One Stop Trinitarian Shopping

My sister-in-law goes to a church in Seattle called Mars Hill.  Their pastor, Mark Driscoll, is becoming a nationally recognized Evangelical speaker.  This is a sermon he gave on the doctrine of the Trinity.  He is typically not comfortable preaching unless he can talk for a full hour.  This gives him the ability to hit just about every issue related to the Trinity in this sermon.  If you have any questions about the doctrine it is most likely answered in this sermon. It’s really a comprehensive over view of the arguments for and against the doctrine.

While not the focus of his sermon he does spend some time on Mormonism and its rejection of the Trinity (He calls it polytheistic or tr-theistic). I don’t think he in any way slanders Mormonism, but he doesn’t pull any punches either concerning anyone who claims to be a non-Trinitarian Christian.

One aspect of Trinitarian doctrine that I think I have overlooked is why do we consider the Holy Spirit to be God.  I was grateful for his attention to detail.

Direct Link

Video Link with a video Q&A

Advertisements

35 thoughts on “One Stop Trinitarian Shopping

  1. I thought his explanation of Mormonism’s “Godhead” was too simplified, and inaccurate!

    He said that we believe, “Jesus was a man that became God, not a God that became man.”. . .either he is sorely mistaken or lying about what Mormon’s believe.

    The other thing I found generally interesting was that all the scriptures he used to explain the doctrine of the “Trinity” are scriptures that we use to explain our particular doctrine of the “Godhead”

  2. I’m listening to his talk some more. . .wow, this really sounds like what Mormon’s believe, minus the Father having a Physical body!

    Interesting, what he lists as Modalism I think is pretty much what I was taught most other Christians believed the Trinity to be.

  3. Joseph Smith’s King Follet sermon seems to clearly imply that God was once a man as we are. Modern Mormons are largely agnostic on that particular issue. We firmly advocate for the idea of men becoming like God, but we’ve distanced ourselves from notions of God being once like us.

    I think the problem is that Mormonism already blurs the dividing line between “God” and “man.”

    Is God eternal? Yes.
    Is Christ eternal? Yes.
    Is man eternal? Yes.

    The problem is not that we “demote” deity. The problem is that we “promote” mankind. Being “human” isn’t as big a slap in the face for a Mormon as it is for an Evangelical.

    Personally, I like the King Follet sermon and nothing in it really upsets me much. But it does make other LDS rather uncomfortable.

    In any case, Evangelical students of Mormonism need to keep in mind that there are certain doctrines and ideas promoted by past LDS leaders that you are not required to believe in order to be a practicing Mormon. God once being mortal is one of those doctrines.

  4. Seth,

    I too Love the King Follet Discourse. However, if I heard him correctly he stated that we believe Jesus the “man” later became Jesus the “GOD”. . .that Jesus hasn’t been God from the begging. That is defiantly not the belief of Mormons.

    Mormons believe that “The Son” has been God from the Begging.

  5. Driscoll was completely mixed up on what Mormons believe. I really don’t mind people of other religions contrasting their own beliefs with those of Mormons as long as they get their facts right. But Driscoll didn’t. I don’t know where he got the idea that Jesus was a man twice unless he’s sloppily getting things mixed up with the King Follet discourse and/or throwing in a huge dose of non-LDS modalism. And even if that’s the case, he’s giving the KFD (which has never been canonized) only one of several possible interpretations, none of which are binding on Mormons anyway.

    Seth said:

    The problem is not that we “demote” deity. The problem is that we “promote” mankind.

    Some say those are the same thing, but I don’t agree.

    PaulW said:

    The other thing I found generally interesting was that all the scriptures he used to explain the doctrine of the “Trinity” are scriptures that we use to explain our particular doctrine of the “Godhead” …

    I’m listening to his talk some more. . .wow, this really sounds like what Mormon’s believe, minus the Father having a Physical body!

    True, except that he places quite a bit of emphasis on all three persons of the Godhead being equal. I’m not sure what he really means by that. There are certainly huge differences in roles at the very least.

    His Biblical “proof” of the doctrine of the Trinity seemed to be basically that the Bible says God is one, and the Bible says God is three. His fallacy is in suggesting that only the traditional doctrine of the Trinity can explain the paradox.

  6. Good catch Paul.

    Further adding to the confusion is the LDS belief that Christ is an “elder spirit brother” for the rest of us. Which seems to posit a pre-mortal existence where Christ was, at least in some sense, in the same boat with the rest of us.

    It doesn’t make much practical difference from a Mormon sense of affection and worship of Jesus, but it does play heck with Evangelical notions of ontological neatness and distinctiveness.

    It also raises a couple interesting complications, like this discussion over at Mormon Mentality:

    Mystery of the Week

  7. The speaker repeats a theme I hear a lot from Evangelicals – all those “spiritual experiences” you claim to have had are from Satan.

    He claims that Allah, for instance, is a demon – with real power – but a false spirit nonetheless, whom Muslims worship. I hear variations on this theme applied to Mormonism. Often that verse from Paul – “if an angel should preach a different Gospel than that which we have preached…” etc, etc.

    End story, those powerful stories of healing, of faith, of visions, are from mischievous demons who are trying to trick you out of correct orthodoxy.

    Pardon me, but the way this is applied in counter-cult arguments is a bunch of worthless rubbish.

    Who determines the goodness or badness of a spirit?

    A bunch of biblical scholars confined to creedal reads on the Bible?

    I’m less than impressed. I also have a hard time believing that God plays favorites and makes Himself known to only those who have acquired a PhD – which you pretty much need to make heads or tails of the accumulative gobbledygook otherwise known as traditional Christian orthodoxy.

    This is nothing more than a roundabout way of saying “you’re wrong, and so there!”

    To which follows the retort: “No I’m not.”

    “Yes you are”
    “No I’m not”
    “Yes you are”
    “No I’m not”

    Blah, blah, blah. Tripe, tripe, tripe.

    At least Mormonism gives a somewhat objective AND accessible and intuitive measuring stick for discerning between spirits. If the results are good, it’s a good spirit. If the results are bad, it’s a bad spirit. You basically take Christ’s words in 3 Nephi 14:20, which is a variation on Matthew 7:17, which for us is read in light of Alma 32:28-43.

    The definition this preacher gives us of “false spirits,” well… he doesn’t give one. But I imagine it would be something along the lines of – “that which contradicts the Bible.” Which of course, requires that you already be on-board with his reading of the Bible.

    In essence, his little jab about false spirits is nothing more than preaching to the choir. A soundbite, for those who already buy into his own assumptions and paradigm, to feel self-justified, and to dismiss the real and glorious fruits of other faiths.

    Why is there this ontological need in many Evangelical circles to slap absolutist labels on religions? Why can’t Islam be God-inspired in its own limited way? Why does it have to be “demonic,” just because it doesn’t meet all the parameters? Why can’t we just acknowledge the light and knowledge that people already have without having to immediately discredit it, simply because they didn’t apply for a creedal parking permit?

  8. On the other hand, his description of the trinity as being love in essence – the stuff about “perichoresis” (the divine dance of love) and so forth – is quite compatible with Mormon notions of God and our own destiny. Like that stuff quite a bit.

    As others have mentioned, a lot of his sermon is quite Mormon-compatible.

  9. Hi

    Sorry to interrupt you. Please don’t mind..

    I respect your religion; but I have my own free opinion. I think it to be too cruel for a father (God) to sacrifice/kill his beloved one (son) for others imaginary sins.
    The truth, in my opinion, is that Jesus was not God; he never proclaimed as such, there are no direct quotes from him in this regards. God talked with Jesus and revealed His word on him, He chose Jesus his Messenger/Prophet/Messiah, Jesus was not a son of God.

    Jews did not believe that Jesus was a true Moshiach or Prophet of God and to prove that they tried to kill him by putting him on cross, Jesus became unconscious due to the injuries inflicted on him. He was delivered from cross alive and placed in a room like tomb where he was treated for the injuries.
    This was done secretly lest the Jews again torture him. Afterwards, he went to spread the gospel to the remaining ten tribes of the House of Israel, he died a natural death later at some point in the history. This is all truth in my opinion.
    Kindly visit my blogsite for any peaceful comments and or peaceful discussion on interesting posts/pages there. You are welcome for your differing opinion/thoughts if you so like.
    Thanks
    I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  10. I’m glad this sermon has been helpful in clarifying the doctrine of the Trinity to some of you. I think the reason contemporary Mormons may not readily accept the doctrine is because of the version of the history of Joseph Smith that got canonized which gave God the Father a physical body and a long standing tradition of being anti-trinitarian. It’s good to hear that a thorough explanation makes it clear to some that it’s not quite so weird.

    Driscoll was completely mixed up on what Mormons believe. I really don’t mind people of other religions contrasting their own beliefs with those of Mormons as long as they get their facts right.

    I think Protestant ministers can get somewhat of a pass if they don’t completely understand Mormon Chistology. Most Mormons don’t really understand Mormon Christology. It hasn’t exactly been nailed down. As the link Seth directed us to, it’s a pretty mirky area.

    On the one hand Mormons are quick to get out of any John 1 dilemnas by saying that Christ was always God. But by this they also mean that “I” and “we” were always gods, in that “intelligence” has always existed before the “beginning.” But calling Christ “God” in this sense is not at all what Protestants are talking about. In addition it’s quite unclear in Mormonism how Jesus became God before taking on a human body, before being baptized and before receiving the ordinances. Either his exaltation is quite unconventional or all people are welcome to call themselves “God” by merely being the same species as the Father. So if a Protestant speaker doesn’t “nail it” in a two sentence reference I think it’s understandable.

    The speaker repeats a theme I hear a lot from Evangelicals – all those “spiritual experiences” you claim to have had are from Satan. . . . .

    End story, those powerful stories of healing, of faith, of visions, are from mischievous demons who are trying to trick you out of correct orthodoxy.

    I can concede that God may be answering the prayers of non-Christians. But I think it’s foolish to disregard the presence of demons. Certainly some amount of truth can be found in all religions and that truth comes from God. But Satan has mixed falsehood in with that truth in an effort to draw people away from Truth.

    Why is there this ontological need in many Evangelical circles to slap absolutist labels on religions? Why can’t Islam be God-inspired in its own limited way? Why does it have to be “demonic,” just because it doesn’t meet all the parameters? Why can’t we just acknowledge the light and knowledge that people already have without having to immediately discredit it, simply because they didn’t apply for a creedal parking permit?

    I imagine we get that from the Bible. Jesus decided to go around telling people that he was the light, the truth and the way and that no one gets to the Father except through him. Jesus should have known that that kind of absolutist thinking wouldn’t be very popular in 21st Century post-modernism, but I don’t think he would have cared.

  11. Paarsurrey,

    I’m glad you chimed in. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to clarify some things you have mistaken about Christian belief.

    I think it to be too cruel for a father (God) to sacrifice/kill his beloved one (son) for others imaginary sins.

    It is not the belief of Christians that God killed his son. Rather that Jesus laid down his own life by his own will. I agree it would be cruel for a Father to kill his own son. But I hope you can agree with me that it’s quite beautiful for someone to sacrifice their own life for those they love.

    The truth, in my opinion, is that Jesus was not God; he never proclaimed as such, there are no direct quotes from him in this regards.

    Jesus did indeed proclaim that he was God. If you’d like to know more about the instances in which he did so, you can listen to the audio above. But one instance in particular was at his own trial for blasphemy. He was asked about the charges against him and he proclaimed that his name is “I AM” (the Jewish name for God). Those who stood in judgment of him recognized this and stated he was willing to condemn himself.

    You can read it for yourself here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2014:%2053-65;&version=31;

  12. “Jesus should have known that that kind of absolutist thinking wouldn’t be very popular in 21st Century post-modernism, but I don’t think he would have cared.”

    Yeah, fine.

    But you guys ain’t Jesus.

  13. Tim said:

    I think Protestant ministers can get somewhat of a pass if they don’t completely understand Mormon Christology.

    I don’t expect Protestant ministers to understand anything at all about Mormon theology much less Christology. Unless they’re involved in apologetics, there’s no reason why they should. But if in sermons they’re going to criticize Mormonism as teaching heresy (which obviously it is according to Protestant belief), they should at least get their facts straight. In this case, Driscoll did not. By saying what he did, he performed a disservice not only to Mormons but also to his parishioners.

    Tim said:

    I think the reason contemporary Mormons may not readily accept the doctrine is because of the version of the history of Joseph Smith that got canonized which gave God the Father a physical body and a long standing tradition of being anti-trinitarian.

    But the fact that our Heavenly Father has a body isn’t by itself necessarily in conflict with the main tenets of Trinitarianism. As I understand it, the evangelical view is that Jesus currently has a physical body, and that doesn’t keep him from being one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in an ontological sense. So why not the Father also? Why is that such a big deal?

    There are some orthodox (lower-case “o” ) evangelicals who take a communitarian approach to understanding the Trinity. I think that approach — which places a bit more emphasis on the separation of the three persons in the godhead — isn’t all that far off from the LDS understanding of the Godhead.

    The real difference, in my view (or at least one of the real differences), goes back to what Seth R. alluded to in #3: In LDS thought, the Trinity isn’t the only example of divinity in the universe. A second big difference is that LDS thought allows a great deal of latitude in explaining how God came to be God (there is no one accepted view on the matter, and a lot of speculation), while the traditional Christian view doesn’t even leave room for that question to be asked.

  14. Tim said:

    I think the reason contemporary Mormons may not readily accept the doctrine is because of the version of the history of Joseph Smith that got canonized which gave God the Father a physical body and a long standing tradition of being anti-trinitarian.

    I think another reason is that many Protestants believe in modalism (or, at the least, describe the Trinity in modalistic terms), even if that isn’t what their churches teach.

    I have heard more than one faithful Protestant say that God is like water: ice, liquid and steam — three in one. That’s pure modalism. I’ve also heard that God is like an egg — yolk, shell and white. That’s not really modalism, but it’s not really Trinitarianism either.

    To the typical Mormon, the concept of the Godhead is very, very simple to understand — three Persons who are so united in purpose that they act as one entity. It’s little wonder that they’re reluctant to consider a doctrine that even Protestant ministers can seem to put in easy-to-understand terms.

  15. Oops. can’t seem to put in easy-to-understand terms.

    Driscoll spent a whole hour at it and barely touched the concept of homoousios.

  16. But if in sermons they’re going to criticize Mormonism as teaching heresy (which obviously it is according to Protestant belief), they should at least get their facts straight. In this case, Driscoll did not. By saying what he did, he performed a disservice not only to Mormons but also to his parishioners.

    I think I’m pretty well versed in this and I don’t think he got it that wrong. He wasn’t as precise as he could have been (that would have taken another hour), but he wasn’t really inaccurate. His point was that Mormonism teaches heresy by embracing polytheism or tri-theism. It’s really inconsequential how or why Jesus became God to make that point.

    As I understand it, the evangelical view is that Jesus currently has a physical body, and that doesn’t keep him from being one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in an ontological sense. So why not the Father also? Why is that such a big deal?

    Part of the reason the doctrine of the Trinity has stood the test of time is because it was put through the rigors of logic. It is illogical to say two bodies are one person. It is not illogical to say two (or three) persons are one essence.

    There are some orthodox (lower-case “o” ) evangelicals who take a communitarian approach to understanding the Trinity. I think that approach — which places a bit more emphasis on the separation of the three persons in the godhead — isn’t all that far off from the LDS understanding of the Godhead.

    Yes, and I’m aware of some highly place LDS who have begun to accept social Trinitarianism, which is a great step toward orthodoxy. Like I said, if not for the PoGP and precedent, they probably would come all the way over.

    A second big difference is that LDS thought allows a great deal of latitude in explaining how God came to be God (there is no one accepted view on the matter, and a lot of speculation), while the traditional Christian view doesn’t even leave room for that question to be asked.

    Yes, and that’s because we believe God did not become God but rather that he has always been God and is self-existent. Asking the question presumes a heresy.

  17. “It is illogical to say two bodies are one person. It is not illogical to say two (or three) persons are one essence.”

    And why would it be illogical to say that two or three bodies are one essence?

    And who said anything about “essence” anyway? That’s not required by the Bible.

  18. Maybe this string is done, but I’m new here. I met with two Mormon missionaries yesterday and had a good three hour discussion. I’m a Christian. We had a good time. I have a question for some of the Mormons out there that I need help with as it relates to the Trinity.

    These missionaries started off with the total apostasy and pointed to Constantine and the Nicene Creed as the main evidence that apostasy had happened. The trinitarian views expressed in the Nicene Creed were the main problem apparently.

    If the Nicene Creed logically explains the data found in the Bible (that there are three persons all said to be God, that they are eternal and coexist, and yet that there is only one God) then how can that be a sign of apostasy?

    If God told Joseph Smith that all the churchs were wrong because essentially they believed in this trinitarian view, then why wasn’t it corrected in the Book of Mormon which was apparently God’s corrective to the teachings of the day?

    Please help me out.

  19. Topping for Josh to get some faithful LDS to answer.

    But your question is even more complicated than that as the Book of Mormon is more explicitly trinitarian than the Bible. For example:

    2 Nephi 11:6-7: “And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish. For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.”

    Mosiah 3:8: “And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

    Mosiah 15:1-5: “And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son–The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and the Son–And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.”

    3 Nephi 11:22-27, and verse 36. “And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them–Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water. And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one…And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.”

    2 Nephi 31:21.: “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”

  20. I don’t think the bare language of the Nicene Creed is actually all that objectionable to Mormons (except the parts where it is hopelessly obscure and incoherent). As Tim pointed out, the Book of Mormon has its own very strong trinitarian message.

    What Mormons object to, are the following traditional Christian notions:

    1. God is a disembodied spirit.
    2. Jesus and God and the Holy Ghost are the same person, or same “essence” if you like. As I noted above, I think philosophical terms like “essence” are rather loose things, so I don’t want to give the impression that “essence” would be out of the question for a believing Mormon, but we don’t typically view the Godhead as being “of one essence.”

    Those are the ideas of the creeds that we reject.

    Now, Joseph had some quotes that seem to indicate that he rejected the creeds as “an abomination” not so much because of their content, but because of what a creed is designed to do. A creed is meant to provide boundaries and perimeters that define who is “in the club” and who is out. This is precisely how modern Christians use the creeds – as a tool of excluding other people whose beliefs they don’t like.

    It seems that the prophet Joseph also objected to the role of creeds as a tool of exclusion. Here’s one quote from him:

    “…I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled. It dont prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine.” (8 April 1843 Conference Report by William Clayton)

    In many ways, Joseph Smith was very much a fan of religious pluralism. He seemed more concerned with whether a man or woman was on board with the stated mission and destiny of the Restored Gospel, than whether they had correct theories on doctrine.

    If you are interested in reading a more in-depth discussion of this idea of why creeds are abominable to Mormons, you might check this Mormon blog discussion:

    http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2007/09/why-are-creeds-an-abomination/437/

  21. But your question is even more complicated than that as the Book of Mormon is more explicitly trinitarian than the Bible

    Simply teaching that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one” or “one God” does not in and of itself demonstrate that the Book of Mormon (or Bible for that matter) is Trinitarian. Mormons have no problem believing that the three members of the Godhead are “one”, we just disagree with the creedal tradition on what it means to be “one”. And neither the Bible or Book of Mormon defines how the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one” in Trinitarian terms or concepts.

    If the Nicene Creed logically explains the data found in the Bible (that there are three persons all said to be God, that they are eternal and coexist, and yet that there is only one God) then how can that be a sign of apostasy?

    Prior to the first council of Nicea the early Christian Fathers seemed to have a different understanding of these things. They taught (for example) that Jesus is the “second God” or “another God”, and that there are other “gods” that exist over whom God is the God.

    As for the Nicene Creed, I think the problem is that it uses non-biblical concepts to try to explain how the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one”. And as I was saying above, this is where Mormons (and perhaps many of the pre-Nicene Christian Fathers) would disagree. It’s the concept of a “consubstantial” (or homoousion in the Greek) Father and Son that is not biblical. There are other logical (and Biblical) ways to explain how the Father and Son are “one” without resorting to the non-biblical creedal concepts, such as when Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples, “that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11, 20-23)

  22. Mormons may not use the word “creed,” but they definitely have implicit creeds, and they definitely exlude people for not following them. Maybe they don’t excommunicate you for heretical beliefs, but you’d sure better keep your mouth shut about them.

    In fact, I think the LDS church is one of the most egregious offenders out there in terms of monitoring members’ beliefs.

  23. But here’s the jist of my question:

    If one of the main signs of apostasy (according to the missionaries who visited me) was that the trinity was fouled up in the Nicene Creed, and the book of Mormon was meant to correct the false teachings of the creeds, why didn’t it fix this doctrine? Why is the BofM more trinitarian? Does it fix the idea of an immaterial Father?

    If the reason I am supposed to give up Christianity and move to Mormonism as a fuller belief system is that there was an apostasy, it needs to be proven on more grounds than the Nicene Creed. If the creeds are consistent with the Bible, even if they aren’t consistent with current Mormon beliefs, than why should I jump to Mormon beliefs? There is no need if there was no apostasy.

  24. The Mormon concept of Great Apostasy isn’t really a question of false doctrines or heretical beliefs. It’s about priesthood authority, which Mormons believe was lost from the Earth after the death of the apostles.

    So in other words, even if people believed all the right things, the Restoration still would have been necessary in order to restore the lost priesthood authority to baptize, etc.

  25. The specifics on the Great Apostasy are getting as vague as the identity of the Lamanites.

    If it was not about doctrine, then the Catholics can show an unbroken line of priesthood lineage. If was not about the priesthood, then the Book of Mormon doesn’t offer much in the way of new doctrine.

  26. Tim, I’ve already explained that the primary point of the Book of Mormon was not to provide “new doctrine” but to provide an additional witness and narrative proving that God is the God of the whole world, and not just Palestine.

    We Mormons fully expect that additional records from other “Lost Tribes” will be brought to light in time showing God’s loving concern for other parts of the world in addition to Palestine and the Americas.

    The Book of Mormon is “an additional witness of Jesus Christ.” It’s not primarily meant to preach new doctrine – although some scholars I’m reading think that it does do that.

    As far as the Great Apostasy…

    The dogmatic assertion of all traditional Christian faiths that God finished speaking at the end of the Bible is, for me, proof enough of a General Apostasy among the followers of Christ.

    The heavens were declared silent by men. That is what the Apostasy was.

    They are no longer silent. That is what the Restoration means. It’s really not that complicated.

  27. We Mormons fully expect that additional records from other “Lost Tribes” will be brought to light in time showing God’s loving concern for other parts of the world in addition to Palestine and the Americas.

    Good luck with that!

    They are no longer silent. That is what the Restoration means. It’s really not that complicated.

    When was the last time a bona fide revelation was published? Or even promulgated?

  28. Probably the lifting of the Priesthood ban in the 1970s.

    Some point to the recent Proclamation on the Family, but I think that only bears some of the qualifications, not all of them.

    Also keep in mind that much of what the prophets have always said – throughout the Old and New Testaments – has often been to simply rehash what had already been said at earlier times. I think it is a mistake to view the role of prophet as primarily that “conveyor of new doctrine.” Historically, that has not been the most common function. Usually the prophet is a voice of warning based on commandments given a long time ago. Under that model… you could say our current prophet was doing “prophet work” as recently as a couple months ago.

    Also keep in mind that from Moses, to Jesus, to Joseph Smith, “new doctrine” is only given to people as fast as they are willing to accept it. The unwillingness of the people to accept new “light and knowledge” was a source of frustration for all three of them.

  29. I said nothing about new doctrine. A revelation from God doesn’t have to be new doctrine. But it has to be a bona fide Revelation, of the “thus sayeth the Lord” variety. “Thus sayeth the Lord” aren’t magic words, of course, but it has to be something along that lines.

    It can’t just be inspiration or the sweet whisperings of the Holy Ghost, because here’s the thing: other Churches claim that, too. When other Christians say that there’s no further revelation (and they don’t necessarily say that), they’re not talking about mere inspiration. As far as I know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are about the only denomination that denies the existence of divine inspiration. The revelation we’re talking about here has to be bigger, more significant, and somehow substantively different, because otherwise the LDS Church’s claim is not unique at all. It’s a non-claim.

    “The heavens are silent no more” isn’t a selling point when it turns out that nobody really hought they were.

    The Proclamation on the Family doesn’t count at all. It’s a statement of institutional doctrine and policy (ditto with the statement on the Living Christ). Nowhere, inside or outside the four corners of the document, have the brethren claimed that it was received by way of revelation from God.

    The lifting of the priesthood ban is at least arguable, but it certainly isn’t cut and dried. As I’ve said before, the priesthood ban is something I’ve been researching pretty intensively for a paper I’m working on. President Kimball’s decision to end the ban has been characterized as a revelation, but to my knowledge, not by Kimball himself. I know the Church’s press agent said it was, but that’s not the same thing. And if a revelation was involved, why didn’t Kimball tell us what God said? Joseph Smith did it all the time. We have OD2, and it’s mighty poetic, but on the face of it it appears to be a description of the process and a flourishing announcement of the change. If there was a revelation from God, where’s the revelation? If God spoke, what did he say?

  30. And I’m not talking about “doing prophet work.”

    If the Restoration’s significance is in that the heavens have been opened, then there needs to be revelation. As near as I can tell, modern revelation of the kind that warrants a “the heavens are opened” exclamation started and stopped with Joseph Smith. If apostasy is defined as “no revelation,” then it sounds like the Church has been in apostasy since the 1930’s. And it makes the claims of other LDS denominations a lot more credible.

  31. I have heard many accounts of the revelation of lifting of the priesthood ban. All of the apostles at the time seemed to be in agreement that the experience confirming the decision was revelation. They said that they heard the “voice” of the spirit.

    David Haight was in my ward in SLC for a while and he spoke about that in detail several times. (He spoke at least 10 times while I was there. Made church a lot more interesting). He also explained visions he had of Jesus and his life. I would guess that other apostles had their own visions, and receive a lot of revelations that aren’t written down.

    I think you (Kullervo) are making too much of this issue myself. Over the 4000 year biblical record there are really only a handful of seer-type prophets and most prophets that were mentioned did not write many revelations. Being a prophet was then and is now a less than popular profession, mainly because you tend to get stoned or shot. I think the concept of intermittent seers followed by leaders that fulfill priestly functions is perfectly consistent with how Mormons have described themselves and what happens in the Bible. I actually think that the fact that most post-Joseph leaders have not said “Thus saith the Lord” makes them appear more credible and conscientious since its an incredibly easy and tempting thing to say, especially when you know a whole bunch of people are going to believe you without question.

    However, I don’t have much taste for the endless repeating of the belief the President of the Church is a prophet, I think this is slightly misguided. If he is a prophet we should be able to tell by what he says without having to have others explain it to us or bolster his position by repeating the belief. I think you can consistently believe that the president of the Church is set apart as a prophet, seer, and revelator, even though he may not ever prophesy, have visions or reveal stuff. He still is the leader of the priesthood on earth and the “man like unto Moses”.

    With regard to the Apostasy, I think the most Authoritative description of why Mormons believe in an Apostasy is the Revelation recorded in D&C 1 where God lays it out why he is starting the church. A lot of it has to do with restoring the “everlasting covenant” some of it to re-open the heavens, partially to correct error, part of it to fulfill prophecy etc.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/1

  32. I would guess that other apostles had their own visions, and receive a lot of revelations that aren’t written down.

    Everyone guesses that. That’s actually the problem.

  33. I think the concept of intermittent seers followed by leaders that fulfill priestly functions is perfectly consistent with how Mormons have described themselves and what happens in the Bible.

    Maybe so, but that’s not how the Church sells itself, or how most Mormons think of the prophets. And by not correcting this major–but certainly predictable and not at all unreasonable–misunderstanding, the general authorities are being fraudulent.

    But that’s not the point. Seth says the heavens are opened, and I’m saying they sure look pretty closed for being open.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s