understand LDS doctrine fairly well. One thing you are forgetting here is that in order to be admitted into Paradise, the spirits in prison must accept the vicarious ordinances that are performed for them here on this side of the veil. Why do you think that President Woodruff shared the story of the supposed spirits of dead presidents appearing to him begging for their ordinances? Because he was trying to stress how anxious they were for them to be done so they could be released from Hell.

    This is from lds.org. Emphasis is mine.

    A place called spirit prison is reserved for “those who [have] died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets” (D&C 138:32). The spirits in prison are “taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that [are] necessary for them to know” (D&C 138:33–34). If they accept the principles of the gospel, repent of their sins, and accept ordinances performed in their behalf in temples, they will be welcomed into paradise.

    As a result, my point stands in that these spirits are trapped in Hell until the ordinances can be done for them. The Mormon God cannot be sure when or if these ordinances will ever be done (since He cannot know the future actions of free creatures) and, therefore, we truly have no assurance that the Gates of Hell can ever be overcome.

    Darrell

  56. July 2, 2010 1:58 am

    Except that he’s pretty good at accurately predicting trends.

    Enough to ensure his covenants and promises anyway.

    So it’s all good.

  57. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:00 am

    Darrell, You’re overlooking one thing. Namely, a one thousand year millenium with Jesus at the head of the restored Church overseeing the work himself. I for one believe 99% of the work will be done then when an opened veil will make for easier logistics. One of the main purposes for doing work for the dead in mortality is for our benefit as well since we have barely made a dent thus far.

  58. July 2, 2010 2:04 am

    Darrel, maybe God, who saw everything from
    the beginning, knew how this would play out. And maybe Matt 16 is not a promise to preserve the institutional church at all.

    Ethan,

    The only way God could know it would play out is if He knew the future free actions of at least SOME creatures, which you contend He cannot know.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that your interpretation is correct… I firmly believe that this passage is talking about how the earthly church, made up of true professors and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who have been granted Eternal Life, will never be removed from the earth. My point is simply that your interpretation is internally incoherent with your positions in other areas.

    Given your view of God, He cannot promise that the gates of hell (as you interpret them) will never prevail over individual followers of His. If He does promise this and does mean it, then He must be know the future free actions of at least some creatures. If this is the case, given your view, then the Mormon position of free agency is toast.

    Darrell

  59. July 2, 2010 2:13 am

    Like the unproven claim that Joseph Smith married women who were already married.)

    Shem,

    I don’t intend to side rail this post, but this has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. In fact, you can go to Family Search dot org here:

    http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/AF/individual_record.asp?recid=7762167

    This is an LDS owned resource, so it is not produced by a group with an axe to grind. If you look up many of the women who were married to Smith and compare the dates of their marriage to Him with the dates of their marriage to their other husbands, you will find that he DID marry women who were married to other men.

    Darrell

  60. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:14 am

    Darrell,

    I believe in God’s dimsensions of omniscience, a state of existence that we cannot comprehend, he had literally already seen every act on this planet before it was even created. That doesn’t rob our agency, since we still had to come down and choose for ourselves and learn to discern light from darkness through our own wilderness journey into a fallen world.

    His view was from the beginning, so every prophecy and plan, including spirit prison, was according to a result he already knew would occur.

    And your interpretation of Mtt 16 is wrong. Even Wikipedia knows this:

    “Hades = The temporary holding place of dead spirits.” I am curious how you interpret Hades to be of this earth.

  61. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:21 am

    in fact, can anyone give me a coherent evangelical reading of Matt16:18-19?

    It must include explanations for these specific elements:

    1. A deliberate word play on the Greek word Petra as a dualistic meaning for both Peter and Rock.

    2. A gate trying to overpower the dead spirits in Hades. Saying this is the forces of Satan is unacceptable.

    3. A key to the kingdom of Heaven given to a prophet on Earth.

    4. Sealing done on Earth by the authority of that prophet that is effective in Heaven also.

    I truly want to hear your response, one that makes more sense than the LDS concept of salvation for the Dead. Lay it on me.

  62. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:26 am

    What is your comprehensive explanation for this passage:

    Thou art Peter (PETROS), and upon this rock (PETRA) I will build my church; and the gates (BAR ENTRY) of Hades shall not prevail against it (DEAD SPIRITS) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (PROPHET HAS KEYS TO HEAVEN, KEYS OPEN GATES): and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (PROPHET IS ABLE TO PERFOM WORK ON EARTH THAT IS BINDING IN HEAVEN).

    Anyone?

  63. July 2, 2010 2:32 am

    Ethan said:

    Therefore Stephanie, your inquiries (4 times) about salvation for the dead, priesthood authority or church scandals aren’t the point. We can discuss those on their own somewhere else. But the original post here was to hold Matt 16 in the face of Mormons and say, “There could not have been an apostasy, see!”
    That is just simply not true, Matt 16 does not contradict any LDS doctrine, rather, as we have shown it can be used to bolster it.

    I guess the thing that I am confused about in your interpretation is the location of the church. Clearly Christ intended to build the church on Himself. You believe that Christ is the head of the church and I believe that. In the New Testament He is described as the “head” and the church as the “body.” We know from Scripture that Christ ascended into heaven after the resurrection and now sits on the right hand of the throne of God. Positionally speaking, believers are seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). I don’t understand how Christ can be building His church in hades while He is in heaven. That doesn’t make much sense. The point of Him being the head and we being the body was that the church has actual functions here on this earth. The mouth shares the gospel, the feet carry the good news to far away lands, the hands help the downtrodden, etc. Why would there be NT analogies to a body or a building if there was no planned outworking of that analogy?

    Anther promise that Christ made the church is this:

    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt 18:20)

    All throughout the ages there have been people who have met together in the name of Jesus. Fox’s Book of Martyrs tells the story of many of these people who were killed for the sake of Christ. According to the LDS faith, these “churches” didn’t have any authority, lacked the necessary keys for administering ordinances, were missing many plain and precious truths, etc. Yet, Christ promised those believers that He was with them. He promised He would be with “two or three gathered together” in His name.

  64. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:33 am

    One more thing. We have documented extremely well that hades is referring to the temporary holding place of dead spirits (the UK pastor also). A place NOT of this world.

    Yet, the the binding work Peter is supposed to do is ON EARTH.

    Peter’s work is to be done on Earth. The result of his work is realized in Heaven. His work involves some kind of key to Heaven. Hmmmm… Does 2+2 still equal 4?

    If someone can provide a more logical and reasonable explanation for these two verses I will jump ship. But it must be comprehensive and deal with this passage as the whole God meant it to be.

  65. July 2, 2010 2:42 am

    Ethan has quoted wikipedia. That settles it. We can all pack our bags and go home now because we all know wikipedia is never wrong about anything. Get real!!!!

    Ethan, the Church is not in Hell. The church is on earth. Christ is not referring to an organization He established in Hell. He is referring to the Church He started on earth. As such, you are the one with problems with this verse.

    The only logical reading is that “Gates of Hell” is figurative just like the “key” He gave Peter. Unless of course you think He actually handed Peter a physical key. Does Monson have that key locked up in a secure place guarded by the Dananites? 🙂

    Even Mormons take the reference to “keys” as figuratively referring to a power He gave Peter! You are being literal in once section of the verse and figurative in the next. Your exegesis is mind numbing!

    I believe in God’s dimsensions of omniscience, a state of existence that we cannot comprehend, he had literally already seen every act on this planet before it was even created.

    If this is the case, based upon repeated professions by you and Seth on numerous posts, man is not free. “If God knows what we are going to do before we do it, we are not free to do otherwise.” This is almost a word for word quote from you and Seth on previous posts. As such, your belief in man’s free agency goes bye bye!

    Your position is internally incoherent.

    Darrell

  66. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:43 am

    Steph,

    I think I just figured out our log-jam. All of you are assuming that the Church must be on Earth. What if the Church is the body of believers in Heaven? What if the “gates of hades” not prevailing means that people are able to pass into Heaven from the grave to join Christ?

    Nothing in this verse rules this scenario out. And as I have shown the passage is riddled with an Earth/Afterlife conbo theme. What if we aren’t thinking big enough? We all know that this world is an illusion and the real world is out there.

    You ask why God would let the Church fall. There were many people who shared your feelings when Jesus died. They thought the Messiah should come to rule and reign Israel. When he died a criminals death, many turned away. But Christ’s victory was not of this world. The Church is not of this world either. The ultimate state of the Church is in another world. Could Matt 16 be referencing a church beyond Earth? Is that why the gate of hades, death, is to be overcome? Is that why Peter’s key is not for an Earthly Church (Kingdom)?

  67. July 2, 2010 2:44 am

    Ethan,

    yes αὐτός (autos) is a pronoun and it can show possession, but that would require a specific grammatical structure that is not found in this passage. Up until now you have been arguing that αὐτός (autos) was showing Partitive (Wholative) Genitive not a Possessive Genitive. My question would be what does αὐτός (autos) own or posses? Identify the noun owned by the genitive pronoun?

    Gates of Hades is not in the dative form and is not referring to a physical location. The Location (nonphysical) of the Church on the rock is necessary because of the grammatical structure of the passage. Gates of Hades is referring to the power of death, Christ conquered death for His Church, neither His death, or Peters, or any other Saints death will prevent Him from building His Church on the faith of Peters confession. But you know this because you read David Evans PDF.

    Peter doesn’t have the keys to a gate. He has the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, in the first century context the holder of the keys was one of the most important people in the household with a level of great authority. “bind” and “loose”, are both terms used to show rabbinical legislative authority. Both of these show the extraordinary level of authority that Peter and the leaders of the Church have.

    No I wouldn’t be pleased if my Children joined the Roman Church but if you think it was the Church for 1500 years I can recommend some Church Histories that may help. I think my Eastern Orthodox Friends, Oriental Orthodox and the Waldensians may disagree with your view of the Church.

  68. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:45 am

    Darrell,

    wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. You don’t get this at all. I assure you many of us do.

  69. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 2:48 am

    Darrell,
    Obvisouly the key, gates and rock are symbolic.

    But they represent REAL concepts and REAL states of our existence. And NONE of them in this verse deals with Earth, except Peter’s Sealing power. Can you prove any of this is occurring on Earth?

  70. July 2, 2010 2:52 am

    Yes, because the Church He established was on this planet. Where were Peter, James, and John? In Hades? Come on!

    wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. You don’t get this at all. I assure you many of us do.

    If you would like, I can pull up some of your’s and Seth’s comments on God’s inability to know the future actions of free creatures from previous posts. I assure you… I am not wrong on this. Your position in incoherent.

    Darrell

  71. July 2, 2010 2:55 am

    Shem:

    I have yet to see the proof. That is what I have said. I know many stories told, and I have seen attempts at proof. But I have never seen any actual proof. (Like the unproven claim that Joseph Smith married women who were already married.)

    Going back to the apostasy of the LDS leaders vs. apostasy of the early Christian church, I’d like to address this issue once more. It really is a significant issue to deal with. The claim that the LDS church has made is that Christ removed Himself from the church after the church fell into a state of apostasy. My question for you was why Christ would descend upon a church in an apostate state. You may not feel that there is conclusive evidence for some of the claims made against the LDS leaders and I would heartily agree. There have been instances where false accusations were made. However, there were also accusations that were proven to be true. For example, Joseph’s marrying other men’s wives (the point you brought up) is a well documented fact–not conjecture. This is documented in secular and LDS history. If you’d like to read the FAIR article describing one of Joseph’s polyandrous marriages you can find it here. Other scholars, including LDS author Todd Compton, designate a full 33% of Joseph’s wives as being also married to other men at the same time as he was. These are simple facts, not disputed accusations. Other facts include the Mountain Meadows Massacre authorized by LDS authorities. The doctrine of blood atonement was taught by Brigham Young. Mormon men engaged in plural marriage with their own nieces.

    I have difficulty understanding how the LDS church can level the accusation of apostasy at the apostolic church period and not be even willing to acknowledge their own sins. Jesus words on this subject are particularly apropo.

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:3-5)

    Earlier Ethan had described the early church period as “massive meltdown.” I would suggest that, prior to pointing the finger, the LDS church may want to look at the four fingers pointing back at them and their own history.

  72. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:01 am

    Gundek,

    You are still underestimating both the literal and symbolic meaning of hades. If the Church overcomes the power of the gates of hades, then that means that it has died and been resurrected. Again, this is the LDS view of general apostasy you are postulating.

    Also, there is no way you can fail to connect the symbolic combination of a gate and a key together. If a gate to “the holding place for dead spirits” exists, and Peter is promptly given a “key to Heaven” in the same breath, is that coincidence? You don’t see a correlation?

    You have also reduced this mysterious pasage about sealing to a bland cliche of “an extraordinary level of authority,” which has absolutely no meaning. Especially since The Topeka Rock Canyon Assembly of God has no such person at the helm.

  73. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:03 am

    Darrell,

    Prove to me that anything in this verse deals with Earth (outside Peter’s sealing power to Heaven).

  74. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:05 am

    For my proof I will offer up ALL of the major thematic concepts actually PRESENT in the passage that can each be commonly defined as NOT of this Earth:

    gates of hades. key to heaven. sealing in heaven.
    The only “earthly” connection you could draw is “upon this rock I will build my Church.” BUT IT NEVER SAYS WHERE. So it could be hereafter, especially since every other concept in the verse IS.

  75. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:08 am

    Bottom line: I see a LOT of speculation and extra-biblical imposition going on here. We must stick with the original Greek text which is firmly dealing with the hereafter.

  76. July 2, 2010 3:09 am

    Prove to me that He is talking about an organization built in Hell. You can;t do it because it is such a strained reading of the verse as to make it incoherent.

    Was Peter (the leader of the Church) in Hell?

    Was James in Hell?

    Was John in Hell?

    No! They were all on earth AS MEMBERS AND LEADERS OF THE CHURCH HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.

    But, yeah Ethan, He certainly was talking about the Church being built in Hell. Makes a ton of sense…. (eyes rolling).

    Darrell

  77. July 2, 2010 3:13 am

    Bottom line: I see a LOT of speculation and extra-biblical imposition going on here.

    Actually, you are the one bringing an extra-biblical view to the text. You are bringing the Mormon view of Baptism for the Dead and Post Death Salvation to the text. That is really the only way you can come to the conclusion that Hell is something a being can be released from and that the Church exists in Hell. There is absolutely nothing within the Bible which can or would lead to this doctrine.

    Darrell

  78. July 2, 2010 3:17 am

    For my proof I will offer up ALL of the major thematic concepts actually PRESENT in the passage that can each be commonly defined as NOT of this Earth:
    gates of hades. key to heaven. sealing in heaven.

    key to heaven – given to Peter ON EARTH
    sealing in heaven – power given to Peter to do ON EARTH
    Peter – ON EARTH
    Jesus – ON EARTH
    Church – ON EARTH
    Rock – ON EARTH

    I could keep going, but I think I’ve made my point. It makes no sense to take all these things which are done ON EARTH and place them in Hell based upon the figurative statement “gates of hell.” The only way you can come to this conclusion is by bringing an extra-biblical a priori view to the text.

    Darrell

  79. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:23 am

    Darrell:

    The Church is not in Hell! This passage does not say the Church is in Hell. I’m not claiming that.

    All I am saying is that hades is the temporary holding place for dead spirits. EVERY major biblical and classical scholar agrees with this view of hades. Toddlers who have seen Disney’s Hercules movie agree with this view.

    Anyone who fondly asserts that the gates of hades has anything to do with Earth is wrong. Read the PDF from the UK pastor. He makes the case for this passage being exactly what I say it is: about death and resurrection, Jesus overcoming the grave.

    Jesus did not say that James and John are involved. Peter was told the Church would be built upon his authority, and then Jesus immediately gives him a key to HEAVEN. Right after he describes a locked gate to the grave! Nothing I have said is extra-biblical here.

  80. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:28 am

    key to heaven – given to Peter ON EARTH (BUT DIRECTED TO HEAVEN)
    sealing in heaven – power given to Peter to do ON EARTH (BUT DIRECTED TO HEAVEN)
    Peter – ON EARTH (BUT GIVEN A KEY TO HEAVEN)
    Jesus – ON EARTH (WASN”T THERE FOR LONG, if that’s the requirement I win)
    Church – ON EARTH (NEVER SAYS THIS – YOU’RE ASSUMPTION)
    Rock – ON EARTH (NEVER SAYS THIS, IT COULD BE ON MARS)

    Here’s what’s CERTAINLY not on Earth:

    hades and the dead there
    whatever Peter’s key opens
    whatever peter is sealing IN HEAVEN.

    Really hades is the key here. Read the UK pastor’s PDF above.

  81. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:31 am

    Darrell, this is an argument you’re just never going to win. For all the reason that the UK pastor lays out. Before this devolves into a Bill McKeever style emotional infant fest, let’s compose ourselves and re-read the above posts that say what we are just parroting now.

  82. July 2, 2010 3:35 am

    Ethan,

    I can assure you I take sin and death very seriously and look forward to “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” If the LDS consider this apostasy, I am guilty as charged.

    Its not the “Key to Heaven” it is the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven”. There is a significant difference. These keys signify divine authority in Christ’s Kingdom. “bind” and “loose” are contemprary first century AD terms used by Jewish religious leaders to express their authority. These aren’t particularly mysterious.

    I am looking for “sealing” in 19 English translation of this passage and missing it? Can you show me what I am missing?

    Don’t you think it is rather presumptious to judge that the Topeka Rock Canyon Assembly of God doesn’t have “divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry.”

  83. July 2, 2010 3:39 am

    key to heaven – given to Peter ON EARTH (BUT DIRECTED TO HEAVEN) – Ah, but it is still ON EARTH.

    sealing in heaven – power given to Peter to do ON EARTH (BUT DIRECTED TO HEAVEN) – Nevertheless, it is still ON EARTH.

    Peter – ON EARTH (BUT GIVEN A KEY TO HEAVEN) – Nevertheless, given ON EARTH.

    Jesus – ON EARTH (WASN”T THERE FOR LONG, if that’s the requirement I win). But He was WHILE HE SAID THIS.

    Rock – ON EARTH (NEVER SAYS THIS, IT COULD BE ON MARS). Yeah, you’re right… when Jesus said “THIS ROCK” I am sure He was pointing to Mars.

    Church – ON EARTH (NEVER SAYS THIS – YOU’RE ASSUMPTION)

    Are you serious? That is so ridiculous I don’t even know what to say. I guess Christ’s great commission was given to the apostles while they resided on another planet.

    Really hades is the key here. Read the UK pastor’s PDF above.

    Question begging!! That is kind of the whole point of what we are discussing. So I guess I can question beg too… No, Christ and the Church He built are the real key here.

    Darrell

  84. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:46 am

    Darrell,

    I bought a London Metro day pass to use on my London trip. But I ordered it and received it in Utah, so of course it’s for Utah. Nevermind it is a pass for London….Ahh, but it’s still in UTAH!!!

  85. July 2, 2010 3:47 am

    Darrell, this is an argument you’re just never going to win. For all the reason that the UK pastor lays out.

    If by win you mean convince you, you are most likely correct. If, however, you are insinuating that you have the correct interpretation, I beg to differ. Your position is internally incoherent, unsupported by hundreds of years of scholarly research and historical analysis, and assumes an un-biblical viewpoint derived from extra-biblical (actually, I would go so far as to say anti-biblical) resources.

    Darrell

  86. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:47 am

    You can’t prove that anything in this passage is talking about an earthly Church. It could just as easily be a Church in Heaven.

  87. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:50 am

    Darrell, now you are just being obstinate. Can you please define what “the gates of hades” means to Darrell?

  88. July 2, 2010 3:54 am

    Normally I would have bowed out by now but the General Assembly floor debate is ongoing.

  89. July 2, 2010 4:04 am

    All I am saying is that hades is the temporary holding place for dead spirits. EVERY major biblical and classical scholar agrees with this view of hades.

    I will end for the night with this. I want to make sure you understand what I am saying. I agree with your above statement. My point is that this does not change the fact that the Church Christ was talking about was ON EARTH. There is nothing at all within this passage to lead to the conclusion that the Church Christ was claiming He was building was in Hell. As such, it is completely illogical to interpret the Church as existing in Hell and the “gates of hell” as literal rather than figurative. The only way you come to this conclusion is by bringing an a priori belief to the text.

    It makes much more sense to interpret the main point of this verse to be about CHRIST BUILDING HIS CHURCH and that it would never fail. Interestingly enough, the Pastor you keep referring to says as much in his article. Unfortunately, this contradicts the LDS teaching of a great apostasy and the view of a finite God who cannot know the future free actions of His creatures (as professed by Seth and other Mormons repeatedly on this blog).

    Darrell

  90. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:04 am

    Darrell, is letting his anti-LDS animocity seep through. I would love to see him have this debate with the non-Mormon pastor from that PDF, that guy was much more thorough in his essay than I have been. Darrell somehow thinks my point here will spell doom for Protestantism and cause everyone to be LDS. Ridiculous. My position is perfectly in harmony with his faith. All I am saying is that this passage has been mistakingly used as an argument against apostasy. That’s it. It’s not a case FOR apostasy either.

  91. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:12 am

    There is nothing at all within this passage to lead to the conclusion that the Church Christ was claiming He was building was in Hell. As such, it is completely illogical to interpret the Church as existing in Hell.

    Nice Darrell. Classic anti-Mormon sensationalism. Classic twisting of an oppsing position and view to make it seem repulsive. I’m not even going to justify that with a response. If anyone thinks I believe that Jesus is the Satanic head of a major denomination IN HELL, please go back an reread this bloated thread.

    Read this evangelical take that I am on board with:
    http://www.hchmedia.co.uk/library/Mat%2016%20%5B18%5D%20Gates%20of%20Hades.pdf

    The google: HADES, SHEOL, NEW TESTAMENT and have a comparitive linguistic meander. Then read Matt 16, look me in my blogger eyes and tell me it is not that.

  92. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:16 am

    For Darrell, hades is not really hades, keys to heaven are really just keys to earth, and things sealed in heaven are really just meant for earth.

    And of course, because Jesus told all of this to Peter on Earth, clearly all of it is certainly in reference to mortality and earth life ONLY.

  93. July 2, 2010 4:19 am

    Also, I don’t take issue with much that the Pastor said. What I have a problem with is the LDS view that Christ’s Church being removed from the earth is somehow consistent with this verse. This is simply not possible unless one holds to the un-biblical teaching of post death salvation and Christ’s Church existing in Hell. Even then Mormons still have the problem of a finite God not being able to know the future.

    In addition, I highly doubt the Pastor in the above article agrees with these views either. He is a Pastor of a Pentecostal Church in England… they don’t really subscribe to the idea of an apostasy or the church existing in Hell.

    Darrell

  94. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:21 am

    I think we should all start believeing that everything mentioned in Revelation is actually going to take place on Patmos. After all, that’s where it was written, of course it is about Patmos. And John was there too! Everytie it mentions heaven or hell (hades, keys to heavenly things) DON’T BE FOOLED BY THIS TRICKERY. It is all abotu Patmos my friends.

  95. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:27 am

    What I have a problem with is the LDS view that Christ’s Church being removed from the earth is somehow consistent with this verse.

    Darrell, This verse says NOTHING about this. It doesn’t say that an apostasy happend. Its not Pro-LDS. It does not say it would not happen, it’s not pro-ev.

    It is not about apostasy.

    From the pastor’s PDF:

    “Unfortunately, much so-called “spiritual warfare” has been built upon a wrong understanding of Matt 16:18. Starting from a false foundation, a very shaky set of principles have been built up….”

    “I would conclude therefore that “the gates of Hades” is not a code denoting the powers of darkness. Search the Scriptures, and you will not find one verse which identifies Satan or demons with Hades.”

    The biblical concept of hades/sheol could literally not be more removed from the idea of apostasy. Church survival on earth is an extra-biblical imposition.

  96. July 2, 2010 4:29 am

    The conclusion from David Evans’ PDF (Lets give this Pastor credit for his work instead of calling him the non-Mormon)

    “Jesus is building His church – His own death has not prevented Him doing so – the death of any of His people does not prevent His doing so, since He loses not one of those the Father has given to Him but will raise them up at the Last Day.”

  97. July 2, 2010 4:32 am

    For Darrell, hades is not really hades, keys to heaven are really just keys to earth, and things sealed in heaven are really just meant for earth.
    And of course, because Jesus told all of this to Peter on Earth, clearly all of it is certainly in reference to mortality and earth life ONLY.

    Okay, after this one, I HAVE TO GO TO BED. Tomorrow starts early, and it is after mid-night on the east coast.

    For me:

    Hades is Hell.

    Keys to heaven were given on earth so that what is bound ON EARTH is bound in Heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven.

    There is no reference to sealing in any of these verses. Gee, I wonder where Ethan gets that word from, and why he so carefully inserts it into the discussion??? Could he be referencing extra-biblical resources he has accused me and others of using?

    And of course, Jesus told Peter all of these things ON EARTH so that they could have affect for us WHILE WE ARE ON EARTH, not while we are in Hell. Because in reality, if we make it to Hell, our time is up… to late… sorry, game over.

    Darrell

  98. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:33 am

    In addition, I highly doubt the Pastor in the above article agrees with these views either. He is a Pastor of a Pentecostal Church in England… they don’t really subscribe to the idea of an apostasy or the church existing in Hell.

    Again, you’re dirt biking on the fringes of this debate.

    I have no doubt that this pastor thinks the church survived either. Of course he doesn’t believe in LDS apostasy notions. But that’s not the point at all. The point is that he arrived at this conclusion in spite of his own DETAILED expose of the true meaning of Matt 16. I’m sure he has good reason to believe in the earthly church. But whatever this guy believes, it is not supported at all by his revelation that this passage is really about hades/sheol, heavenly resurrection and other non-earthly things!

  99. July 2, 2010 4:35 am

    Good night all!

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  100. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:39 am

    Gundek,

    Thanks for that. He does deserve credit.

    Did you notice the focus of his last sentence? Death will not cause any to be lost. God will lose no-one to the grave and all will come back into the church (he’s talking about the church hereafter). He’s talking about overcoming the grave of hades and entering the gate of heaven’s kingdom via Peter’s key. It’s an Easter sermon! All things explicitly outlined in this elegant scripture. His hope is not for this fallen Earth. His hope is where it should be, where this verse places it, in the comforting mansions of our true home.

  101. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:39 am

    Nite Darrell,

    Have a good weekend

  102. July 2, 2010 4:45 am

    Ethan,

    What I noticed is the Christ is building His Church, that death has not prevented His building, that none of those given to Christ by the Father can be taken away from Him, and that His Church will rise on the last day.

  103. July 2, 2010 4:47 am

    Typo,

    What I noticed is the Christ is building His Church, that death has not prevented His building, that none of those given to Christ by the Father can NOT be taken away from Him, and that His Church will rise on the last day.

  104. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:49 am

    Darrell said: For me: Hades is Hell.

    No wonder we aren’t getting through. You need to review David Evans’ PDF. Now I see the problem, anyone who thinks hades is “hell” is never going to understand the true meaning of Matt 16.

    It’s interesting to note that the official explanation of hades/sheol is very similar to the LDS concept of spirit prison. Mormons didn’t invent this concept, this goes back to very ancient times. I’m not claiming anything here per se, just pointing out a striking similarity.

    One thing Evans pointed out was that hades is used very rarely in the NT. Hell is used often. Everytime “hades” is used outside of Matt 16 it has specific connotations to the “temporary holding place for dead spirits” that we’ve talked so much about. For Darrell or anyone else to rip Matt 16 out of context as the ONLY place in the NT where hades means something entirely different is irresponsible.

  105. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 4:52 am

    Gundek,

    I agree. I just don’t see why this can’t be referring to an eventual final church that has truimphed over the grave in the hereafter. It seems the passage doesn’t specify exactly where this church will be. Couldn’t it just as easily be the kingdom of Heaven? grave gates and then Peter’s key to it seems to be a clue.

  106. July 2, 2010 5:12 am

    Darrell, I suppose I could pull some stuff on how a God that cannot (will not?) force human action – but allow it to be truly free – can still ensure his promises.

    But I’m not sure you’re worth the effort on this. Especially since God has already predestined you to be oblivious to any attempt at persuasion apparently.

    Suffice it to say, I’ve read plenty of Open Theist stuff on this and find it every bit as adequate an explanation of God as anything you have offered.

  107. July 2, 2010 10:55 am

    No wonder we aren’t getting through.

    Ethan,

    Hell and Hades are used interchangeably throughout the Bible as the abode of those who have died without knowing Christ. Rev. 20:13 in the KJV reads:

    “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”

    Once those who are dead apart from Christ are judged they are cast into their permanent abode which is called the Lake of Fire. Sometimes people will use the term Hell to refer to the Lake of Fire; however, that is not what I was doing. I was using Hell in the same sense as KJV Rev. 20:13.

    ————————————–

    Seth,

    No matter how you slice it, a God who is not able to know the future actions of free creatures is a God who in nothing more than a guesser/predictor. Perhaps He is a pretty good guesser, but He is a guesser nonetheless. If this is true, all of the promises we have in scripture contain no more power than the parent who sits by the 6 year old’s bedside telling them that nothing bad will happen tonight. Perhaps it will – perhaps it won’t, but in reality the assurance is powerless to do anything other than comfort, and in the end that assurance and comfort can (and sometimes do) end up being an utter lies.

    Darrell

  108. July 2, 2010 11:04 am

    I agree. I just don’t see why this can’t be referring to an eventual final church that has truimphed over the grave in the hereafter.

    Where is the Bible do you get the idea that Christ has formed more than one Church, i.e., one here on earth and one “eventual” Church that has triumphed over the grave?

    There is only one Church and those who are a part of it have been told that they “have (again – present tense… not a future promise) eternal life.” For those who have eternal life to be suffering in Hell simply because they lived during a time when Christ’s church failed on earth makes no sense.

    Darrell

  109. July 2, 2010 11:12 am

    Darrell, I suppose I could pull some stuff on how a God that cannot (will not?) force human action – but allow it to be truly free – can still ensure his promises.

    Oh, and Seth, I am with you in that if God forces human actions, they are not free. Forced freedom is a contradiction in terms. I haven’t said anything about God forcing actions… I am talking about God knowing what we are going to do. If He doesn’t know what free man is going to do, He cannot know the future of free creatures and truly can’t provide promises… He can only provide guesses/predictions.

    Darrell

  110. July 2, 2010 11:48 am

    Ethan,

    The form and grammatical use of the word “build” shows a continuous building of the Church not an on again off again effort. The passage doesn’t lend itself to a 1800 year pause in Christ’s work of building His Church.

  111. July 2, 2010 1:47 pm

    Darrell, no way around it.

    Creation ex nihilo + absolute foreknowledge = no free will.

  112. July 2, 2010 1:49 pm

    gundeck,

    Who says the work ever paused?

    I happen to view the Catholic and Protestant histories as paving the way for the Restoration in the 1800s. Under this view, Christ’s work never did halt.

    Don’t forget, most Mormons have no qualms whatsoever about calling the rest of you Christians.

  113. July 2, 2010 2:09 pm

    Creation ex nihilo + absolute foreknowledge = no free will.

    You are leaving a vital part out. God created free creatures. He has perfect knowledge of their future free actions. Since whatever God wills is true (and He willed us to be free), it is not possible for us to be anything other than free. In addition, you are conflating God’s contingent knowledge of our future free actions with His determing those actions. However, as a result of His knoweledge being contingent, it does not make those future free actions anything other than free. As such, your analysis is highly flawed and improper.

    What is unavoidable here is the fact that a God who 1) Does not know what is going to happen, and 2) Allows free creatures to make their own decision, cannot in any way shape of form provide promies that He is sure will come to pass. This makes Jesus and the God of the Bible out to be liars and leaves the people trapped in the Mormon Spirit prison hung out to dry.

    Darrell

  114. July 2, 2010 2:25 pm

    Seth,

    Did the Church have the authority of the Kingdom of Heaven, did it have the authority to bind and loose on Earth and in Heaven?

    I am aware of the trend in Mormon apologetic to posit a partial apostasy. Unless these theories are willing to grant that the Church had the “keys” and the authority to administer the sacraments (baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper) and preach the Word with authority they rob the Church of the ordained means of grace used to build the Church. Its hard to claim that Jesus took His keys and went home and still claim that He was building His Church.

  115. July 2, 2010 2:30 pm

    Darrell, if I created something out of nothing, with complete foreknowledge of how it would turn out – that means I programmed the creature to act and choose the way it did.

  116. July 2, 2010 2:31 pm

    I consider the compatibilist concept of free will to be more or less bunk.

  117. July 2, 2010 3:23 pm

    Darrell, if I created something out of nothing, with complete foreknowledge of how it would turn out – that means I programmed the creature to act and choose the way it did.

    This does not follow. If you create something out of nothing and give that something free will, then you are not choosing or forcing them how to act. Instead, you are giving them free will to choose for themselves. In addition, contingent foreknowledge is not a necessary condition for control or lack of free will. Bottom line… creation ex-nihilo, complete foreknowledge, nor the combination of the two lead to what you are asserting. Your argument is invalid.

    Darrell

  118. July 2, 2010 3:26 pm

    If I program a toaster to love me, does it love me?

    If I’m all powerful, do I get to declare that henceforth 2+2=19?

    Just because God is all powerful doesn’t mean he gets to defy the laws of logic.

  119. July 2, 2010 3:55 pm

    Creating a creature with Free Will does not defy the laws of logic. Neither does foreknowing (note… not forcing) what that creature will do. Again, your logic does not follow.

    However, what does follow is that if God does not know what we are going to do and does not force us to do anything, His promises are not truly promises… they are just guesses.

    Darrell

  120. July 2, 2010 4:38 pm

    If you created a toaster and gave it the free will to choose whether to love you or not, then its decision (whatever it may be) is freely made.

    Darrell

  121. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 6:29 pm

    Hell and hades are most certainly not the same concept at all. The term “Hell” is peppered throughout scripture and is quite common. The term hades is very rare and it always denotes what we have been tal;king about: “The temporary abode of dead spirits.” Most scholars recognize that hades is not synonymous with Hell (Your position is rather rogue).

    Again, I’ll use David Evans since he’s Team Protest (…the apostitized church…) like you:

    Regarding HELL: “When Jesus speaks of eternal punishment He uses the words “gehenna”, “gehenna fire” or “eternal fire” which are the consequence and outcome of final judgment.” This is Darrell’s Hell, although Seth and I come close I’m sure.

    Regarding HADES: “Hades is the Greek word that we find Jesus using as an equivalent to “Sheol” in the Hebrew OT. “Hades” or “Sheol” mean “the grave”. or “the abode of the dead”. The story Jesus tells in Luke 16 of the rich man and Lazarus is entirely consistent with what the Jews then believed about Sheol or Hades. The dead were locked in, the living
    kept out. It had two compartments, for the righteous and for the unrighteous. The righteous knew peace and contentment, whilst awaiting their redemption by the Messiah, but the unrighteous were in torment, fearfully awaiting their judgement. This is Sheol or Hades. The “nether world” of the dead.

    Darrell, this is still a losing battle for you. I would focus on the war and cut your loss on Matt 16.

  122. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 6:44 pm

    Gundek, are you talking about the Greek form? I could only find a generic “build” root in Matt 16:18 from Biblos:

    biblelexicon.org/matthew/16-18.htm

    oikodomēsō (to build a house), from “oikodomos” (a builder).

    I really can’t see anything here to do with a timeframe. I see Jesus saying, “I will build this church…” But does that mean today, next week, with Joseph Smith, Topeka Bible Church, or that it will be the Kingdom of Heaven? I’m I missing something?

  123. July 2, 2010 7:14 pm

    Ethan,

    Yes you are missing someting. οἰκοδομέω (oikodomeō) in Matt 16:18 is a finite verb in the first person(the “I” of the passage is doing the action), it is singular (one person doing the action), future tense (the action will take place), in the indicative mood (the action is real, not possible or contingent on intention), and it is an active voice (subject is performing the verbal action).

  124. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 7:45 pm

    Gundek, OK, help me break this down,

    1. οἰκοδομέω (oikodomeō) in Matt 16:18 is a finite verb in the first person(the “I” of the passage is doing the action), it is singular (one person doing the action). So basically the Lord is the one who is the builder. It is His Church after all. I am still troubled by the transmission of keys to Peter, I can’t ignore the key/gate motif as coincidence. Is the Lord delegating some “building” work here?

    2. Future tense (the action will take place). But this still does not get specific about when and where. All we know is that it is to be done later & we assume it has NOT occured yet.

    3. In the indicative mood (the action is real, not possible or contingent on intention). So the promise is real and prophetic, Jesus WILL have this church built and nothing will thwart it.

    4. It is an active voice (subject is performing the verbal action). This is a little abstract. Is it referring to point 1?

    Sorry, my BYU English major days have lingering side effects. I should have read the label. Deconstructionism is so cliche, I know!

  125. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 7:47 pm

    None of this rules out the Church being placed in the hereafter.

  126. July 2, 2010 8:10 pm

    Ethan,

    I hope that you aren’t claiming that Christ didn’t start building his Church until 1830?

  127. July 2, 2010 8:14 pm

    Darrell, under your view:

    1. God created me out of nothing.

    2. God knew exactly how I would turn out as he was creating me.

    Correct?

  128. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 8:32 pm

    ::chuckle:: No, not 1830. I think this is talking about a church that is not in this world.

  129. July 2, 2010 8:34 pm

    Then I would recommend looking at Acts.

  130. shematwater permalink
    July 2, 2010 8:51 pm

    I have no clue how you guys post so often. I steal about two hours a day for this, and I get only a few posts in. What do you guys do to give you so much time.

    DARREL

    You do not understand. The vision of President Woodruff was not because they were still in prison. In fact, from everything I have read it is fairly clear these men weren’t in prison at the time. George Washington, who was the spokesmen for the group, had brought a letter with several more names on it of people who also needed their work done, but who were unable to attend because they were working somewhere else.
    Joseph Smith, when discussing the thief on the cross who was to go to paradise explained that he would go there to await the vicarious work done for him.
    The quote you give from LDS.org actually supports what I said.
    “If they accept the principles of the gospel, repent of their sins, and accept ordinances performed in their behalf in temples, they will be welcomed into paradise.”
    All they have to do is accept the ordinance, they do not have to wait until it is performed. The acceptance of vicarious work is all that is needed, and they will wait in paradise for it to be performed for them. It must be performed before they can be resurrected, but not before they move from prison to paradise.

    Oh, I would like to point out a little notice at the bottem of each page of the website you linked to.
    “Ancestral File is a collection of genealogical information taken from Pedigree Charts and Family Group Records submitted to the Family History Department since 1978. The information has not been verified against any official records. Since the information in Ancestral File is contributed, it is the responsibility of those who use the file to verify its accuracy.”
    Considering that the website itself says it is not to be taken as an accurate source, but should be varified, using it as your only source does not prove anything.

    STEPHANIE

    I look at the links you gave, and in truth they still do not prove a whole lot. The evidence of Zina being sealed to Joseph Smith is only her own word. As such, without varification, it cannot be considered as proof. There are only nine women who can be proven to have been sealed to Joseph Smith beyond their own testimony. There are arond 27 who claim to be sealed to him, but two thirds only claimed this after he died, when he could not speak against it. It is not proof, though I do understand why people want to take it as such.

    As to the other scandals: Blood Atonement is not a scandal, it is a doctrine. If this is to be a scandal than all the proscribed executions in the Law of Moses must be scandolous as well, as they are exactly the same thing.

    Marrying your Niece: Abraham is scandolous as Sarah was his neice. Caleb, one of the two righteous spies of Israel, is scandolous, as he let his brother marry his daughter. I will agree that this is a scandal, but not because it is wicked.

    Lastly, the Mountain Meadows Massacre: It is a scandal, and should not have happened. But it was not the fault of the leadership of the church. It was a local Bishop and the people of that area. Brigham Young had given express orders not to interfere with the settlers, they just arrived a little late. This is what the evidence of this event tells us.

    So, as I said before, there is no real proof of the accusations made, unless the act is in truth not wicked and thus not evidence of Apostacy.

  131. shematwater permalink
    July 2, 2010 8:57 pm

    Oh, yeah.

    The Church of Christ, or the Church of the Firstborn as it is called in the Doctrine and Covenants (just for clarification of meaning, not to drag this into the discussion) is a spiritual church. It is an entity separate from the the institution of the church that was to exist on the Earth. It is comprised of those who are worthy of Exaltation, and no one else. It is a church that is in heaven, and not on Earth. This is what I think Ethan and I see in this verse.

    To put it in general Christian terms: The church of Christ is not the institution, nor is it all the members. It is those Christians are are Christian in heart as well as name (the circumsized of heart). As such it is separate from the Church here on earth, as that church admits anyone who is willing to publically confess Christ, whether they do so in their hearts or not.

  132. July 2, 2010 9:04 pm

    Shem,

    The only reason I can post so often recently is that I am working on my military retirement and am sitting in doctors offices not in the office. Once I start my new job it will pretty much be over.

  133. Ethan permalink
    July 2, 2010 9:28 pm

    Shem, I would agree with that.

    I’m not a hardcore blogger like Jack or Darrell. Strictly part timer. I work from home and spend a lot of time working online, having an iPhone has made it worse too, now it follows you everywhere… I have quite a bit of travels coming up this summer so I’ll likely drop off the grid.

    Seth and Shem, Which LDS thinkers do you recommend reading? I know you are high on Ostler, Seth, I’ve just started reading his stuff.

    All of you (including critics) should read Catherine Thomas’ new book “Light in the Wilderness.” She is a theologian who joined the LDS Church late in life and is heavy into philosophy. Her book is advanced Mormonism 600. I think it is the best book I have ever read that defines the LDS concept, every page is packed with treasures.

  134. July 2, 2010 11:31 pm

    Well, I think Mormons ought to have a grounding in Talmage (whether you agree with him or not – and that’s true of any LDS writer I would recommend). BH Roberts is another. Most of us have had more than enough of McConkie, but I’d still recommend him.

    Eugene England is worth checking out, as is Sterling McMurrin. Richard Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith should be required reading. I’m working through Ostler and he’s alright, though his writing style will get more mileage with some than others. In fact, if you are reading Ostler, just pay attention to the Mormon authors he cites.

    Early “Christians in Disarray” is what I consider to be the new definitive Mormon scholarly treatment of the Great Apostasy and you will definitely want to check out that collection of essays. You’ll probably also like Truman Madsen’s “Eternal Man” (if you can find it – my dad photocopied it for me – I could PDF a copy to you if you want).

    You should also check out N.T. Wright. He’s not a Mormon, but rather a bishop for the Church of England. He’s been doing a lot of stuff challenging the assumptions of the Protestant status quo and Mormon readers will definitely find his stuff very interesting. If you want a quick taste of one of his topics, check this out:

    I’m currently reading his book “Justification” where he basically claims that Protestants have generally been reading the Apostle Paul all wrong. Definitely a lot of possibilities in his writing, and better backed-up in scriptural depth than anything you’ll get from us.

    If you want some stuff on Open Theism, I’d suggest starting here:

    http://www.opentheism.info/

  135. July 3, 2010 2:28 am

    Me? A hardcore blogger?

    Nah. I only blog about dumb stuff these days.

  136. NickyMac permalink
    July 3, 2010 2:47 am

    How you interpret Matthew 16, is entirely dependent upon what your beliefs are about what happens when we die and what man is.

    Ethan, you believe that there is a spirit prison because you believe that a spirit exists forever, and is a separate thing from the body; hence it needs somewhere to go when a person’s body dies. So when you read Matthew 16, which says “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”, you automatically think that this is a place.

    Whereas, I believe that it’s a state. When a person dies and is put in the grave i.e. ‘sheol’ or ‘hades’ (or whatever word you want to use) they don’t exist anymore.

    Most Jews didn’t even believe in an afterlife, so when you’re referring to the Hebrew language and their understanding of what hell was, you have to take this into account. What you call ‘the abode of the dead’ was that it was literally what we think of as the grave today: a dirt hole.

    Otherwise, what does resurrection mean? Why would we need to be resurrected if we’re all still living? Even the concept of the afterlife requires bodily resurrection that has a physical dimension (CRI Voice Institute: Body and Soul).

    The promise of eternal life is only for those who choose God. Everyone might be resurrected to be judged but, for those who don’t choose God, it says “the wage of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Finished. Do not exist anymore.

    1 Timothy 6:15-16 tells us that only God is immortal. It says,

    “…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

    To explain my point further, God told Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die (Genesis 2:17). Obviously Adam and Eve did not die a physical death, because they went on to have children. Since God cannot contradict himself, He must have meant a spiritual death. They were, in fact, cursed to live mortal lives from this point on. God says to them in Genesis 3:19,

    “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

    Man without God cannot live. In Ephesians 4:18 it is described as “being alienated from the life of God.”

    Looking at the terminology used to describe our ‘soul’ I found that the Hebrew word ‘nephesh’ that we have translated to mean ‘soul’ possibly means more along the lines of ‘person’ or ‘life’. Likewise, the Hebrew word ‘ruach’ that is translated as ‘spirit’ refers to the breath that is a gift of God, a gift that animates human beings and brings life, and when that life goes leaves a person it returns to the one who gave it (Psalm 109:29-30; Ecclesiastes 12:7). Similarly we are told, in James 2:26 “The body without the spirit is dead.”

    Whether you think the body and soul are combined or separate impacts how you see God’s work in the life of man. The idea that only the ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ is sanctified and the ‘mind’ or ‘body’ is “untouched by God’s redemptive transformation” has complications. Paul taught the Corinthians that what they did to their body affected their spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

    Having said all that, when I read the verse in Matthew 16, I read it like this:
    “On the rock (Jesus) I will build My church and even when you don’t exist anymore, My church will not stop being built. It will continue on until I return for My bride (The Church).”

  137. July 3, 2010 3:01 am

    Ethan,

    Your analysis of the words Hades and Hell is rather simplistic. Hades is a Greek word that the LXX consistently uses to translate the Hebrew word Sheol. Both Hades and Sheol are two of four words that are consistently translated as Hell.

    Here are a two quotes from Eerdmans Bible Dictionary.

    The English word “hell,” as employed in the KJV, translates four words in the original biblical languages: Heb. še˒ôl, and Gk. hádēs, géenna (Gehenna) and tartaróō (a reference to Tartarus). Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 478.

    The KJV translates Heb. še˒ôl thirty-one times as “hell,” thirty-one times as “the grave,” and three times as “the pit.” Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 478.

    Hades is translated as “hell” in the KJV but is transliterated in the RSV. . . . In the story of the rich man and Lazarus . . . the rich man in Hades is said to be in torment and suffering from thirst (Luke 16:23–24; cf. Isa. 5:13). The reference to flame as the source of the torment suggests that, in this parable at least, Hades is virtually synonymous with Gehenna. Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 478.

    Gehenna is the Greek word most closely associated with the modern view of Hell as a place of eternal torment for those who are judged apart from Christ, i.e. the Lake of Fire as spoken of in Rev 20. As noted in the above quote Hades was used in the story fo the Rich man as being synonymous with Gehenna.

    Your contention that I cannot win the battle (whatever that means) is baseless. What are we at battle about? I was simply telling you that Hades can also be called Hell, and I was correct. Hades is consistently translated as Hell in the KJV.

    I also feel compelled to point out that your dogmatic assertion that Hades cannot be translated as Hell goes directly against your own church’s teachings. From lds dot org…

    Latter-day revelations speak of hell in at least two ways. First, it is another name for spirit prison, a temporary place in the postmortal world for those who died without a knowledge of the truth or those who were disobedient in mortality. Second, it is the permanent location of Satan and his followers and the sons of perdition, who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

    Interesting… spirit prison is called Hell.

    Well, so much for that topic… the battle is won!! 🙂

    Darrell

  138. July 3, 2010 3:13 am

    Darrell, under your view:

    1. God created me out of nothing.

    2. God knew exactly how I would turn out as he was creating me.

    Correct?

    Nice leading questions, but God cannot create free creatures who do exactly what He wants them to do Seth. Forced Freedom is a contradiction in terms. In addition, God contingently knowing what free creatures will do does not make God responsible for what those creatures do.

    God created free creatures from nothing but did not and could not decide in advance what those creatures would FREELY choose to do. If he DECIDED what their actions would be, the actions wouldn’t be free now would they.

    Try again.

    Question Seth… if God cannot know the future free actions of creatures, how did He prophesy so many things with such precision… many thousands of years before their occurance? For example… the soldiers gambling over His garments, his side being pierced, none of His bones being broken, or Peter denying Him three times just before the cock crowed?

    Darrell

  139. July 3, 2010 3:17 am

    One of these days I will get formating down pat. Sorry… below is a repost of my above comment with correct formating.

    Ethan,

    Your analysis of the words Hades and Hell is rather simplistic. Hades is a Greek word that the LXX consistently uses to translate the Hebrew word Sheol. Both Hades and Sheol are two of four words that are consistently translated as Hell.

    Here are a two quotes from Eerdmans Bible Dictionary.

    The English word “hell,” as employed in the KJV, translates four words in the original biblical languages: Heb. še˒ôl, and Gk. hádēs, géenna (Gehenna) and tartaróō (a reference to Tartarus). Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 478.

    The KJV translates Heb. še˒ôl thirty-one times as “hell,” thirty-one times as “the grave,” and three times as “the pit.” Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 478.

    Hades is translated as “hell” in the KJV but is transliterated in the RSV. . . . In the story of the rich man and Lazarus . . . the rich man in Hades is said to be in torment and suffering from thirst (Luke 16:23–24; cf. Isa. 5:13). The reference to flame as the source of the torment suggests that, in this parable at least, Hades is virtually synonymous with Gehenna. Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 478.

    Gehenna is the Greek word most closely associated with the modern view of Hell as a place of eternal torment for those who are judged apart from Christ, i.e. the Lake of Fire as spoken of in Rev 20. As noted in the above quote Hades was used in the story fo the Rich man as being synonymous with Gehenna.

    Your contention that I cannot win the battle (whatever that means) is baseless. What are we at battle about? I was simply telling you that Hades can also be called Hell, and I was correct. Hades is consistently translated as Hell in the KJV.

    I also feel compelled to point out that your dogmatic assertion that Hades cannot be translated as Hell goes directly against your own church’s teachings. From lds dot org…

    Latter-day revelations speak of hell in at least two ways. First, it is another name for spirit prison, a temporary place in the postmortal world for those who died without a knowledge of the truth or those who were disobedient in mortality. Second, it is the permanent location of Satan and his followers and the sons of perdition, who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

    Interesting… spirit prison is called Hell.

    Well, so much for that topic… the battle is won!! 🙂

    Darrell

  140. Ethan permalink
    July 3, 2010 3:47 am

    Tell me then mighty Darrell, how does the omniscient Christian academy define the meaning if “gates?”

  141. July 3, 2010 3:51 am

    Shem,

    All they have to do is accept the ordinance, they do not have to wait until it is performed. The acceptance of vicarious work is all that is needed, and they will wait in paradise for it to be performed for them. It must be performed before they can be resurrected, but not before they move from prison to paradise.

    I am sorry, but you are incorrect. This is from LDS dot org. Emphasis is mine.

    In the scriptures, the word paradise is used in different ways. First, as mentioned above, it designates a place of peace and happiness in the postmortal spirit world, reserved for those who have been baptized and who have remained faithful (see Alma 40:12; Moroni 10:34). Those in spirit prison have the opportunity to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, and receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation through the work we do in temples (see D&C 138:30–35). If they accept the gospel and their temple work has been done, they may enter paradise.

    Those who are in spirit prison (hell) are trapped there until their ordinances are done.

    Darrell

  142. Ethan permalink
    July 3, 2010 3:56 am

    Darrell, you’re Like an art critic who keeps pressing his nose into tight sections of a Matisse, jumping from one disjointed patch of oil to the next, smugly asserting that THIS is what each blob REALLY means. Over here is some red, over there some chartreuse, all the while failing to see that when you stand back the blobs form a bigger scene.

    You still have not provided a comprehensive explanation for all the elements working together in Matt 16:18-19.

  143. Ethan permalink
    July 3, 2010 4:12 am

    What is the proper function of gates?

    You have some bad hades info Darrell. I’ve been researching this NT term extensively from evangelical sources And all say the same thing:

    “The Greek hades is translated “hell” ten times in the KJV. Most recent versions transliterate the term, bringing it directly into English as Hades.
    The origin of the word is a bit obscure. Most scholars suggest that it is derived of two roots: a (a negative prefix meaning “not”), and idein (to see), hence suggesting, “not to be seen” (Thayer, 11). Others think it may originate with hado, “all receiving” (Vine, 368). In the final analysis, the theological meaning must be determined by the context in which it is found. There are several senses in which Hades is employed in the New Testament.
    Hades is used for the general abode of the spirits of the dead, whether good or evil. Jesus affirmed that he possessed the keys (authority to open) of “death” (the receptacle of the body) and “Hades” (the realm of the departed soul) (Rev. 1:18). In one of his visions, John sees “death” riding a pale horse, followed by “Hades” (Rev. 6:8). Both death and Hades will be emptied at the time of the judgment (Rev. 20:13-14), i.e., the grave will give up the body, and the spirit sphere will surrender the soul.
    By means of a figure known as a synecdoche (the whole put for a part), Hades is sometimes used to designate a limited region of the spirit world. Depending upon the context, that region may either be one of punishment or reward.
    For example, Jesus warned that the wicked inhabitants of Capernaum (who had rejected his teaching) would go down into Hades (Mt. 11:23; Lk. 10:15). When the cold-hearted rich man died, his spirit was found in Hades, a place of torment and anguish (Lk. 16:23-24).
    On the other hand, when Christ died, while his body was resting in Joseph’s tomb, his soul was in Hades (Acts 2:27-31), which elsewhere is called “Paradise” (Lk. 23:43). This seems to have been the same state as “Abraham’s bosom,” a place of comfort (Lk. 16:22,25).
    When Christ promised to build his church, and declared that the “gates of Hades” would not prevail against it, he may have been suggesting that when he died, Hades would not retain his soul, thus preventing the establishment of his kingdom. Or, he may have been proclaiming that the church would share ultimately in his victory over death at the time of the resurrection.

  144. Ethan permalink
    July 3, 2010 4:27 am

    The vast majority of these scholarly teachings agree. Honestly I have not found one that says otherwise. (except yours oddly).

    Then you still have the elements of keys, gates, and binding (sealing synonym), all of which have heavenly contexts, which surround this passage. I know you aren’t an idiot Darrell, you’re smart enough to pull the puzzle together.

  145. July 3, 2010 5:10 am

    If they seem like leading questions to you Darrell, I think that’s because even you can see where your position is logically heading.

    Really, the only reason we are free under your view is because God said so. But if you look at the real nature of what we are at the basic level – logically, we have no more free will than a power drill does.

  146. July 3, 2010 5:23 pm

    Shem

    I have no clue how you guys post so often. I steal about two hours a day for this, and I get only a few posts in. What do you guys do to give you so much time.

    I’m with you, Shem! I can’t keep up!

    I look at the links you gave, and in truth they still do not prove a whole lot. The evidence of Zina being sealed to Joseph Smith is only her own word. As such, without varification, it cannot be considered as proof. There are only nine women who can be proven to have been sealed to Joseph Smith beyond their own testimony. There are arond 27 who claim to be sealed to him, but two thirds only claimed this after he died, when he could not speak against it. It is not proof, though I do understand why people want to take it as such.

    I can understand this perspective. Do we have a videotape of Joseph Smith marrying these extra women? No. Do we have signed marriages licenses? No. What we have is a vast amount of eye-witness evidence. The same type of evidence that confirmed the Book of Mormon plates. It is certainly enough evidence that LDS scholars don’t debate the fact of his polyandry, they simply discuss the implications. What sorts of other types of evidence to you have for the great apostasy of the apostolic period? What if I don’t accept that evidence?

    As to the other scandals: Blood Atonement is not a scandal, it is a doctrine. If this is to be a scandal than all the proscribed executions in the Law of Moses must be scandolous as well, as they are exactly the same thing.

    It is a scandal because Christian doctrine is clear. We aren’t living under the Law of Moses, we are in a new dispensation! Is there anything in the New Covenant that asks people to atone for their own sin by sacrificing their own or someone else’s life?

    Lastly, the Mountain Meadows Massacre: It is a scandal, and should not have happened. But it was not the fault of the leadership of the church. It was a local Bishop and the people of that area.

    Local bishop? Sounds like leadership to me! 🙂 Furthermore, John D. Lee (one of the leaders of the church) was later admitted back into the church (posthumously).

    So, as I said before, there is no real proof of the accusations made, unless the act is in truth not wicked and thus not evidence of Apostacy.

    Shem, these problems with the LDS church have been discussed ad nauseum. I’m sorry that you don’t believe that there was any sin in the church, but that doesn’t mean that it was not so. I say this in genuine honesty and because I like you: I think you are in denial.

    Stephanie

    P.S. I’m on vacation so won’t be posting after this!

  147. July 3, 2010 7:04 pm

    The vast majority of these scholarly teachings agree. Honestly I have not found one that says otherwise. (except yours oddly).

    Ethan,

    Perhaps I am not explaining myself clearly. I am not saying that Hades cannot be viewed or that it has not been viewed as the temporary abode of the dead. I realize that it can and has been used in that sense. However, Hades has been used in other ways as well. It has been used to describe the temporary abode of only those spirits who died without Christ (spirit prison in Mormon verbiage) and has also been used synonomously with Gehenna (the Lake of Fire in Rev. 20). This is not some strange viewpoint… it is a fact and can be found in virutally any common Bible dictionary.

    In reality, your own church views Hades as being split up into two areas… Hell and Paradise. So Hell can be used to denote part of Hades even in your own theology. I am not really sure why you are making such a big deal about this.

    Now, my issue with your take on Matt 16 really has nothing to do with what Hades or the Gates of Hell are or are not… my issue is that even when using your interpretation of these very words, there are still issues with a great apostasy.

    During the 1700 years of the apostasy, millions of people who knew Christ as their Lord and Savior died and were sent to spirit prison (hell). These are people who have confessed Christ and have tried to model their lives after Him. They “have eternal life,” yet the gates of hell (hades/spirit prison) have prevailed against them for hundreds of years…. keeping them trapped in torment. This is inconsistent with the Bible’s teaching that they “have eternal life” and is inconsistent with the teaching that for a believer, to be separate from the body is to be with Christ.

    In addition, given the view that God cannot know the future actions of free creatures (as professed by Seth on this very post), the Mormon God cannot assure us that the spirits who are trapped in spirit prison will ever be released. We can’t knwo for sure if they will ever be able to claim the eternal life that God claims they have at this very moment! Insane.

    These problems are all created because of the Mormon idea of a great apostasy.

    Darrell

  148. July 3, 2010 7:13 pm

    Really, the only reason we are free under your view is because God said so. But if you look at the real nature of what we are at the basic level – logically, we have no more free will than a power drill does.

    Seth,

    I think you are running into problems because you are viewing God’s creating us out of nothing with “programming.” There is absolutely nothing inherent in the Christian understanding of God’s creation to necessitate a view that God programmed us. He created us first and foremost as free creatures with wills of our own and the ability to think, know, feel, decide, etc. In addition, His contingent knowledge of what decisions we will make creates no logical contradiction with the fact that we used our free will to make them. Your claim of a cotnradiction does not a contradiction make.

    BTW, I love how you completely avoided my questions about how a God who does not know the future free actions of His creatures could have prophesied so many things with such precision. You avoided them last time I asked them as well. Very telling.

    Darrell

  149. Ethan permalink
    July 3, 2010 8:23 pm

    Alright Darrell, I think we have beat this topic to death. At the very least plausible doubt has been cast on Stephanie’s original usage of Matt 16. Clearly neither of us is going to budge an inch. We’ll have to let others draw their own logical conclusions based on the evidence presented.

    On a side not (this is waaaay off topic), with regard to our discussion a while back on ex nihilo and E=MC2, etc. I just watched the latest episode of a show called “Through the Wormhole” on the Science Channel. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. You really need to see it. Download it from iTunes for buck, the epsiode is called “What Happened Before the Beginning?”

    In a nutshell, the cutting edge of physics today is scraping the Big Bang theory with it’s ex nihilo implications in favor of a new theory of parallel universes that have been on an eternal, endless cycle of periodic collisions that cause big bangs, which have been happening forever. They now believe them to have always existed and that the nearest universe on either side of us is located within fractions of centimeters to us, within a dimension that we cannot detect at present. All mathematical. They estimate there is an endless chain of these universes like ours, each with no beginning. Interesting stuff.

    Anyone who knows Joseph Smith’s left field cosmological teachings (which garnered plenty of mockery), will know this is a profound home run. Joseph taught of eternities (Plural), and the plural nature of EVERYTHING.

  150. Ethan permalink
    July 3, 2010 8:27 pm

    Even a plurality of God.

  151. shematwater permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:22 pm

    DARREL

    I will be looking into the doctrine of the spirit world a little more, as you have raised some questions.
    Even so, Ethan did point out that as long as victory comes it does not really matter when, and so it is still not a lie.

    As to God not being able to predict the future: I have heard this idea before, and in some ways it makes sense. But think of it like this.
    If someone asked you what kind of food your wife is likely to order when going out, how accurately could you predict her choice? Would your accurance increase over the years of knowing and living with her?
    Now consider God, who has known us from the time we were born as spirits to him. Consider that he has all knowledge, and knows the intents of our hearts, and the desires we hold. Consider all this, and then consider how accurate he would be able to predict our actions. His knowledge and understanding are such that make his ability to predict the future so close to perfect that it is considered to be so. It is not that he has seen the future, necessarily, but that he knows us so well that he knows what we will do in any given situation.

    (I do not say I adhere to this philosophy, and it is not taught directly by any of the church leaders that I know of. However, it does not lesson the power of God, it only explains it.)

  152. shematwater permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:24 pm

    ETHAN

    Is there any way to get this video for free. I would love to see it.
    I was talking to some of my science teachers about such ideas and theories, and kind of laughing at how well the teachings of Joseph Smith actually fit with them.

  153. Wrench permalink
    July 6, 2010 6:46 pm

    Ethan,

    That is nothing more than recycled quantum, which physicists have been talking about for years. If you’ve ever heard of Schroedinger’s dilemma — that there is an infinite number of possible universes which only come into actuality at the point of being viewed (Schroedinger’s Cat) — you’d know that this theory is still very much theoretical, not provable fact. It merely creates convenient formulas in which we can calculate probabilities. (Sorry, I’m a newb here, but I’m quite a quantum geek!) Unlike God, these universes would have to be observed in order to exist; they are, for the purposes of the quantum, MATERIAL, while God is to be immaterial.

    I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. The universe is material (except for anti-matter, but that’s another… well… matter), right? We also know from physics and the shrinking universe that it had a beginning. We also know from physics that the universe will eventually end. These are inescapable facts. So what does this tell us about the nature of God?

    For one thing, it tells us that the creator of everything is immaterial. Why? Because matter cannot begat matter — or, put another way, A cannot cause A to exist, any more than I can be my own physical mother. It’s not possible for me to call myself into existence. Fair enough? If there was a time before which matter did not exist — which we know to be true from the fact of universal termination, since nothing with an end can lack a beginning — then we must conclude that whatever caused matter to exist cannot itself be matter. I think I’ve brought that point home pretty thoroughly, so I’ll move on.

    If this Something must necessarily be immaterial, it must also be omniscient — that is, everywhere at every point in time. Why? Because in order to occupy a time outside of the physical universe — the theoretical 10th dimension — you would have to be bigger than that universe and therefore able to occupy every space of it at once. In this occupancy each particle of matter would be intimately known by the Something, which would imply supreme intelligence.

    You cannot escape the fact that there was a time before which matter did not exist. This isn’t a theoretical postulation, but a measurable fact. If this is so, there is no way that you can explain away the issue by simply saying that God was a man on another planet who attained godhead, because it doesn’t solve the problem of matter bringing itself into existence. Because if the God of Judaism and Christianity had a beginning, he must also have an end and is therefore not worthy of worship. If he was called into existence by another, greater god, then that god should be worshipped, and not our own. You can keep it up ad infinitum, or you can learn the nature of The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel and fall at His feet in worship, not as a god, but as The I AM, He who is without, outside of, and the creator of time, matter and space.

  154. July 6, 2010 8:50 pm

    Wrench, Big Bang theory says nothing about whether there was something or nothing before the “bang.”

    So you can take your talk of “demonstrated fact” here someplace else.

  155. shematwater permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:10 pm

    WRENCH

    I am really curious how anyone gets the arrogance to think that they can prove something that they have no ability to even witness; like the beginning of the Universe.

    No, it is not proven that matter did not exist at one time, nor is it proven that it will sease to exist. In fact, it has been proven that matter, as well as energy, cannot be created or destroyed; they can only be converted from one to the other.
    So, even if matter did not exist at one time, energy did, and thus, but logical conclusion, so did matter (as one cannot exist without the other).

    Also, your argument about God being immatterial does not hold up. You yourself have admited that anti-matter is another kind of matter. So, immortal and exalted matter is a third form; and spirit matter is a fourth. These are just two forms that our poor mortal science is unable to detect. As such, the whole idea of A not being able to cause A is not violated, as it didn’t, and yet all things (including God) are still matter.

  156. July 7, 2010 12:59 am

    Wrench,

    Welcome to our blog!

    Very interesting comments. Thanks!

    Stephanie

  157. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:22 am

    Wrench,

    Interesting comments. However, Seth and Shem are right about the lack of any absolute beginning in modern physics. No proof for ex nihilo exists. The major problem with the standard Big Bang theory is the “singularity” issue, or point before the bang. No one likes to talk about the singularity because it lays bare just how inadequate the Big Bang theory is at present for explaining origins. Not even Dawkins has a beginning.

    The elegant thing about the “Brane World” theory is that it is rooted in String Theory (M Theory) and is able to move beyond the singularity to show that our current four dimensional universe may exist as a smaller, self-contained sub-unit within the larger framework of higher dimesions that cannot be detected at present. Seven more dimensions to be exact. This may explain the Spirit World and how LDS theology teaches that that world is all around us, but unseen. The theory holds that these parallel universes exist within a fraction of the width of an atom from our own universe. Basically, it is right here, we just can’t see it, separated by an invisible dimsension (could be a veil?), but no less real than ours.

    One interesting graphic from the TV espisode showed the parallel universes lined up as reflections into eternity. Like dominos, as if a person standing between two mirrors and looking into a never ending chain of eternities. Imagery that LDS Temple patrons know very well.

  158. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:27 am

    Also, there is still the issue of E=MC2 and the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, which basically states that all energy/mass in a closed system like our universe is fixed. This basically implies that matter is eternal and is not created or destroyed at its most basic unit. It just shifts forms from one to the other.

    I recommend watching “Through the Wormhole.” It’s geared to non-scientific minds, but does a good job explaining the current models of cosmology.

  159. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:46 am

    Here’s a fun Brane World illustration from Cornell University. LDS folks can overlay lots of unique Spirit World philosphy here:

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/march06/tye.brane.ws.html

  160. July 7, 2010 1:59 am

    Thanks for the comments Wrench. You make some very good points.

    The Big Bang Theory combined with the fact that the universe is running out of usable energy leads to massive problems with the LDS idea that matter is eternal. If the universe is running out of usable energy, then there is not an infinite supply of energy. Therefore, the universe has to have a finite supply of energy and had to have a finite beginning. For example, if my car is running out of gas, then it does not have an infinite supply of gas… as a result there had to be a point in time when my car STARTED with a specific amount of gas, i.e., a beginning. Also, time, space, and matter are co-existent, i.e., you cannot have one without another. Therefore, until time and space existed, matter could not exist. Therefore, matter had to be created or caused into existence. It CANNOT be eternal, because time and space are not eternal and matter is contingent upon their existence.

    In addition, there are several other issues with the doctrine of a material God. If God is material than He is composed of parts, and if He is composed of parts, He cannot be transcendent and Necessary. Instead, He is wholly immanent and contingent upon something else for His existence… namely that by which His parts are composed. A God who is contingent upon something else for His existence cannot be the Creator and Sustainer of all things because He Himself is being sustained by something. This is not the God of the Bible. There are many, many other problems with this doctrine, but I think you get my point.

    E=MC2 and the 1st Law of Thermodynamics are not at all a problem Ethan. You and I have already been through this. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics only holds true in a closed system… the Universe is not a closed system… God is transcendent over it and pokes Himself into it all the time. As such, your theory fails.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  161. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:10 am

    Here is a loFi copy of Through the Wormhole part 1:

    http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/49140/Through_The_Wormhole__The_Beginning_pt_1_5/

  162. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:14 am

    Darrell,

    Unless everytime two parallel universes collide a new big bang is unleashed, renweing the endless cycle of creation from static, or eternal, elements from an endless loop with no beginning. This is one of the newest radical theories shown on this Science Channel program. Obviously, everyone is speculating here. But the math is real and it proves that the Big Bang with it’s elephant in the room, the singularity, is hardly definitive.

  163. July 7, 2010 2:15 am

    Shem,

    I appreciate your perspective on God being a good “predictor” of the future. However, think about this for a second. God perfectly predicting the future is really no different than God knowing what free creatures are going to do before they do it. According the Seth, this means that free creatures are not truly free. According to Seth, freedom means being abel to do other than you ultimately did do. However, if God perfectly predicts what someone is going to do, then they cannot do otherwise. If this is the case, the Mormon idea of Free Agency is blown to bits.

    However, if God cannot perfectly predict the future, then the idea of God being able to promise us that He will defeat satan, that everyone who wants to have their Temple Ordinances performed will receive them, and that all those in spirit prison who have accepted Christ will be released into paradise, is nothing more than a kind promise that cannot be guaranteed. Since God cannot perfectly predict the future, He really DOES NOT KNOW if all these things will happen. He is more like the father who tells his kids, “Nobody is going to break into our house tonight son. Nobody is going to hurt you.” Maybe they will… maybe they won’t. It’s a nice, comforting thing to tell your kids, but in reality, it very well could happen.

    Perhaps satan will lead the hearts of most of mankind astray and the Temple ordinances will not all be performed. Perhaps the LDS Church will fail. Honestly, God doesn’t know. After all, He is just an imperfect predictor.

    Basically, the way the LDS position is setup here, you really have no coherent way of viewing things… either free will goes bye-bye, or you really have no promise of things really playing out the way scripture says it will. Combine this with the fact that LDS teachings lead to the atrocity of millions of followers of Christ suffering in Hell for the past 1700 years due to Christ’s Church failing, and I think you have an open and shut case for the fact that these teachings are bunk.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  164. July 7, 2010 2:20 am

    Sorry Ethan, this highly speculative theory does nothing more than create an infinite regress of the contingent. This is a logical impossibility, and as such, cannot exist. Not to mention the fact that you still have a contingent, composed God to deal with.

  165. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:22 am

    Darrell,

    Free will does not imply that God cannot ave his will done as well. This actually dovetails nicely with our discussion of quantum physics. Theory holds that light will behave predictably at the “group” level, but that the behavior is random at the “individual” photon level. Seems like a paradox, yet it’s reality.

  166. July 7, 2010 2:27 am

    Light doesn’t have free-will Ethan… it is programmed to adhere to certain laws that it cannot break (speed, hue, etc.). Nice try, but a “God-In-Embryo” who has free will doesn’t have to behave like light which is “programmed” to obey by certain rules.

  167. July 7, 2010 2:41 am

    But the math is real and it proves that the Big Bang with it’s elephant in the room, the singularity, is hardly definitive.

    There is no elephant in the room. The only reason one would have a problem with point of singularity is because it leads to an ultimate beginning for everything. However, this would be a philosophical problem, not a scientific problem.

    Materialists want to have a physical explanation for everything. They are philosophically committed to the idea that matter has always existed. Therefore, the ultimate implication of the big-bang creates consternation… they can’t handle the idea of there being a beginning to all. This is not a scientific problem… it is an a priori commitment that leads to a philosophical problem.

    Interestingly enough, their highly speculative “theory” of parallel universes creates more philosophical problems than it solves. An infinite regress is impossible… especially when it is of the contingent.

  168. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:47 am

    Darrell,

    Your “contingent” argument is pretty weak. You’re claiming that LDS believe one state of existence is contingent upon something else to generate its existence. For one thing, this reasoning doesn’t get your version of God off the hook either. You are still left with the impossible mystery of where your God came from. What is your God contingent on?

    If you answer that He has always existed and is not contingent on something, then that is my answer for the eternal nature of the LDS cosmology as well. One eternal round that has always been. LDS cosmology is just a more sophistacted version of your same illogical mystery of how things began.

    Now, LDS ideas of NEW creations, including advancement of human beings as they become more structured spiritually, within an existing, eternal framework is perfectly logical.

    For example, we live on a finite planet. It’s bounds are set, the elements here are fixed. Yet, I could take chaotic, unstructered elements that exist around me and formulate a new masterpiece of art that did not exist before. I can write a song. I can raise a child (to be like me as THE FATHER). All of this creation is happening within this eternal system. Even though I am generating new creations, nothing is really being created ex nihilo. Nothing on our world is ex nihilo, not skyscrapers, not art, not people, not technology. All of it is made from existing parts. Even stars and galaxies are made from the parts of former exploded stars. The ex nihilo view is the alien one.

  169. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 2:52 am

    Darrell,

    That’s only half the story of light. Quantum mechanics are actually spooky. They prove that light particles are not predictable and will randomly “choose” where they want to go as they travel.

    However, light as a wave, or a as a group, is exactly predictable. This is fundamentally a paradox, yet it is a law of physics.

    This is like saying that the Mormon Church will survive as a body, but individuals will do as they please. Your whole argument is flawed when looked at this way.

  170. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 3:19 am

    Not to mention the other baffling origin mystery created from the Protestant worldview:

    What was God doing before he created us? Why were we necessary if He was already perfect and happy. Did the “pre-us” God lack something that our creation corrected, was He not perfect before?

    Protestants:
    A painter creates a one time artwork and sits back. Before he paints it he did nothing. It is a new painting literally. As he strokes with his brush, paint magically appears on the canvas. It came from nowhere.

    LDS:
    A painter exists in a world full of raw elements. He selects the materials to form paints, then creates a picture. It is probably not his first or last painting.

    Which one is more realistic?

  171. July 7, 2010 3:59 am

    Ethan,

    You are not understanding the word contingent as it is used here. An object or subject being “contingent” has nothing to do with “creation ex-nihilo” or “creation ex-materia.” A subject or object is contingent when it is caused to exist by another subject or object. The “cause to exist” can be from nothing or from pre-existing matter… the point is that it is “caused to exist” in its current form and is therefore, contingent upon another for its current state of existence.

    Now, under your proposed theory of an infinite regress of universes, each universe is contingent upon another universe for its existence. As such, no universe is necessary. Therefore, you have an infinite regress of causes, none of which are necessary and each one being contingent upon another for its current state of existence. The problem is, an infinite regress of causes is an actual infinite and an actual infinite is a logical impossibility and cannot exist.

  172. July 7, 2010 4:08 am

    They prove that light particles are not predictable and will randomly “choose” where they want to go as they travel.

    Protons don’t choose Ethan… they are just unpredictable given our current scientific understanding. Your very use of the word “law” when referring to their behavior betrays this fact. Science has yet to demonstrate that they have minds, wills, thoughts, feelings, etc. and as such, to compare them to humans created in God’s image with minds, wills, desires, thoughts, etc. is beyond ridiculous.

  173. July 7, 2010 4:20 am

    LDS cosmology is just a more sophistacted version of your same illogical mystery of how things began.

    Not really. LDS cosmology postulates that matter is necessary and eternal, and that there is no such thing as immaterial matter. As I have already mentioned this creates numerous problems. Just to name a few: First, it forces the eternal existence of time and space, which leads inevitably to an infinite regress of some sort… which is logically impossible. Second, it places God in a wholly immanent state, which violates the biblical teaching that God is the creator and sustainer of all. Last, it leads to a God who is material and composed. However, a composed God is contingent upon something else for His existence and is therefore, not transcendent.

    Not to mention the other baffling origin mystery created from the Protestant worldview…

    A mystery does not a logical contradiction make. Bad argument.

    And anyway… there is nothing within the Christian worldview that says we are God’s only creation. The Bible is silent on this fact. You are doing nothing more than building a strawman here.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  174. July 7, 2010 5:52 am

    Darrell, it seems you like to have rules of causation when it suits you. But when it comes to the question of “what was God doing before the bang?” suddenly, you magically suspend the rules and ask us to just take it all on faith that things are the way they are.

    If you want to argue a theory totally from faith, fine. But I’d suggest you ditch the infinite regress stuff. It just makes you look hypocritical when you refuse to apply the same rules all the way.

  175. July 7, 2010 12:42 pm

    What rules have I suspended Seth? Also, what am I saying that you have to take on faith… the fact that we don’t know for sure what God did “before” (really bad anthropomorphism here) He created our universe?

  176. shematwater permalink
    July 7, 2010 1:09 pm

    DARREL

    An infinite regression of causes is far more logical than an “un-caused cause,” which is the typical way of explaining the general christian view of things.
    It is more logical to say that there never was a beginning, and that one thing has been eternally causing another, because it actually explains things. We cannot comprehend such a thing in or mortal state, but it is much more comprehensible than an “uncaused cause,” which is a contradiction in itself.
    There can be no beginning, for if there was there would also be an end. This is what your theory proves. So, while God may be eternal, there will come a time when everything he created will end, for there was a time in which it began.

    Personally, I have no problem in believing in a contingent God, as you put it, and I see no contradiction with this and the Bible. The Bible only tells us that this world was created by God. Going off the theories discussed here I would say this universe was created by him. As we have no power to look beyond this universe at this time all that we know was created by him. However, this does not prevent the idea that there is another universe on which His existance is contingent, as you God. I prefer to think of his Father, or the previous generation of gods, as ruling that universe, and the generation before that is what they are contingent on, and so on back through eternity. The Bible does not contradict this idea, as you yourself admit it is silent on what was happening before the creation of this world.

    ETHAN

    I think this whole Idea is great. It reminds me of section 130 in the Doctrine and Covenants, where it says we will each have a Urim and Thummim to communicate with Higher Kingdoms. Maybe these are like phone lines to previous universes and generations.

  177. July 7, 2010 1:20 pm

    Shem,

    An infinite regress of causes is an actual infinite, and an actual infinite leads to logical contradictions, e.g., Hilbert’s Hotel. A logical contradiction cannot exist – it is a violation of the laws of logic… like saying that something can both exist and not exist at one and the same time. As a result, to attempt the ground the here and now existence of everything that exists in our universe on an infinite regress of causes is illogical and impossible.

    A Necessary Being, i.e., an uncaused cause, is the only logical way to ground the existence of anything which is contingent. Would you mind explaining how a Necessary Being is “a contradiction in itself?”

  178. July 7, 2010 2:02 pm

    What I’m saying Darrell, is that you harp on infinite temporal regress of causes. But when it comes to God, you just fall silent on the whole issue, magically suspend both time and cause, and pretty much ask us to simply take it on faith that God is outside the whole package deal. Really, for no other reason than because you said so.

  179. July 7, 2010 2:05 pm

    Causation basically only applies if it’s not God we are talking about.

    Why?

    Because God is the First and Final Cause!

    But why is that?

    Because that’s just the way it is.

    Talk about begging the question…

  180. July 7, 2010 2:18 pm

    It is not begging the question Seth because we are not assuming an answer. Rather, we are concluding an answer based upon evidence, observation, and philosophy. It just so happens that this answer also lines up with what the Bible teaches. It is awesome to see how God’s General Revelation and His Specific Revelation meet on this point.

  181. July 7, 2010 2:23 pm

    Which is really just a complicated way of saying – “because I said so.”

    Most convincing.

  182. July 7, 2010 2:33 pm

    Yeah… kind of like saying a square can’t be a circle because I said so or Manson contributed to the killings of several people because I said so. Evidence (whether philosophical, material, or observational) won’t convince everybody Seth. Some people are just to committed to their a priori positions.

  183. July 7, 2010 2:35 pm

    And how is asserting a first and final cause comparable to stating that a square has four sides?

  184. July 7, 2010 2:47 pm

    A square by nature cannot be a circle because it is a logical contradiction. The here and now existence of the universe cannot be grounded in an infinite regress of causes because that would be an actual infinite and an actual infinite leads to logical contradictions.

  185. July 7, 2010 2:51 pm

    Yeah, except that it doesn’t lead to logical contradictions.

    That’s the issue in dispute here – and thus the charge of begging the question.

  186. July 7, 2010 2:58 pm

    You are the first person here to say that it doesn’t lead to a logical contradiction, so no, it has not been the issue we are discussing here, and as such, there is no begging the question going on.

    But, since you brought it up, please explain how the contradictions demonstrated by Hilbert’s Hotel are resolved, Seth.

  187. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 8:00 pm

    Darrell,

    First of all, the new generation of physicists who are postulating these explanations are not LDS. They are Noble Prize winning leaders of the scientific elite. They present these models with straight faces and they’re deadly serious. These are people who are well aware of what makes a paradox. And yet they are now championing parallel universes on an infinite chain. Take it up with MIT and Cambridge.

    I am merely pointing out how well these latest theories overlay with LDS cosmology.

    There is one fatal flaw in your reasoning of infinite regress that is being overlooked. Namely, that the LDS view of infinity (which again is plural: infinitieS, eternitieS), is based on eternally existing materials. You are assuming a kind of ex nihilo process where an infinite number of contingent beings are made fresh from nothing. But that is not the LDS concept.

    According to LDS thought, everything has always existed, including the infinite chain of universes and eternities. See, nothing is actually contingent on an earlier creation, everything and everyone is as old, and as necessary, as the other. Each is a First Cause in its own right. So your infinite regress argument is a straw man, since it is only illogical when the contingent beings come after, or are dependent on, the First Cause.

    Let me sum this up clearly:

    Protestants believe in a First Cause (God) who sets everything in motion from nothing. Everything is dependent on Him. As for God, you claim he is exempt from your own rules. His origin cannot be explained and you end up with an eternal pradox (and it IS a paradox, how can a being exist without a First Cause?) Like Seth says, you have to exempt God from the rules.

    LDS believe that the entire cosmos (however large that may actually be), IS the First Cause and has always existed eternally. Including the intelligences and raw materials that exist with potential for higher states of organization and order. There is no Grand Hotel paradox, which deals with new ex nihilo style additions. No new contingent beings are ever created, all exist eternally. Some just await further refinement and structure to make them more glorious.

    See, we both believe in a type of First Cause. LDS simply believe that it is not limited to God. It’s just that you mysteriously believe that something can paradoxically be made from nothing. That is only unproven and illogical belief on this thread.

  188. July 7, 2010 8:21 pm

    I’ve read Paul Copan and William Lane Craig’s “Hilbert Hotel” analogy.

    Blake Ostler utterly demolished this argument in this essay:

    http://www.fairlds.org/New_Mormon_Challenge/TNMC01.html

    Start reading at “3.1 The First Infinity Argument”

    At this point, I’m going to predict that Darrell will bring out the stale objection of “Ostler is just a lawyer.”

    To which I respond – he is – which makes his complete schooling of Copan and Craig here all the more embarrassing.

    Happy reading.

  189. Ethan permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:41 pm

    Seth,
    Interesting that you brought up Ostler’s response to “The New Mormon Challenge.” I literally just finished reading it on Sunday. The essays on ex nihilo are brilliant. What does being a lawyer have to do with it, other than the fact that attorney’s are highly trained for analytical and logical argument?

  190. shematwater permalink
    July 7, 2010 11:11 pm

    I like the way Ethan lays this out, and I have to agree with him. Everything in existance is the first cause.

    However, I do see an argument against this, in that who first organized a world, or who was the first of this raw material to progress to godhood.

    I would like to say this to Darrel’s argument about grounding our existance.
    For the purposes of our existance I will accept the idea of God being an Uncaused first cause. We are all contingent on him, and he is contingent on nothing in our world. Thus we are grounded, as he wants to make us.
    However, when dealing with the vast reaches of eternity the argument does not make any sense, and Ethan has done a better job of explaining things on that scale.

    That is the real difference between the LDS and the rest of the christian world. Our theology reaches a scale much larger scale, as we consider the granduer of eternity. Most of Christianity only considers what is in our world, without being able to explain anything beyond.

  191. July 7, 2010 11:15 pm

    The fact that Ostler is a lawyer, is often used by online Evangelicals who simply don’t want to have to go to the effort of refuting him. One of those ad hominem things I guess. I figured I’d save Darrell the trouble of making the statement in the first place by getting it out of the way.

  192. July 8, 2010 2:35 am

    Seth,

    Hilbert’s Hotel did not originate with Copan or Craig. It is the creation of German mathematician, David Hilbert. I heard this illustration long before I read The New Mormon Challenge.”

    I am curious…

    Have you read The New Mormon Challenge?

    Have you completely read Ostler’s response?

    Have you read any of the work Copan and Craig have done on this on their respective websites?

    It is interesting that you claim that Ostler “demolished” Copan and Craig’s work. While I find Ostler’s response to be well intended and obviously a valiant effort, I hardly find his arguments compelling. In reality, all he does is reiterate Cantorian set theory, which Copan and Craig thoroughly address in many of their articles on the Kalaam. Cantorian set theory is useful as a source of discourse, but has absolutely no basis in reality. Tell me Seth… can you show me a “transfinite” number in the real world? Where does one exist? They don’t!!! As such, to appeal to transfinite numbers in order to demonstrate that an actual infinite can exist is beyond ridiculous. Personally, I like how Craig puts it.

    The late J.L. Mackie also objected to (2.11), claiming that the absurdities are resolved by noting that for infinite groups the axiom “the whole is greater than its part” does not hold, as it does for finite groups.11 Similarly, Quentin Smith comments that once we understand that an infinite set has a proper subset which has the same number of members as the set itself, the purportedly absurd situations become “perfectly believable.”12 But to my mind, it is precisely this feature of infinite set theory which, when translated into the realm of the real, yields results which are perfectly incredible, for example, Hilbert’s Hotel. Moreover, not all the absurdities stem from infinite set theory’s denial of Euclid’s axiom: the absurdities illustrated by guests checking out of the hotel stem from the self-contradictory results when the inverse operations of subtraction or division are performed using transfinite numbers. Here the case against an actually infinite collection of things becomes decisive. (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5174)

    Further, in The New Mormon Challenge Copan and Craig say, “Infinite set theory is a highly developed and well-understood branch of mathematics. . . we underline the fact that what we have said in no way attempts to undermine the theoretical system bequeathed by Cantor to modern mathematics. Indeed, some of the most eager enthusiasts of the system of transfinite mathematics are only to ready to agree that these theories have no relation to the real world (emphasis mine).”

    Despite this fact, Ostler never once addresses how transfinite mathematics can be applied to the real world. It is interesting to find that while he is okay using a this theoretical concept (which has no basis in reality) to further his argument, he is opposed to using the illustration of a hotel (something which is VERY MUCH a part of reality) to demonstrate the absurdity of an infinite regress in the past. Talk about ridiculous double standards! It is almost laughable.

    Ostler taking Copan and Craig to the mat? Hardly… his analysis is nothing more than a rehash of things that Copan and Craig have thoroughly addressed.

    Oh and Seth… I don’t criticize Ostler for being a lawyer. Honestly, I think he is a very smart man… misguided and a little bit arrogant, but intelligent nonetheless. He certainly has an uphill battle cut out for himself in trying to systematize Mormon Theology… especially given all its internal inconsistencies. But, as far as him being a lawyer… hey, someone has to bottom feed… better him than me! 🙂

    Darrell

  193. Ethan permalink
    July 8, 2010 2:40 am

    Ah, I see. Does that rule apply to carpenters and fishermen too, or are we to only accept the authoritative philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, when it comes from an Oral Roberts University theology program? Publich or perish I suppose.

  194. July 8, 2010 2:44 am

    Actually, I realized it was the mathematician Hilbert and thought of that misleading wording almost the moment I hit publish.

    As for the rest – let me know when you have something substantive to say Darrell that doesn’t require us to simply take your word for it.

  195. July 8, 2010 2:48 am

    You are assuming a kind of ex nihilo process where an infinite number of contingent beings are made fresh from nothing.

    Ethan,

    I don’t think you read my earlier comment thoroughly. “Contingency” has absolutely nothing to do with whether an object was created ex-nihilo or ex-materia. Those factors are irrelevant to the discussion. If an object or subject changes form, e.g., you being “formed” or “spirit birthed” into a living being whereas before you were an intelligence or were “un-formed”, then it is contingent upon something else for its current state of existence.

    An infinite regress of universes, which you addressed earlier when you used your analogy from the Temple Sealing Ceremony where mirrors reflect off of one another giving the image of eternity, each universe that comes into existence from pre-existing matter garners its unorganized matter, energy, etc. from another universe that it “collides” with. As such, it is one in an infinite chain of contingent universes… each one being contingent upon another for its “coming into existence” from unorganized matter.

    This is an infinite regress of causes, i.e., an actual infinite, and thus, is impossible.

    Darrell

  196. Ethan permalink
    July 8, 2010 2:49 am

    Darrell,

    Ostler’s rebuttal of ex nihilo in New Mormon Challenge is spot on. It’s a mammoth piece of in depth scholarship. He indeed demolishes it on many levels. Maybe you are reading a different Blake Ostler than the rest of us. I happen to have read portions of New Mormon Challenge. I have also read Ostler. No contest really, and I was not giving Ostler any benefit of the doubt going in.

  197. July 8, 2010 2:57 am

    Copan and Craig basically beg the question repeatedly in their analysis – simply asserting that actual infinites cannot exist – but giving us no convincing reason why not. And the analogies they use (such as Hilbert’s Hotel) are irrelevant to the question of an infinite temporal past.

  198. Ethan permalink
    July 8, 2010 2:59 am

    Darrell,

    You’re missing the fundamental point here. It has to do with your hypocrisy. On the one hand you dismiss the LDS First Cause view of eternal, beginningless cosmos as illogical. Then your other hand turns a blind eye to the eternal, beginningless First Cause of the Protestant God.

    You’re saying, “I absolutely hate all football teams from New York, that’s why I love the Jets.”

    Can you defend and logically explain the theogony of your God?

  199. July 8, 2010 3:02 am

    And the analogies they use (such as Hilbert’s Hotel) are irrelevant to the question of an infinite temporal past.

    Talk about requiring people to just “take your word for it.” Yeah Seth… you’ve really backed that one up! Let’s take “transfinite mathematics” (something even users of admit has not basis in reality) and apply it to an infinite regress of universes, but forget a hotel.

    Bottom line, if an actual infinite is possible, then it is perfectly logical to have a hotel with an infinite number of rooms and guests. If this is not possible because it leads to contradictions and absurdities (which it DOES), then an actual infinite is not possible. All this is backed up by the argument… so we don’t have to take your word for it. 🙂

    Darrell

  200. July 8, 2010 3:10 am

    Ethan,

    A Necessary Being as understood in Traditional Christian theology is in no way similar to infinitely existing matter. Infinite matter requires infinite time and space (which is yet another point where the problem of an actual infinite comes in). However, the Christian God is immaterial and exists outside of time and space… so we avoid all of these issues.

    Have you ever studied the Vertical Cosmological Argument? It goes into a LOT of detail in illustrating and defending this position. I have it and would be happy to e-mail it to you should you wish. It is really long (way too much to post in a blog post).

    Darrell

  201. July 8, 2010 3:23 am

    Except that, unlike an infinite hotel, all the members of the set in an infinite past are not present all at the same time. The infinite hotel rooms are all present at the same instant. But moments in past time in an infinite past are not. The year 4011 BC is not interchangeable with the year 1213 AD as the guests in Hilbert’s Hotel are. A better analogy would be to posit the hotel as a single room that has been occupied but an infinite number of successive guests.

  202. July 8, 2010 3:24 am

    Which leads me to think you didn’t really read Ostler’s article to begin with.

  203. July 8, 2010 3:27 am

    Incidentally, I haven’t read anything more than selections of Copan and Craig. But the motivation here is a little less sinister.

    I’m a young father and I don’t have money to spend on things.

    If it’s not freely available for reading on the internet, or in stock at the public library, I generally can’t afford to buy it. So it’s not that I’m avoiding Copan and Craig. If their articles were available for free online, I would read them. But I can’t spend money to read them. Just an unpleasant reality of my life that I wish weren’t so – but there it is.

    Ostler however, is freely available on the Internet. So Darrell really doesn’t have that excuse.

  204. July 8, 2010 3:33 am

    Depends upon which definition of time one adheres to – A or B. In addition, you’re equivocating Seth. The existence of all of the moments in time at one and the same moment is not what makes it an actual infinite… the fact there is an infinite REGRESS of those moments is what makes it an actual infinite. The regress creates the actual infinite not the moment in which they exist. In this sense, they are exactly like the hotel rooms and guests as they are unlimited in number. Again, bottom line is that if there can exist an infinite succession of moments in the past, then it is perfectly logical that an infinite number of hotel rooms can exist WITHOUT contradictions and absurdities.

  205. July 8, 2010 3:36 am

    I’ve read Ostler.

    Copan and Craig articles are free for viewing on their websites. In fact, you can join Craig’s website free of charge and read countless articles.

    Interesting that you are arguing against Copan and Craig and saying that Ostler “demolished” them when you haven’t even read them. Hmmmmm Seth?

  206. July 8, 2010 3:39 am

    So you read him?

    You didn’t give much indication of it in your above posts.

    Thanks for the tip on Copan and Craig.

  207. July 8, 2010 3:45 am

    No problem.

    I didn’t give any indication that I read him??? Did you even read my comment here?

    https://ilovemormons.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/oh-prophesy-to-me/#comment-6042

    I specifically addressed a few things that Ostler said in the article you linked to.

  208. July 8, 2010 3:50 am

    Most of that comment was you puffing your team, so I felt fairly safe ignoring most of it. I did try to substantively respond to the portion I felt was actually substantive.

  209. July 8, 2010 4:01 am

    If by puffing my team, you mean pointing out Ostler’s ridiculous double standard of using theoretical concepts with no basis in reality but dismissing actual reality, okay.

    Nevertheless, my comments indicated I read what you linked to, and virtually everything Ostler brings up is a rehash and has been addressed by Copan, Craig, and others.

  210. Ethan permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:10 am

    Darrell,

    So an “immaterial God” outside of space and time that likewise has no beginning is soooo much more logical and rooted in reality than the LDS view of eternal matter (which is being validated by new cosmological theories mentioned above.

    Tell me, which branch of the physical sciences has backed up your theogony? I would love to sit in on those classes! Darrell this is an EPIC gloss.

  211. July 8, 2010 2:05 pm

    Etham,

    This discussion has never been limited to the “physical sciences.” Ostler’s entire piece was based upon a philosophical argument with zero appeal to the physical sciences.

    Ethan, does anything exist that is not material?

    Darrell

  212. July 8, 2010 2:55 pm

    That’s a funny question coming from a worshiper of an immaterial God.

  213. July 8, 2010 3:48 pm

    Seth,

    The question was for Ethan (and you if you want to answer)… I already know what I believe on this topic. God is real and He is immaterial.

    What do you believe? Does anything exist which is NOT material?

  214. RLO permalink
    July 8, 2010 4:50 pm

    Hello Darrell;

    I’ll take a stab at your question. Besides God? Angels, demons, Satan, the human soul, and time are a few things that exist which I don’t believe are material. Though arguably, the first three may be able to take on physical form. By the way, I’ve inadvertently deleted your email address. If you still have mine, can you send me a message? Like to send you something. Thanks.

    Robin

  215. July 8, 2010 5:53 pm

    Thanks RLO. The reason I am asking this is because Ethan appears to be making the argument that to believe in an immaterial God is illogical, although he has really not substantiated that argument. As a result, I am curious if he, like some Mormons I have run into, is a materialist at heart.

    I don’t have your e-mail any longer… unfortunately, I lost several e-mails a couple of months back when my computer was stolen.

    JESSICA or STEPHANIE – Would you mind giving RLO my e-mail address?

    Have a great day!

    Darrell

  216. Ethan permalink
    July 8, 2010 6:20 pm

    Darrell,
    You have been playing the infinite regress card for ages. Cinging to this academic, logic class theoretical exercise as if it is the stake in Mormonism’s heart. Hardly.

    I am just pointing out that you are on no more solid ground with your explanation of origin of God, which you admit you cannot explain logically. There is not a scientist alive, even believers in God, who claims that the existence of God is even verifiable.

  217. July 8, 2010 6:32 pm

    Ethan, Darrell has far more at stake in the game here than simply arguing against Mormonism.

    He adheres to the “classical” strain of Christian apologetics. This brand of apologetics basically uses arguments like infinite regress and stuff to attempt to CONCLUSIVELY PROVE the existence of God himself.

    So it’s not just a matter of attacking Mormonism. Darrell seems to have staked his entire faith on this particular argument – I very much doubt you’re going to get him to give it up. It’s the key tool he uses to defend not only his rejection of LDS doctrine, but his belief in God himself.

    For myself, I find the classical strain of Christian apologetics to be not all that compelling and intensely vulnerable to attack once you question the core assumptions from which they build everything else. I find other strains of Christian apologetics much more compelling.

    Robert Bowman had a good lecture series summarizing the different classes of Christian apologetics that I would recommend giving a listen.

  218. July 8, 2010 6:42 pm

    Seth and Ethan,

    If you are done “puffin up the team,” (had to use that one after Seth did last night 🙂 ) do you care to give an answer?

    Does anything that is non-material exist?

  219. July 8, 2010 6:43 pm

    I have no idea what you mean by non-material anyway.

    Mormon thought posits that even spirit is material. Though this seems to be another of your distinction without a difference arguments in the making, to be honest.

  220. July 8, 2010 6:59 pm

    It’s not that hard Seth… is there anything at all that exists that is immaterial?

    Love?

    Hatred?

    Will?

    Contrary to your claim, this has huge implications for the coherency of ones worldview. Honestly, I am really curious as to your’s and Ethan’s positions on this.

    Darrell

  221. July 8, 2010 7:47 pm

    This brand of apologetics basically uses arguments like infinite regress and stuff to attempt to CONCLUSIVELY PROVE the existence of God himself.

    This is simply uninformed and untrue. It is nothing more than a strawman. I, nor any of the apologists I read or know about, are trying to CONCLUSIVELY prove the existence of God.

    To be honest, there is very, very little in this world that can be CONCLUSIVELY proven. Instead, we tend to approach things with deductive and inductive reasoning while using evidence, observation, philosophy, and reason to determine what is true “beyond a REASONABLE doubt.” Did Manson really contribute to the killing of the Tates? Can you conclusively PROVE it… no. But it can be shown to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

    This is the same thing we do with God. After all, we are told to love Him with our “minds.”

  222. July 8, 2010 7:56 pm

    I am just pointing out that you are on no more solid ground with your explanation of origin of God, which you admit you cannot explain logically.

    I said I cannot explain the origin of God logically? When and where did I say this Ethan. I am really curious, because I am not sure why I would say that I cannot prove something that does not exist.

    As I mentioned earlier, I would be happy to forward you a copy of an argument you might find very interesting which reasons all this out very clearly. It is called the Vertical Cosmological Argument. Would you like a copy of it?

  223. Ethan permalink
    July 8, 2010 10:20 pm

    Darrell, you siad, “I said I cannot explain the origin of God logically? When and where did I say this…”

    Oh really, so you can explain this then? That wasn’t your position earlier where you resorted to the “mystery” defense:

    https://ilovemormons.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/is-it-ethical-to-stay-lds-if-you-know-this-verse-is-teaching-a-damning-heresy/#comment-5681

    I’m glad to hear it, myself and 6,000 years of recorded history are dying to know the answer to the greatest Christian philosophical mystery of all, how God came to be God. If you can lay that one out scientifically, even just logically, I confess I will be impressed.

  224. July 8, 2010 10:25 pm

    JESSICA or STEPHANIE – Would you mind giving RLO my e-mail address?

    Done! 🙂

  225. shematwater permalink
    July 9, 2010 1:51 am

    DARREL

    There is a rather large flaw in your reasoning on the impossibility of true infinites. It is really quite simple. Your reasoning, and that of those you reference, if they use the same logic, is that you are attempting to apply mortal laws to eternal worlds, which just is rediculous.
    No, in the mortal world no hotel can have an infinite number of rooms, because the mortal world is a finite world.
    However, in the eternal worlds any hotel can have an infinite number of rooms and guests, as it is not a finite world, but an infinite world.
    This is where your logic falls apart for me. I do not need any other reasoning. I have not read Copan and Craig, or Ostler, but I don’t see the need to. If all they are doing is arguing that eternity can’t exist in mortality I am perfectly willing to agree with them.

    As to things that are not material, I would say energy. While it can be converted into mater, it isn’t mater.
    but, to be a little more philisophical and detailed in my response, I would say this: There are many things that are not material in the sense that we understand material, for we are mortal and they are not. So, Spirits, Satan, demons, angels, God, and all those things that exist appart from mortality are not matter in the same sense that we are mater.
    Of course, this is why the LDS, as shown in the scriptures, use different worlds to distinguish these things. All things are mater, but not all are element, for element is mortal mater.

  226. July 9, 2010 2:34 am

    Ethan,

    You really need to read comments a little better before responding. I said, “…I cannot explain the origin of God logically? When and where did I say this Ethan. I am really curious, because I am not sure why I would say that I cannot prove something that does not exist.”

    My point, Ethan, is that you are asking me to logically prove God’s origin when He has no origin.

    Interestingly enough, in the comment you linked to, I said virtually the same thing.

    He [God] is the one and only eternal, uncreated, self-existent, necessary being…

    How can I prove God’s origin when He doesn’t have one Ethan? This is like asking the man born in Atlanta to prove He was born in Wisconsin. Kind of ridiculous actually.

    Now, what can be done is to demonstrate through deductive and inductive reasoning using evidence, observation, and philosophy that the only coherent way to view God is as a Necessary Being, i.e., a Being whose non-existence is impossible. This being the case… God cannot have an origin.

    BTW… are you ever going to answer my question? Do you believe that there is anything that exists that is immaterial? I have asked you and Seth several times and have failed to get a response from either of you.

    Darrell

  227. July 9, 2010 2:37 am

    Shem,

    You appear to be saying that human logic does not apply to “eternity” or “God.” The problem is Shem, this statement is self-defeating, for it itself is a logical human statement ABOUT “eternity” and “God.” As such, it is absurd and can have no basis in reality.

    Darrell

  228. Ethan permalink
    July 9, 2010 3:37 am

    Darrell, so you’re just saying that you don’t have to explain the “origin” of God because, according to you, He has no origin. That hardly gets you off the hook to explain how God, who has no origin, exists in the first place.

    What I am hearing from mainline Christianity here is, “We have no idea.” Therefore, the convenient, and safe answer is to just say, “God has no beginning, because we haven’t a clue how this all came to be.”

    I think Shem’s argument for infinity is a good one. Furthermore, we live in a 3+1 dimensional world. We have vertical, horizontal, depth and time. How could we begin to apply our paltry 3D logic to a world with 26 dismensions, as some physicists are now theorizing?

    What if our world is the equivalent of stick figures living on flat piece of 2D paper. Imagine someone from a 3D world sticks a pencil through our paper, all we would see is the flat cross section that passes through our world.

    Now take this example and multiply it time 11 dimensions, or 26 dimensions. Get the pitcure? I am sure Hilbert’s Hotel is absurd in the grand scheme of Heaven. Which Paul says man cannot imagine.

  229. Ethan permalink
    July 9, 2010 4:23 am

    Darrell, whether anything immaterial exists, that’s a fairly abstract concept and hard to take a firm position on. What do you believe? Obviously intangible things like love and fear are immaterial. I could wade into really deep water and get metaphysical about energy that surrounds us and animates all things. How God’s emimence of light fills the entire cosmos and provides the energy for everything good, including love (D&C 88). I believe this energy is real in the material, physics sense and when tapped into is what constitutes things like the ability to create results by imagining them (believing faith).

    Books like “The Secret,” “The Power of Now,” “Remembering Wholeness” & “Light in the Wilderness” deal with this power. I guess we have to make sure we are defining “material” the same. I view energy and matter as the same (E=MC2) and I believe God is pure energy.

    “And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” 2 Nephi 2:13

    Action is real and necessary.

    I like what Seth said about the LDS view of the spirit world being composed of refined matter that is not detectable in our mortal, or natural-man state. I reject the idea of God being immaterial since that seems to limit His connectivity to things. I believe the Bible when it says that disembodied evil spirits will prefer the filthy bodies of swine to being without bodies. There is something powerful in physicality.

  230. NickyMac permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:12 pm

    Does the evidence have to be scientific or do we still (if we are claiming to be Christians) consider the bible to be a source of truth?

    In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read that God, and only God, has eternal dominion and immortality (anyone who receives immortality…it is a gift from God):

    “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

    In Job 11;7-9 we read that God cannot be measured because He is not spatial, and has no true location:

    “Can y0u fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the almighty? They are higher than the heavens–what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave–what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.”

    In Colossians 1:17 we read that He was there before anything else existed:
    “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

    Obviously, considering Christians believe that Jesus is God, we believe that God can take a human form (or at least Jesus can). However, His divine nature itself is immaterial. If God was made up of matter then He wouldn’t be a Triune God. I realise that’s not a problem for anyone who’s LDS because they don’t believe in a Triune God. However, the evidence of this in the bible has been presented numerous times.

    Also, logically, if God is not created, is not changing and is not finite, then he is not material. Whatever is composed depends on a composer to bring the parts into unity. But, God is the first cause of all things and thus cannot be caused by another.

    Darrell has said before (many times) that God is outside of time. Without the dimension of time there is no cause and effect. God created time.

    I read this and thought it was a good point:

    “God, who created the universe, must exist in at least one extra dimension above that of the universe in order to have created it. A three dimensional being cannot create a nine dimensional universe and have any ability to control it. This means that God, must consist of at least 10 dimensions, and could not exist solely in a three dimensional form (e.g., a human-like body).” (godandscience.org).

    The fact is, in the same way we need our goggles to see a 3D movie, we will need to be given new bodies and new minds in order to see God.

  231. Ethan permalink
    July 9, 2010 6:57 pm

    Nicky, I think all Christians agree that God is the great scientist. If we cannot reconcile God with the discovered truth available then that is a problem, since He is the designer. The Bible is fabulous, as long as it is interpreted correctly (which can be a challenge).

    For example:
    Job 11;7-9 is talking about the “limits of God’s power.” This verse says exactly what D&C 88:7-13 says. It does not define God’s person.

    Col 1:17 says that God is “before” all things, meaning He is in front of all, or all things are in His view, not that He is older than us. Again, like D&C 88 exactly. A small shift that radically changes the meaning.

    1 Tim 6:16 is an Early-day Saint Ensign article from a modern prophet in the first century, post-Jesus, who is addressing a mortal man who lives in a planet where everyone is mortal. In that context, of course only God is immortal. But since those who are exalted are also immortal, reading this verse to mean that no one besides God can be immortal is contradictory. It never says that God gives people immortality.

  232. July 9, 2010 10:54 pm

    Ethan,

    You are equivocating between being able to say “how” something exists with saying “that” something exists. Christians don’t need to determine “how” God exists. It is enough to determine “that” He exists by demonstrating that it is “necessary” both actually and logically that a Necessary Being exists. Furthermore, it is interesting how the attributes of the necessary Necessary Being line up perfectly with the attributes and qualities as taught by the Traditional Christian Church.

    The exact opposite is true for Mormons. First, it is not possible to demonstrate that it is necessary that matter is eternal, for it is impossible that matter and space are eternal. If matter and space are eternal, time is eternal, and time being eternal leads to an actual infinite, which is impossible. The same problem occurs with an infinite regress of universes… impossible.

    Darrell

  233. July 9, 2010 11:00 pm

    I am sure Hilbert’s Hotel is absurd in the grand scheme of Heaven. Which Paul says man cannot imagine.

    I agree that we cannot imagine the majesty and greatness of heaven. However, Paul said nothing about logic being defied in heaven. You are completely taking Paul’s words out of context.

    Logic is most certainly applicable to God and Heaven. As I demonstrated earlier, to say it is not applicable in Heaven or with God is self-defeating, and thus, absurd. It is like saying “All sentences are shorter than five words.” The sentence is self-referencing and defeats itself because it is a sentence that is longer than five words.

    Saying human logic does not apply to God or Heaven does the same thing. For the very statement itself is a logical human statement about God and Heaven. It does not meet its own standards.

    If an actual infinite is impossible in this world due to it leading to absurdities that defy the laws of logic, the same will be true in eternity.

    Darrell

  234. July 10, 2010 12:00 am

    Also, allow me to clarify something. When I said, “It is enough to demonstrate “that” He exists,” I am referring to the fact that it is enough to demonstrate that it is necessary that this being exist with ALL the attributes as taught in Traditional Christianity, e.g., uncreated, self-existent, self-sufficient, immaterial, etc.. Since we can demonstrate “that” it is logically necessary that this be the case, we do not need to demonstrate “how” it exists. How may fulfill our curiosity, but not knowing “how” something is does not mean “that” it does not exist. I think you are conflating these concepts Ethan.

    Darrell

  235. shematwater permalink
    July 10, 2010 2:48 am

    DARREL

    To us it is logical that the earth revolves around the sun, and that gravity is the force that holds the planets in motion.
    However, a few hundred years ago this was considered logically impossible.

    It is logical to us that doing CPR is an effective way of aiding a person who is not breathing.
    However, in some societies it is not logical to touch your mouth to another’s as you may steal their soul away.

    Logic is a very funny thing. It can only deal accurately with those things that it has experienced. The logic of some cultures cannot comprehend the science of ours, because they do not have the appropriate experience to allow such.
    Thus, to say that our logic cannot explain the eternal worlds is, in itself, a logical conclusion, as our experience puts us in a position that prevents it. I have always maintained that we possess the same intelligence as God (not quantity, but type), but because we have not experienced an eternal, and infinite world, we cannot describe such a place accurately. To try to do so is rediculous.
    For this reason your logic falls apart, because it is assuming that we can explain that which we have not experienced.

  236. July 10, 2010 2:54 am

    Seth,

    You are not talking about logic… you are talking about customs and beliefs. Laws of logic are definitive and cannot vary from culture to culture, place to place, etc. They are transcendent. For example, either something is true or false. It cannot be BOTH true AND false at one at the same time and in the same sense… this is true everywhere at all times.

    Darrell

  237. July 10, 2010 2:54 am

    Sorry… the above post was meant for SHEM not Seth. My bad.

  238. Ethan permalink
    July 10, 2010 6:39 am

    Darrell,

    You are still underestimating what a higher dimensional world would offer as solutions to problems like the hotel. We can’t even wrap our minds around these concepts, they are too bizarre. The relativity of time alone can shatter some logical constraints, like a grandfather watching himself be born. This is mathematically possible. Too much hay has been made of the “regress” issue, I find it shortsighted. Paul said nothing about logic not being turned on it’s head in Heaven either.

    Also, I still don’t see the difference between believing in a being who has always existed without beginning, and believing in a cosmos filled with energy/mass that has always existed without beginning. Is a complex being any less dependent on a First Cause than a universe?

    Both are mysteries and utterly inexplicable, neither is really any less “logical” since both are absurd according to existential thought. How anything exists is a mystery, even to you.

    Any way you slice it, the construct of an existant self aware being that “has always been” is at best spooky. Don’t bag on LDS eternal elements as “absurd” when you’re really in the same boat. Knowing “that” a God must exist but ignoring the mystery of “how” undermines your eternal elements critique. Basically, eternal elements are no less logical than an eternal person.

    What does material vs immaterial have to do with it? That doesn’t change a thing.

    Besides, we may be living in a virtual reality pixel world right now anyway since at the quantum level everything can be reduced to sub-atomic bits or pixels, such a world is subject to programming. We may literally be The Sims. The real world (where we came from) is out there in a higher dimension. What if our minds are plugged into “the matrix” of a pixel world (natural man vs spiritual man). Could death be an unplugging from a virtual reality? What would such a test accomplish?

    For more on the “pixel world” watch this video:

    http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/47341/Through_The_Wormhole__Is_there_A_Creator_pt_5_5/

  239. NickyMac permalink
    July 10, 2010 12:33 pm

    Ethan,

    I don’t think I misinterpreted 1 Timothy 6:16. It says that God possesses immortality, which means that He is in charge of who receives it–just as Jesus says He is the “way” (John 14:6). Also, considering there is death for those who don’t choose Him, and eternal life for those who do choose Him, (Romans 6:23)… it’s clear that immortality is from God.

    I had a read of D&C 88:7-13 and I don’t think it’s saying the same thing at all. In the D&C verses it limits God by saying “God fills the immensity of space.” However, in Job, there are a series of rhetorical questions which are meant to throw your mind about how God is bigger than any space you can think of. He doesn’t fill the universe, He is bigger than the universe. This verse especially highlights God’s omnipresence.
    I will concede that I was hasty with Colossians 1:17. I looked up the translation of ‘before all things’ and it is pro panton the usage of which means: ‘in front of’, with regards to rank. You are correct in that it is talking about God’s authority over the universe and is not a reference to time; but it still proves my point of God’s authority.

    In regards to eternal matter, I’m not really big into science but I did a bit of an internet search and found this answer. It seemed interesting to me.

    “Energy and matter are the same, and are just two different forms… We now believe the universe was once pure energy and only later converted into matter. And as the above examples show, we can convert matter into energy. Various particle physics experiments convert matter to energy and back again quite routinely.”

    In connection with this I found another great answer, which is much more biblically minded (forgive my unoriginality):

    “Einstein showed the world that energy and matter are the same. Energy=matter times the speed of light squared… One Biblical account proves this also when Jesus was having a conversation with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. He told him that He, the Son of man (matter), was in heaven.

    How could Jesus be in heaven when He was on earth when He said it? Because His spirit is omnipresent and yet while He was in a human body (matter), He was still in heaven (space), He was in a human body for a time, a measure determined by a calendar, so time, space and matter all met in Christ who divided time in half; (before matter, after matter) or better known as BC and AD. Before He died and after He rose from the dead.

    God is the Creator, yet He is in his creation, (our breath) He is omnipresent, everywhere, there is no place He is not. That doesn’t apply to us.
    God is eternal, He is life itself, but, someday you will die and your body will return to the dust from where it came and your spirit back to God who gave it to you (Ecclesiastes 12:7).”

    As a side note, I find it strange that you would rather believe that matter is eternal and in some way created God (or the “gods”) and not that God is the eternal existence who created everything, and is necessary for everything…

  240. Ethan permalink
    July 10, 2010 6:06 pm

    Nicky,

    Really 1 Tim 6:16 is just declaring God to be immortal and that no human on Earth is immortal. It doesn’t say anything about God giving immortality to others.

    I think you are confusing immortality with “eternal life.” All have immortality, even Satan and those in Hell will live forever. Only those who are recieved back into the presence of the Father will have “eternal life,” which is a synonym for Heaven.

    The Job verse doesn’t claim that God is outside of the cosmos (however big that really is). It is assuring us that there is no place that God cannot penetrate. “Higher than the heavens” is probably a relative term meaning that He is over all things. D&C 88 is also basically saying that God’s presence and power extend throughout our cosmos and that it gives life to all things. Think of the Force in Star Wars. I don’t see the difference in these two passages.

    The main point here is that none of this addresses whether God has a physical body somewhere. He could easily be an embodied personage who’s unimaginable power and energy has extended to permeate all things.

    As for eternal matter, I was just pointing out what physicists are now beginning to realize, that matter does indeed appear to be eternal. Not just becuase of Einstien’s formula which declares matter can never be created or destroyed, but also given the latest theories on parallel universes and never ending loops of Big Bang’s that seem to have no beginning. I think it is just as easy to believe in a cosmos that has always existed as to believe in a God who has no beginning either. What’s the difference?

    I also have a very unsettling feeling about my existence if I was truly just created from nothing at birth. That is Nehilism. I have to believe that God had a purpose before He made the Earth.

  241. July 10, 2010 6:18 pm

    Ethan,

    How is a denial of Mormon pre-existence nihilism? Why would you need to pre-exist for God to have a purpose?

  242. shematwater permalink
    July 10, 2010 6:35 pm

    DARREL

    You miss my point. I was not talking about beliefs, but about logic.

    The Human mind can only truly understand that which it has experienced. This is the purpose of scientific experiements; to gain a new experience and thus increase our understanding.
    Our logic is dependant on our understanding. It has nothing to do with beliefs, but with experience.
    I remember in a movie a great example. A man staying in Africa tried to explain the moon landing to a native who had never seen technology. He said he watched it on a TV. The native laughed at him, as the idea of fitting something as big as the moon inside such a small box was absurd. It was not his religious beliefs that made the idea illogical, but his lack of experience with technology.

    In a similar way you saying that a true infinite is impossible is like the native saying that moon couldn’t fit in the TV. The only experience we have is that of a finite world, and as such our logic cannot comprehend the existance of an infinite one.

    This was my point.

    ETHAN

    I don’t think Satan is immortal. He is eternal, but immortal refers to having both spirit and physical bodies eternally joined. Satan will never have a physical body, and thus cannot be immortal.

    I think both you and Nick are basically right in your interpretation of 1 Timothy. It is refering to Christ being the only one who “HAS” immortality, and thus stating that no one hear is immortal. However, when it says “has immortality” I think it is speaking more to the power of immortality. Christ had the power to give his life, and then take it up again. He didn’t need anyone else to resurrect him. He did it himself. And through him all men born into physical bodies will be resurrected, for he holds this power, and only him.

  243. July 10, 2010 7:07 pm

    Ethan,

    I am also having some difficulty with why you would claim that Col 1:17 “before all things” means in front of all things. Paul commonly used this word to show chronology (Rom 16:7; 1 Cor 2:7; Gal 1:17 etc.) Before in a chronological manner fits the context of the passage, ” all things were created by him” it is natural that Christ existed prior to all things. That is if you accept that He made all things.

  244. July 10, 2010 10:24 pm

    Gundeck, there is little problem in viewing most Biblical verses of this sort as applying only to the story of this planet, and not applying in any ontological sense to the nature of existence itself.

    Darrell, you still haven’t really established why an actual infinite is illogical. You’ve simply claimed that it is. Merely repeating yourself here is not making this assertion any stronger.

  245. Ethan permalink
    July 11, 2010 1:37 am

    Shem, my bad, “immortality” does refer to physical bodies not being subject to death since the highest form of existence is body and spirit inseperably joined. Satan will be powerless and without a body. Since all mankind will be resurrected, immortality is a free gift without conditions. “Eternal life” then is exaltation.

    Gundek, traditional nihilism is radical pessimism. It states that all things ulitmately come to nothing. In other words, the future holds nothing. We can apply this same view to the past, ex nihilo is a form of nihilistic thought. Nihilism in reverse, all things came from nothing. If you break existence into three possible categories: 1.Pre-Earth 2.Earth 3.Post-Earth, then existentialists look at one of the three, Protestants look at two of the three, and LDS consider all three. There is no nihilism in LDS thought.

    We don’t need to pre-exist for God to have purpose technically. But my question is a good one: What was God doing for all that time before He created Earth? And why the endless universes if only we matter? If you take away the LDS notion of pre-mortal existence (since “pre-existence” is incorrect) then you have a monumental mystery.

    As for “before all things…” Nicky shed some good translation light on this. When God says He is before all things, I interpret as saying “I went before the judge.”

  246. July 11, 2010 4:41 am

    Ethan,

    “Nihilism in reverse” wouldn’t be nihilism now would it, and you only have a “monumental mystery” if you also assume that we are all that matters.

    I hate to disagree with Nicky but, can you show me an example where πρὸ πάντων is used to show “‘in front of’, with regards to rank” of an individual? I’ll help you out, this word combination is only used in Luke 21:12; Colossians 1:17; James 5:12 1; Peter 4:8. You can interpret Col 1:17 to say flying goats will attack at noon if you like, I am unable to find any lexical support for your view.

    I think that you may be better off going with Seth’s lead and claiming that this verse is only speaking of this world and not creation as a whole (πάντων).

  247. July 11, 2010 4:59 am

    Seth,

    I understand that you are free to posit any number of views, I can’t seem to find where Paul refers to these other world’s. If your position is that “all” (πάντων) doesn’t mean all (I readily admit that this can be the case) shouldn’t you be able to show us a delimiter in the context of this passage?

    I have a hard time understanding what ontology has to do with this. I thought you Mormons believed that we were all one type of “being” ontologically speaking, just on different levels of progression. Why would another planet have a different type of being?

  248. July 11, 2010 5:04 am

    I don’t see why we need expect Paul to be addressing at all the kind of cosmological questions asked by medieval Christian philosophers.

  249. July 11, 2010 5:21 am

    Seth,

    Philosophers? The existence of other worlds is part of your belief structure isn’t it? Shouldn’t we expect Paul to be aware of this and express it when using “all” in reference to creation? Shouldn’t Paul have said “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible except matter and intelligences and other worlds”

  250. July 11, 2010 5:41 am

    No.

  251. July 11, 2010 5:47 am

    Is that no you don’t believe in other worlds? Or, no we should expect Paul to either outright contradict the Book of Abraham or write about creation in such a confusing manner he misled the church for 1800 years.

    Or is it No all means all in this case and the LDS have no explanation.

  252. NickyMac permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:34 pm

    Gundek,
    In James 5:12 it uses pro panton to mean rank:

    “But above all things, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath . But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no,’ lest you fall into judgement.”

    Ethan,
    I guess I differ from most Christians because I don’t believe those who reject God will live forever. I believe that they will actually be destroyed in hell. Only satan and fallen angels will suffer for all eternity because they are immortal (I think people have misinterpreted verses like Matthew 25:46 and Daniel 12:2). It says in Matthew 10:28 that God can destroy both body and soul in hell:

    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    Eternal life is God’s gift that allows us immortality. It’s not just a given. I disagree that ‘eternal life’ is a “synonym for heaven,” as you say. Heaven is referred to as heaven, or paradise, not eternal life.

    If everyone is already immortal, why is there a need, then, for a resurrection? Why does it say in Isaiah 26:19 the the earth will cast out the dead. If they are spirits floating around in a spirit world, why is this necessary?

    The main point here is that none of this addresses whether God has a physical body somewhere. He could easily be an embodied personage who’s unimaginable power and energy has extended to permeate all things.

    It could mean that, but it doesn’t. The popular Psalm 139 says it all about God’s omnipresence. God is everywhere. He is with me now, and, hopefully, with you where you are. Not just His power. He is.

    If God cannot be contained by a huge temple, what makes you think a body could contain Him?

    Why on earth, I would like to know–if you believe in all that science stuff–would you need to believe in other universes? According to science this earth is billions of years old and we still haven’t even discovered the extent of the universe. Not even close.

    The difference between believing in a cosmos that has always existed and a God who has always existed, for me, is the Genesis account which says that God created everything. Show me how the word ‘create’ can possibly mean ‘rearranged what was already there.’ It also says that before God created the heavens and the earth there was a nothingness; a void (Gensis 1:2).

  253. July 11, 2010 2:33 pm

    “Shouldn’t we expect Paul to be aware of this and express it when using “all” in reference to creation?”

    No.

  254. July 11, 2010 3:24 pm

    Nicky,

    LDS never speak of God being “contained” in a body.

    The common phrase is “God has a body, but his body does not have him.”

    And incidentally, what makes you so sure that matter is really “limited?” For instance, why can’t matter be in more than one place?

  255. July 11, 2010 3:29 pm

    Seth,

    I guess that blows the whole “restored” gospel theory.

  256. July 11, 2010 3:30 pm

    Nicky,

    I am sorry but I disagree with you. I do not think that James 5:12 is referring to the rank of an individual bu the importance of a commandment.

  257. July 11, 2010 3:43 pm

    Not really Gundeck. You seem to be operating under a misconception as to what exactly Joseph Smith was trying to “restore.”

    We weren’t just trying to restore the experimental, undeveloped mess of Peterine and Pauline Christianity. Joseph meant to restore the “true order of religion” had first by Adam and handed down through the ages. Peter and Paul had part of this true order of religion, but not all of it.

  258. Gundek permalink
    July 11, 2010 4:28 pm

    Seth

    How convenient that Peter and Paul were ignorant of the BoA. I take it this means we shouldn’t be expecting you to put out any New Testament support for this passage only referring to part of creation? With Peter and Paul being such a mess.

  259. shematwater permalink
    July 11, 2010 10:34 pm

    GUNDECK

    A better question to ask is “what good would such doctrine have done the saints at that time?” Many of the saints that Paul was writing to were coming out of hethan religions and false philosophies. Would it have helped them to start talking about parallel universes and the eternal state of matter?

    Unless it would have there is no point in Paul bringing it up. The early Saints could barely fathom a God who had suffered for their sins. Why confuse them even more with the great truths of the eternal worlds.
    In our day, when the basic concepts of the gospel are generally known and understood, such additional knowledge is very nice to have (especially to help us wade through all the false information circulating). But back then it would not have helped.

    So, no, Paul would not have made these references, as they were unnecessary. I have no doubt that Paul knew and understood these ideas just as well as Abraham or Joseph Smith or Adam. But the people could not handle such knowledge, and so he never taught it to the masses.

    Quote for the day: “Truth is a heady wine, my friend. Never over estimate peoples capacity for it.”

    NICK

    The immortality part I have already explained. In Ethan’s post substitute “eternal” for immortal.
    As to Eternal Life, Ethan never said it was synonomous with Heaven. Heaven is a great deal larger than Eternal Life. Eternal Life is exaltation, or the kind of life that God enjoys. This is much different than immortality. Immortality is simply the rejoining of body and spirit never to be separated again. All those born on this earth will receive immortality, including all those who are cast out into hell (like Cain). But only the truly righteous will inherit Eternal Life with Christ (like the ancient prophets).

    Lastly, to address the Omnipresense of God: this term is not found anywhere in the scriptures, and so I reject it as being an attribute of God’s nature. However, I will agree that there is no place that God is not found; or in other words, where his power does not reach. I always like the common example of the lamp, for it remains in a fixed position, but light it sheds forth fills every corner.

  260. July 12, 2010 1:16 am

    Shematwater,

    I know that we have different views on Scripture but what you are proposing boarders on accusing Paul of being deceptive. Basically what you are saying is that the New Testament teaches creation ex nihilo but only because the pagans couldn’t understand anything else. First I don’t think this position can be supported when you examine the cosmology of pagan myths. Second your thesis is based on the historical intellectual or spiritual superiority of 19th century America. I think that requires a certain level of hubris and confuses the perspicuity of Scripture.

    “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Proverbs 12:19

  261. July 12, 2010 1:22 am

    Correct Gundeck. I’m not saying there isn’t support in Paul’s writings. Others are welcome to look for it if they’d like.

    But I am explaining why I’m not really required to find any.

  262. July 12, 2010 1:34 am

    Seth,

    While I disagree with your position it is more palatable than the proposal that Paul deliberately withheld information.

  263. NickyMac permalink
    July 12, 2010 1:47 am

    Seth,

    Why is it that often in conversation with LDS people you think they are saying they believe one thing and then it turns out they were saying something else (in a confusing way) that is basically the same as what we believe? And they say it’s different/a new revelation? See every LDS person I have spoken to says God has a body, as in, he is like a man. Now you are saying that God can use a body but He exists in more than one place at once (which is basically omnipresence). We believe this too because Jesus was incarnated. Men have seen God in human form (which most interpret to mean Jesus because He said that no man has seen the Father).

    I’d like to pose the question back to you, because I don’t have an answer. Do you think that matter can be in more than one place? I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think you are hinting that the same way we see God as being omnipresent, matter could be omnipresent.

    Like I said, I’m not very scientific I just know what I’ve been taught and what I’ve learnt from my own reading of the bible. I’m still young, so I know I’ve got a long way to go, but one thing that I have to be confident in is God’s omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. That is what makes Him God. Otherwise He would just be creator.

    Gundeck,

    That’s ok, you don’t have to agree. I haven’t studied Greek so I’m not saying that my interpretation is absolutely correct but I’ve looked at the translation of these verses and they both use the same word pro panton, πρὸ πάντων, which is translated as “above all things” and it is the same word that has been translated as “before all things” in Colossians 1:17. So it’s easy to make the connection that these mean the same thing.

    Sorry, ‘rank’ was the wrong word. I meant to say ‘authority.’ As you say, James 5:12 is referring to the importance of a commandment and Colossians 1:17 is referring to the importance of God.

    Shem,

    Ethan said: “Only those who are recieved back into the presence of the Father will have “eternal life,” which is a synonym for Heaven.”
    So you are incorrect. I was just responding that.

    “Immortality is simply the rejoining of body and spirit never to be separated again.

    I agree with this definition.

    I re-read your post about immortality and eternal life and I see what you are saying, but do you really believe that everyone has immortality? I’ve grown up believing that people will either spend eternity in heaven or eternity in hell, but why would it say in the bible that God can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28)? Why would it say that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)? It’s not a hugely important difference because, either way, those who choose God will be punished.

    I disagree that only the “truly righteous” will inherit eternal life. My bible says that none of us deserve eternal life, but those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

    “Lastly, to address the Omnipresense of God: this term is not found anywhere in the scriptures, and so I reject it as being an attribute of God’s nature.”

    That’s a bit of a strange thing to say. I hear people say that about the trinity too. Just because we’ve invented words to explain such things, doesn’t mean that the content isn’t there in the bible. The word ‘omnipresent’ isn’t in the bible but the definition is. In the words of David “where can I go from your Spirit, where can I flee from your presence” (Psalm 139:7). It’s silly to say that it’s just talking about the extent of God’s power. If a king exerts his authority from the palace, that doesn’t mean he is anywhere else. In Australia we don’t say that the Queen of England is here with us, for example.

  264. NickyMac permalink
    July 12, 2010 1:52 am

    Sorry. Correction. I meant to say “those who don’t choose God will be punished.”

  265. July 12, 2010 2:08 am

    Nicky, this is just a theory I have. And I think I am entitled to this theory under Mormon doctrine and scripture. But yes, I do think that matter can be transcendent. I do not consider materiality to be a limiting factor.

    I think you are correct that using different words to describe similar ideas and ideals is a common theme in LDS-Evangelical interactions.

  266. shematwater permalink
    July 12, 2010 6:25 pm

    GUNDECK

    Not explaining the mysteries of eternity is not being deceptive. It is simply following the old pattern that Isaiah pointed out of “Line Upon Line.”

    I do not think that the Bible in anyway supports creation from nothing, but is in favor of creation from pre-existant matter. But this is all we need to know. I think the early saints understood this creation, but they lacked the spiritual capacity to understand the full truths.
    It is just like today. There are many things that the LDS church does not teach, but leaves each person to discover them on their own. The reason is simple: the majority of people cannot comprehend, and thus cannot handle the full truth. So, it is withheld from them.

    NICK

    You must understand LDS doctrine. Being in the Presence of the Father is not synonomous with Heaven, and in truth, is not even synonomous with Eternal Life. Heaven includes all the Degrees of Glory, but only in the highest will we be in the presence of the Father, and only in exaltation will we gain Eternal Life. And thus, what Ethan said was not to equate Heaven and Eternal Life together.

    As to Omnipresence, you fail to understand the possible meanings of words. My parents live in Maine, while I live in Missouri. But I can feel their presence in my life. It is a common expression to say that you can feel the presence of a strong personality, even when they are far away. A powerful king can have his “presence” in the entire army at once, keeping order. These are common ideas and expressions that use the term presence in the exact same way that I did; refering to influence and power.
    So why must this same expression carry a different meaning when refering to God?

    Lastly, why must the destruction of soul and body be so litteral and material? Why is death only a reference to the physical body?
    Thw wages of sin are death, but not a physical death. The wage is spiritual death, or the halting of the progression of the individual and separation from God. If we can no longer progress we are spiritually dead. If we are not in the presence of God we are spiritually dead. This is what is being referenced by this. Those who are not exalted with Eternal Life are spiritual dead because they can have no increase. Those who are cast out are twice dead, as they are separated from the Father.
    As to the destruction of the sould and body, this would all depend on your definition of destruction. I would say that anyone who cannot have an increase (children) has had their body destroyed, and those separated from the Father have had their sould destroyed. Their chance at Eternal Life is gone, and thus they have been destroyed.

    And so, all men will be resurrected, but the wicked will be destroyed both soul and body.
    Revelation 20 shows that all will be resurrected. In verse four it speaks to the righteous being raised during the thousand years milenium, and in verse five it states the wicked will be raised after the thousand years.

  267. July 12, 2010 8:35 pm

    Shematwater,

    While I can only take your word for the lack of spiritual capacity of the early saints and your ability to understand the full truths, this is what Paul has to say about Jesus and creation to the brothers and sisters in Colossae:

    “For by him were ALL things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL things were created by him, and for him…”

    We can do this line upon line if you like, “For by him ALL things were created…”

    The precept here is that Christ created ALL things. ALL things would include matter, intelligences and other worlds (if they existed) wouldn’t it? If ALL things does not include matter, intelligences, and other world can you show me the delimiter in the context of this letter to the brothers and sisters of the Church in Colossae that makes ALL less than ALL? Because if you cannot show us that ALL means less than ALL and you insist that Paul knew that ALL was in fact not ALL you have an interesting concept of truth.

    If you get a chance can you explain how Isiah’s pronouncement of God’s judgment on Ephraim and Jerusalem has anything to do with your accusations against Paul’s veracity? Isiah 28:10, 12 are not exactly the examples most would use of how to instruct doctrine, unless you mean to do it by a condemned priesthood and a foreign invasion.

  268. July 12, 2010 9:01 pm

    “For by him were ALL things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL things were created by him, and for him…”

    Gundeck, the correct word to emphasize in that verse is not “all.”

    It is the word “created.”

    What does it mean to create something? For someone to say that the word “all” necessarily entails ex nihilo creation is simply question begging.

  269. July 12, 2010 9:11 pm

    Sorry but that would only work if creation ex nihilo was not part of the Jewish belief system.

    I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognise that God did not make them out of things that existed. And in the same way the human race came into being. (2 Macc. 7:28)

  270. July 12, 2010 9:41 pm

    You can’t quote Maccabees… Blake Ostler says, “In the first century, neither Jews nor Christians believed in creation out of nothing”.

  271. July 12, 2010 11:29 pm

    Gundeck, are you arguing with yourself or something?

  272. July 12, 2010 11:33 pm

    Only because I have never heard a decent Mormon argument against creation out of nothing.

  273. July 13, 2010 6:02 am

    It is inconsistent with a God who loves – or is relational at all.

  274. July 13, 2010 1:42 pm

    Sorry, I have been out of town for several days. It appears that this discussion has evolved into something else.

    Not to digress, but Seth said:

    Darrell, you still haven’t really established why an actual infinite is illogical.

    Yes, this has been done quite well. The illustration of Hilbert’s Hotel points this out all too clearly. Just because you refuse to accept it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. Evidence and logic won’t convince everyone Seth… some people still believe there are little green men on the moon.

    It is inconsistent with a God who loves – or is relational at all.

    Why? Because you say so?

    Darrell

  275. July 13, 2010 1:45 pm

    You can’t have a relationship with a being you caused. And an impassive being is not capable of having relationships at all – because nothing impacts him in any way. Which is kind of the definition of being in a relationship to begin with.

  276. July 13, 2010 2:05 pm

    You can’t have a relationship with a being you caused.

    Why? God created us with free-wills, feelings, minds, etc. Given these factors why would He not be able to have a relationship with us?

  277. July 13, 2010 2:07 pm

    And an impassive being is not capable of having relationships at all – because nothing impacts him in any way.

    This is an equivocation.

    God does not change in His nature, but His relationships with and to others changes. Thus, He can have relationships. A changing relationship does not change His nature.

    Darrell

  278. July 13, 2010 3:16 pm

    You might as well have a relationship with your brand new ferrari for all the good it does you Darrell.

    The Ferrari doesn’t care. And neither does your impassive God.

  279. July 13, 2010 3:17 pm

    Dear Gundek,

    You said: “Only because I have never heard a decent Mormon argument against creation out of nothing.

    I don’t know what you would consider a particularly “Mormon argument” but I, for one, do not even see a large need for specificly “Mormon argument[s]” against “creation out of nothing” because Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and many other biblical scholars (as well as Second Temple Judaism scholars, Early Christanity scholars, and Assyriologists), including non-religious biblical scholars, have already amply demonstrated that creatio ex nihilo is not a biblical notion. Indeed, this is the consensus opinion as far as I can ascertain, and I have seen little to no real counter-argumentation to this conclusion in scholarly books and/or journals in quite some time (although maybe I have missed something). Indeed, that the Bible in Genesis or 2 Pet. teaches creatio ex materia and not creatio ex nihilo is argued and affirmed by various evangelical scholars as well, such as Bruce Waltke, Richard Bauckham, etc. The only real counter to this concensus position that I have seen are works of the sort such as Copan and Craig’s book “Creation out of Nothing”–but no one takes such works seriously because of how tendentious they are and, more importantly, because they fail to address so many counter arguments (indeed, I wrote a fifty page paper [which I never] published critiquing Copan and Craig’s section which treated the Hebrew Bible because their analysis failed to engage biblical scholarship on so many issues).

    Moreover, perhaps you made the above statement because you simply haven’t read Mormon literature on the subject, because there are indeed Mormon scholars who have addressed the subject as well as Mormon issues on the subject. Are you familiar with Kevin Barney’s and/or Keith Norman’s contributions to the topic, as well as those by Blake Ostler? If so, you would also know that, for the most part, they simply draw upon the research and scholarly conclusions of prominent biblical scholars such as F.M. Cross (Harvard, emeritus), Marc Brettler (Brandeis), Jon Levenson (Harvard), Michael Coogan (Stonehill), James Hubler, Gerhard May, E.A. Speiser, etc, etc. And this goes back to my first point. Why is a peculiarly “Mormon argument” needed on this issue? Biblical scholarship on this point of debate between LDS-Christians and conservative Evangelicals is clearly on the side of traditional Mormonism.

    However, if you want to see a(nother) “Mormon” argument against “creation out of nothing,” you can read my seven part series on the subject that focuses on Genesis 1-3. Feel free to comment there if you’d like.

    http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2009/01/creation-in-genesis-1-3-part-1-introduction-and-temporal-clause/

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  280. July 13, 2010 3:21 pm

    Why Seth?

    The fact that God does not change does not mean He doesn’t care. Your conclusion does not follow. Are we supposed to just take your word for it… this coming from the guy who claims that Hilbert’s Hotel doesn’t prove anything. Geeeesh!!

  281. July 13, 2010 8:47 pm

    TYD,

    “Why is a peculiarly “Mormon argument” needed on this issue?”

    Because there is a peculiarly Mormon cosmogony and I don’t think that Bruce Waltke supports it.

    Yes I have read some of Blake Ostler’s work on creation. I have also read other LDS authors but couldn’t tell you if it was Kevin Barney and Keith Norman but I have read both of them on other topics.

  282. July 14, 2010 12:05 am

    Dear Gundek,

    You’re welcome for the references, then. My link above contains links to Kevin’s, Blake’s, and Keith’s papers.

    Best,

    TYD

  283. shematwater permalink
    July 14, 2010 1:48 am

    GUNDECK

    “For by him were ALL things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL things were created by him, and for him…”

    The real important world to look at is not creation, or the word all, but the terms “Heaven” and “Earth.” What is meant by these two terms?

    So, here is my answer: The Earth is this planet, and Heaven refers to this Universe, or the expanse of space that we can see, and has been frequently called heaven. Thus, the term all is limited in its meaning to those things in this universe. It is not all things that exist throughout eternity, for Paul has limited it to this universe.

    The term all is not always as encompassing as people want to make it. Its meaning is relative to the context in which it is used. Just as painter may have created all the work in his studio, he has no claim to work outside it, nor does he have claim in created the materials he used. He only have claim for the work he did in his studio.
    In like manner, Christ created all things in this universe, but this does not extend his work to other universes (as theorized in this thread), nor does it extend his power to the creating of the materials he worked with.

  284. July 14, 2010 2:39 am

    I don’t know why you think you’ve proven anything with Hilbert’s Hotel. I’m sure it all makes a sort of internal logic to you. But to many of the rest of us, it sounds like merely an involved piece of artificial goobledygook.

    That which is impassive cannot have relationships – except in a one-way sort of fashion. Meaning we have a relationship with God, but not the other way around. We are free to respond to what God is, but he is not free to respond to us.

    It seems that worship of such a being or praying to such a being can make no difference one way or the other.

  285. July 14, 2010 3:11 am

    TYD,

    Thank you for the links, but except for Blake’s they have gone bad. I do think that Blake’s article serves to prove the point that a specific augment for a Mormon cosmogony is missing.

  286. July 14, 2010 3:16 am

    Shematwater,

    We arn’t talking about a painter are we? Did you bother to see how Paul uses the word heaven (οὐρανοῖς) in this passage before jumped on this newerest view.

    2Cor 5:1; Eph 1:10, 3:15, 6:9; Phil 3:20; Col 1:5, 16, 20

  287. July 14, 2010 6:26 pm

    Stop the presses… Seth has made the ultimate argument here. Hilbert’s Hotel is “goobledygook.” I think we can all go home now! 🙂

    Seriously Seth, you have got to come up with a better argument than that. Hilbert’s Hotel proves that an actual infinite leads to logical contradictions, and anything that is logically contradictory CANNOT exist in actuality. As a result, an actual infinite is impossible…. despite your sophisticated opinion that it is “goobledygook.”

    Now, as to God not being able to have relationships… I want to make sure I completely understand what you are talking about when you say God is “impassive.” Are you referring to the attribute of impassability? Because I don’t think impassive means the same thing.

    Darrell

  288. Ethan permalink
    July 14, 2010 7:09 pm

    Darrell,
    An infinite and eternal view of the cosmos is the latest, most comprehensive theory to date. It is the only cosmology that accounts for string theory.

    Your infinite argument runs contrary to this new theory. End of story. If physicists at Cambridge, Stanford and MIT have no problem with an infinite row of parallel universes then guess what, neither should you or I. Stop trying to out-science the Noble Prize winning geniuses who have done the math with a straight face and proven your position inaccurate.

  289. July 14, 2010 7:16 pm

    So explain the Hotel in a way that actually makes sense Darrell. You haven’t done so yet.

    Ethan, I wouldn’t go so far as you and say that we ought to have “faith” in the scientists.

    But I would like folks like Darrell, to stop asking us for “published, objective, non-Mormon scholars” who support our position if they are not willing to accept any academician who actually DOES support our position.

    If you’re going to pooh-pooh String Theory Darrell, then perhaps we can feel free to ignore your other aggressive demands for non-Mormon academic support.

    It seems the only academics you are willing to pay attention to are the ones that confirm your already existing biases.

  290. July 14, 2010 7:19 pm

    Latest? Most Comprehensive? String Theory (heavy emphasis on theory… because there is NO DATA to back it up… it is a figment of the imagination of Naturalistic Materialists) has been around for a while. And you don’t build a cosmology around an unproven theory and then tout it as if it is proven. Especially when it leads to logical contradictions.

    And Ethan… Physicists have always been great Philosophers, haven’t they! 🙂 Give me a break.

    Your argument is nothing more thatn a vast Appeal to Authority Fallacy.

    Please… just try to explain how something can be both true and false at one and the same time. The second you do that, then you will have proven how an actual infinite can exist. Until then… you are just grasping at straws my friend.

    Darrell

  291. Ethan permalink
    July 14, 2010 7:23 pm

    I agree. Science is evolving and has yet to intersect with God, at which point all truth will made known.

    HOWEVER, the fact that many of today’s leading scientists are now supporting an eternal, infinite view of the cosmos is, at the very least, proof that Darrell’s argument is hardly an obstacle. These physicists don’t seem worried about Hilbert’s Hotel in the least. I am just suggesting that Darrell attend a physics conference and voice his objections in the face of the new trends. That would be entertaining.

  292. July 14, 2010 7:23 pm

    Seth,

    Read it… then tell me SPECIFICALLY what doesn’t make sense to you. As far as I can tell, you haven’ t even read it because you have YET to state any SPECIFIC issues you have with it.

  293. July 14, 2010 7:24 pm

    Anyone here want to place bets on whether Darrell is willing to call creation ex nihilo “just a theory” too?

    5 bucks says he won’t.

  294. July 14, 2010 7:25 pm

    Or the Kalam Infinity argument…

    Think he’ll be able to concede that being “just a theory”?

    The suspense is killing me.

  295. July 14, 2010 7:29 pm

    Kalaam is an “argument” not a theory Seth.

    Creation ex-Nihilo is a “doctrine” not a theory Seth.

    Getting childish now, aren’t you.

    Darrell

  296. July 14, 2010 7:35 pm

    Does calling it a doctrine or argument give you a free hall pass here Darrell? Are doctrines exempt from having an actual basis? From being tested?

    If not, I am mystified as to why you think that String Theory being a “theory” is even pertinent to our discussion.

  297. July 14, 2010 7:43 pm

    Another point of clarification Darrell.

    Do you consider God to be an “actual infinite?”

    If so, what is preventing Copan and Craig’s arguments against the existence of an actual infinite being applied to him?

  298. Ethan permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:24 pm

    Exactly, I wonder where Darrell delineates his argument from God being infinitely powerful, or the atonement being infinitely effective, etc. These are heavy biblical terms lightly tossed around by evangelicals and LDS alike. Does God sleep in Hilbert’s Hotel too, Darrell?

  299. shematwater permalink
    July 14, 2010 10:24 pm

    GUNDECK

    I am no Greek scholar. As such I had to do a little research. I found this at greekbible.com

    οὐρανός, n \{oo-ran-os’}
    1) the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it 1a) THE UNIVERSE, the world 1b) the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced 1c) the sidereal or starry heavens
    2) the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings
    (Emphasis Added)

    So, the word that is used in all these verses can mean what I said it did in Colosians 1: 16, but can also refer to the eternal worlds of God, as it does in many of the verses you sighted. I will not mention them individually, as this is enough to answer your question.

  300. July 15, 2010 12:26 am

    Shematwater,

    Of course emphasis was added, this is the definition that you need, but context and usage determines definition not added emphasis.

    Yes, οὐρανοῖς could mean universe. The question is does it? A further question is when Paul uses οὐρανοῖς to mean universe does the context show that he has a cosmogony that included other universes and creation events in addition to this this one?

    Paul uses οὐρανός in it different forms 21 times (Rom 1:18, 10:6; 1 Cor 8:5, 15:47; 2 Cor 5:1, 2, 12:2; Gal 1:8; Eph 1:10, 3:15, 4:10, 6:9; Phil 3:20; Col 1:5, 16, 20, 23, 4:1; 1 Thess 1:10, 4:16; 2 Thess 1:7).

    He uses οὐρανοῖς 8 times (2 Cor 5:1; Eph 1:10, 3:15, 6:9; Phil 3:20; Col 1:5, 16, 20).

    My point is simply that by looking at how Paul uses οὐρανοῖς we have another source of information to help us determine if Paul is referring to “the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings…” or “THE UNIVERSE, the world”.

    While word studies are not conclusive evidence, and this is a pretty simple example of a word study, I think that in this case it is helpful, especially in determining if Paul uses οὐρανοῖς in connection with a cosmogony of multiple universes and multiple creation events.

    For example I think that we can both accept that Paul’s use of οὐρανοῖς in Col 1:5 “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…” is not referring to “THE UNIVERSE, the world” or to the possibility of multiple universes etc.

    Looking at the next closes example of οὐρανοῖς in Col 1:20, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” the context of reconciliation and the atonement of the cross makes “THE UNIVERSE, the world” or to the possibility of Paul referring to multiple universes implausible at best.

    I would invite you to show us all of the many verses where Paul is referring to multiple creation events or multiple universes lets both remember that context determines the meaning of a word.

  301. July 15, 2010 3:05 am

    Ethan,

    God is a Metaphysical Infinite, not an Actual Infinite… very different.

    Seth,

    Yes, a doctrine can be tested and contrasted with reality. Who said it couldn’t? I simply said neither a dotrine nor an argument are theories, Seth.

    A doctrine is a belief, and an argument is an attempt to prove something, and as long as the premises of the argument are true and valid, the argument is sound does just this.

    My point with string theory is that it is a THEORY, not fact. In addition, at this point it is a theory without much evidence or support; however, Ethan appears to be attempting to pass it off as virtual proof.

    The theory of an infinite regress of universes and eternal matter creates numerous logical problems. This can be demonstrated via an argument (again, which if valid, PROVES it wrong) when applied to actual reality. Ethan’s error is that he is attempting to PROVE an ARGUMENT wrong via and appeal to a THEORY. This is simply illogical… a THEORY cannot prove a VALID ARGUMENT wrong… it is logically impossible. If you want to prove the argument wrong, address the argument… don’t make a half-baked appeal to authority via a theory.

    Darrell

  302. July 15, 2010 5:30 am

    Well, I think Ethan was overreaching there myself. I don’t think it’s proof either.

    But it is pretty darn persuasive. Much more so than a confusing analogy of dubious applicability and more than a hint of the smell of incorrect premises.

  303. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 9:26 am

    Darrell,
    Your problem is you are still thinking in 4 dimensions. If String theory is true, and it is an ARGUMENT (See your above definitions about being supported by sound principles, I would say mathematics qualifies), then there could be at least 26 dimensions possible. Hilbert’s Hotel was not designed to test this mind bending reality. It is a 3D hypothesis at best.

    What if the eternal, infinite, beginningless, parallel universes form one eternal circuit, like a donut? An actual infinity can exist in the form of a figure 8, the traditional symbol for infinity. A car could race around that loop for infinity. Remember, LDS theolgy teaches that all matter and intelligence is ALREADY EXISTENT. It is uncreate. It is therefore a closed system on some scale. LDS actually don’t believe in a Hotel type situation at all with two arms that extand out away, implying two seperate end points. What if it looks more like a bowl of spaghetti? It’s a straw man, sir.

  304. July 15, 2010 1:21 pm

    Ethan,

    A car racing around a figure eight track is not an actual infinite if the car started racing at some point. The only way the car would be in an actual infinite is if it never actually began to race and instead had been racing forever. The problem is the car has a finite supply of gas and is running out of it… just like how the universe and created matter has a finite supply of usable energy and is running out of it. Thus, it had to begin at some point and had to derive its usable energy from source (a source that has an unlimited supply of it to give). Again, this really gets back to the Theory of Relativity (which has been virtually proven true… unlike String Theory), which teaches that space, time, and matter are co-existent. If the universe is running out of unsable energy, it had to begin at some point… which mean that matter cannot be eternal.

    In addition, Ethan, your proposal of alternate dimensions does not solve the problem unless you are proposing that something can be both true and false in the same sense at one and the same time in these dimensions… is this your proposal? If so, it is self-defeating because you are saying making a logical statement about these dimensions to the effect that logic does not apply to them. This would be a self-referencing statement which defeats itself. Thus, it cannot be true.

    No matter how you shake it, your position does not stand up to scrutiny. Logic applies to all of creation because logic flows from God’s Eternal Nature. Therefore, what is logically impossible in the here and now is also logically impossible in the eternities. An actual infinite defies the laws of logic and is, as a result, impossible.

    Darrell

  305. July 15, 2010 1:29 pm

    Seth,

    Well, you have called Hilert’s Hotel dubious and goobledygook, but you have yet to give an intelligent critque citing specific problems with it, which has me questioning whether or not you have actually even read it.

    When you are ready to stop using the three year old references and cite specific problems, let me know.

    Darrell

  306. July 15, 2010 1:33 pm

    LDS actually don’t believe in a Hotel type situation at all with two arms that extand out away, implying two seperate end points…

    Just an observation here… an actual infinite would not have end points. If it has an ending, it would be a potential infinite.

    Darrell

  307. July 15, 2010 2:15 pm

    Mathematically we can conceptualize actual infinites all the time.

    Imagine two ongoing parallel lines. Actual infinite.

    It can be conceptualized, and modern mathematicians do so all the time.

    But you still haven’t explained why Copan and Craig’s rejection of the possibility of an actual infinite doesn’t also debunk the supposed actual infinite of God.

    This has always been a problem with the Kalam Infinity argument – it doesn’t eliminate the problem of infinite regress. It simply passes the buck to an infinite God, and then refuses to talk about him.

  308. July 15, 2010 2:47 pm

    Seth,

    Your response confirms my suspicions that you truly have not read this.

    As the proponents of Transfinite Mathematics readily admit, it has no basis in reality. It may be useful as a mode of discussion, but does not apply to anything in reality. Why? Because and actual infinite in reality is not possible.

    Also, we cannot conceptualize something being both true and false at one and the same time and in the same sense. However, an actual infinite requires this. So, your argument is bunk.

    As I have already stated, God is not an Actual Infinite, He is a Meta-Physical Infinite.

    And, the Kalaam Argument is quite sound… your claim that it pushes the problem back further does nothing to address the soundness of the validity of the Kalaam Argument itself. The argument PROVES that the universe, if it began (which has pretty much been proven), had to be created.

    Darrell

  309. July 15, 2010 3:09 pm

    “Meta physical?’

    What the heck is that supposed to mean? Sounds like you (or whoever you are quoting) just made up a technical term to avoid the question.

    You just went through a big explanation dividing the world of the infinite into “actual” and “potential,” and you ruled out the actual. Now you want to add in some sort of bonus category that doesn’t apply to either?

    So Darrell, is God actual or not? Or is he simply a theoretical construct of yours? Because that seems to be what you are doing with this “metaphysical” stuff.

    Are you going to tell me next that “God lives in our hearts” – kind of like “Yes Virginia – There is a Santa Claus”? That would be quite the surprise – to find out that you don’t really think God is actual, but rather a mere idea.

    Please elaborate.

  310. July 15, 2010 3:12 pm

    By the way everyone – I am seriously, SERIOUSLY tempted to simply tell Darrell that an actual infinite is possible “because it’s a mystery” and “God’s ways are not our ways.”

    Not sure he’d see the irony though. Self awareness has never been his strong suit.

  311. July 15, 2010 3:52 pm

    Seth,

    I am not going to do your homework for you. If you want to find out what Metaphysical Infinite means and what Actual Infinite means, why don’t you actually read what you are actually critiquing. Then again, studying what someone says before you critique it has never been one of your strong points. You are always quick with a retort.,. unfortunately for you, half the time your retort has already been addressed. You just never bothered to read it.

    Nice try Seth… you are just proving my point even further… you have never read what you are criticizing… instead you seem to be only reading the Prophet Ostler.

    Darrell

  312. July 15, 2010 4:00 pm

    By the way everyone – I am seriously, SERIOUSLY tempted to simply tell Darrell that an actual infinite is possible “because it’s a mystery” and “God’s ways are not our ways.”

    If you want to be foolish, go ahead.

    Darrell

  313. July 15, 2010 4:04 pm

    If you don’t want to make a persuasive argument here, I guess that is your prerogative.

    Darrell, is your God actual or not? If infinite things are either potentially or actually infinite, which one is God? And if you are claiming a third category here, you need to explain it and why it does not fall under either of the other two categories.

  314. July 15, 2010 4:14 pm

    Seth,

    The only one not being persuasive here is you… because you have already admitted to your lack of reading on this issue. Yet you are still arguing against it. Quite frankly, all this does is demonstrate your ignorance and closed-mindedness.

    Darrell

  315. July 15, 2010 4:46 pm

    So explain it already.

  316. July 15, 2010 5:07 pm

    Go read it already. Then come make an argument. You still haven’t done that.

    Darrell

  317. July 15, 2010 5:43 pm

    Then what have you been doing this entire time Darrell?

    Why didn’t you just say early in the conversation that “Copan and Craig deal with all this – go read them” and been done with it?

    Surely you had a reason for explaining their stuff in your own words. What was it?

  318. July 15, 2010 5:44 pm

    And you haven’t provided any links to what a “metaphysical infinite” is either. So even if I wanted to read up on it, I probably couldn’t.

    Until you provide something here, how are we supposed to know that you know what you are talking about?

  319. July 15, 2010 5:52 pm

    And you haven’t really explained why I cannot simply declare all human identity to be a “metaphysical infinite” either. How about the universe itself? Do I get to declare that a “metaphysical infinite” too, by mere fiat?

    Basically, if you weren’t willing to actually explain this, why did you bring it up?

  320. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 12:28 am

    Methinks I detect a double standard here….

  321. shematwater permalink
    July 16, 2010 1:01 am

    GUNDECK

    I would say that when Paul is using the word in conjuction with Earth he is refering to the Universe. Thus, in Col 1: 20 he is refering to the universe, for all things must be reconciled to God, or brought under his dominion.

    Thus we see a very simple word study to show where the word refers to the Universe, and where it refers to the eternal realm of God. When Paul speaks of the “Heavens and the Earth,” he is speaking of the universe. When he speaks only of heaven he is speaking of the eternal worlds. There are, of course, a few verses whose context would prove exceptions, but very few.

    Here are the verse you gave, and which I think they are referring to:

    The Universe
    Eph. 1: 10; 3: 15
    Col. 1: 16, 20

    The Eternal Worlds
    Rom 1:18; 10:6
    1 Cor. 1 Cor. 8:5; 15:47 (8: 5 – Because of the context of plurality of gods.)
    2 Cor. 5:1, 2; 12:2 (This last verse referring to the Celestial Glory.)
    Gal 1:8
    Eph 4: 10; 6:9
    Phil 3:20
    Col 1:5, 23; 4:1
    1 Thess. 1:10; 4:16
    2 Thess. 1:7.

    So, it is not only in Collosians that he uses it to mean the Universe.

  322. July 16, 2010 1:24 am

    Shematwater,

    OK now we have something to look at.

    Eph 1:10 ” That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him”

    By your take Christ will gather together in Christ all things in the “Universe” and on earth.

    By my take Christ will gather together in Christ all things in “heaven, abode of God ” and on earth.

    Take a quick look at your own definition for οὐρανός “The Eternal Worlds” isn’t an option.

  323. July 16, 2010 2:42 am

    Seth,

    Earlier you claimed that the reason you haven’t read Copan and Craig was financial. When I pointed out the fact that you can read tons of their material for free on their websites, your excuse was removed. It is not my fault that you have spent the better part of your time on here for the past 2 days arguing against a position that you obviously know very little about.

    The word Meta means “other than,” so your position that you can claim the universe is an “other than” physical inifnite is hilarious. It points out even more clearly how you have not read anything on this position… so why in the world are you arguing against it! 🙂

    God is not an actual infinite because an actual infinite is a succession.

    God is not a potential infinite because a potential infinite is always finite.

    God is a meta-physical infinite because He is infinite in His nature and attributes which are non-physical.

    Please, do some reading on this before you make any claims or arguments.

    Darrell

  324. July 16, 2010 2:57 am

    Seth,

    Another good source to read on this is Norman Geisler.

    Darrell

  325. July 16, 2010 3:11 am

    Darrell, regardless of what I’ve read, I can still respond to the quality of an argument as presented.

    This one of yours is somewhat disappointing.

    Basically, it just says “God is neither – because the same rules don’t apply to him.”

    But it gives no reason for why those rules do not apply to him. It simply states them by fiat. Saying that God is non-physical gives no explanation for why these rules should not apply either. Just being a spirit is not a free hall-pass to have your own set of imaginary rules.

    I also dispute your assertion that an actual infinite is indeed “a succession.” It’s only a succession when you apply artificial segmentation to it – such as human-derived units of time. The succession is only present in the labels – not in the nature of the thing itself.

  326. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 3:49 pm

    Essentially, Darrell is saying, “my God is above all of these pesky mysteries and logic problems, such as beginningless and infinitely eternal things, and issues of who created God and how does He exist…..but the LDS God and His reality are subject to those laws.”

    Excuse me?

    Unless you can explain how your God is somehow present in all of this it doesn’t work. Saying He is outside the system is nonsense. Whatever your God is He must be real and existent on some level and in some sphere, otherwise He is just an abstract construct in your head.

  327. July 16, 2010 3:52 pm

    Seth,

    You can’t understand the quality of an argument if you don’t even know what the terms mean, e.g., your ridiculous assertion that you can call the universe a “meta-physical” infinite. Your contention that this is being stated by fiat further serves my point. You have not read about and therefore don’t understand the difference between something being actually infinite versus a met-physical inifnite. They are completely different concepts.

    An actual-infinite is an actually real infinite number of something, e.g., infinite regression of universes or an infinite regress of moments. As Hilbert’s Hotel points out quite clearly, this is impossible as it leads to the logical contradiction of something being both true and false at one and the same time in the same sense.

    God is not an infinite number of anything. Instead, His attributes are not limited or contained by anything and are thus called “omni’s.” These are non physical (meta) attributes of God and as a result we refer to them as meta-physical.

    Darrell

  328. July 16, 2010 4:46 pm

    Darrell, using my own personal reading as an excuse to avoid making your case here is not going to work.

    Make your case. Or drop the subject.

    Your attempt to distinguish between the hotel and God simply illustrates my earlier point. The hotel analogy posits the actual infinite as “a succession.” But the succession is purely one of artificial human creation. It is only present in the labels – not in the thing itself.

    Basically, what you are doing here is stating that the hotel is a succession, but God is not. But you give no reason why this is logically required.

    I might as well say, that the hotel is a theoretical construct, but that God and human identity are realities. While the artificial construct does not work as an actual infinite – both God and human identity DO work as actual infinites.

    You’re just not explaining yourself here. And you are pointing to my own reading list as an excuse for not doing so.

  329. July 16, 2010 7:05 pm

    No, I am pointing to the fact that due to your unwillingness to read up on it you don’t understand the terms, as was so painfully pointed out by your ridiculous attempt to construe the universe as a meta-physical infinite.

    An actual infinite is an actual number of something, and it can be formed by sucession (as in Ethan’s infinite regress of universes). This, as pointed out repeatedly (and which has yet to be demonstrated untrue by any argument you have attempted to postulate) is logically impossible because it leads to logical contradictions.

    God is not an actual infinite number of anything… He has (or is) meta-physical attributes that are unlimited, but there is nothing within or about His nature that is postulated to be infinite in number.

    Please, make the case for how these things are the same thing… you simply claiming that they are does not help your case. (BTW… you claiming them to be the same thing without making a case for why they are IS asking us to accept it fiat… 🙂 ).

    Darrell

  330. shematwater permalink
    July 16, 2010 8:25 pm

    GUNDECK

    You said “Take a quick look at your own definition for οὐρανός “The Eternal Worlds” isn’t an option.”

    Here is the definition: “the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of THINGS ETERNAL and CONSUMMATELY PERFECT where God dwells and other heavenly beings
    (Emphasis Added)

    Eternal Worlds is an option, as this shows. The Eternal Worlds is where God dwells. So, when you say “Abode of God” to me this is the Eternal Worlds.

    The reason I said Ephesians 1: 10 is speaking about the Universe, and not the Eternal Worlds is simple. All things in the Eternal Worlds will not be gathered in Christ. The generations that have gone on before him will not be subject to him. Thus, when speaking of all things being Gathered to Christ, or reconciled to him, or any other similar phrase, it is speaking of the Universe that he is the ruler of, which is this Universe.

  331. July 16, 2010 8:30 pm

    No, numbers are a way in which we REPRESENT an actual infinite. They are not the actual infinite themselves.

    Numbers are merely a way of looking at reality. Keep that distinction firmly in mind here. And like all symbols, they can be played around with in interesting ways – but that doesn’t mean you’ve discovered the real nature of the thing.

  332. July 16, 2010 9:19 pm

    Shematwater,

    To be precise I didn’t say “Abode of God” it comes from the Dictionary of Biblical Languages but in any case “eternal worlds” is missing from both my dictionary and your website. If you claim that the “abode of God” is synonymous with “eternal worlds” you need to present some form of evidence because so far we only have your opinion. An opinion that goes against the source you are sitting.

    If you go the next step in your word study you see that word pattern hypothesis has problems. As a note you really should look at how your Church uses Eph 1:10, because your interpretation creates problems for the whole restoration in this dispensation thing.

    Col 1:20 Christ didn’t reconcile himself with the dead in “heaven, abode of God”? When we die are we absorbed into the universe?

    Rom 1:18 God doesn’t reveal himself from “heaven, abode of God”?

    1 Cor8:5 “may be so-called gods” does not mean there are so-called gods, even so wouldn’t God be in “heaven, abode of God”?

    1 Cor 15:47 Is Christ from the “eternal worlds” or from “heaven, abode of God”?

    I have a number of issues: (1) you have not shown proof or even evidence for the plausibility of multiple “worlds” in Paul’s theology, but assume it in your definition, (2) you have not defined what an “eternal world” is by showing Paul’s understanding if multiple worlds, (3) you have not shown that Paul believed in a cosmogony with multiple creation events and now you have assumed that it is inherent in a definition, (4) barring your ability to show Paul’s unique understanding of “eternal worlds” you should still be able to show contemporary Greek usage of οὐρανοῖς accounting for: (a) worlds that are eternal, (b) multiple creation events.

  333. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:46 pm

    Seth: Bingo, numbers, like time itself, are an illusion. They are signposts and symbols only, something we have invented to try and impose a finite, digestible order on something that utterly transcends such things.

    I think Darrell is hoping that if he says something enough times it will become true.

  334. July 16, 2010 11:58 pm

    The actual is the something by which the infinite number is created. What is interesting is that your very statement that numbers are just ways of conceptualizing reality is exactly the problem Ostler’s apologetic has. His use of transfinite numbers as a method of arguing for the reality of an actual infinite is hilarious. Especially given the fact that proponents of transfinite mathmatics admit that it has no basis whatsoever in reality.

    Sorry for the iPhone typing errors!!

    Darrell

  335. July 17, 2010 12:14 am

    Ethan,

    since numbers are an illusion, can I take two apples and add two more to the pile to get five apples? How about ten apples? Since numbers are mere illusions with no basis whatsoever in reality, I should be able to derive any number of apples I want from taking two apples and adding two more to the pile.

    The problem you are having is that fail to realize that if something is logically impossible, i.e., two apples plus two apples being five apples, it is ALWAYS actually impossible. However, the exact opposite is not true. Just because something is logically possible, e.g., cows flying, it is not always actually possible.

  336. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:24 am

    Darrell,
    Under certain conditions 2 plus 2 equals 4. But there are conditions, especially in multiple-dimensional space, where time and finite equations simply break down. Without getting into the nitty gritty, There are plenty of spooky aspects to known (and theoretical) physics. Like the grandfather paradox of relativity.

    The bottom line for our purposes is that infinity logic arguments don’t apply to this stuff.

  337. July 17, 2010 12:43 am

    Ethan,

    Pnce again, your arguement breaks down due to the fatal error of sel-defeation. You are claiming that logic does not apply in other dimensions. However, your very claim is a logical statement about other dimensions to the effect that logic doesn’t apply to those dimensions.

    This is self-defeating, and as a result is nothing more than gibberish. It’s like saying, “All English sentences are shorter than five words.”

    Darrell

  338. July 17, 2010 12:49 am

    Meant “Once again…”. Sorry. I hate iPhone typing, but we’re at the beach with no computer.

    Darrell

  339. shematwater permalink
    July 18, 2010 12:17 am

    GUNDECK

    What I showed is very much plausible, and very much in the definition I gave from the website I looked at. What is meant by “Things Eternal?” What this means is all those things that exist in an eternal state. The only place where things exist in this state is in Heaven, or the abode of God. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. This is what it means. So call it heaven, or the eternal worlds, or whatever else you fancy calling it. What ever you believe to be the place for Things Eternal is what is being referenced.
    As such, to say that there is no way it could be referring to multiple worlds is to put your opinion forward as fact, which is what you accuse me of doing.

    What you are saying is that because the phrase “Eternal Worlds” does not occur in the definition it cannot be implied. This is rediculous.

    I do not say that what I see as the meaning is the only way to see it. I only say it is possible, because it is.

    Now, you will have to point out the problems in what I say of Ephesians 1: 10 (keep in mind that I may be wrong, as I am only giving my own thoughts here).

    As to the others, let us look at them.
    Col 1:20 Christ didn’t reconcile himself with the dead in “heaven, abode of God”? When we die are we absorbed into the universe?
    Yes they will, and will everything else in the Universe. This verse is not speaking of the location of this reconciliation, but of the object. The location is heaven, by the object is all things in the Universe.

    Rom 1:18 God doesn’t reveal himself from “heaven, abode of God”?
    I did say that this was speaking of the Eternal Worlds, or the Abode of God, so I fail to see the point.

    1 Cor8:5 “may be so-called gods” does not mean there are so-called gods, even so wouldn’t God be in “heaven, abode of God”?
    Again, I said this was refering to the Eternal Worlds, or the Abode of God. (The KJV does not say “so-called.”)

    1 Cor 15:47 Is Christ from the “eternal worlds” or from “heaven, abode of God”?
    Again, the Eternal Worlds and the Abode of God are the same thing, so there is no problem.

    Now, I have a only one issue with what you say: You have not shown that Paul believed in a cosmogony with a single creation events and now you have assumed that it is inherent in a definition.

  340. July 18, 2010 4:06 am

    Shematwater,

    If you insist that it is Mormon doctrine that when people die they will be absorbed into the universe I must accept your inside knowledge of LDS beliefs.

    Predictably each of our conversations culminates in your insistence of plausibility. Now if you insist that “the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings” means or implies “Eternal Worlds” then carry on smartly. We have only your instance as a guide. I imagine that we could take from this that “things eternal” may refer to invisible flying goats. Understanding that Paul does not specifically tell us that invisible flying goats do not exist we should be on our guard. While plausible it is not very probable.

    The problem with the argument from silence is that Paul talks about creation a number of times and from a number of sources. Besides Paul’s own references to creation in his letters, Luke tell is that Paul reports a single creation event at Lystra and on Mars Hill. All that I am asking is for you to show some form of evidence to support your claim.

  341. shematwater permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:31 pm

    GUNDECK

    Of course Paul only speaks about one creation, because this Universe was only created once.
    When learning about the history of the United States we do not study the Mexican Revolution, or any other Revolution. We study the American Revolution, because there was only one revolution that began our independence.
    In like manner, Paul speaks only of the creation of this Earth, in this universe, because it is the only creation that we are concerned with. This does not mean that he is denying other creations.

    There is no place in the Bible where Paul states that the creation of this Earth is the only creation event throughout eternity. He only states that there was a single event where this Earth is concerned.

    Your comparrison to flying goats is flawed. From the words of Paul both what you say and what I say are equally plausible and probable, for the simple fact that his words lack detail. He speaks of Heaven, but he does not describe heaven. As such, any description of Heaven is just as probable as another based on his words.

    And when did I ever say we were absorbed into the Universe?

  342. July 19, 2010 7:42 pm

    Shematwater,

    When I studied American history we were taught about the British Civil War and the French Revolution and the affect that both of theses events has on the creation of the United States. If as you claim there were multiple creation events this has huge theological ramifications that influence how the church should view cosmogony.

    “Of course Paul only speaks about one creation, because this Universe was only created once.”

    Precisely, Paul speaks about one creation. Then either he was lying by omission or he was unaware of the doctrines of the Book of Abraham. Otherwise I recommend that you invest in one of my invisible flying goat early warning radars.

  343. July 19, 2010 8:06 pm

    Would those flying goats per chance be related to orbital teapots and flying spaghetti monsters Gundeck?

  344. July 19, 2010 8:34 pm

    “all things invisible”, and for an extra charge I can be persuaded to do the non-reoccurring engineering needed to provide a limited detection capability for the flying spaghetti monster in my anti-flying goat radar. Unfortunately due to height over terrain and probable attack angles if you require teapot targeting you will have to procure a different device. Package deals can be arranged. Teapots are tough don’t let my competitors fool you into getting something that will not provide you with the security you deserve.

  345. July 19, 2010 8:46 pm

    Great, do you have monthly no-interest installment payment plans available?

  346. July 19, 2010 8:54 pm

    Unfortunately due to the recent discovery of multiple creation events and more than all things invisible and our capitol investment strategy with the Hilbert’s Hotel chain we can no longer provide in house financing.

  347. July 19, 2010 8:58 pm

    Well, as long as I don’t have to go through Wells Fargo…

  348. July 19, 2010 9:15 pm

    I fly into Denver a couple of times a year for work. A briefcase full of unmarked bills will work.

  349. shematwater permalink
    July 20, 2010 4:49 pm

    GUNDECK

    Paul understood the doctrine. The accusation of lieing by omission will only hold if you can accurately claim that we have all the words evr spoken by Paul on the subject. If you are missing even one Epistle that he wrote, or one sermon that he gave, we cannot be sure that the one missing piece does not contain statements about this concept.
    The fun things is, we know of at least two, and possibley three epistles written by Paul that we do not currently have. So, he may have given more insight in those. Of course, evidence of three can lead to a belief in many more, so the possibility of lost doctrine, or teachings of Paul is all to real.

    Your entire argument only holds up if you dismiss the possibility of these lost epistles and doctrine.

    As to teaching other creations and worlds, I never said he did. I simply said that he taught in such a way as to allow the spiritually enlightened to understand that this was the case. He omitted that which was to great for the general population to handle, but left it open enough for the faithful to reach a full understanding. He did not lie by omission, because his intent was not to deceive. His intent was to give what the people could handle.

    (And by the way, the French Revolution was after the American Revolution. We affected them, not the other way around.)

  350. July 20, 2010 5:16 pm

    How can I dismiss the lost epistles, where do you think I got the plans for the invisible flying goat radar?

    My argument is based on the existent word ALL, as in Jesus created ALL things (Col 1:16). Following your argument this was a lie, only part of the truth that Paul knew. Telling the whole truth in a separate document doesn’t change what Paul said in his letter to the Church in Colossae.

    You may want to look at how French political thought influenced the founders, particularly Jefferson.

  351. shematwater permalink
    July 21, 2010 12:18 am

    GUNDECK

    It was not a lie, as Paul was referring to all things in this Universe, as I said. He was not refering to all things to exist in the Eternities, but in this Universe. The term ALL very rarely has the fully encompassing meaning you are giving it, and then only as a theoretical and not a reality.
    Paul never said that all things in existance were created by Christ. He said all things in this Universe (Heaven and Earth) were created by Christ. This does not include those things not in this universe.
    Please actually read what I say and then respond as if you have, or there is little point in continuing the conversation.

    (You said French Revolution, not French political thought.)

  352. July 21, 2010 12:41 am

    Your evidence for all not being all is?

    Your argument is complete speculation. You have claimed that Paul would not have referred to creation in the modern LDS understanding because the poor saints of the ancient church were not spiritually capable of handling the details as well as the much better saints of today. You tried to explain this accusation of dishonest against Paul by misquoting Isaiah’s “line upon line” condemnation while insisting on your spiritual superiority.

    From there we went off on a wild goose chase waiting for you to prove from any source that “all” has a delimiter in Col 1:16.

    I am sure you were heartened when the Yellow Dart showed up, only to realize that he is only interested in disproving creation ex nihilo not supporting the Mormon creation myths of the Book of Abraham and D&C.

    We waded into what exactly was created where you at first proposed that Heaven and Earth only referred to this universe, failing to show that Paul taught about any other universes being created. You were right back to claiming that Paul is allowed to withhold information. In the process you have redefined the Greek language so that your own churches unique interpretations of some critical passages are at risk. You insist that Paul is referring to a single creation event in a reality of multiple “Eternal Worlds” and that Jesus didn’t make all of them but because of the speculated content of unknown letters it’s OK to withhold all of the truth.

    Your argument for Paul’s belief in the Mormon creation myth is based on all the same evidence as my argument for invisible flying goats. Paul spoke of invisible things, invisible flying goats are invisible and they are things. Paul did not specifically denounce the presence of invisible flying goats in any of his letters we have. We can assume that do to the absence of all of Paul’s correspondence Paul left his specific care and feeding instructions for invisible flying goats to these, conveniently, missing documents. Using your argument based on the absence of evidence being evidence in support of the argument I am sure that I can build a pretty good case for a multi-level marketing distribution system for my invisible goat detection systems.

    You right I did say the French Revolution but Paul did say ALL.

  353. shematwater permalink
    July 21, 2010 4:29 pm

    GUNDECK

    You have no desire to carry on a conversation. Your only desire is the destruction of anyone who believes something that you do not. I gave all the evidence needed, but since this conflicks with your opinion it cannot be accepted as real evidence.

    There is no point in continuing a conversation when the other person has no intention of listening. So, I calmly end my remarks, as anything further would be wasted effort.

  354. July 21, 2010 6:38 pm

    Shematwater,

    I am pleased that you are able to determine my desires across the internet. But I think you may have missed the mark.

    Correct me if I am wrong but your evidence is (a) your personal definition of the word heaven with no outside source for the changes you made to the online dictionary and (b) the absence of Paul specifically denying the LDS creation myth.

    As I see it, there are any number of arguments that you could have taken and I would have chalked it up to a different hermeneutic long ago. Your position is unique.

    If you wanted to claim that Gen 1-3 does not require creation ex nihilo and that much of modern scholarship does not believe it does. Then I would admit that yes Gen 1-3 may not require creation ex nihilo while maintaining that that Christian doctrine of creation is not based only on Gen 1-3.

    If you want to claim that Paul didn’t believe in creation ex nihilo and that much of modern scholarship doesn’t think he did. Then I will admit that yes much of modern scholarship denies that Paul believed in creation ex nihilo, but these same people also deny that he was the writer of many of his epistles or understood second temple Judaism so I question their judgment.

    Other Mormons on this site and elsewhere have pointed out that LDS theology is based on continual revelation and the absence of a doctrine from the Bible is irrelevant. Not only are you insisting on a system of cosmogony that is not spelled out in the Bible you are claiming that despite the existing record Paul understood creation as you do. I am interested in how you can make such a claim but you have not shown an example of where a distinction between eternities or worlds or creations can be found. In fact you admit that “Of course Paul only speaks about one creation”. You have not shown any early Church writing proposing the LDS cosmogony. You haven’t shown any scholarship supporting your position. You haven’t even put out an apologetic from an LDS source.

    Toss me a bone, there has to be some reason you insist Paul understood creation the way 21st century Mormons do.

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