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Mormon Ceremonial Laws

July 11, 2010

Mormonism claims to be a restoration of original Christianity and yet the many unique doctrines of Mormonism cannot be found in ancient first century texts.  The Mormon response has been that the scriptures containing Mormon doctrines have been lost.

I started the inductive Bible study on the book of Galatians with the challenge that we could test this LDS claim of “lost” scriptures by comparing the books of scripture we do have to see if these books would allow for the simultaneous existence of doctrines that would have to have been present in the alleged lost texts. For example, could the overarching themes of the book of Galatians co-exist with a “lost” letter to the Galatians that would have included the Mormon gospel?

Now that the Galatians series has come to a close I would like to summarize a few of the major themes that we identified during our study of this book:

Chapter 1 – Paul gives passionate, repeated warnings against accepting any other gospel than the one that he and the other apostles were preaching.

Chapter 2 – Paul emphasizes that a person is justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone, apart from the law.  Requiring obedience to OT laws has the effect of nullifying the work of Christ on the cross.

Chapter 3 – The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ so that we could be justified by faith.  Now that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Chapter 4 – Jesus has redeemed the new covenant believer from the bondage of the old covenant law so that we can serve as a son of God and an heir through Christ.  The contrast between the two covenants sheds light on the significance of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf.

Chapter 5 – In requiring obedience to certain old covenant laws, the Galatians had fallen from grace and nullified the work of Christ.

Chapter 6 – The new covenant believer is only able to fulfil the law of Christ by walking in the Spirit and keeping the “new creature” rule, not by outward performance of certain laws that exhibit an external form of righteousness.

Now, while you were reading through these themes, did you consider whether “lost” letters could have been circulating at the same time that would have given some of the following clarifications?

  • In order to “qualify” for eternal life, it is necessary that you be baptized by the “true method” by someone holding “priesthood authority.”
  • You must also abstain from certain prohibited foods and drinks, and refrain from engaging in certain activities on the first day of the week.
  • You must make certain promises to God and make sure you keep them.
  • You must reach a “worthiness” standard as outlined in numerous pages of fine print in order to go to a certain place and perform certain works for dead people.
  • You must get married in a certain place and keep all of your marriage covenants.
  • You must wear church-issued underclothing at all times.

Did Joseph Smith create a ceremonial religion of external rituals that mirrors the old covenant? If so, this is the exact same error that the Galatians fell into except that the specific Mormon ceremonial laws that were added to the gospel are not found in the Old Testament.  Though they are different in symbolism, these ceremonial laws have the effect of bringing Mormons right back under the old covenant that Paul passionately warned the Galatians about.  This is a “weak and beggarly” system (Gal. 4:9) now that Christ has come and made all things new.

We have been given an offer of a completely new life by coming to Christ on the terms of the new covenant.  We are offered complete and total forgiveness of sins, assurance of salvation, and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit who will never leave us, ensuring us that we will be able to endure to the end.  All of these blessings are forfeited if a person returns to the old covenant system.  Christ becomes of no effect for them – they are fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4).

How is the significance of Christ’s death visible in the Mormon system?  The central message of the gospel is lost in the confusion of trading one system of ceremonial laws for another. It’s as if Christ didn’t even die! His work doesn’t change anything!

In Christianity, the significant freedom and liberty of the new covenant (as contrasted with the old) proclaims and exalts the finished work of Christ (Heb. 10:12-14).  He offers rest for the weary laborers who are burdened trying to earn their own way:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

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145 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2010 1:17 am

    This is easy.

    Joseph Smith wasn’t shooting to recreate a period replica of the mess of Pauline and Peterine Christianity.

    He was tapping into a far, far older Christian tradition had first by Adam and running throughout the course of human history.

    So if you look for Mormon structures and ritual in the New Testament – you’ll find some. But you’ll miss a lot of it.

    Start looking in the Old Testament. You can start with the stuff surrounding anointing of kings if you need a lead.

  2. shematwater permalink
    July 12, 2010 6:41 pm

    Funny thing is that I was part of the first few chapters of this discussion on Galatians that is being sited, and I didn’t catch any of these themes listed when I read, or discussed it. I guess they were all in the last half of the Epistle.

    To respond to this post, what is said only truly holds up if these themes are truly in the episltes. As I do not see vary many of them, it seems that the epistle itself allows for everything that Joseph Smith taught to be in other epistles currently lost.
    Example: there is ample evidence in the rest of the New Testiment that baptism by emmersion was required, even though it appears this is in direct oppostion to Galatians.

    I do love Seth’s response, as Joseph Smith was restoring all things. After all, this is the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times that even Paul spoke about. Many things had now may not have been had at that time. Many things had now were reserved for this time, and were never had before. So, the test proves nothing.

  3. faithoffathers permalink
    July 12, 2010 7:02 pm

    Jessica,

    You won’t find the temple ordinances in the BOM either.

    Critics often claim this shows that the church doctrine and theology changed over time.

    Another possibility is that those ordinances are not something that are to be broadly published in ANY writings.

    Critics also love to criticize the church for being “secret” about those temple ordinances. The reason for that privacy or secrecy is another topic. But what you have is CONSISTENCY- ordinances whose nature is such that they are not included in detail in ancient or modern scripture or the modern church and culture in general.

    In other words, if the ancient church was anything like the modern church, it is not surprising that we don’t find the temple ordinances spoken of openly in early Christian documents in general.

    There are evidences of such practices in the ancient church, but Paul certainly didn’t speak of them openly in the epistles.

    fof

  4. faithoffathers permalink
    July 12, 2010 7:20 pm

    Jessica,

    Just noticed your statement:

    “How is the significance of Christ’s death visible in the Mormon system? The central message of the gospel is lost in the confusion of trading one system of ceremonial laws for another. It’s as if Christ didn’t even die! His work doesn’t change anything!”

    I hardly know what to say.

    Have you thought this through?

    The opposite could not be more true.

    The restored church has far more references to, symbolisms of, and allusion to the atoning sacrifice of Christ than any other religion. I am quite confident of that.

    Consider:

    Every member of the church is baptized in the same manner that Christ was baptized as a covenant to follow Him. This ordinance symbolizes, among other things, the resurrection of Christ after His death on Calvary.

    Every week, every member in every ward of the church partakes of the sacrament, eating bread and drinking water to remember the body and blood of Christ and covenants to follow Him.

    Every week, no fewer than 8 prayers are offered in a block of church meetings, each offered in the name of Jesus Christ because we believe it is only through Him that we may come to the Father. Every talk in church is offered in the name of Christ- those words are actually spoken.

    Members also do this throughout the week- offering prayers many times a day in the name of Christ for the same reason.

    The temple ordinances all have symbols, references, and allusions to the sacrifice of Christ, and we believe it is only through that sacrifice than any of these promises made by God to man are fascilitated and made possible. That offering in the garden and on the cross are the central event and truth behind everything in the temple.

    We have another testament of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon which we essentially broadcast from the housetops to the world. The central message of that book is: “Come unto Christ and be saved through the atonement of Christ.”

    We have a church structure that we believe is modeled after the very same Church organization organized by Christ 2,000 years ago.

    I could go on and on but must attend to something.

    Simply put, I do not think you have considered the reality of your statement above. You may disagree with our doctrine, but the sacrifice of Christ is not “lost” in the LDS religion. That is pure craziness.

    fof

  5. July 12, 2010 8:51 pm

    I am confused. Seth tells us…

    “Joseph Smith wasn’t shooting to recreate a period replica of the mess of Pauline and Peterine Christianity.”

    While FoF tells us…

    “We have a church structure that we believe is modeled after the very same Church organization organized by Christ 2,000 years ago.”

    I have to admit a bias toward Seth’s position, its more interesting than the temples aren’t in the Bible because they are sacred/secret. If I were a Mormon apologist I would make a rubber stamp “the mess of Pauline and Peterine Christianity.” It’s foolproof. Take what you like dismiss what you don’t, it is almost like post-Protestant evangelicalism.

  6. July 12, 2010 9:02 pm

    Mormon temples are in the Bible.

    Portions of the Old Testament are simply rife with temple imagery if you know where to look.

  7. July 12, 2010 10:05 pm

    Yes Seth. There are temples in the Bible.

  8. July 12, 2010 11:27 pm

    And annointings, and prayer circles, and endowments of power, and promises of Abraham. Lots of good stuff.

  9. July 12, 2010 11:38 pm

    Yes Seth, I accept that the 1769 version of the King James Bible was a source for Smith.

  10. July 12, 2010 11:56 pm

    Shem stated: Funny thing is that I was part of the first few chapters of this discussion on Galatians that is being sited, and I didn’t catch any of these themes listed when I read, or discussed it. I guess they were all in the last half of the Epistle.

    For your convenience I will list chapter and verse of each of these themes for your reference. Some of the themes are exact quotations from key verses in this epistle. You can also click on the links in the post above at the beginning of each chapter summary to review the previous posts and discussions on the individual chapters.

    Chapter 1 – Paul gives passionate, repeated warnings against accepting any other gospel than the one that he and the other apostles were preaching. (Gal. 1:6-9)

    Chapter 2 – Paul emphasizes that a person is justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone, apart from the law. Requiring obedience to OT laws has the effect of nullifying the work of Christ on the cross. (Gal. 2:16, 20-21)

    Chapter 3 – The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ so that we could be justified by faith. Now that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Gal. 3:24-25)

    Chapter 4 – Jesus has redeemed the new covenant believer from the bondage of the old covenant law so that we can serve as a son of God and an heir through Christ. The contrast between the two covenants sheds light on the significance of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf. (Gal. 4:4-9; 4:19-5:1)

    Chapter 5 – In requiring obedience to certain old covenant laws, the Galatians had fallen from grace and nullified the work of Christ. (Gal. 5:4)

    Chapter 6 – The new covenant believer is only able to fulfil the law of Christ by walking in the Spirit and keeping the “new creature” rule, not by outward performance of certain laws that exhibit an external form of righteousness. (Gal. 6:2, 8, 12-16; cf. 5:16-26, esp. v. 18)

  11. July 13, 2010 12:23 am

    FOF stated: “The restored church has far more references to, symbolisms of, and allusion to the atoning sacrifice of Christ than any other religion. I am quite confident of that.”

    I was not referring to symbols, references, or allusions. I was referring to the effect of His death.

    “Stand fast, therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1)

    “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

    The Mormon system of worthiness-earning is arguably more of a yoke of bondage than the Old Testament law and sacrificial system. At least in the Old Testament sacrificial system, the substitute sacrifice was effectual. In the Mormon system, Christ’s death is merely a symbol. It isn’t literally effectual in terms of freeing a person from the yoke of bondage to the law.

  12. faithoffathers permalink
    July 13, 2010 1:14 am

    Gundeck,

    I am not saying there is nothing in the Bible that alludes to the LDS version of the temple. I am merely saying that there is no chapter that outlines the eternal marriage ceremony or the script for the endowment in the Bible.

    And I doubt Seth would say the modern church does not have the same basic structure as that organized in the meridian of time.

    Jessica- your statements are killing me- “in the mormon system, Christ’s death is merely a symbol.”

    It sounds like the ridiculous, unfounded rhetoric spewed by unthinking anti-mormons. I suppose we have horns as well?

    Please back that statement up if you can.

    fof

  13. July 13, 2010 1:41 am

    FOF,

    My statement was backed up by the sentence right after the one you quoted where I said, “It isn’t literally effectual in terms of freeing a person from the yoke of bondage to the law.”

    “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2).

    According to Paul’s argument in Galatians, Christ’s death can only be a symbol in the Mormon system because when other ceremonial laws are added as requirements for salvation, Christ’s death is of no literal effect to the adherents of that system. Though circumcision was the specific ceremonial law that the Galatians had attached as a requirement to faith in Christ, we can see from the entire context of Paul’s letter that circumcision finds a parallel to any ceremonial law that is added to faith in Christ as necessary for salvation.

    If you believe my statement is in error, can you demonstrate for me how Christ’s death has literally severed you from your relationship to a system of ceremonial law-keeping?

  14. Ethan permalink
    July 13, 2010 3:59 am

    Jessica:

    Read Hugh Nibley’s scholarship on the 40 days literature and the apocryphal writings (Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadhi).

    Trust me, every LDS doctrine is there, some people have just chosen to sweep this stuff under the rug because it is upsetting to modern Christians:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=114

    and:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=57

  15. Ethan permalink
    July 13, 2010 4:12 am

    Truly, Acts 1:3 should be the most disturbing vacuum in all of Protestant theology.

  16. July 13, 2010 4:37 am

    Why Ethan? Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bring all the things He said to their remembrance (John 14:26). We have the Holy Spirit inspired letters from Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, and whoever wrote Hebrews to explain “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

    The disturbing problem for Mormons is that all of these Holy Spirit inspired letters refute Mormonism.

  17. Ethan permalink
    July 13, 2010 5:12 am

    Jessica, you may not realize it, but the sections you are trying to interpet in Galatians are subject to more than one interpretation. How do yo know it does not condemn the restored gospel of Protestantism?

    For example:

    Your first example is a warning against following any “other” gospel. How do you know this is not a reference to the Platonic, Greek inspired infusions of philosophy that washed over the “gospel” in the first 400 years AD? How do you know this wasn’t a plea to keep the original doctrine pure? A doctrine that really does not resemble the later Church. What if you have been conditioned to assume that this false “new gospel” did not exist from the beginning? After all, what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem? A lot if you are a Creedal Christian.

    What if the massive meltdown that is on display at the latter end of the NT is overwhelming evidence that this embracing of a new “gospel” was already occuring? The wolves came Jessica. They did their work well, “not sparing the flock.” In my view Gal. 1 is anti-Greek philosophy. Something Joseph Smith rolled back to its pre-Greek state.

  18. Ethan permalink
    July 13, 2010 5:21 am

    Jessica,
    John 14:26 Says nothing about the 40 days. This epic, post resurrection event remains a haunting vacuum of knowledge. Unless you look to the non-canonical writings that the Greeks sophists discarded by hot, man-made bickering and contention (they were embarassed by them), which aritings are very detailed in the just what occured during these 40 days.

    By the way, the explosion of light and knowledge of the 40 days is not found in your theology. They have been lost. Until Joseph Smith miraculously began preaching them a century before most were even discovered.

    At the end of the Nibley paper on the Apocrypha he fields a question about whether this evidence absolutely proves the LDS Church is true… The articel is very interesting. We can begin qouting the 40 days stuff if you want.

  19. Ethan permalink
    July 13, 2010 5:35 am

    Here are some excerpts of apocryphal 40 day writings from another blog, ask yourself how Joseph could have been lucky to guess these. Remember, this is the resurrected Jesus instructing the apostles during 40 days. Also, these texts pre-date our oldest NT manuscript:

    2 Jeu 44: Standing with the apostles in the prayer circle, the Lord tells them, “I will teach you all the ordinances necessary that you may be purged by degrees and progress in the next life. I have taught you all these things. Now we will stand in a circle, and you will repeat after me this prayer, and we will go through all the ordinances again. For you to achieve other places” (topoi), but they must be performed in this life. Unless one performs them here, he cannot become a ‘Son of Light.’

    “They are those upon the right hand of the Father, for it is by their faithfulness in these things that they show they are worthy to return and inherit the kingdom. Without the ordinances, therefore, there is no foothold or foundation to anything in this life. If you want to go to the Father, says 1 Jeu, you must pass through the veil (holy of holies).”

    “You can’t understand it now, but you will. Your faith is being tested here. It is through the ordinances that one makes this progress in knowledge, so that those who receive all available ordinances and teachings here shall pass by all the intermediate topoi and shall not have to give the answers and signs, nor stand certain tests hereafter.”

    “In fact,” says the Pistis Sophia, “without the mysteries one loses one’s power. Without the ordinances, one has no way of controlling matter, for such control begins with the control of one’s self. The ordinances provide the very means and the discipline by which light operates on material things. You don’t understand this now,” it continues, “but your level, or taxis, in the next world will depend on the ordinances you receive in this world. Whoever receives the highest here will understand the whys and the wherefores of the great plan.” “You can’t understand it now, but you will.”

    In the Pistis Sophia, at the end of the teaching and the performing of the ordinances, the Lord ordered the apostles and their wives to form a circle. (The apostles’ wives are in on all this.) He stands at an altar on one side, and then all recapitulate the ordinances after him.

    2Jeu 45: Before forming the circle, the Lord has them sing a hymn, and, when it is finished, the apostles and their wives all form a circle standing around the Lord, who tells them that he will lead them through the ordinances of eternal progression. Clothed in their holy garments, they form a circle, foot to foot, arm resting upon arm, and Jesus says that he will take the part of Adam and lead them all. They are to say “‘Amen” to each of the phrases of the prayer; then he gives the prayer.

    The prayer circle is mentioned not only in the Acts of Peter, but also by Irenaeus, Augustine, and Commodian, in 1 Jeu and 2 Jeu, the Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Second Coptic Gnostic Work, the Pistis Sophia, in the Council of Ephesus, and in other places.

    “In any world,” say 1 Jeu and 2 Jeu (incidentally, 2 Jeu appears to be one of the most important early Christian manuscripts ever discovered, older than anything we have in the New Testament), “as a Jeu becomes a Father in a new world, the Fathers then appoint new Jeus [Jehovahs] for new worlds, who in turn will become Fathers,” etc., ad infinitum. “Each Jeu has created for its hosts ten thousand times ten thousand.” In the Sefer Yetzira (some think this is the oldest Jewish work in existence), “the earth and planets are but atoms in an infinity of like systems.” This is a very old, orthodox Jewish work, a great and mysterious work.

    “He who has fulfilled all the ordinances and has done good work cannot be held back,” says the Ginza. “We are taught the principles of salvation, so that we cannot be held back in this world. Those who receive certain teachings and carry out their instructions in this world cannot be held back in this world or the next.”

    Untitled Text 8: “Whenever that life-giving spark is sent to initiate a first step of creation in the material world, it is always followed by three Sent Ones who come down to give proper instructions. So in any world, those that receive the spark (the word sent from God) will also find three helpers sent to instruct them.”

    “When Adam was placed on earth, three messengers were sent to oversee him, with myself at their head,” says the Lord to the apostles during the forty days. “1 taught Adam and Eve the hymns, and the order of prayer, and the ordinances which would help one to return to the presence of the Father.I’m sending three, God says to them, giving them instructions. He said to the pure Sent One, his Son, ‘Go call Adam and Eve and all their posterity and teach them concerning everything about the Kingdom of Light and the Worlds of Light. Be friendly with Adam and keep him company, you and the two angels which will be with you. Warn them against Satan; also, teach them chastity.”

  20. July 13, 2010 1:22 pm

    Ethan stated: Your first example is a warning against following any “other” gospel. How do you know this is not a reference to the Platonic, Greek inspired infusions of philosophy that washed over the “gospel” in the first 400 years AD? How do you know this wasn’t a plea to keep the original doctrine pure?

    This is not possible. How do I know? Because the entire theme of the book of Galatians has nothing to do with refuting Greek philosophy. The entire book was written to refute the error of adding ceremonial law requirements to the Gospel of grace. The specific ceremonial law that was at issue was circumcision, but in refuting this error Paul makes a broad case to explain the original gospel that he and the other apostles were preaching. It was the gospel of grace – that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. The life of Abraham serves as an example; Paul also uses an allegory from the life of the OT saints. He argues for the consistency in the message that he and the other apostles are preaching. There is no “mess of Pauline and Peterine Christianity” here. It is crystal clear.

    I’m not sure if you had a chance to participate at all in the inductive study or if you have ever studied Galatians indepth before, but I can assure you that if you do you will not find an argument against Greek philosophy. The book is written for a very specific purpose and has wide application today to many different sects of Christianity that have followed in the error of the Galatians in adding law to grace. Humans are not very brilliant. We tend to repeat the same mistakes. The inspired writings of scripture that Jesus promised He would preserve for us address these common errors and mistakes. The message of scripture is always “return” and the example throughout scripture is one where people turn away from the Word of God that is already preserved for them. They don’t need to find hidden, secret truths. They need to align themselves with the Spirit and the truth to avoid falling into the usual pitfalls.

  21. July 13, 2010 1:41 pm

    I think I’d say that Paul is talking about justification via a new covenant relationship with God. Reducing it all to just “faith” without more seems a bit reductionist to me.

  22. Ethan permalink
    July 13, 2010 8:54 pm

    Jesica, Galatians specifically may be speaking to OT law. However, the infection of Hellenistic philosophy into the church is a well documented process and impossible to argue against.

    Do you think that the LDS doctrines and ordinances are the same thing as the people in Galatia who are clinging to the OT laws? LDS also believe that Jesus came to fulfill and transcend the Mosiac preparatory laws. But the key to it all is that a theme of covenant and sacrifice runs throughout the transformation. It is an element that no longer exists in the Protestant church. You’re missing huge chunks of the entire existence of mankind.

  23. July 13, 2010 9:08 pm

    FoF,

    All that I am saying is that I like Seth’s “mess of Pauline and Peterine Christianity” better than your sacred/secret argument. I think it is hip, post-modern, and simply irrefutable.

    If you take Seth’s Mess Theory, Blake Ostler Expansion Theory, and mix it with modernist scholars (ex evangelicals are the best) dismissals of any inconvenient orthodox doctrine you have an apologetic that simply cannot be stopped.

  24. July 13, 2010 11:16 pm

    The whole Mormon argument that “Greek Philosophy” infiltrated the pure Gospel message is such a weak argument anyway. It is begging the question at its best.

    Assuming that Greek Philosophy did enter into Christian doctrine, which despite Ethan’s assumptiveness is not all that decisive of an argument, you have yet to explain why Greek philosophy is wrong. Just screaming “Hellenization” does nothing. Who cares… prove the interpretation wrong.

    Darrell

  25. July 13, 2010 11:42 pm

    If I were a Mormon apologist I would make a rubber stamp “the mess of Pauline and Peterine Christianity.” It’s foolproof. Take what you like dismiss what you don’t, it is almost like post-Protestant evangelicalism.

    Gundeck,

    I agree. This theory is irrefutable because you can’t really prove a negative. Claim that LDS theology is restoring something that was never really there in the first place and you really can’t prove it wrong. Seth is basically admitting that the Church never really “existed” in its pure form, so there is nothing to really compare the modern LDS Church too in order to prove whether it is or is not a restoration. The problem is, how can you restore something that never really existed?

    Quite honestly, this argument is pretty humorous. It makes an invisible gardner almost look provable.

    Darrell

  26. July 14, 2010 12:28 am

    Ethan

    Do you think that the LDS doctrines and ordinances are the same thing as the people in Galatia who are clinging to the OT laws?

    I think there is an exact parallel between the OT ceremonial laws that the Galatians were in bondage to and the Mormon ceremonial laws that many Mormons are in bondage to, yes. As I tried to demonstrate in my post, I believe that though these ceremonial laws are different in symbolism, the Mormon laws have the effect of bringing Mormons right back under the old covenant that Paul passionately warned the Galatians about. He called this a “weak and beggarly” system (Gal. 4:9) that “gendereth to bondage” (4:24) that severs a person from the effects of the grace of Christ (5:4). That’s why I pointed out in my post that those who try to come to God on the terms of a ceremonial covenant system (such as Mormonism) will forfeit their blessings (Spirit-filled union with Christ, assurance of salvation, freedom from enslavement to the law). Those who seek to come to Christ on the terms of a ceremonial covenant system are in bondage to keeping that system perfectly. If they fail in one point they are guilty of violating the whole law. “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal. 5:3). “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

    Can a person “qualify” for grace on the terms of the old covenant? No. It is impossible because of the curse. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident, for the just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them” (Gal. 3:10-12).

    The old covenant was a “schoolmaster” – we had to learn that it is impossible for us to keep God’s law perfectly on our own. God had something better planned for us, but the law was necessary in order for mankind to understand the significance of the work of Christ on the cross. When Jesus died on the cross he was “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col. 2:14).

    The new covenant is so entirely new and different that Christ’s death imparts a literal, life-changing effect for the born again Christian. The Christian is drawn into an entirely new, free, Spirit-filled union with Christ as opposed to a “weak and beggarly” bondage to a system of ceremonial law-keeping. When a person comes to Christ on the terms of the new covenant and gives up their efforts to earn grace, Christ produces within that person the desire to live a sanctified life.

    The Christian experiences spiritual liberation when they come to grasp the truth that Christ has set them free from the law. I know many Christians, including myself, who have experienced spiritual transformation by studying the book of Galatians (or Romans or many other sections of the New Testament that address these truths). Seeing the impossibility of ever earning grace has only served to increase my love for Christ. “He who has been forgiven much loves much” (Luke 7:47).

    LDS also believe that Jesus came to fulfill and transcend the Mosiac preparatory laws.

    I’ll ask you the same question I posed to FOF. Can you demonstrate for me how Christ’s death has literally liberated you from a system of ceremonial law-keeping?

  27. shematwater permalink
    July 14, 2010 2:14 am

    Jessica

    I don’t have very long here, so I just skimmed these posts. However, I have to say something.

    In Galatians 3: 19 it speaks to the Law being added to the Covenant.

    I remember this discussion, and I remember being fairly ignored in everything that I said at the time. It would seem that my aruments and ideas are again ignored here, as they showed very clearly how Galatians is not against outward ordinances in general, but only those that were part of the Mosaic Law, because these had been done away with.

    To sum up my point, the Covenant was made to Abraham, and the Law of Moses was added to this covenant when Israel transgressed at Sinai. to be more specific, the Law of Carnal Commandments (as it is called in Hebs. 7: 16) was added. This law, and all the ordinances that pertained to it (the weekly, monthly, yearly, and other sacrifices) were done away. The Galatians were till doing this sacrifices, and thus were denying Christ. But these were the only ordinances that Paul was talking about. He was talking about those ordinances that had been added to the Covenant at the time of Moses. Other Ordinances were not included.

    As such, no were does the epistle to the Galatians say what it is being claimed to be saying.

    Now, the claim that Galatians 2: 16, 20-21 is saying that it is faith alone that saves us is proven false through this understanding. Paul is using the term Law in reference to the Law of Moses, not to the covenant of the Gospel. We cannot be justified through the Law of Moses, and if we continue to live it our works are dead and thus of no good to us.

    As to the other themes, they are all basically correct, when understood with this meaning of the term Law.

  28. July 14, 2010 2:45 am

    Hey, it’s not my fault that traditional Christianity stands at the apex of millenia of distortion, obscurity, corruption, and a process of hiding away crucial strands of the true faith.

    If we don’t have historic evidence of the true Christianity had by Adam, then it’s hardly the Mormons’ fault.

    If you think this apologetic sounds convenient Gundeck, look at it from our perspective.

    We are basically being told “well, you can’t find any evidence of this” by the very people who are a part of the system that is responsible for the hiding of the evidence.

    Convenience is an argument that runs both ways.

  29. July 14, 2010 2:47 am

    Shem,

    I apologize that you felt your comments were ignored on the previous post. As I’m sure you can relate, sometimes I have more time to blog than at other times.

    Contrary to how you felt, however, I believe your comments were instrumental in inspiring an entire post written by Stephanie that I don’t think you have had a chance to read yet (at least I don’t see any comments from you on that post). It’s a beautiful post about the nature of the Biblical covenants. You will probably find some areas of agreement and disagreement, but I encourage you to read it as it responds to your previous comments on this subject.

    https://ilovemormons.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/on-the-covenants

  30. July 14, 2010 3:23 am

    Seth,

    I forgot conspiracy theory. Thanks for reminding me.

  31. July 14, 2010 3:23 am

    Shem,

    A couple more thoughts… You said “Galatians is not against outward ordinances in general, but only those that were part of the Mosaic Law, because these had been done away with…Other Ordinances were not included”

    Could you please provide references to these pre-Mosaic “ordinances” you are referring to?

  32. July 14, 2010 3:27 am

    Actually I attempted to word it carefully enough that the argument does not rely on people actively trying to hide parts of the original religion (though the argument does not rule it out).

  33. July 14, 2010 5:39 pm

    So, in essence what you are saying Seth is… maybe the doctrines existed or maybe they didn’t. If they did exist, we can’t find them, and if they didn’t exist, it was because the Church was too corrupt.

    Either way you phrase it, it is impossible to prove true or false. Almost like me saying that little men dressed like Quakers did live on the moon in 1840 the way that Smith thought. There is not way to prove it true or false. How convenient.

    As I see it, the real problem for Mormonism in this area is the Great Isaiah Scroll. It pre-dates the supposed “corrpution” that existed in the early Church, and it does AT ALL MATCH Smith’s re-writing of Isaiah. It essentially proves that his “restoration” of the lost truths in the Bible was nothing more than a fabrication of his imagination. If you can’t trust him is this area, how can you trust anything else he claimed was a “restoration?”

  34. July 14, 2010 5:43 pm

    That’s great Darrell.

    Except that your Isaiah scroll does nothing to verify Genesis or Exodus or many other portions of the Bible.

    You keep acting like the Bible is a single document – and if we can verify just a few portions of it, then we’ve automatically validated the ENTIRE thing.

  35. Ethan permalink
    July 14, 2010 5:47 pm

    Jessica, the mosaic law was a lesser law given to the Israelites because they were not yet ready for the higher law. The “higher law” was not contingent upon Christ’s coming to fulfill it since it was available to Israel centuries before. Had the people been worthy of it, they would have had it back then.

    The higher law is still a law. That law was never done away with, but was to always be the vehicle by which God’s children could return and be like Him. This law has been around since Adam first left the garden. It is not to be confused with the lesser mosaic law, which was a temporary sub-law. You, and Paul, are talking about the lesser law. LDS don’t live the mosaic lesser law, so Galatians does not apply.

    Here is the purpose of the higher law, which is still in effect today:

    Theologian Reinhard Hütter wrote, “while often misunderstood in or eclipsed by various theological traditions of modern provenance, deification stands at the very center of the Christian faith and constitutes the surpassing goal toward which the Christian life is directed.”

    In the third century, Clement of Alexandria wrote that “the Word of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become God.” (See D&C 93)

    This was the point of the law then and now. The covanents and sacrifices not only pointed to the cross, they also purified and sanctified the participants. It made them Holy.

    Daniel Keating, an evangelical professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Michigan, agrees with the position that Galatians 4 does not revoke the “law” in general, just the lesser part that was added on (like training wheels, the bike still exists after you take them off). Keating ties galatians into other passages:

    The conclusion to Rom 8:29–30 points to the goal of our sonship in Christ: we are to be “conformed to the image of his Son.” God’s purpose in sending the Son is that we be made like the Son. This notion is reinforced in 2 Corinthians 3:18, where Paul speaks about our being transformed into his “image” from one degree of glory to another. How, then, has Christ enriched us? By assuming our humanity and redeeming us in and through that humanity, he has given us adoption as sons of God through the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of transforming us to be made progressively into the image of the Son himself.

    Though other biblical texts could be called upon for support, the key texts on sonship (2 Cor 8:9; Gal 4:4–6; Rom 8:14–17, 29; 1 Jn 3:1–2), in conjunction with Christ as the New Adam and our transformation into his image (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:44–49; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 1:10), provide the primary biblical foundation and framework for the formula that the Son of God became as we are so that we might become as he is.

    Galatians is only talking about the mosaic lesser law. The transforming power of the higher law is in tact from the beginning of time. The law is about becoming a child of God, with everything that implies for inheritance. This has to do with alchemy, turning base metals into gold. The higher law is God’s alchemy process.

    The higher law is the path to being born again. When an infant was born in the ancient world several things happened: They were washed by the midwife, they were anointed with oils, they were given a name, they were clothed, they were received in the welcoming embrace of the parent. Any LDS temple patron will recognize what being born again really means. It is not done in this world, it’s our entry to the next. This is the at-one-ment with God, the return. There are no “born again” Christians yet. I’m afraid you have completely lost the meaning of life here and what the ancient laws were for.

    The mosaic laws not only pointed to Christ, they were a step by step blueprint for how to ascend to God. Even the Israelite temple was a scale model of the universe, complete with a life size replica of the Garden of Eden with it’s three areas of increasing holiness and a process of advancing back into paradise (the tree of life). Are you saying that just because we have the NT suddenly the enitre arc of primordial human purpose is erased? Isn’t it better to say that Jesus and the higher law fulfilled and expanded this alchemy process?

  36. July 14, 2010 6:12 pm

    Seth,

    The Great Isaiah Scroll proves Smith to be a fraud in his “rewriting” of Isaiah, and if he was a fraud there (as well as in the Book of Abraham), the liklihood that he was a fraud in other areas is all too likely. The cards are heavily stacked against Smith being anything other than a fraud.

    Darrell

  37. Ethan permalink
    July 14, 2010 6:15 pm

    As for your question: Can you demonstrate for me how Christ’s death has literally liberated you from a system of ceremonial law-keeping?

    The short answer is we no longer keep the lesser law of Moses that was added on to the higher law when the Israelites were not yet ready. You’ll notice that there are no animal sacrifices in the temple. The Israelites could not be priests and preistesses in teh temple. Part of the “lesser law” punishment was that Israel had mediators who did the temple ordinances for you.

    The higher law makes everyone in Israel a priest or priestess. When the children of Israel had assembled at the base of the mountain, the Lord promised, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. . . . And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:5, 6).

    They did not obey and were not made priests. With the Higher law (priesthood), everyone is made a priest/priestess, as LDS members today all have access to it.

    The key point is that the lesser and higher laws are THE SAME THING. Where they differ is in the outward manifestations and procedures. The underlying function is the same since Adam. The basic elements of alchemy and at-one-ment are what drive each. That did not change when Christ came. We become a “son of God” via the same purifying alchemy as those during and before the lesser law. This is an eternal principle.

  38. July 14, 2010 7:51 pm

    Of course, you’re making the same error of bundling here as with the Bible Darrell.

    If Joseph was a fraud once, then he must be on all counts, right?

    Now, I’m not conceding at all that this Isaiah scroll proves anything of the sort about Joseph Smith. But lets just say it proves Joseph’s translation wrong.

    How does it logically follow that nothing else he wrote was inspired and true?

  39. Ethan permalink
    July 14, 2010 8:45 pm

    Apparently Darrell hasn’t boned up on the Abraham authorship scholarship. Truly, anyone who believes that Joseph Smith wrote The Book of Abraham is up in the night. Start with Nibley’s opus magnum, “One Eternal Round,” a 700 page book that deals only with the hypocephalus in facsimile 2. The evidence for ancient origin is staggering and it turns out that Joseph translated the thing with breathtaking sophistication. Read that book and tell me Smith was not tuned into something beyond a dirt farmer’s ability.

    I am not up to speed with the Isaiah scroll debate. Is this the one that Margeret Barker studied in connection with the BOM Isaiah passages?

  40. July 14, 2010 8:50 pm

    Margaret Barker has never, to my knowledge, addressed any “Mormon issues” as such.

  41. shematwater permalink
    July 14, 2010 10:48 pm

    JESSICA

    All the necessary ordinances for salvation were had by Adam, and passed down through his descendants, all the way until Ephraim in Egypt. However, as the Book of Genesis is a book of histroy, and not a book of Law, they are not spoken of in any direct manner. Sorry.
    This is not really surprising, considering the nature of the Genesis, and so is not proof against what I have said.
    I would really like to see any real accurate record of the time before Moses.

    Simply because the Bible does not contain the ordinances that I speak of is not proof against what I have said. In Galatians Paul speaks to the Law being added to the Covenant. Just because we only have what was added and not the original does not mean the original does not exist.

    DARREL
    Question: Is this great Isaiah scroll from the same time period as Isaiah? If it isn’t, how much time is there between his saying the words and the creation of this scroll?

  42. July 15, 2010 12:22 am

    Shem,

    I have a couple of questions for you regarding your view of the Abrahamic covenant and your interpretation of Galatians. According to Gal. 3:6-14, what was the blessing promised to Abraham that Paul said was destined to come on the Gentiles? Secondly, how was this blessing going to be administered or conferred to the recipients?

  43. July 15, 2010 12:49 am

    Ethan,

    After reading your comments I have a similar question for you as what I asked Shem above. There are definitely similarities in our viewpoints since I also believe there is something that came before and transcends the Mosaic law. According to the Bible, it was not called a “higher law” but a covenant. It was the covenant God made with Abraham. We agree that the Mosaic law was added to this covenant for a temporary period of time. We disagree on the nature of the first covenant and you refer to a lot of biblically unsubstantiated views in describing your “higher law.” The Bible describes exactly what the Abrahamic covenant entailed. The nature of the covenant is explained in Gal 3:6-14 and also in Romans 4:1-5:11. I would be interested in hearing how you or Shem would answer the questions I posed in the above comment.

  44. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 12:55 am

    Shem,

    Speaking of Margaret Barker, and in reference to what you said about a more secific pre-Moses record, quite a bit of new discovery and insight has been uncovered by Barker and others regarding the first temple cult and the kind of ritual and meaning that defined God’s people from the early days. Needless to say, LDS scholars were thrilled by Barker’s finds!

    Here is a good place to start:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/papers/?paperID=6

  45. July 15, 2010 2:42 am

    Seth,

    Is it “possible” that Smith was fradulent in his “re-writing” of Isaiah yet geniuine in his other work? Yes… however, it is also “possible” that David Koresh was a Prophet of God… it is not at all “likely” but it is logically possible.

    If someone demonstrates themselves to be a fraud and a liar at something, e.g., translation, the intelligent and wise thing to do is look at their claims with a high degree of caution and scrutiny. For example, Tiger has proven himself to be a liar and cheat as a husband. Would it be wise for his [soon to be ex] wife to “take his word for it” that he won’t cheat again? Of course not… most people would consider her a fool for doing so. In the same sense, to accept Smith’s work as genuine when parts of it have been virtually proven to be fraudulent is un-wise and foolish.

    Darrell

  46. July 15, 2010 2:44 am

    Ethan,

    I never claimed that Smith “wrote” the Book of Abraham. I think it very possible that he had “supernatural” help in constructing it… just not help from God. In addition, it is most certainly not a “genuine” translation of an ancient document.

    Darrell

  47. July 15, 2010 2:48 am

    Shem,

    If you want to check out some info on the Great Isaiah Scroll you can google it and find LOADS of info. It is dated to somewhere between 100 – 350 BC… long before any supposed document tampering by the early church. The funny thing is that the Great Isaiah Scroll line up almost perfectly with the copes we have of Isaiah… proving that the early church did not “tamper with” or “corrupt” Isaiah the way that the LDS Church has claimed about the Bible since inception. No plain and precious truths have been removed or lost.

    Darrell

  48. July 15, 2010 4:27 am

    Ethan,

    A couple more thoughts… You said, “The higher law is still a law. That law was never done away with, but was to always be the vehicle by which God’s children could return and be like Him.”

    I want to make sure I understand your position. What I hear you saying is that you believe a person can earn righteousness by following this higher law. If that is your position, what is your interpretation of the following passage?

    Galatians 3:21-22 says: “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

    You also stated, “The ‘higher law’ was not contingent upon Christ’s coming to fulfill it since it was available to Israel centuries before. Had the people been worthy of it, they would have had it back then”

    Correct me if I misunderstand, but I believe what you are saying is that you believe Christ’s death was not necessary. You believe the people could earn righteousness by following the higher law. If that is your view, how do you explain the following passage?

    Gal. 2:21-3:1 says: “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”

  49. July 15, 2010 5:21 am

    Darrell, who says that the stuff in the Isaiah scroll was what the “plain and precious” stuff was referring to?

    Like I mentioned before, the Bible is a big book covering a vast time period, with multiple sources.

    Another thing here – why are you assuming the “plain and precious” truths were meant to refer only to post 1 AD tampering? Mormons never claimed that the only tampering with the record would be after Christ’s death. In fact, I fully expect tampering to have occurred prior to Christ’s birth by several centuries.

    The five books of Moses, for instance, are believed to have been compiled by Jewish scribes during the Babylonian exile. Are you assuring me that none of those scribes had an agenda when they compiled the record for us?

    Try this one on for size – the suppression of the divine feminine embodied in the worship of the goddess Asherah.

    You telling me that none of the exile scribes might not have been just a tad anxious to write Heavenly Mother OUT of the text if at all possible?

    I think you are missing the true historic scope of Mormon claims of apostasy and corruption. We are not limited to an apostasy that happened only after the death of the apostles once early Christians went through their Neoplatonist craze.

  50. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 8:28 am

    Jessica,

    The fact that the mosaic law is specifically titled the “lesser law” in the OT implies there is a “greater law.” A covenant. Here’s what Daniel Webster has to say about that word:

    COVENANT:
    – An agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.
    – The conditional promises made to humanity by god, as revealed in Scripture.
    – The agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.

    So what is a covenant? It is a two way agreement between God and man that each will do certain things. A covenant is not a “grace” concept at all. It is actively participatory and entails obeying a law via works and is conditional. In essence, we are dealing with the “higher law” here.

    QUICK SIDE NOTE:
    We need to establish one important aspect. Those under mosaic law were not required to have NT style faith. Part of the lesser law was to be justified through the machanical execution of the law alone. The Israelites really weren’t required to have love, charity or a broken spirit for justification. It was an eye for an eye culture. This is vital because when Paul is bashing the lesser law it is because it has no faith aspect.

    So to answer your question above: Paul is saying that we are justified THROUGH faith, not by faith. This is because faith is an activator, Without faith no one would bother to keep a covenant. ie, I eat right because I believe it will keep me fit, I would never do it otherwise.

    Thus Paul is NOT speaking to the Mormons at all here. LDS views of the “higher law” are rooted in faith. Indeed, it is the first principle of the Church. LDS covenants are the culmination and bringing together of all ages before, the higher law (covenant), the new commandment (love), etc.

    Again, Galatians is vehemently attacking those attached to the faithless, lesser law only. The LDS covenant/law paradigm is much more ancient and primordial and reaches back to the beginning, to a higher state before the “lesser law” was inflicted.

    You are overlooking the point of the whole process in Gal. 3:26-29, to become sons of God. So we are back to the alchemy idea, that the point of all of these laws and covenants is to sanctify us so we can have at-one-ment with God.

    Truly, Galatians says very little about what the covenant was. It mainly lays out how faith is the way to activate it. To know what the covenant was we need to go way back to Genesis.

    What was the Abrahamic Covenant? Marriage and posterity. Seeds. Increase. The covenant was as much to Sarah and Hagar as it was to Abraham. Don’t forget the role of women in this process. “She shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.” When we are adopted into this pro-creative covenant of the ancients, we too receive the same. We were meant to be creators too.

    D&C 132 better explains the covenant:

    Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and the fruit of his loins…both in the world and out of the world should they [Abraham’s seed] continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

    This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.

    Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.

    The “law” referred to in this passage is the law of celestial marriage.

    For more info on LDS style ordinances, tokens and naming rites in Genesis as they pertain to Abraham read this article on the covenant:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=40&chapid=170

  51. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 8:43 am

    Jessica, in response to your last post: Like all of Paul’s message, Galatians 3:21-22 is still talking about the lesser law here. LDS are not living this law. We are talking about the Abrahamic covenant and the greater law.

    You asked: (Do) you believe Christ’s death was not necessary…the people could earn righteousness by following the higher law?

    No. Christ was necessary for our salvation. Christ is YHWY, the one who made the covenant to Abraham. I was just pointing out that the Israelites could have avoided the lesser law and had the greater law centuries before Christ if they were not unprepared. Like Sinai, they had to wander a bit.

    Really, this Abrahamic covenant business has nothing to do with earning salvation. It is a simple two way covenant between us and God that if we live by the promises made, God will give us the blessings he gave Abraham. Blessings that have everything to do with posterity and male female union in the eternities.

  52. July 15, 2010 1:43 pm

    Well Seth… LDS have been claiming for years that the Bible has been tampered with. They have SPECIFICALLY referenced tampering by the early Church during the supposed “apostasy.”

    Now, we have Isaiah which is virtually 100% pure and the NT sources which have been demonstrated to be 99.5% pure. This debunks at least this portion of the the LDS theory. So, it only makes sense to move the “tampering with” theory back further and onto other Old Testament Books. Mormons have no choice here.

    My question is this… when are you guys just going to realize that God’s promise has been fulfulled? His Word has survived and it will continue to do so. Why place you trust/faith in Smith’s claims when he has been proven to be a fraud in so many areas? Makes no sense to me.

    Darrell

  53. July 15, 2010 2:11 pm

    Actually the purity of Isaiah doesn’t debunk anything. Not even the post-apostolic tampering theory.

  54. July 15, 2010 2:24 pm

    It proves that Isaiah was not tampered with during the supposed “apostasy” and it also proves that Smith was a fraud in his rewriting of it.

    I love how you keep moving the mark Seth…. “Well, you might be able to show that Isaiah and the NT weren’t tampered with, but that doesn’t mean that the other books weren’t messed with by the early Church.”

    You are like a kid who got caught stealing in a candy store who now claims that he really intended to pay for it…. you just keep chaning your story and moving the mark. The LDS Church has claimed for years that the early Church tampered with the Bible, and that was Smith’s entire justification for re-writing it. Problem is, his rewriting has been proved to be a fraudulent on many, many counts.

    Darrell

  55. July 15, 2010 3:04 pm

    The Joseph Smith Translation has long been considered inspired commentary on the scripture and not a literal re-translation. Joseph Smith himself seemed to view it this way from the historical records we have from him. Maybe you, Darrell, thought that it was supposed to be a linguistically immaculate re-creation of some original proto-text, but that’s not really my problem. Almost no one in LDS scholarship views the JST that way.

    And, for the record, given your past history, I don’t think I really trust your assertions that the Isaiah Scroll really proves an immaculately accurate transmission of the actual writings of Isaiah in our modern Bible. But that’s another argument. I was just saying that even if your premises are true here, it doesn’t prove any of your conclusions.

  56. July 15, 2010 3:47 pm

    Bull Seth. A good junk of the JST is included as part of the Standard Works of the Church in the Pearl of Great Price. Standard Works are not Commentary.

    Darrell

  57. July 15, 2010 4:08 pm

    Again, you are trying to find bright-line boundaries where there are none.

    A general question for anyone here – how much of Isaiah did Joseph Smith actually touch upon in his “translation?” I suppose I could look it up, but I was wondering if anyone knew off the top of their head.

  58. July 15, 2010 4:16 pm

    He added pages upon pages upon pages of text that are NOWHERE to be found.

    Have you not read this either? Seriously Seth… COME ON… if you are going to argue something, please do some reading on it first.

    Darrell

  59. July 15, 2010 4:42 pm

    Well, can’t be knowledgeable at everything.

    One of the tips they give apologists is to not try to know everything (because you can’t). But rather to get an area you do know something about, and then rely on other apologists to contribute in other areas. Seems like a reasonable system – for both Mormons and other faiths.

  60. July 15, 2010 4:43 pm

    Yeah… just a tip though Seth. Don’t argue against something you haven’t actually done some studying on.

  61. July 15, 2010 4:45 pm

    For the most part, I didn’t make assertions on the Isaiah Scroll business. I simply said that I didn’t feel inclined to accept your assertions at face value.

  62. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 5:36 pm

    Darrell, you are hilarious. You try to hang Joseph on a speculative idea that somehow the Isaiah texts we now have are pure, when they post date Isaiah by centuries and were originated during the interval of apostasy that formed the fog bank between the Testaments. Transmission errors are not unlikely.

    Then, while presenting this case against Joseph you ignore the mysterious bulls eyes he managed in his Egyptian and other areas. Andthere are bulls eyes. In facsimile 2 Joseph produces lots of rope that he could have hung himself with, we can test him. The latest Egyptological academics show that his systematic explanation of the facsimile is perfect. These are interpretations that weren’t even discovered until recently.

    You have to keep turning a blind eye to such unexplainable proofs.

  63. July 15, 2010 6:00 pm

    Wow Ethan, I wasn’t aware that there are non-Mormon Egyptologists who have read the JS Papyri and have detrmined that The Book of Abraham is a genuine translation. Can you provide some links to this?

    Thanks… looking forward to reading them.

    Darrell

  64. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 6:01 pm

    Seth, FARMS has great info on this issue. And Darrell, the great qumran Isaiah scroll does not show fraud. In fact in many cases it verifies 2 nephi!

    FARMS has pages of qoutes that compare the KJV, Qumran and BoM showing how the BOM and Qumran versions are exact, and the KJV is wrong.

    Also, the Qumran evidence is a slippery slope for evangelicals. I you accept qumran as a model then you must accept the doctrines that come
    along with it. Like baptism by immersion, a governing body ruled by three men with a council of 12 under them and other LDS style peculiarities.

    You’re like the anti Mormons who want to use DNA as a weapon on the BOM, yet don’t realize that the DNA argument pits them into the evolution camp. Or those who claim smith wrote the BoM when other critics assert someone like spaulding did. These arguments cancel each other out. Which is it?

  65. July 15, 2010 7:44 pm

    “IF you accept qumran as a model then you must accept the doctrines that come
    along with it.”

    Why?

    “You’re like the anti Mormons who want to use DNA as a weapon on the BOM, yet don’t realize that the DNA argument pits them into the evolution camp.”

    How?

  66. Ethan permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:14 pm

    Gundek,

    The DNA attack relies on evidence that also supports the theory of evolution. Critics are free to use it, but it is a sepuku suicide run. Unless they are comfortable with evolution in lieu of the traditional “Adam and eve rode dinosaurs to church” view. Besides, the DNA critique has been refuted on other grounds.

    Qumran’s anticipatory Christian style Jewish culture is rife with LDS echoes. Between the pre Jesus Christianity in Qumran and the heavily Judaic emphasis in the post Jesus nag hammadhi, we have a wide ranging display of integration that bodes well for mormonism’s OT/NT hybrid.

  67. July 15, 2010 11:36 pm

    Ethan, that’s hardly a fair caricature of the “traditional” Christian view of evolution or the earth’s history.

    Traditional Christianity has no more problems with DNA than the LDS Church does. Which is to say – hardly at all.

  68. July 15, 2010 11:38 pm

    Ethan,

    I honestly don’t have a dog in the DNA fight but repeating the charge doesn’t explain to me how DNA supports evolution? I am also not entirely familiar with the Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church view but I can recommend Vern Poythress’ “Redeeming Science” if you want to see some a Reformed look.

    Qumran is a geographic location and an archeological site. If you can be a little more specific and show us some examples of a similarity in belief, piety, and practice in today’s Mormonism and ancient Qumran I would be interested. Its going to have to be a little better than the presence of mikvahs and Mormon baptismal fonts to actually prove anything. With all of the buildup I hope you can show a similarity of practice and theology that motivates the piety behind a ritual.

    Nag Hammadhi? Pick a topic already? Piling on more unsubstantiated claims does not help prove your original points. Does your most recent claim mean that any dissimilarities in the Nag Hammadhi and Mormonism bodes poorly for you?

  69. July 15, 2010 11:39 pm

    Gundeck, if we’re going to start demanding we stay on topic, this thread was a lost cause long ago.

  70. July 15, 2010 11:54 pm

    I know Seth, I am terrible bad at staying on topic. My point is that piling up more claims does not really add anything to support the the original claim. While I like Ethan he answers questions like someone with ADD except the person with ADD doesn’t generally avoid the subject of the question quite as well.

  71. July 16, 2010 12:12 am

    To be honest all I asked was why I would need to accept “doctrines” that come from Qumran if I accept that the document found their are authentic. I accept the Koran as authentic it doesn’t mean I think it is true.

    As far as DNA goes it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to think up any number of alternatives to commuting by dinosaur. Plus if I understand the DNA argument, if you take a limited geography and assimilation views of the BoM there may in fact be a viable defense against DNA. I can see how the DNA arguments may be relevant if you are examining an alternative views. DNA would really start coming into play if you put forward a continental, or a great society view.

  72. July 16, 2010 12:45 am

    Ethan

    I feel like the majority of your comments on this thread have consisted of unsubstantiated assertions. You really should cite biblical references for your positions when you are debating with Christians who believe the Bible. It doesn’t mean anything to me when Mormons cite D & C 132. If I believed that chapter was inspired by God I would become FLDS, not LDS.

    You stated, The fact that the mosaic law is specifically titled the “lesser law” in the OT implies there is a “greater law.”

    I can find no such reference in the OT for this specific title of “lesser law” – can you provide a reference?

    So what is a covenant? It is a two way agreement between God and man that each will do certain things.

    Can you provide me specific biblical references citing what the “certain things” are that each party will do in your “higher law”? I find no such biblical support for your view. On the contrary, the one verse of Gal. 3:21 alone refutes your position (though there are many other passages I could cite). Gal. 3:21 says that if God had wanted to impart righteousness to man according to “a” law (note the use of the article “a”), He would have created such a law. However, this was not His plan. He decided to justify men by their faith in Christ (Gal. 3:22). Romans 3:21-28 states “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and unto all them that believe: for there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

    I counted 10 references to the term “by faith” in Galatians. There are two references to “through faith” and several other references to the word “faith” as well, but the majority of references state “by” faith. Is this significant? I don’t know, but you stated “Paul is saying that we are justified THROUGH faith, not by faith.” I have demonstrated this is false. Paul used the word “by” in the majority of instances in this epistle. If there is a distinction in these terms, the burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate why your position is correct when the text says something else.

    Also, when you have time, I would still like to know how you would answer these questions:

    According to Gal. 3:6-14, what was the blessing promised to Abraham that Paul said was destined to come on the Gentiles? Secondly, how was this blessing going to be administered or conferred to the recipients?

  73. shematwater permalink
    July 16, 2010 1:57 am

    JESSICA

    There were several things promised to Abraham if he remained faithful. The one that Paul is referencing is the promise that Christ would be born of Abraham’s seed, or come through his line, and thus, through Abraham, all the world would be blessed. Paul is speaking of the Atonement.

    Now, you said something about this being a covenant, and not a law. Yet, in 1 Chronicles 16: 15-16 we read “Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he COMMANDED to a thousand generations;
    Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
    And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for A LAW, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant

    Here we have the Abrahamic conevant being described as a Law that was commanded to a thousand generations (or everyone who ever lived on the Earth). The Abrahamic Covenant was that Abraham would be faithful to this law which was had from the beginning, and he would receive three things. 1. His children would possess the land of Canaan. 2. His seed would be as the sands of the sea, meaning an eternal increase of spirit children. 3. That Christ would be of his seed on this Earth. But, he had to hold up his part of the covenant, which was to obey the Law.

    It is by this Law, and through its ordinances, that the gentiles were to be made partakers of the Abrahamic Covenant, and thus of the Atonement.

    Now, Galatians 3: 21 does nothing to refute this doctrine, because it does not stand alone. By this we are not saying that anyone can earn Exaltation through the Law alone. As Paul said, if that were possible God would have done things that way. It is not possible, and so there must be something else. This something else is the Atonement. Without this all would be damned in Hell. But this does not negate the need for this Higher Law. What it does is makes this law effective.
    I would compare this to an emergency response team using the defibrulator. It is in the careful use of the instrument according to instructions that it can revive the dieing, but without a power source it will have no effect.

    Now, as regarding faith: Faith is needed, but one must understand what faith is. Faith is a power; it is the power that God operates by. I need faith to cross the street, as I never know if I will be hit or not. All my actions require faith. I would not get baptized if I did not believe that such was the gate into heaven.
    Going back to the Defibrulator; faith would be like our nerves reacting to the power of Christ. No matter what Christ does, or how well we follow the law and ordinances, if we have no faith we are still dead. Just as a body with no nerve impulses cannot be revived this emergency device.

  74. July 16, 2010 4:41 am

    Shem,

    Just so I am clear on your position, your biblical evidence for this “higher law” consists of the following which you stated in an earlier comment above:

    Simply because the Bible does not contain the ordinances that I speak of is not proof against what I have said.. Just because we only have what was added and not the original does not mean the original does not exist.

    In essence, this is what I am hearing: “Just because there is no biblical support for what I am asserting, this should not be taken as proof against my position.”

    You bring up a verse in I Chronicles 16:17 that uses the word “law” as a synonym for covenant. This does not establish that the Abrahamic covenant in any way resembled the Mosaic law. You will notice in the context that there is no “IF” statement. The covenant made to Abraham was unconditional and not contingent on Abraham keeping any ordinances. He was justified by his faith alone (“faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness” – Rom. 4:9).

    Romans 4:13-16 refutes the position that Abraham was under obligation to a law. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith…Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all…Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 4:13-16, 5:1).

  75. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 2:49 pm

    Jessica,

    You qoute Paul a lot telling the Galatians that the “law” is done away. The problem is that Paul is referring exclusively to the Mosaic Law. Everyone here agrees this preparatory law is finished. Any time you qoute Galatians to attack any other law or covenant it is unfounded. The context of Galatians is “Judaizers” who want to live Mosaic (lesser) Law.

    Also, we have defined the nature of a “covenant” as essentially a two way agreement that
    demanded following specific actions, or laws. This word is not vague, see definitions above. Are you saying you believe Bible translators used a misleading word to describe the Abrahamic “covenant?”

    If we use the word “covenant,” as the Bible does, then we are bound into a law paradigm.

    The Mosaic Law was a lesser law as evidenced by the smashing of the first (higher) law tablets at Sinai. This was due to wickedness of the Israelites. Modern LDS revelation has shed invaluable light on this, but since you force me to take off the 3D glasses of the LDS canon and stick to the 2D world of the sola scriptura, I will try adopt your view that God can no longer teach, even though this is contrary to the example of every page in the Bible.

    Here is some popular early Christian scripture from the Epistle of Barnabas 4:

    And Moses…received the covenant from the Lord, tables of stone written with the finger of the hand of the Lord, but turning away to idols, they lost it. For the Lord speaks thus to Moses: go down quickly; for the people whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt have transgressed. And Moses understood, and cast the two tables out of his hands; and their covenant was broken, in order that the covenant of the beloved Jesus might be sealed upon our heart, in the hope which flows from believing in Him.

    Epistle of Barnabas 14:

    But let us inquire if the Lord has really given that testament which He swore to the fathers that He would give to the people. He did give it; but they were not worthy to receive it, on account of their sins. … Moses … received from the Lord two tables, written in the spirit by the finger of the hand of the Lord. … And Moses understood that they had again made molten images; and he threw the tables out of his hands, and the tables of the testament of the Lord were broken. Moses then received it, but the Israelites proved themselves unworthy. Learn now how we Christians have received it. Moses, as a servant, received it; but the Lord himself, having suffered in our behalf, hath given it to us, that we should be the people of inheritance.

    This shows that the first tablet was the same as the later NT covenant. A higher law. It also shows that it was present from archaic times. There are many, many other ancient sources that confirm the two sets of tablets contained different laws. Everything from rabbinic tradition, to early Christian scripture, to later Christian Fathers. This is not an LDS concept.

    Gal. 3:21 is (yet again) referring to mosaic law and is saying that no law alone can “impart life” because more is required, including the atonement and faith. This doesn’t refute any LDS positions.

    Romans 3:21-28 is (yet again) referring to mosaic law, not the higher (first tablet) law.

    Gal. 3:6-14 is what Shem said. It refers to only PART of the Abrahamic covenant, the part that Jesus would come through Abraham’s seed:

    Answer 1: Christ would come to the gentiles.
    Answer 2: The covenant is recived (by/through) faith, as the LDS Church says is the first principle of everything. A requirement of “faith” does not mean we do not need to act on our faith.

  76. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 3:25 pm

    Jessica, you are not connecting enough dots. You’re missing the bigger picture.

    Throughout Abraham’s life the Lord tested and tried him, and Abraham had to prove himself and solve numerous crises. Jewish tradition describes the Abrahamic narrative as the ten tests or trialsof Abraham. As Abraham passed each test, the Lord repeated and further clarified the covenant.

    Jesus spoke of mosaic law in his Sermon on the Mount. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). It was important to keep the commandments found in the law (Matthew 5:19), but added, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

    Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:33 that, under the new covenant, the law would be written on the heart. It all had to do with holiness and sanctifying yourself through the new (yet original) covenant.

    The entire Sermon on the Mount can be summed up in Christ’s commandment, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). So important is the commandment to be holy and righteous like God that it was repeated before the law (Genesis 17:1), in the law itself (Exodus 22:31; Numbers 15:40; Leviticus 19:2; 20:7–8, 26; 21:8; Deuteronomy 18:13), and after the coming of Christ (2 Corinthians 13:9). God has repeated the commandment in our day (D&C 38:42; 43:11, 16; 88:68, 74; 101:4–5; 112:28, 33; 133:4–5, 62).

    God is very consistent on this, since it is the alchemy process that makes men godly. It’s the meaning of life really. Everything on Earth is secondary.

    In fact, Jesus did not favor throwing away the law completey, especially the 10 comandments, which includes the holy sabbath (John 7:19). He just, removed the inferior signs, tokens and symbols of sacrifice and covenant and then added back what was originally offered first in Exodus.

    The prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31–34 promised that the new covenant would bring forgiveness of sins and the spirit of God to place the law in the hearts of men. Because these elements had been lost to Israel at Sinai, they later become highly dependent on the written law and developed a series of written rabbinic explanations of the law of Moses.

    In fact Jessica, the “law” Jesus brought was just as much a “law” as the mosaic law. What differed was the way it was to be followed. The NT law teaches that men must show good works, faith, holiness, sanctification, perfection & righteousness because we want to. Because we have internalized it by the spirit of faith, not because we are mechanically observing it the way ancient Israel did.

    Nothing has changed since the beginning, the alchemy process of reversing the Fall and becoming like God is the same as was first taught to to Adam & Eve, then Abraham & Sarah, then the Galatians, the Joseph Smith.

  77. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 3:37 pm

    About the Sabbath day observance, I don’t understand how Evangelicals can justify throwing this commandment out. Matthew 5:19 is clear:

    “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    John 7:19 echoes the fact that Jesus never did away with the 10 commandments. That part of the “lesser law” was meant to be carried over into the higher new covenant law.

    And yet, most of the Protestant world has no problem desecrating the Sabbath day by reducing it to the level of any other day.

  78. July 16, 2010 4:39 pm

    “Also, we have defined the nature of a “covenant” as essentially a two way agreement that
    demanded following specific actions, or laws.”

    The question is does this definition adequately express what we know about covenants in the Ancient Near East in general and the Bible in particular?

    It is recognized that there are two broad categories of covenants or treaties in the Ancient Near East. The first type is a suzerainty treaty (ruler orders-vassal obeys or is punished (Law)), the second being the royal grant. The suzerainty treaty follows this typical format: (1) identification of the ruler, (2) historical background for the treaty, (3) commands, (4) and sanctions for violating the commands. A royal grant was simply a gift (ruler gives-vassal receives (ruler gives favor)).

    Examples of the suzerainty treaty can be found in Exodus 19-20, Deuteronomy 5, Joshua 24 etc. Examples of the royal grant can be found in Genesis 3, 9, 15, 17 etc.

  79. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 8:34 pm

    Gundek,
    That’s interesting. In Israel it seems that the contract was bilateral, in making the covenant the person promised to keep the law, and God promised a specific blessing in return. In the suzerainty is the ruler bound to a promise also, or just the vassal?

    The defining feature of the Hebrew covenants were the signs, tokens, name changes etc, that somehow gave power to the covenant. Like when people spit in their palms before shaking on a bet today. Silly, but somehow it has more gravity. In fact, the idea of a handshake to seal a promise of some commitment is interesting in general. “Let’s shake on it.”

    In Israel it was “Let’s cut an animal on it.” Some physical representation. For example, Abraham had the two tokens:

    1. Circumcision, which was vital to the covenant. Those without this rite had “broken the covenant ” and were “Cut off” (Genesis 17:14)
    2 New names. Abram and Sarai changed to Abraham and Sarah as part of the covenant. This was common in the ancient Near East, such as Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaton when he introduced a monotheistic reform in New Kingdom Egypt.

    The crucifixion itself was likely an ordinance, a type of handshake or token in this tradition.

    Here’s an excellent summary of the covenant structure in the Bible:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~cadman777/Law_Cov_Mendenhall_TITLE.htm

  80. shematwater permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:01 pm

    JESSICA

    You say I said ““Just because there is no biblical support for what I am asserting, this should not be taken as proof against my position.”

    This is not true. What I said is “Just because there is no Biblical description of what I am talking about is not proof against it.”
    There is Biblical support, in the epistles to the Galatians. I have pointed this out. The simple fact that the “Law” was added indicates there was something there to be added to. In Chronicles we are told that there was a Command and Law given to a thousand generations, which was also given in the Abrahamic Covenant. As the “Law” as spoken of in Galatians was added to the Abrahamic Covenant, we can conclude that this great Command and Law given to Abraham is what it was added to.
    However, from this it is not possible to say what this Command and Law was, only that it existed.

    Again, from Galatians we can infer that the “Law” that was added was fulfilled, and no longer to be followed. This would leave only the Command and Law of the Covenant, which Paul declares us to be under.
    None of this is against LDS doctrine.

    As to your quoting of Romans, let us look at James for a moment. Chapter 2: 21-23
    “Was not ABRAHAM our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, when he had boffered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and BY WORKS was faith made bperfect?
    And THE SCRIPTURE WAS FULLFILLED which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for brighteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
    (Enphasis Added)

    First, I never said the Law of the Abrahamic Covenant resembled the Mosaic Law. I don’t where you got this. I only said it was a law of ordinances.
    Second, as we can easily see in the passage from James, the promises made to Abraham were far from unconditional. He had to go through the test of sacrificing his son before the promises were fullfilled. It was through his faith that he performed the necessary actions to make himself worthy of the promises. Just because the word “If” is not spoken does not mean it is not implied. When a command is given, blessing do not come to those who disobey.

    Now, as to Romans 4: 13-16, this goes back to what I said before, in the defibrulator analogy. The machine needs more than just to work properly, it needs some kind of life (nerve activity) in us.
    I do think this is speaking of more than just the Mosaic Law, but it is not saying the Law is not needed. It is saying that the law by itself cannot save. The promise was made because Abraham had that energy of faith in him which allowed the Power of Christ to fulfill the promises made. But it is still through the Law that they are fulfilled, just like James said. His faith was imputed for righteousness after he had fulfilled the commandment.

  81. shematwater permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:16 pm

    GUNDECK

    With either of the covenants you describe are still two way promises.

    In the suzerainty treaty the ruler is promising not to punish while the vassel is promising to obey. It is still two way, because if the ruler decided to punish the vassel who is obedient, the vassel would no longer be bound by the treaty.
    (This is the idea that was the foundation of the American Revolution.

    The Royal Grant is quite obviously two way: I give you this if you obey these laws. This is the type of Covenant made with Abraham, as you yourself site.
    Just for the fun of it, I thought I would give the four parts you list for the Abraham covenant.
    1. Identification of the ruler – Abram, changed to Abraham; and Sarai, changed to Sarah (Gen. 17: 5, 15)
    2. Historical background for the treaty – not really given
    3. Commands – To be perfect, and Circumcision (Gen. 17: 1, 10)
    4. Sanctions for violating the commands – Damnation in Hell

    Of course, these do not include the promised blessings. These just set the terms of the Covenant.

  82. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:38 pm

    Shem & Jessica,

    As for evidence of ceremonial ordinances in the Bible, there is a vast (and growing) body of non-canonical ancient texts that have not-too-subtle references to sacred/secret ordinances and rites. These include NT era texts that feature Jesus and the apostles engaging in ceremonial rites and even marriages.

    I’m sure the more orthodox sola scriptura crowd here will balk at this, especially those who have thrown their lot in with the Platonic Creedal philosophy of the later centuries, but the sheer vasteness and doctrinal consistancy of these early texts is fascinating. They are rife with just the kind of thing Jessica is demanding as proof of individual actions in keeping the new law covenant.

  83. July 16, 2010 9:49 pm

    Shem

    A Royal Grant is a one way covenant, without command or sanction. You may disagree that Gen 17 is a royal grant but you cannot redefine this treaty type. An example of an actual Grant reads like this:

    “From this day forward Niqmaddu son of Ammistamru king of Ugarit has take the house of Pabeya… which is in Ullami, and given it to Nuriyana and to his decendants forever. Let no one take it from the hand of Nuriyana or his descendants forever. [seal of the king]”

    Note that the King gives, he binds future rulers not to undo his giving, he asks for nothing in return, and he affixes his seal.

    Obviously you have added things to Gen 17. Perfect obedience is not in either Gen 17:1 or 10. Don’t confuse the invitation to “walk before God and be blameless” with a command. The Changing of Abrams name was also part of the gift. Circumcision was a “sign of the covenant” not a condition of the covenant. Most egregiously you have added “Damnation in Hell” to the covenant that is missing any sanctions.

    You are correct that a suzerainty treaty is bilateral and binding on both the suzerain and the vassal. But Gen 17 is not a suzerainty treaty it is a royal grant.

  84. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:01 pm

    Gundek,
    The circumcision was not just a sign. It was a required condition of the covenant as stated in my previous post regarding Gen 17:14. Those without this rite had “broken the covenant ” and were “Cut off.”

    This is simialr to baptism, which most evangelicals see as just a sign of their conversion, not a required component in the covenant process, as we have been talking about signs & tokens.

  85. July 16, 2010 10:04 pm

    Ethan,

    How can you argue for pre-existent matter in one post and call anybody Platonic?

  86. Ethan permalink
    July 16, 2010 10:06 pm

    All Biblical covenants require some physical token to act as a binding step as part of of the process.

    An argument could be made that any Christian who has not consummated their covenant with such a physical token has not technically entered into a covenant at all, as we have defined it.

  87. July 16, 2010 10:08 pm

    Ethan,

    I continue to forget that you are stuck with the KJV.

    “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you”

  88. July 17, 2010 12:26 am

    I just have a few minutes. I will have to respond to other comments later (maybe after the weekend as I’m going out of town for a few days).

    I did want to respond to one thing really quick. Ethan, you said, “And yet, most of the Protestant world has no problem desecrating the Sabbath day by reducing it to the level of any other day.”

    One of the reasons is that the Sabbath commandment was given to the nation of Israel (Ex. 19:3), not the Church, and the Sabbath commandment is the only commandment that is never repeated in the NT. Romans 14:5-6 is clear that new covenant believers are free to regard one day above another or not, it’s up to each individual’s conscience before God. The important command is that new covenant believers do not judge one another concerning how they choose to observe days (Col. 2:16-17). The OT Sabbath foreshadowed the rest that new covenant believers have in Jesus – we find rest in Him from our own efforts because He justifies and sanctifies us (Heb. 4:4-10).

    Ethan, I am curious and just wondering how literally you follow the Old Testament Sabbath Day commandment. Do you ever do yard work or car repairs or shopping or anything else that could be considered “work” on Saturdays?

  89. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 12:42 am

    Gundek,

    Is that an admission of a mini apostasy since a few centuries of ignorant KJV sola scriptura folks were unknowingly relying on fallible scripture? Some of the bloggers here won’t want to hear that!

  90. faithoffathers permalink
    July 17, 2010 1:57 am

    Jessica ( and any other interested party),

    Just a quick comment which your post above reflects, in my opinion.

    It is so striking to me that modern Evangelicals perceive the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ with such vagueness, insisting upon the absence of any semblance of structure, organization, or the requirement of anything in the material world. (I find this interesting considering their regimented position on simply “believing in Christ”- such a loose and vague concept in and of itself- such militarism seems to contradict the vagueness of everything else).

    It is such an enormous break from every pattern and precedent ever established in the history of God’s dealings with His children. They really put everything possible under the umbrella of the Law of Moses and see EVERYTHING as having disappeared with the death of Christ. Even the nature of God seems to have been changed from one extreme to the other.

    I know you will say that Christ fulfilled the law. Yes, I agree, that He fulfilled the Law of Moses. I do not argue that point. I believe I understand how the atonement affected the Law given to Moses.

    But if the EV position is true, it is as if humanity before Christ was an entirely different creature than after Christ. The approach, expectations, and interaction between God and mankind is so fundamentally different, it seems such a contradictory religion and paradoxical God. After all, human nature has not changed from 5 or 6 or how ever many thousand years ago.

    It begs the question- what was the purpose of the Law of Moses? I know the typical answer is to demonstrate man’s inability to keep the law. Sorry, but to me that is such an intellectually weak claim. After all, do you think it worked? Maybe it works for you 2,000 years after Christ. But how did it work for the folks who lived under that law? I guess they were simply led on a wild goose chase, a mirage of worthless endeavors they never understood. Why?

    To me, this is a glaring reality that the EV has never explained adequately.

    fof

  91. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 3:41 am

    fof,

    That was what I was trying to say, you did a better job. See my above post here:

    https://ilovemormons.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/mormon-ceremonial-laws/#comment-6197

  92. July 17, 2010 2:17 pm

    FOF,

    You stated that the concept of justification by faith in Christ alone seems to you “an enormous break from every pattern and precedent ever established in the history of God’s dealings with His children. They really put everything possible under the umbrella of the Law of Moses and see EVERYTHING as having disappeared with the death of Christ.”

    Actually, we see the Old Testament ceremonial laws as types and foreshadows that prophesied of Christ and find their fulfillment in Him. Everything points to Jesus.

    A friend of mine has written a really good article that explains a number of these key types and shadows from the Old Testament. I think you would like it and that it would be helpful in understanding our view of the Old Testament and the relationship between OT typology and the fulfillments in the NT. Here is a link to the full article: http://www.lettersofchrist.com/christ_old_testament_prophecy.htm

    The key points include:

    1. the substitutionary death of Christ foreshadowed by the Passover Ceremony and Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 53)
    2. the timing of Christ’s death predicted by Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy
    3. new life through Christ foreshadowed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread
    4. salvation apart from works through the shed blood of Christ foreshadowed by tunics of animal skin God made to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness
    5. the virgin birth of Christ foreshadowed after the fall by God’s declaration that Satan would eventually be defeated
    6. God’s plan of salvation dependent on the righteousness of ONE person – Christ – foreshadowed in the life of Adam
    7. righteous standing before God based on faith in Christ alone foreshadowed by righteous standing of Abraham before God
    8. sacrifice of Christ as God’s only Son foreshadowed in the life of Isaac
    9. Christ dwelling in our hearts through the Holy Spirit foreshadowed by the tabernacle in Israel
    10. salvation by faith in Christ alone apart from the law illustrated by the life of Moses

  93. July 17, 2010 3:08 pm

    Yeah Jessica, we view the old stuff as the same kind of foreshadowing.

    But that still doesn’t explain why so many modern Evangelicals have basically collapsed the entire religion thing into basically having a song in your heart.

  94. July 17, 2010 5:49 pm

    Ethan,

    Did you read your link before posting it? We owe much of our understanding of ancient covenants to both Meredith Kline and George Mendenhall.

    “…it can readily be seen that the covenant with Abraham (and Noah) is of completely different form. Both in the narrative of Gen 15 and 17, and in the later references to this covenant, it is clearly stated or implied that it is Yahweh Himself who swears to certain promises to be carried out in the future. It is not often enough seen that no obligations are imposed upon Abraham. Circumcision is not originally an obligation, but a sign of the covenant, like the rainbow in Gen 9. It serves to identify the recipient(s) of the covenant, as well as to give a concrete indication that a covenant exists. It is for the protection of the promisee, perhaps like the mark on Cain of Gen 4.”

    I think that you have me confused with someone else, I’m a Westminster man not a KJV only fan. I am not trying to be rude or hurt your feelings but I am going to recommend that you study up on the various Reformed doctrines of revelation and scripture before making uninformed comments. I generaly enjoy our discussions and try not to caricature your beliefs but when you say things like …”ignorant KJV sola scriptura folks were unknowingly relying on fallible scripture” you only betray your own ignorance of the doctrines you are railing against. I think you are smarter than that.

  95. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 6:28 pm

    I was listening to KLOVE Christian radio yesterday for several hours and it suddenly struck me what Evangelical Christianity has been reduced to. Quite literally every song during those hours was basically obsessed with abstract concepts of God’s love. God is great, God is awesome, Jesus saves, life is hard but you can do it.

    Basically, it was the theological equivalent of a Tony Robbins seminar. More self-help section than ancient, mystical religion. I would blame it on the songwriting, but frankly, the pastors I see on TV aren’t any different. Gone are the nuances of holiness and sanctification. Gone are the symbols and the quest for godliness. Gone are the ordinances and priesthoods. Gone is the literalism.

    After listening, I confess it was “positive and encouraging,” as the KLOVE tagline promises. But such a religion seems nutritionally more like cotton candy than harvest cornucopia.

  96. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 6:30 pm

    Gundek,
    Fair enough.

  97. July 17, 2010 6:42 pm

    “But that still doesn’t explain why so many modern Evangelicals have basically collapsed the entire religion thing into basically having a song in your heart.”

    Great question. Some would place the blame at the Second Great Awakening and revivalism’s replacement of sound preaching and catechetical training. It may have come from the Main Lines tolerance of heterodoxy in a desire to make tolerance the first commandment. Some would look to the loss of doctrinal distinctions stemming from the ecumenical movements desire to gain political power and influence policy with big numbers (both the religious left and right). There is a Group who looks all the way back to the first great awakening and the desire for illegitimate religious experiences. There is the de-mythology movement going all the way back to the enlightenment and the failure of some to take a stand against it. Lack of church discipline and denominational oversight in the mega-church and church growth movements has resulted in a dismissal in the importance of doctrines.

    I could go on but it all stems from a failure of ecclesiology.

  98. July 17, 2010 6:45 pm

    Ethan,

    Don’t even get me started on “christian” radio or contemporary christian music.

  99. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:04 pm

    The sad thing is LDS songwriting is just as bad. I don’t understand why there aren’t better LDS musicians. We’re doing really well in film, literature and fine arts, even business and politics, we just need a Beethoven. I would even settle for a Simon and Garfunkel. EFY albums aren’t cutting it.

  100. July 17, 2010 7:10 pm

    I hate our local Christian radio station here in the Denver area.

    Not because of the Christian content, sermons, call in advice shows and all that. Those are fine.

    What pisses me off about the station is how relentlessly commercial it is. And how exploitative of people the commercialization is.

    Seriously, the majority of air time is taken up by cheesy commercials about how to buy a spiritual life for $99.99. Horrible infomercials. And just stupid random crap like a freaking 2 hour long infomercial on how we ought to invest in gold for financial security – ON SUNDAY EVENING!

    What the heck is wrong with these people?

    I get more ads for “Debt Recovery” schemes (an industry that I happen to know personally is highly abusive, exploitative, and usually scamming people) on Christian radio than I do just about anywhere else.

    It’s just horribly spiritually depressing. I guess people don’t notice because they’ve become accustomed to the constant bombardment. But for me, it’s a very unpleasant experience.

    Again, the sermons are fine. Don’t always agree with them, but I still enjoy them well-enough. But the sheer weight of financial exploitation on Christian radio is overwhelming. I’d almost rather listen to the local rap station – explicit lyrics and all. At least that station is only asking people to blow money on dumb garbage like concerts, cell phones, and stuff. The stuff they are pushing on Christian radio listeners is downright toxic. The mask of piety that goes over it only makes it all the more disgusting.

    I kid you not. I feel less spiritually violated after listening to a snippet of rapper “Lil Kim” musically bragging how she’s going to have sex with who knows how many guys than I do after 10 minutes of the typical Christian radio commercial line up.

    I think I’ve had a small taste of how Christ felt when he found people using his temple for selling sacrifices to people.

  101. July 17, 2010 7:14 pm

    And don’t get me started on Christian rock ballads that seem to consist of little more than musical variations of “JEEEEESUUSSS” repeated for about 5 minutes.

    I rarely encounter a clearer violation of 4th commandment than I do on Christian rock stations.

  102. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:20 pm

    Gundek, Gen. 17:14 seems pretty clear about Circumcision being vital, otherwise the covenant “is broken.”

    The thing that caught my eye with Mendenhall was his “covenant structure” section:

    1. Preamble
    2. historical prologue
    3. stipulations
    4.Provision for deposit in the temple and periodic public reading
    5. The list of gods as witnesses
    6. The curses and blessings formula
    7. The formal oath
    8. solemn ceremony which accompanied the oath
    9. form for initiating procedure against a rebellious vassal.

    The LDS temple experience is right up Mendenhall’s alley. Likewise, if modern Christians, like Jessica, claim to be living a “new covenant” religion isn’t the entire dramatic undergirding sorely missed?

  103. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:29 pm

    Seth,

    lol…

    Epic. Cathartic? Oh yeah.

  104. Ethan permalink
    July 17, 2010 7:37 pm

    Jessica,
    Are you claiming that the 10 commandments were only intended to be followed by the ancient, geo-political nation of Israel?

    How do you reconcile this with evidence that the 4th commandment was in effect and followed by God himself at the dawn of time?

    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

    It seems the 4th commandment, like the others, goes back to the beginning. Back to the pre-Fall Eden, transcending place and time.

  105. July 17, 2010 8:01 pm

    Ethan,

    I am not sure Mendenhall would have found a revival of a covenant of law up his alley. I will take your word for what is or isn’t in your temple ceremonies (understanding the importance they hold I don’t want to be insulting) but if the form follows the “suzerain-vassal treaty”, you should remember that “…the covenant with Abraham (and Noah) is of completely different form…” Paul is not referring to a “suzerain-vassal treaty” he is referring to a “royal grant”. Michael Horton explains “The deepest distinction in Scripture is not between the Old and New Testaments but between the covenants of Law and the covenant of promise”.

    I also wouldn’t dispute that circumcision is a sign of the covenant.

  106. shematwater permalink
    July 18, 2010 12:58 am

    GUNDECK

    If a royal Grant carries no conditions than why did you list some? The third part of a Royal Grant that you listed was commands. This would imply that these commands were to be followed or the recipient would loose the grant. If this is not the case than why give commands?

    So, as I have learned about the Charters for the American Colonies, all have certain stipulations that must be adhered to of the recipient would loose the charter. One was simple “stay loyal to the king,” but most had many regulations outlined in them.
    So, in Genesis 17 God is giving a Royal Grant, and as the stipulation to keeping it he is told “remain loyal to God” (be perfect) and circumcize all males in your household.

    JESSICA

    So, in your view, unless it is stated as a command in the New Testiment it is no longer binding. This is what you are saying about the Sabbath. This is what FOF is referring to by putting everything you can into the “fulfilled law.” You are basically ignoring the Old Testiment, except as a nice story to remind us of Christ.

    Of course, Ethan pointed out that God sanctified the Seventh Day during the creation. This is a command that went back to the beginning.
    Now, as touching what Paul was talking about: He was not saying that the Sabbath day was not important to observe. He was simply pointing out that it didn’t really matter on which day of the week you did this. The Israelites had observed the Seventh Day in remembrance of the Creation, as well as their deliverance from Egypt. In the New Testiment if began to switch to the first day, in remembrance of the Resurrection. Disputes errupted over this issue, and Paul was simply saying to let the Jews worship on the last day, and don’t bother them about it. It doesn’t matter which day is observed, as long as one is.

    As to the vaguness of things, yes it is. “Believe and Saved” is very vague, especially when there are so many different denominations one can “believe” and still be saved.

  107. July 18, 2010 4:06 am

    Shematwater,

    I am not talking about the charters for British Colonies. The royal grant does not have any command. The third part you are referring to comes from the suzerainty treaty. As I said the royal grant format is “King gives, he binds future rulers not to undo his giving, he asks for nothing in return, and he affixes his seal”

    This is an example of an actual ancient mid-east royal Grant:

    “From this day forward Niqmaddu son of Ammistamru king of Ugarit has take the house of Pabeya… which is in Ullami, and given it to Nuriyana and to his decendants forever. Let no one take it from the hand of Nuriyana or his descendants forever. [seal of the king]”

    Take advantage of the link that Ethan provided. Look up either George Mendenhall or Meredith Klein, you may not agree with their theological conclusions but the historical analysis is informative. Go back to Gen 17 you don’t find “remain loyal to God” (be perfect). It’s simply not there. Look at the passage and see how many times God says “I will”.

  108. shematwater permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:44 pm

    GUNDECK

    Then Genesis 17 is not a Royal Grant, but a suzerainty treaty.
    In verse one God very clearing commands Abraham to be Perfect.

    “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; WALK BEFORE ME (stay loyal), AND BE THOU PERFECT.”
    (emphasis added)

    This is very much a command. This is shown to be the case in verse two, which says “And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”

    Notice the AND at the beginning. He is saying “Be perfect, and if you are I will give you these blessings.” God does say “I will” a lot, but only after he has given the command to be Perfect.

  109. July 19, 2010 7:43 pm

    Shematwater,

    Not only emphasis was added.

    I am sorry but you are confusing the gracious invitation to walk before God, to approach the LORD almighty, and come into a covenant relationship with Him with an impossible command for perfection. We know that Abraham was not perfect, either before or after this covenant was made, yet Paul point to this very episode.

  110. July 19, 2010 8:05 pm

    All are perfect in the moment of repentance. So perfection is possible actually.

  111. July 19, 2010 8:11 pm

    An honest question, Is perfect repentance possible? Can someone repent for every sin, both sins of omission and commission? Can that be done perfectly?

  112. July 19, 2010 8:15 pm

    You might as well ask whether adequate acceptance of Jesus and his atonement is possible.

  113. July 19, 2010 8:23 pm

    I think an assurance of faith based on the obedience of Christ Jesus is possible. I think many saints will struggle long and hard for assurance. But is perfect repentance possible?

  114. July 19, 2010 8:44 pm

    Well, this goes to one of those endless arguments I’ve had with other Evangelicals on occasion.

    They’ll tell me to quit relying on works and simply “accept Jesus.”

    But they are always incredibly evasive and noncommittal about what “accepting Jesus” really entails. And I can never get any of them to answer me straight as to when I would know I’d really accepted Jesus sufficient for an assurance of salvation.

    Which is why I’ve ultimately concluded that Evangelicalism offers no more assurance of salvation than Mormonism does.

  115. July 19, 2010 9:12 pm

    Post-Protestant evangelicalism my not have a good answer. I would say that “accepting Jesus” does not entail what you MUST do, rather what you WILL do and WHY you do. I don’t have much better an answer that Gal 5:16 and following. I do like the first question to the Heidleberg Catachism

    “Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

    Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

    I think about that last phrase a lot, “makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him” and what living unto Him means.

  116. July 19, 2010 9:21 pm

    Does this mean that salvation is kind of like the rain? It just happens to you, and there’s not much you can do about it one way or the other?

  117. July 19, 2010 9:30 pm

    No, I think that would be fatalism. It means that we cannot earn salvation, but there is a response that Paul tells us to expect. You know the vivification of all that is holy and the mortification of all that is sinful.

    I believe in the 3rd use of the Law. it tells us what is pleasing unto God. Someone who is seeking assurance of salvation should be seeking what it pleasing unto God albeit not motivated to earn or merit rewards but to Glorify God.

  118. July 19, 2010 9:41 pm

    Sorry, I just don’t see how you can have a valid human interface with this and still maintain an “assurance” of salvation.

  119. July 19, 2010 9:50 pm

    I don’t think that assurance is going to come from a human interface it can only come from the testimony of the Spirit and due use the preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’ s supper.

  120. July 19, 2010 10:21 pm

    It just seems to me Gundeck that that which has no human interface can have no relevant human meaning.

  121. July 19, 2010 10:56 pm

    Assurance is not promised from human sources but this does not mean that it comes apart from the covenant community of the Church. Baptism the sign and the seal of membership in the community has an active human exchange of promise for the person being baptized from both the Divine and the human congregation. The Word preached involves both spiritual witness and human hearing. The Lords Supper is a meal shared in and by the covenant community with the actual spiritual presence of Christ. We are called to worship from His Word, Our praise in the singing of hymns and psalms, our confessions of faith in unity with the Church, public confessions of sin and assurance of forgiveness, prayers and preaching are all together as a covenant community.

    Assurance has its source and effect in the person and work of Christ Jesus but it will be found inside the covenant community of the Chrurch.

  122. shematwater permalink
    July 20, 2010 5:19 pm

    GUNDECK

    Nothing was added. If you care to look at the KJV you will see it is an exact quote.

    The real problem here is how we chose to understand what is being said.

    When a king meets a man in his palace, with the intent of speaking to him, and says “walk with me,” this is not an invitation, but an order to accompany the king where ever he goes so that he can deliver his words to the man.
    In a like manner when God, the King of the Heaven, comes to Abraham and says “walk before me,” we can easily take this to be a command for Abraham to follow God where ever he goes so that God can deliver his words to him.
    What is the first thing he says? “Be thou perfect.” This is a very straitforward command. It is like a king telling a man to be obey his commands and the king will give him a title of Nobility.
    This is how I see this passage, and it is a perfectly good interpetation of it. I see no invitation, but a direct order to be perfect.

    And yes, I do think perfection is attainable. The perfection of God is not attainable in this life, but it is to all those who attain to that perfection which is possible in this life. After all, both Noah (Gen. 6: 9) and Job (Job 1: 1, 8) are both referred to as being perfect. Thus, perfection must be attainable. It is not the perfection of God, but it is perfection. This is what Abraham is being commanded to be, and what all those who hope to have part in the blessings of Abraham are commanded to be.

    Absolute repentance is also possible. All men will make minor mistakes, but these will not keep one from exaltation if they are the only mistakes being made. A good example is the sarcasm of Joseph Smith. It was a small failing that did cause some difficulty in personal relationships. However, there was no large sin, and, more importantly, no desire to do anything contrary to the will of God, and so his repentance was absolute.
    It is not in the ceasing from all sin that we repent, but in the ceasing to desire sin.

  123. July 20, 2010 5:43 pm

    An invitation or summons to come before a King is typical.

    “All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live” Est 4:11

    Were Noah and Job perfect? Did Abraham make himself perfect somewhere between verse 2 and 3? The response of Abraham was to fall on his face. I think that you and I have different views on the requirements for perfection and the severity of sin.

    Lets not use Joseph Smith as an example of perfection, I don’t want to offend you.

  124. July 20, 2010 5:54 pm

    Shem,

    I looked at both the 1769 and the 1611 King James and neither has “stay loyal” in the text. I do not have any of the 17th century Cambridge editions so this may be the reference you are referring to. If so I am sorry.

    In any case Gen 17:1 and 2 are prior to the opening of the covenant in Gen 17:4 “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations…”

  125. July 20, 2010 11:25 pm

    Gundeck, I would like to go Cambridge in 2011.

    Jessica, thanks for the post intersecting Galatians and Hebrews. I have finished the book of Hebrews; I am delving into the book of Ecclesiastes for the next 7 weeks or so; and in the start of the new school year, we plan to tackle Galatians.

  126. shematwater permalink
    July 21, 2010 12:40 am

    GUNDECK

    The Bible states that both Noah and Job were perfect, and I gave you the references. I do not think they were speaking to the perfection of God as that is impossible to attain while in mortallity. But these verses to speak of perfection, which is the same perfection that Abraham was commanded to attian.

    Now, I said “Remain Loyal Too” as a literary liscense, saying that the command to “be perfect” basically amounts to being loyal to God. If you think that a literal understanding of everything I say is necessary I will try and be a little clearer in the future. I thought the connection was easily.

    Lastly: Of course the description of the Covenant comes after verses 1 and 2. Read the chapter again, especially verses 1-4.

    1-2 “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
    And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”

    This is the Covenant. “Be thou perfect and I will multiply thee exceedingly.” It is not an indepth description, but the formal presentation of it.

    3 “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,”

    Abraham has accepted the terms of the agreement, symbolized by his falling on his face. Once the formality is over God again begins to speak.

    4 “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.”

    Or, in other words, “You have accepted the conditions I have presented, and so I will establish my covenant with you. Let me explain all that this means.”

    See the interaction between Abraham and God? God presents the treaty as it were, asking for Abraham’s agreement to the conditions, and briefly stating the blessings. Then Abraham accepts. God then explains all the blessings in greater detail so that Abraham has a fuller understanding of what he will receive if he keeps his end of the deal. the first three verses are a basic treaty negotiation.

  127. July 21, 2010 2:02 am

    One does not negotiate with the living God Shem. I do notice how much you need to add to this passage in order to find your interpretation. Just “literary liscense”?

    Rather than go on and on I simply explain, verses 1-3 (invitation/summons to walk before God), verses 4-8 (covenant of promise), verse 9-14 (gift of circumcision/seal of the covenant).

    Now I could understand how you may understand verses 9-14 as a command, this is how the Pharisees understood it, but it seems a stretch to find a command of perfect obedience in order to enter into a covenant with no command of perfect obedience to maintain the covenant relationship.

  128. July 21, 2010 2:31 am

    Moses negotiated with him.

  129. July 21, 2010 2:38 am

    I wouldn’t call that negotiations. But hey try it.

  130. July 21, 2010 2:43 am

    Wasn’t the meaning of the word Israel “one who prevails with God”?

  131. July 21, 2010 2:50 am

    I wouldn’t call Jacobs encounter with God a negotiation, but by all means go for it.

  132. July 21, 2010 4:58 am

    What?

    I tackle everyone I negotiate with…

  133. shematwater permalink
    July 21, 2010 4:41 pm

    GUNDECK

    Again you insist on giving my words a meaning they quite clearly do not have in order to make it easier for you to go against them.

    If you really think that I meant Abraham and God were involved in a give and take you show less intelligence than a thought you had. This is what I said, and what I meant.

    God came down and presented the offered blessings along with the conditions attatched to them. Abraham accepted. God then gave a more detailed description. This is what happened. This is what is written in the first four verses of chapter 17.

    As to negotiating with God, I think that Seth has given to good examples. However, I would like to give one involving Abraham. When he was told Sodom would be destroyed he began a negotiation with God to spare it. “If there be fifty righteous?” “Then I will spare it.” “Well, what about ten righteous?” Eventually Abraham gave up and simply secured the safty of Lot and his family. But this was a negotiation.
    The unique thing is that God knows the circumstances and he will not alter his will. But he will negotiate with those who are willing, as it is through this negotiation that people accept his will.

  134. July 21, 2010 6:38 pm

    As you pointed out God will not alter his will in an encounter with humankind. I may be spiting hairs but from my perspective when one side has all of the power in an encounter negotiations are not occurring. If you want to call it a negotiation, fine.

    Since we are going to disagree on the format of Gen 17 and rather than look at Gen 15, lets try another approach. Think about these two questions before you read my explanation.

    If Gen 17:2 “walk before me, and be blameless…” is a command, did Abraham and his descendants maintain perfect obedience to God from the time of this covenant for the 400 years until the call of Moses?

    If Gen 17:2 “walk before me, and be blameless…” is a command did Abraham and his descendants maintain perfect obedience to God from the time of this covenant until the ascension of Christ?

    In Ex 2:24 “…God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” Understanding your view that perfect obedience in required for both entry into and staying in the covenant, why would God remember his covenant with the Patriarchs if they or their descendants had not maintained perfect obedience?

    In Gal 3:16-18 Paul explains that God’s promises to Abraham’s offspring are found in Christ Jesus. Understanding your view that perfect obedience in required for both entry into and staying in the covenant, why would these promises have been fulfilled if the Patriarchs or their descendants did not maintain perfect obedience?

    In these examples we see two instances where God was faithful to his covenant with Abraham. What we need to see now is that the Patriarchs and all their offspring maintained perfect obedience to the living God.

  135. shematwater permalink
    July 22, 2010 3:57 pm

    GUNDECK

    Abraham was faithful, and did maintain perfect obedience to God, as shown in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. What did God say to Abraham after this. “…now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (gen. 22: 12)
    This was the final test, which proved him faithful to the end, and thus secured for him for all time the promised blessings of the covenant.
    The same can be said of both Isaac and Jacob. They were faithful to the end, and thus secured the blessings for them.

    One of these blessings was that their descendents would possess the land of Canaan. This promised possession of the Land was not conditioned on the descendents obedience, but on the obedience of these men. As such, when God says he remembered his Covenant with them this is what it is referring to.
    “I promised your father’s I would give this land to their children. So, I will give you the chance to possess it.”

    Also, the promise of Christ was made to Abraham, not to his offspring. As such, what Paul is saying is the same referrence as in Exodus.
    “God made the promise to them, and has fullfilled that promise by sending us Christ through Abraham’s line.”

    You make an error in what you say. The promises that were fulfilled were made only to the Patriarchs, not to their offspring. As such all we need is evidence that the patriarchs were faithful, which is the entire point of the Genesis accounts; to show their obedience and faith.

  136. July 22, 2010 5:18 pm

    Shematwater,

    I want to make sure that I am understanding you correctly. The covenant of Gen 17 is only to the Patriarchs?

    “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”

    I want to make sure I am not misrepresenting you. The promises made by God were only contingent on Abraham maintaining perfect obedience from Gen 17 until Gen 22:12? Abraham’s seed was not required to maintain the covenant to receive the blessings. Ignoring for the time being Abraham’s lie to Abimelech (Gen 20:2) how do you explain circumcision? Was it optional after Abraham and the Patriarchs?

    “And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.”

    If I am understanding you correctly you believe that Abraham’s seed is entitled to the covenant blessings based solely on Abraham’s perfect obedience?

    I have to say I am not understanding how you can claim that only Abraham was required to stay loyal and be perfect in order for his seed to maintain membership and receive the blessings of the covenant.

    I have to ask Seth and Ethan if they can agree that this is Mormon doctrine?

  137. shematwater permalink
    July 23, 2010 9:32 pm

    GUNDECK

    You are not understanding me correctly, and it seems this is being purposely done. Read my words again. I said the promises that were “being fullfilled” were made only to the Patriarchs. In Exodus and in Galatians we are reading of the fulfillment of promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
    There are other promises of the Abrahamic Covenant which we do not get a description of their fulfillment in the Bible. Among them is the increase in children, so that if you could number the sands of the sea shore you could not number Abraham’s children. Another is Exaltation. These promises were also made to Abraham, and are renewed to every one of his descendants through the Atonement of Christ. Abraham has received these blessings, but for us to receive them we must be as faithful as Abraham.

  138. July 24, 2010 12:08 am

    Shematwater,

    I have read your words again, but I am at a loss to see where you said anything was “being fullfilled”.

    If I am understanding you correctly the blessings received by Abraham’s descendants listed in the Gen 15, 17 covenant are given based solely Abraham’s perfect obedience (ignoring Gen 20:2 of course) but the unlisted blessings (revealed in 19th century I assume?) are based on the perfect obedience of his descendants.

  139. shematwater permalink
    July 24, 2010 6:58 pm

    GUNDECK

    I spoke several times to the fulfillment of blessings. If you missed it go back and read it again.

    Chapter 17 does not contain all the blessings of the Covenant. Look in Chapter 22 for the promise that Christ would be of his seed (all nations of the earth be blessed).

  140. July 24, 2010 10:16 pm

    Shem,

    You stated regarding the Sabbath commandment, “Now, as touching what Paul was talking about: He was not saying that the Sabbath day was not important to observe. He was simply pointing out that it didn’t really matter on which day of the week you did this. The Israelites had observed the Seventh Day in remembrance of the Creation, as well as their deliverance from Egypt. In the New Testiment if began to switch to the first day, in remembrance of the Resurrection. Disputes errupted over this issue, and Paul was simply saying to let the Jews worship on the last day, and don’t bother them about it. It doesn’t matter which day is observed, as long as one is.”

    Where does it say that people were trying to observe the Sabbath on a different day of the week? Paul never says people were doing this. He says there were some who were not observing ANY day as different than any other day. “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike” (Rom. 14:5-6). Paul says either position is perfectly fine! What is not fine is to judge someone who takes a different view on the matter (14:3-4).

    The Sabbath commandment didn’t have to do with a principle of rest on one day out of seven. That is one interpretation to explain why Mormons (and many Protestants who take this view) are not following the literal Sabbath day commandment (even though they claim to). The command itself was very specific to the seventh day of the week. Observing the Sabbath on any other day of the week violates the original command.

    Seventh Day Adventists would ask you who gave you the authority to change the Sabbath day to Sunday. They would point out that nowhere in the New Testament is the command changed to Sunday.

    My interpretation is more consistent with the NT texts that say the law has been “done away” and “abolished” in Christ (II Cor. 3:6-18) and that it is okay if someone observes “every day alike” (Rom. 14:5-6). This doesn’t mean God’s moral laws have changed, but there were some ceremonial laws and commandments that were specifically intended for the Jews and they held deep, symbolic meanings to foreshadow new covenant spiritual realities. Just as circumcision foreshadowed the circumcision of the heart that God had planned for new covenant believers (Deut. 30:6; Rom. 2:28-29), so the Sabbath foreshadowed the rest that new covenant believers have in Christ from their own works (Heb. 4:4-10).

    My interpretation also avoids the inconsistency of claiming that the seventh day commandment can be observed on another day. The command was specific to the seventh day, not a command for one day of rest a week (although I think a person could draw a principle from this that a day of rest each week is a good idea).

    But the Sabbath commandment was about abstaining from any type of work. How does this fit in the dispensation of the Church age where pastors and other spiritual leaders’ primary work day is on Sunday?

    Further, how can it be shown that the Sabbath command was intended for the Church when it was never given to the Church and the specific commands given to new covenant believers (i.e. do not judge one another regarding the observance of days) conflict with this command?

  141. July 24, 2010 10:31 pm

    I have no earthly clue what you are talking about. I said I couldn’t find anything that you wrote about “being fullfilled”. Repeating yourself doesn’t help me find what you are talking about. If you can toss me a bone and give me the date and time of your comment, I may be able to better understand your position.

    As it is there seems to be a disconnect between who has covenant membership and who needs to be perfectly obedient. From fist blush it seems that you are claiming that it was by meritorious perfect obedience that was counted to Abraham as righteousness

    I agree that you need to read each of the covenant renewals Gen 12, 15, 17, and 22 in order to grasp the gracious nature of the Abrahamic covenant. Gen 22 does teach a valuable lesson ” Jehovahjireh” “The Lord Will Provide”.

  142. shematwater permalink
    July 26, 2010 4:33 pm

    GUNDECK

    July 22, 2010 3:57 pm
    Quote “The promises that were fulfilled were made only to the Patriarchs, not to their offspring.”

    I do apologize. It was not said frequently, as I asserted. However, it was said, in reference to Christ being of the seed ofthe patriarchs, as well as their descendents possessing the land. These promises were made only to the patriarchs, and have been fulfilled, and continue to be fulfilled.

    There are other blessings of the Abraham Covenant that are renewed with each of Abraham’s descendants, and now with all the faithful, who are counted as Abraham’s seed. But the two that are spoken of later in the Bible as fulfilling the promises to the fathers are the two mentioned.

    JESSICA

    There was a movement to worship on the first day of the week, which is known as the Lord’s Day, as that was the day of the resurrection. This is historical, whether it is spoken of directly or not. As such, to say that Paul is referencing this movement is not a stretch.
    I will add to what I said this. Paul is not saying that there shouldn’t be a day of rest, or that such does not matter. He is saying that if a person weak in the faith can only fully devote one day to God, those who devote all the days to God should not critisize them. You seem to take the reference to all days being the same as none having any importance. To me it seems more like all having equal importance.
    In other words, there were some people who, because of weakness of faith, gave their energies to the cares of the world during the week (providing for the family, studying and such) while others were more able to devote a greater portion of the week to serving God (visiting the sick, preaching, and such). Those who were more able, because of faith, to treat all days as if they were the Sabbath were not to Critisize those who needed that focus of one day a week.
    I have often heard Sunday describe as a time to rejuvinate the spiritual energies. This is what Paul is speaking about. He is not saying that the Sabbath is not important.
    And, if we cross reference this to Galatians we can also get the idea that some were holding certain days of the years, or certain Sabbaths, as being greater than others. So, Paul could be saying that it doesn’t matter is we hold all Sabbath’s equal and another say one is better (such as Christmas, especially when it is on a sunday).
    There are many ways to see this passage, and only one of them gives the understanding that you use.
    My point is not that you are wrong, but that you cannot prove us wrong, as you seem to be trying to do.

    The real problem I have with your understanding is the same problem I have with most all Evangelical doctrine concerning the Law and the Covenant. You speak to what it meant to the Jews, and how it was taught by Moses, but seem to ignore that the Sabbath was instituted during the Creation, before the Fall, as Ethan has pointed out. You say all the laws were given to teach about Christ and the New Covenant, but the Sabbath was never for this purpose.
    The Sabbath was first instituted to commenmorate the creation (Ex. 20: 10-11). It was later to commemorate the delivery of Israel from Egypt (Deut. 5: 15). The day of observance was changed to the first day(Acts 20: 7; 1 Cor. 16: 2), so as to commemorate the resurrection and Atonement.
    The Sabbath has never been a day to teach us of future events, but to remind us of the power that God has used for our benefit in the past. It still points to Christ, but to his past work, not his future work.
    As to Hebrews 4, it was appointed so that one day each week men could enter into the rest of God, and be freed from the troubles of the world. This could only be gained by the Righteous saints, and many of the Jews failed to enter this rest because they failed to observe the sabbath. Paul is not speaking of a future rest in the New Covenant. They had the opportunity for this rest in the Old Covenant, as Paul tells us in verse 6.

    There is no inconsistancy on observing the Sabbath on another day, as the purpose of the Sabbath is to remember the Lord and what he has done for us. It was on the Seventh day as a reminder of the Creation, but the day is not truly significant. What is significant is that it commemorates the power of God, which was displayed in no greater way than in the Resurrection.

    Also, there is no problem in calling it a day of rest. It is a rest from the world, a day devoted to God. Christ taught on the Sabbath, and was even critisized for Healing on the Sabbath. But this was the work of God, and thus perfectly fine to do on the Sabbath. It is the work of daily living and support that is to be abstained from.
    As to preachers, we have no paid ministry, so this is not a problem. The people who teach in our Sabbath meetings are doing the Lord’s work, and are thus following the Lord’s example. They are not doing this for worldly support, as they do that during the rest of the week. This is the point of the Sabbath, and it is kept very nicely by most of the LDS membership.

    Your last objection is a silly one to me. “It doesn’t state it in the New Testiment so it can’t be a command.” This is rediculous. The Bible is a great book, and the New Testiment is a great part of it. But unless you can give a more definite (preferabley direct) quote that states that Sabbath Day observance is no longer needed I do no think it wise to state such as being true.

  143. shematwater permalink
    July 27, 2010 5:17 pm

    After some consideration I thought I would give a little more description to my original point, that Paul is referencing the controversy of the seventh day verses the first day.

    This has to do with the idea that the command was for the seventh day, and so the first cannot be observed. This objection I answered in my previous post, but it does play a part in what I am going to say.

    First, Paul is telling those who have stronger faith which allows for a little more relaxed law to not critisize or persecute those whose faith requires a stricter law. This must be understood or everything else he says will not make sense.
    His first example is that of what you eat. Some who are weak in the faith have a much stricter diet than those whose faith is stronger.
    His second example is that some of weaker faith hold one day as greater than the rest, while those of stronger faith hold all days equal.

    This is what I see. Those with the stronger faith, who understand the significance of the Sabbath and the purpose of it, don’t really care what day of the week it is observed. Any day is as good as another for this observance. However, those of a weaker faith (who need the stricter law) hold to the idea that only a specific day of the week can be observed. Niether of these two views is more correct than the other, and so should not be the cause of divisions, which is what Paul’s main point is.

    Paul is writing to settle the issue that I originally put forward. At this time there was a controversy over the observance of the Sabbath. According to the law it was to be observed on the Seventh day in honor of the Creation. However, there had been a movement to change teh observance to the first day in honor of the resurrection. Paul is simply saying that either way is acceptable, as both are doing to honor God.

  144. July 28, 2010 12:28 am

    Shem,

    It’s a nice try, but you are going to have a hard time showing this from the text itself! 🙂

    I agree with what you said here:

    His first example is that of what you eat. Some who are weak in the faith have a much stricter diet than those whose faith is stronger.
    His second example is that some of weaker faith hold one day as greater than the rest, while those of stronger faith hold all days equal.

    Yes, exactly!! This is good exegesis! 🙂 We agree!!

    The rest of what you said (i.e. they were really just arguing about which day to observe) cannot at all be supported by the text. Paul said those who were stronger in faith believed they could hold “every day alike.” ANY day was the same as ANY other day for these people.

    This is what I believe. Every single day I rest in Jesus Christ and do not put my faith in my own works for my salvation. I do not work at following a list of “do’s and don’ts” for Sabbath observance. I look to Jesus seven days a week and seek to be obedient at all times to what He wants me to do. He is my Sabbath rest! The Sabbath foreshadowed this rest in Christ – that’s what Hebrews 4:9-11 is talking about when it describes a future rest.

    “There remaineth therefore a rest [my marginal notes say the word “rest” can also be translated “keeping of a sabbath”] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

  145. shematwater permalink
    July 28, 2010 4:19 pm

    STEPHANIE

    The text can be seen to say it either way.

    The explanation I have given take into account all that the text says, and considers its meaning in light of certain events and controversies of the time.

    You claimed there was a problem in observing the first day, because the command was for the seventh. However, if we regard not one day above another then it does not matter on which one we observe the Sabbath.
    This would be following the spirit of the Law (one day in seven to rest and devote wholey to God) instead of the Letter (it has to be the Seventh Day). Those weak in the faith need the letter of the Law, but those strong in the Faith do not.

    As this is what Paul is speaking about this interpretation is very easily seen.
    The Law was given to not eat of certain animals. Some, because of weakness of faith, follow this very strictly and thus become vergetarians in order to avoid any sin. However, those of stronger faith understand that the Law was given for the reason of Health, and as long as they keep themselves healthy (the body is a temple) they can eat what they want.
    In like manner the Law was given to observe the Sabbath on the Seventh Day. Those of a weak faith will only observe the Sabbath on the seventh day to avoid any possibility of sin. Those stronger in the faith understand the reasons behind the law, and so are not kept within the strictness, and can observe the Sabbath on any day, cause they are all just as good for such.

    Paul has not voided the Law of healthy living by saying that some people eat of all things, and so why would he be voiding the Law of the Sabbath in saying that some regard all days the same?

    (Also, as I also said, when we cross reference this passage in Romans with Galatians 4: 10 we can infer that Paul is referring to the strictness of the Law of Moses.)

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