Three Good Questions About The Trinity


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In this lecture about the doctrine of the Trinity, Fred Sanders answers three questions about the Trinity.

  1. Is it Biblical?
  2. Does it make sense?
  3. Does it matter?

I think he does a great job of summarizing all of the main arguments for the Trinity. Bible in hand, he thoroughly answered if the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each God. For discussions with Mormons, I think the lecture could have focused more on whether or not the Bible says there is only one God. But as a means of increasing understanding about the doctrine I think this is great listening. Sanders, despite having earned a PhD on the Trinity, does a good job of keeping the talk conversational and understandable.

I really should be encouraging my Evangelical friends to listen to this more than my Mormon friends.

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71 thoughts on “Three Good Questions About The Trinity

  1. Thanks for sharing this Tim. I really enjoyed listening to it. As a Mormon I do not recall hearing anything that I didn’t agree with or that would make me feel uncomfortable quoting in an LDS service.

    “For discussions with Mormons, I think the lecture could have focused more on whether or not the Bible says there is only one God.”

    I don’t know how much that would add to discussions with Mormons since the Book of Mormon also has multiple statements similar to the Bible declaring that there is One God. The delicate balance of “one God” verses three beings for Mormons is pretty much the same balance that Fred Sanders discusses here. I think the only difference is the Mormon belief that God the Father has a perfected body and that God the Son is inseparable from His resurrected body. Without trying to make this a discussion on whether or not God has a body, I do want to point out that Sanders’ explanation that a “good doctrine” helps you read the Bible better can also be applied here. I think that reading the Bible with the idea that God has a body is not inconsistent with the Bible especially if passages talking about how God is everywhere are attributed to God the Holy Ghost. On the same hand, I can see how one can read the Bible assuming God does not have a body and feel satisfied with that perspective.

    I would liked to have heard more of Sanders’ thoughts about being “adopted by the Father” thereby becoming His sons and daughter and also being “restored to the status of sons of God” (discussed 1hr 23 min into the lecture). Becoming sons and daughters unto God is also found in Mormon scriptures, especially in relation to baptism, the need to be reborn and the need to accept God as our God. As fallen men we must choose to become part of God’s family. I’m not sure how Evangelicals view this but I would imagine it isn’t too different.

    But what about being “restored to the status of sons of God”. Doesn’t that imply that we were once His sons and have fallen out of status? For Evangelicals could this hint at a pre-mortal existence or at some sort of divinity within us as it does for Mormons? Sanders was quick to say that this status is more like exposure to the fire and not actually becoming fire. But then he moved topics. I’ve heard a Catholic compare early Church writings about Godhood to a metal and a fire. When metal is placed in fire it takes on the properties of the fire (it gets hot, glows, etc) but that at the end of the day the metal is still metal and not fire. Is that how evangelicals interpret this and other allusions to man becoming one with God such as in John 17?

  2. I got that phrase from Sanders (1 hr 23min into the lecture) and I’m not sure what he really means by it or what evangelicals would think of it. I would love to hear Sanders elaborate on that point.

    Off the top of my head, the only Biblical reference I can think of relating to the idea of being restored to status is the use of the word redeemer in the book of Ruth and how her status in society was lost when her husband died. Boaz thus redeemed her by marrying her and bringing her back in full standing before society just as Christ redeems us.

  3. Tim, thanks for the post. I listened to Sanders’ presentation. I liked his discussion of various artists’ depictions of the Trinity and found his analogy insightful that, just as artists have a difficult time trying to depict the Trinity, theologians engage in a similar project of trying to articulate the incomprehensible God but using a medium that is often just as awkward.

    It seems to me that Sanders devoted more time to Modalism perhaps because of a perception that it’s simply more likely for Evangelicals to have a Modalistic understanding of the nature of God than a polytheistic one. There doesn’t seem to be a serious concern, at least from my experience, that Evangelicals will slip into a polytheistic understanding of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Mormonism, there is little concern that the Godhead would be understood in a modalistic manner, (perhaps the First Vision precludes that as a possibility), so I think most Latter-day Saints listening to Sanders’ presentation would agree with his reasons for why Modalism is inconsistent with the Bible. Sanders would probably need to get into a discussion of ontology and a detailed explanation of the meaning of the historical meaning of not “dividing the substance” in order for Latter-day Saints to feel a sense of foreignness. Sanders’ suggestion that praying to the Father in the name of Jesus as more consistent with the biblical data would be another place Mormons would heartily agree.

    I think Sanders was fair in his answer of his three questions. If ‘biblical’ means that the word Trinity must in the bible and the concept must be located in one verse, then Sanders says no, but if it is consistent with the entirety of scripture then he says yes. Here, I like his attempt at trying to understand what various people really mean by “biblical.”

    As to whether it makes sense, he qualifies his answer by saying that the Trinity must be revealed and it cannot be arrived at by reason, it isn’t something that you would come up on your own. He relates the statement by Thomas Aquinas that one can reason their way to the existence of God, but to get to the Trinity you need special revelation. So it must make sense in some sense, but not in the sense that people would rationally come up with it on their own, but he is quick to say it isn’t irrational or illogical or that it doesn’t violation the law of non-contradiction. He says the Trinity has to be “a thought you can have” and he gives the example of square circles as a thought one simply cannot have. Whether something makes sense is highly dependent on someone’s point of view. So, I would actually not suggest this as a test to be used in interfaith discussions, since clearly everyone has the thoughts that they have about their beliefs and it is cognitively possible. If the Trinity is described as a mystery that one cannot think up on their own, and God is ultimately incomprehensible, what is the bar for it having to “make sense” to humans? Sanders admits the bar isn’t too high, but it must be high enough to not be illogical. On the other extreme, Sanders also explains he doesn’t want to put God in a box through some rigid rationalism, so he is trying to find a balance in between. I will say that I think all people of faith are trying to find this kind of balance for themselves in some way. We hold certain beliefs not by faith alone, but not by reason alone either. It is faith informed by reason.

    The question obviously has a purpose for the audience but I think any attempt at using a logical test in interfaith dialogue must be used with extreme caution. It has limited value. Too easily things can denigrate into “the religious other is irrational” which is an easy conclusion. Even in McDermott and Millet’s Claiming Christ, they both say in one chapter that each others view about some topic is irrational, and each of them is surprised that the other would think such a thing.

    As to whether to the question of whether it matters, I found Sanders answer to be fair to his audience and yet at the same time in certain ways he weakens his own position by claiming having a correct notion of the Trinity is not required to have a relationship with God. He stresses you don’t need to pass a theological test to get into heaven and that people can be saved without any theologizing. But he ultimately asserts that it is important to have correct ideas about God. But he doesn’t really explain why it is important to have correct ideas about God especially after assuring his audience that having the right ideas isn’t the end all and be all. He says you can pray any way you want and God will understand and hear you, but if you want to have theologically correct prayers, then one should pray to the Father in the name of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    I do think Sanders is trying to make the Trinity relevant to daily life and I think it is important to make that effort. Generally speaking, it is always extremely challenging to make theology relevant to daily religious practice. Many times no one tries to do this, and it’s difficult to do, because as in Sanders approach, one doesn’t want to make it sound as if everyone who doesn’t do theology isn’t a good Christian, but on the other hand, then what is the point of theology if it doesn’t make one a good Christian in some sense? Sanders presentation illustrates this difficulty.

    Overall, Sanders has chosen to focus more on the personal relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rather than an ontological relationship, and as a result, I think his presentation has a general appeal.

  4. This guy defines “Trinity” so broadly, at first, that I honestly think that Mormonism’s idea of “united in purpose and will, but not in substance” qualifies as “trinitarian.”

    Especially when you get LDS who adhere to the “Social Trinitarian” model.

    If what this guy is saying is all you need to be “Trinitarian,” hey, sign me up.

    But what about this idea that the Father and Son are “one substance?” He kind of slips that part in later. He starts out saying that if you believe:

    1. Father is God
    2. Son is God
    3. The have “a relationship of some sort”

    Then bang! You’re trinitarian.

    But that’s not what Mormons dispute. What they dispute is this weird extra-biblical philosophical concept of “one substance.”

  5. But that said, honestly, if all Evangelicals talked like this when talking to Mormons, they’d probably find a much less hostile audience.

    My experience is that Evangelicals debating with Mormons will often overcompensate for the perceived heresy of Mormonism almost to the point of demanding a Mormon become essentially a modalist. I’ve also seen Evangelicals who debate with Mormons a lot actually become modalists themselves just out of sheer resistance to Mormon arguments.

    But this guy actually isn’t too far off the beaten path. And I don’t know any Mormon who would be uncomfortable with the claims of Social Trinitarianism – which this minister seems comfortable with as well.

    Am I wrong?

    If not, what gives?

  6. Seth, I don’t think he is redefining the Trinity in any unorthodox manner. I think he is simply choosing to present the Trinity in a manner he feels is relevant to his audience. No theologian can cover everything they think about a given subject in one presentation. I do think that Sanders focuses more on the economic Trinity in this presentation and the relationships between the Father and the Son, which is why you can get a sense from Latter-day Saint listeners that they can identify with his presentation.

    In his chapter “The Trinity” in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology (Oxford 2006), Sanders places social trinitarianism within a larger discussion of the Trinity. He outlines some of the characteristics and the questions it raises. He writes: “The sudden popularity of a strong version of social trinitarianism in the late twentieth century is probably most charitably understood as another of these attempts to trace the richness of the economic configurations to their transcendent ground in the divine being . . . The strength of this recent social trinitarianism is this: Everyone is bound to be a social trinitarian at the economic level.” (p. 45). Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals, and Catholics will rarely disagree if they focus their discussions on the economic trinity.

    In a sense, this is why I feel that an apologetic bent distorts the contributions that different faith traditions have to offer to one another. For those who are more concerned with boundary maintenance, they will be less concerned with the economic trinity or a focus on personal relationships between the Father and the Son, because of a perception that this “doesn’t get the job done” in debates with Latter-day Saints. Looking at everything from a question of whether it fends off heresy really eliminates much that is valuable in each tradition. There is much more to the Trinity than homousian and yet, if you live in an apologetics world you will never get to hear anything but the homousian. The value of things shouldn’t only be determined by whether it protects against a particular heresy but by whether it leads to a more richer and fuller understanding of the tradition.

  7. Toria,

    I’m actually not sure where is he is getting the idea that we can be “restored to sons and daughters of God”. I’m well aware of the many places that the New Testament says that we can be adopted as sons and daughters. For example:

    Ephesians 1:4-6
    For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

    Titus 3:5-7
    he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

    Aquinas and Seth,
    Perhaps I can get Dr. Sanders to chime in. Clearly I think what he would say to a Mormon audience would be different than what he says to an Evangelical one. You bring up a good point that he was most likely intentionally steering people away from Modalism.

    I’m encouraged by the recent shift among some LDS to embrace social Trinitarianism. It’s a step towards orthodoxy and I appreciate it.

    Also, I agree with him that you don’t have to have the Trinity precisely nailed down for salvation, or even for the label “Christian”. But I have reservations for those who specifically go out of there way to deny the doctrine.

  8. Personally I’m okay with defining the Trinity rather broadly because I think any definition of the Trinity that is biblical has to be broad. The “one substance” thing is not clearly laid out in the Bible and we all know it. If all Latter-day Saints believed in was that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all separate entities/deities/persons who together function as one God in unity and purpose and eternally existed as such, I would have little problem with calling Mormons Trinitarians.

    However, that isn’t where the LDS church stops. There’s this Heavenly Mother business, and if she really was once worshiped as a separate entity as folks like Seth and Kevin Barney and Dan Peterson believe (?), I really don’t see how Mormonism teaches a Trinity at all. That’s a quartet of persons at the very least.

    When you add in eternal regression of Gods (and yes, I know some modern-day Latter-day Saints are beginning to reject this) and the notion that the Holy Spirit has not yet received a body and so still has some radical progressing to do, you end up with a very different picture from the traditional Trinity. “One in substance” really seems like the least of our disagreements.

  9. If it’s important that Jesus and the Father be thought of as separate persons, why shouldn’t the Father and the Mother be thought of as separate persons?

    I get that in Mormon soteriology both a husband and a wife are required for exaltation and “they shall be one flesh” and all that, but I think it’s safe to say both Jesus and the Spirit were deities before they were married (if either of them is even married now). So I dunno, it just seems inconsistent to me that the Mother has to be crammed in with the Father to make any idea of an LDS Trinity work.

  10. Thank’s God Our Heavenly Father there are people inteligent enough (and Christian as well) to talk, discurse, debate or simply expose deeply beloved ideas or beliefes of their own religions in a peacefully and fruitful way.

    I’m Christopher, and I’m from Mexico City, I’m also an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ, sadly nick named like “The Mormon Church”.

    Congratulation to Tim and all others friends, brothers or how ever you would like to be named participating in this blog.

    Well, I just want to know exactly what are God thinking about our personal and complicated opinions of Him?
    What is He saying right now?. Right now because He in did is reading us and listening us.

    And I can certainly feel The Holy Spirit telling me that Our Lord Jesus Christ had told us everything to understand that His Father, Our Father, love us and desire we cuold be as happy and joyful like He is, and He want us to be with Him in a future not so far away.

    Maybe Our Lord Jesus Christ will do many efforts to comunicate us (again) any item of His doctrine, until nobody in the world has no doubt of His intention (The intention of Him, of His Father and The Spirit of course, all of them TOGETHER).

    That’s why Jehova (Jesus before born) send a lot of prophets, Jesus Himself order Apostols and organized His Church, not mine, not yours, HIS.

    So if we are together as Christians we must feel the confirmation of The Holy Gost that we have to spread the idea of live in righteounsess and have faith in Jesus and follow Him (But how, in wich way, the Catholical, the Non-Catholical Evangelistical, the LDS, the Jehova Witness, etc. way?). I think in the way BoM says 3rd. Nephi 11:27-29, but also as the Bible says Ephesius 4:11-16.

    Well in my opinion, I perfectly feel (by The Spirit of God) and know, that the Prophet Joseph Smith, SOW AND SUPPORT the three of Them in 1820, well maybe that’s the solution of the three questions about the “Trinity” sended by Themselves personaly!

    So, all the human efforts to solve the heaven mysteries or even worse, the human mysteries are only that mortal and imperfect, human efforts(As Sanders did). The celestial truths can be revelated just by God and Jesus and the Holy Spirt throu Their prophets, now, today (That is the way it is, allways was).

    And finally about Our Calestial Mother, what can I say? Just that is so high the level of this doctrine that we canot treat it like a “bussiness” is a sacred matter, so holy as my Mother or yours, as important and holy as God Our Heavenly Father, Jesus The Christ, and The Holy Spirit, specialy coming from a nice, inteligent and beautiful lady like you Bridget. Have you wondered why only the men can receive the priesthood? Well, there is a diference in genere here in the Earth, What about in Heaven? You’ll become a non defined entity or a celestial woman?
    I gess Heaven (as doctrine) it could be a very inconsistent place for the eternity without our companions. I’m married and I pretty sure that I want my friend and wife for companion for ever and ever, just because I love her and she loves me. And if God asign me another one, well that’s God’s will, but if is not, well I’m very very very happy with my lovely Laura.

    O.K. all that is my humble and personal opinion.

    I’m Christopher, I’m 46 and I’m 24 as LDS, I’m Accountant with a MBA from the UNAM, have 3 dougthers, and married since 1991 until……..The ETERNITY.
    With love to every one of you.

    PS. If you noticed my english is not perfect, sorry. And I hope not have broken any of the 10 rules of the blog.

  11. Jack,

    I don’t think that Mormons think that “its important that Jesus and the Father be thought of as separate persons” as much as Sanders does along with other orthodox christians.

    The Heavenly mother question involves whether other persons can be as Jesus says in John, “one, even as my father and I are one”. Mormons think that this can happen, we just don’t know how it all works on the ground. We don’t know why we haven’t heard anything about Heavenly Mother until Joseph Smith, but it seems to make sense once we have heard about it.

  12. Cristobal Del Rio ~ In my religion women hold the priesthood same as men do. Mormons have given me plenty of reasons for why only men hold the priesthood in the LDS religion and they were all stupid, save for the folks who think that women should have the priesthood but it’s being held back due to the prejudices of men. Really though, when a bunch of men get together and decide that it’s the men who should be in charge, I’m not impressed.

    As far as celestial marriage goes, while I absolutely adore my hot Mormon husband, I find the notion of eternal marriage perfectly exhausting. It doesn’t attract me at all. I do hope gender is eternal, because I think the different genders are beautiful.

    Your English is just fine, I think English is hard to learn as a second language and I respect anyone who does it. I’m sure your English is much better than my Spanish.

    Jared ~ Side question that’s perhaps related: Do you think the First Vision account wherein Joseph Smith, Jr. sees God the Father and Jesus Christ standing next to each other as separate people disproves the traditional notion of the Trinity?

    I know what most Latter-day Saints have told me, but I’ve also come to expect that you and Seth and Brian think differently from them, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  13. Bridget:

    Thanks for all your answer.

    Actually is too late for me to being writing on the computer, Well is my first time entering in a blog any way, so I’m a little bit exited.

    I hope my reason why the priesthood is given (not hold) to the men in not so stupid like the other brothers.

    The reason is because God commandment to Jesus to do it like that. So is not my choice, or yours, or for your Religion, is what Our Heavenly Father (Mine, yours and Jesus’) wanted, Why? Well I’m sure that you know He is wiser than any one in this blog or even in all the world and existance and pre and post existance, but I feel that is very correct in this way because finction perfectly.

    Oh please, I don’t intented to ofense you, that is how is writen in the Bible, and no prophet of Jesus Christ, even Jesus himself has mentioned that the women need to receive the preisthood.

    I know that the women are more like God, powerfully speaken, than the men who need to be ordened into the priesthood to get the Eternal Life, because the women are copaticipate in creation with the Father. (Maybe this is one of the “stupid” reasons you heard, for me and for many are emmotional and beautiful).

    May I know in wich religion you attend?

    P.S. I don’t want to so formal in my writing, I find you all some times very casual, nevertheless this matters of God and beliefs of other people outside The Church of Jesus Christ, christians or not, I rather to take it with a lot of respect. Any way I can joke any time, is O.K.

  14. Cristobal Del Rio ~ I’m an evangelical Protestant and specifically, one who takes an egalitarian interpretation of gender roles. Most Protestants believe that the priesthood belongs to all believers.

    If you think men having the priesthood is just God’s way of doing things and no one is really sure why He does it that way, okay, that is actually one of the answers I do not think is stupid. It’s apologetically unsatisfying, but I think all religions have areas of doctrine where they simply have to say, “Look, we think God ordered us to do it that way and we’re not completely sure why.” So if that’s you, good for you.

    These are the stupid explanations:

    (1) Men have priesthood, women have motherhood
    (2) Women are naturally more spiritual / inherently powerful than men, so men need priesthood just to keep up.
    (3) Women hold the priesthood through their husbands
    (4) Endowed women DO hold the priesthood! (Start winking and nodding about what goes on in the temple)

    I can easily deconstruct all of these explanations, but I think most of the people who post here agree that they’re dumb.

    You can be as casual as you want, Cristobal. Hang out, come goof around with us on the “Jesus was a polygamist?” thread. We’re shooting for 400 comments now!

  15. Jared ~ I don’t think that Mormons think that “its important that Jesus and the Father be thought of as separate persons” as much as Sanders does along with other orthodox christians.

    On an individual worship level I can agree with you, but not on a doctrinal level. Maybe Mormons don’t kneel down and think “I’m now going to pray to God who is different physically than His Son” before they begin their prayer, and of course God hears all of our prayers even when we pray with an imperfect understanding of Him, but that doesn’t mean that the doctrine of separate persons isn’t essential to the matrix of Mormon thought. Without the idea that God has a body and that it is separate from Christ’s body several other doctrines taught by the Mormon church begin to crumble.

    When you consider how important the physical body is to Mormons I don’t know how you can overestimate the importance of “separate persons”. Retaining our resurrected body through eternity is an essential part of the Mormon concept of exaltation and if God is an exalted being (albeit more highly exalted than any of us can be) then he too must have a body. In addition, the Mormon concept of the Temple reiterates just how central the physical body is to Mormon doctrine. If it was not important to participate in Temple ordinances with a body then wouldn’t there be places in the afterlife that allow the spirits of deceased persons to go to the Temple for themselves without having to have a proxy do it for them on earth?

    With that said, I don’t see why there can’t be a Mother in Heaven and her not be considered part of the Godhead. After all, church Prophet Pres. Monson has a wife and she isn’t considered part of the Presidency even though it is essential for the Prophet to be married (or to have been married in event that she passes away before he does). I tend to think of the Godhead more as a governing body than as one being who created everything out of nothing.

  16. Jack,

    Do you think the First Vision account wherein Joseph Smith, Jr. sees God the Father and Jesus Christ standing next to each other as separate people disproves the traditional notion of the Trinity?

    I know what most Latter-day Saints have told me, but I’ve also come to expect that you and Seth and Brian think differently from them, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    No, I do not think the First Vision “disproves” the doctrine of the trinity. I can’t really see how the doctrine of the trinity can be really “disproven” since its a mystery. I think we would have to have a full understanding of the mystery in order to understand whether something proves or disproves it. (Its mystery is what makes the doctrine essentially irrelevant to me)

    On a more superficial level, appearing as two people doesn’t really dent the doctrine at all. The doctrine of the trinity acknowledges that Jesus and God are separate persons, so the first vision is in-keeping with the doctrine on this level. Although most theologians don’t believe that God has a body, like Jesus, an all powerful God can certainly appear any way he wants to. To appear as a man, like Jesus his Son, has its advantages, not the least of which is that its easier for a 14 year old boy to relate to a human than to, say, a burning bush. Therefore, the first vision doesn’t necessarily even point Joseph away from the doctrine.

    However, to a Mormon, the “proof” against the doctrine is not how Jesus appeared, but what he said. He explicitly stated that the “creeds” were “abominable” to him. So on this level, the vision, if real, is really the only possible way you could disprove the doctrine, by a explicit denial by one of the Trinity.

  17. Jack: “(4) Endowed women DO hold the priesthood! (Start winking and nodding about what goes on in the temple)”

    I’ll bet there’s an extension of that that you don’t find stupid. Some Mormons believe that the temple illustrates that women can, should, and do hold the priesthood, thus the fact that they do not outside the temple is merely proof that the priesthood is being withheld due to the prejudices of men.

    And while we’re on that tangent, some use the term “prejudices of men” to refer to bigotry (i.e., the traditional meaning of the term), whereas others use it to refer to weakness (i.e., men would be less involved if they weren’t forced to be so involved).

    “Do you think the First Vision account … disproves the traditional notion of the Trinity?”

    “Disprove” is probably too strong. In one sense, I believe that God could appear however he/they wished—like a burning bush, or a cloud, or whatever. So appearing as two distinct persons doesn’t prove anything (to me). On the other hand, one has to ask why a traditional-Trinity God would choose to appear as two distinct persons, where the simplest explanation/interpretation is that traditional trinitarianism is false.

  18. I can go over some of the possible extensions on the idea Brian, but my contraband knowledge of what goes on in the temple is spotty.

    “Endowed women hold the priesthood in the temple because they can perform washings & anointings on other women, and they dress like priests there. They just don’t hold the priesthood outside the temple.”

    Retarded. If women actually held the priesthood in the temple, they could perform baptisms for the dead and sealings and be official witnesses to sealings. What they do when they perform anointings isn’t any different from what they do when the deacon passes them the sacrament tray and they pass it on to the next person. It’s an extension of male priesthood authority wrought out of necessity and practicality. And it’s kind of a “duh” to me that they would wear outfits similar to the male outfits. What are they supposed to wear, giant cow costumes?

    “Endowed women hold the priesthood inside and outside the temple.”

    This one makes absolutely no sense to me. Can I call an endowed LDS woman to give me a blessing? Didn’t think so, moving on.

    “Women are restricted from holding the priesthood in this life because Eve was the first to transgress; the endowment shows this. They will hold it in the next life.”

    Straight from my husband this one. I told him that makes very little sense given that (1) the LDS church teaches that people are punished for their own sins and not the sins of their ancestors, and (2) the church views the Fall as a step forward (if downward) and thinks that Eve’s transgression was ultimately the right thing to do. He insists that’s what the endowment teaches and does not try to reconcile it. Quite the crap sandwich, but that’s what I love about my husband: he never tries to put condiments on my crap sandwiches like other people do.

    I also don’t count this one as stupid though because, as an evangelical Christian, I accept quite freely that people can be punished for the sins of others. That’s the central message of Christianity!

    If the endowment does teach that women will have the priesthood in the next life, I think that’s a good thing. Didn’t LDS leaders used to say the same thing about blacks, that they don’t hold the priesthood because they weren’t valiant in the pre-mortal existence / were the descendants of Ham or Cain, but they would get to hold it in the next life?

    And now, the apologists tell us that God allowed that prejudice because white men weren’t ready for equality with blacks.

    Give it 200 years, LDS apologists will be saying that women didn’t have the priesthood in our day because men weren’t ready for equality with women.

  19. “Can I call an endowed LDS woman to give me a blessing? Didn’t think so, moving on.”

    There have actually been a few debates on this subject. Enough to where I’m actually not entirely comfortable saying a woman couldn’t do this. I always distinguish between what I think is doctrinal and what I think is cultural in this Church. Lack of female participation seems to me a purely cultural feature of the LDS Church that has wound up formalized in Church policy. If you want to go from the scriptures, it’s purely an argument from absence.

    “Well the scriptures never talk about women holding the Priesthood, so I guess they’re not supposed to have it.”

    Church history is pretty muddled too. Women actually used to perform blessings and such in the Joseph Smith period. It was after Brigham Young crushed the Relief Society under his boot heel that the bold innovative period of Joseph Smith and women leadership was brought to an end.

    Poor Brigham. He gets to bear all our sins it seems…

  20. On the First Vision vs. Trinity thing…

    I agree with Jared. You’d have to actually understand the Trinity in order to say something had disproven it. Since nobody does understand it, it seems a rather fruitless avenue of discussion.

    Like I said earlier, Mormons probably actually are Trinitarian in its broadest sense.

  21. Seth ~ There have actually been a few debates on this subject. Enough to where I’m actually not entirely comfortable saying a woman couldn’t do this.

    Now that is what I should have said to the Relief Society president when I called her yesterday and weirded her out. “Hey, do you think one of you endowed women could come over and give me a blessing? Oh and I’d like some visiting teachers.”

    I know all about women in early church history and how Brigham Young emasculated the Relief Society (pun intended). Right now I would consider the LDS church a hard complementarian system, but I think they could switch to c-lite just by re-writing church policy without changing any official doctrines. In fact, I think the church will do that and switch to c-lite sometime before giving women the priesthood altogether.

    “Well the scriptures never talk about women holding the Priesthood, so I guess they’re not supposed to have it.”

    See, I know people say that, but it’s so not true. The Bible certainly does not name any women as having the priesthood per se, but it directly calls women the titles of offices in the current LDS priesthood—prophet (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna), deacon (Phoebe; look up Romans 16:1 in the NRSV) and possibly apostle (Junia, Romans 16:7). I just don’t get how so many Latter-day Saints think it’s significant that there be a literal office for modern-day prophets, but gloss over the issue of female prophets.

    I wrote to Sheri L. Dew when she was 2nd counselor in the RS Presidency and asked her where the female prophets were… and 8 months later, she actually wrote back. That was interesting.

  22. “I wrote to Sheri L. Dew when she was 2nd counselor in the RS Presidency and asked her where the female prophets were… and 8 months later, she actually wrote back. That was interesting.”

    And?

  23. There’s a point that I think has been missed here. Women do have the preisthood, through thier preisthood-holding husbands. I, as a Mormon woman, wife, mother, etc. have a form of preisthood… the ability to create life i.e. my children or future children. The LDS standpoint on this is that the woman’s job is equal to or greater than priesthood power.

    That’s why any LDS woman who understands this function does not need or want to hold priesthood keys. We have enough to do just being women – a powerful and glorious position… who wants to do the task of men’s “jobs” too when we have our own to understand and perfect????

    How often have any of you heard a Mormon man say that he “married up?” That he doesn’t deserve his wife…

    I have heard it just about every Sunday from men from my small branch. Most Mormon men feel inadequate to thier wives – and rightly should, women everywhere ROCK! Any woman that feels the need to take the priesthood, one of man’s only ways to rise somewhat close to our exalted position as women, are, in my opinion, leaving the poor guys no other outlet to thier own sense of accomplishment here on earth.

    Can you sense my feminist views? I must look like a timid housewife to most reading this. But there is great power in being a woman… why should we want more?

    As long as my husband has the keys to exercise his priesthood, I’m content to let him feel that sense of acomplishment and support him in it. He’s a really great guy too 🙂 .

  24. One more thing I forgot… About the Mother-in-heaven thing…

    I think that it is because God gets so much ugliness toward Him that she is never mentioned. People use His name in vain. Many people that He loves and weeps for revile Him and His messages. If He had a wife, don’t you think He would keep her a secret so not to drag her name in the filth of the world as people do His?

    My husband made me see the relevancy of this argument because he said something like this, “…if I were a God, I would want to protect you and your good name from the crap that people would undoubtably fling at me and my name and, because of thier misunderstanding of me and my ways, you and your name would be slandered and misused too. As your husband it is my job to protect you, and if there is a Mother – which I’m sure there is – He would keep her a secret to protect her from all of us.”

    Wise words…

  25. Jared ~ (& Seth & Brian) On a more superficial level, appearing as two people doesn’t really dent the doctrine at all. The doctrine of the trinity acknowledges that Jesus and God are separate persons, so the first vision is in-keeping with the doctrine on this level.

    I asked because usually my LDS friends have interpreted the First Vision as refuting the Trinity by the mere fact that it presents God the Father and God the Son as completely separate persons. I’m more concerned with the notion of a living person seeing God the Father than I am with the notion of God the Father and God the Son appearing as two distinct men, but I see I was correct that none of you would make such an obtuse issue of it, so moving on.

    Jared, you quoted John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” I actually had that passage in mind when I made my initial argument because, even though Jesus and the Father are understood as being one in LDS thought (one God in purpose, one God in will, etc.), it’s still terribly important that they be thought of as separate individuals. We can all agree that a Heavenly Mother (if she exists) is one in purpose and will with the Father, but why is it not significant that she be her own person?

    The best explanation I can come up with is, maybe because she fulfills the same function as the Father while the Son and the Spirit fulfill very different functions in the Godhead. Still, just feels like the LDS church is trying to have it both ways—belief in a type of Triune God while still allowing other deities to participate in the Godhead.

    Seth ~ IIRC (I can’t find the journal that records our exchange right now), Dew mostly ignored the passages I brought up about female prophets and focused on her own testimony of the church and the male priesthood system. She was clearly earnest and concerned for me (and felt bad about putting my letter in her “things to do later” pile for 8 months; her responses thereon were prompt), but she really didn’t say anything that you couldn’t read right here in the recent comments by Veronica. I was truly shocked she wrote back in the first place, and that she wrote back herself rather than having a secretary do it or something.

    It was significant to me because Dew was pretty much the 3rd highest woman in Mormonism at the time, and I guess it showed me that when it comes to the church’s teachings on women, there is no hidden genius. What you see is what you get.

    Veronica ~ I could spend a lot of time debunking your point of view, and could be quite the cynical asshat about it, but I guess I’ll refrain in favor of pointing out this one thing: the notion that women are somehow spiritually superior / inherently more powerful than men so that men need the priesthood just to keep up is quite easily tested and disproven. Every non-LDS church today and most of the human race throughout the apostasy function as control groups to that hypothesis because those are systems where men do not / did not have the priesthood. If women were actually innately superior in some way, we’d see non-LDS churches full of female clergy, and we’d see these churches struggling to get men to participate. The women’s rights movement would have happened not long after the apostasy and women wouldn’t have spent so long being treated like chattel.

    No, when neither men nor women have the LDS priesthood, it’s still men who dominate. If one of the genders possesses some sort of innate superiority over the other, it’s men.

  26. I guess being raised in a household with a mother who went to college – for 10 years (after she had her kids), raised two college-bound kids, and is now an accomplished professional, I view women of the world differently. My dad on the other hand never went to college and is a carpenter. Strong women have been the norm in my life – not the odd case. Most of the women I know hold traditionally “female” roles. The ones that don’t do thier jobs just as well (or better) and have not felt slighted by men. Even though neither of my parents subscribe to a religion, mom being agnostic and dad being spiritual but not religious, I guess I see that women everywhere have and have had something on men. We – in the church – just don’t feel the need to be culturally on the same “level” as men and holding the same types of cultural authority as men, we have our own.

    I may have a similar opinion on this issue as most Mormon doctrine and I guess you could say that’s why I make such a “good Mormon.” It makes sense to me. That’s why I joined the church in the first place – it all makes sense.

    But to be completely honest, I think it’s not the LDS Church that has it wrong, many LDS women are happy with thier status as women in the church, as I and Dew and others you may ask can show. I think it’s the cultural attitude that Americans have DUE to the women’s rights movement (which I agree with! – don’t get me wrong!). But the sad thing is, women have always felt a little bit on the slighted side all throughout history – and as a rule still do. I think that one of the positive aspects of Mormon doctrine is that women can (I said can but they don’t always, what human does all the time?) feel truly successful in thier spiritual and social lives, and I personally don’t want or need the priesthood.

    I guess that’s just something most women will have to disagree on because we can’t physically step into eachother’s lives to see what we truly feel and experience. You may never know why I feel the way I do, we grew up differently and have led different lives with far different life experiences (I posit). I’m a stay-at-home mom and love my life and my power as a mother. But here I am again the “Mormon cliche.”

    Ah well. Such is life….

    Mine and most of the women I know are pleased with thiers.

  27. I’m pretty sure the “women are more righteous than men” line is not doctrinal.

    Personally, I think it’s a purely cultural notion. You don’t find it anywhere in the scriptures, and frankly, I find women can often be far less spiritual than men. The rivalries and bullying that goes on in the Young Men organization often pales in comparison to the vicious behavior that happens in Young Women.

    Women are just different than men. I think it’s pointless to try and claim they are somehow theologically “better” than the men.

    It also often comes off as patronizing.

    However, very few of the women in my life in the LDS Church are much bothered about lacking the Priesthood either. I think the internet tends to attract dissidents and people who don’t fit in. So Mormon women who are bothered by this issue are much more prevalent online than they are in real life.

    Just the same though, I think it would be an absolutely lovely idea if there were meaningful Priesthood ordinances that LDS women could fill in everyday religious life. I still want there to be a difference in roles in the Church. But it would be nice to have a tangible symbol of a Mormon woman’s participation in the power of God.

  28. When I hear the “women are better than men” talk I invoke my inner Kullervo and cry bullshit.

    Jack: “Still, just feels like the LDS church is trying to have it both ways—belief in a type of Triune God while still allowing other deities to participate in the Godhead.”

    I dunno. I think the LDS Church just doesn’t have a lot to say about Heavenly Mother, so I don’t think we can discuss that doctrine and the trinity doctrine together.

  29. Veronica & Seth ~ The fact that most LDS women are satisfied with the LDS system has never carried a lot of weight with me because, I think if you could go back in time to any era where women were oppressed and ask the women if they were satisfied with their treatment in life, most of them would say it did not bother them. When women think things are the way they’re supposed to be, they find ways of being happy with it.

    Besides, I think the obvious reason there are so few women in the church who aren’t okay with it is because most of the women who truly aren’t okay with it either leave the church or never join.

    Veronica, yes, I imagine we have very different upbringings. My father was verbally and physically abusive, my mother was too passive and timid to do anything about it, and I did not really have any strong role models in my life (male or female) until the later part of my teens. That (among other things) caused me to grow up strongly believing that the world isn’t a fair place and if you want to not get stepped on, you’re the one who has to make it happen.

    That said, I don’t see wrongdoing against women in the world as a “men” problem, I see it as a world problem for which both men and women are responsible. I certainly don’t think the LDS church is abusing its women, just needlessly subjugating them and limiting their potential.

    Seth ~ Just the same though, I think it would be an absolutely lovely idea if there were meaningful Priesthood ordinances that LDS women could fill in everyday religious life. I still want there to be a difference in roles in the Church. But it would be nice to have a tangible symbol of a Mormon woman’s participation in the power of God.

    Yes, I’d be happier with a c-lite system as well. Not my ideal, but it would be much more attractive than the current system, and I think it could be done without making the folks who like the current system feel too uncomfortable.

    Brian ~ When I hear the “women are better than men” talk I invoke my inner Kullervo and cry bullshit.

    Inner Kullervo, I LOVE that!

  30. Jack- “Still, just feels like the LDS church is trying to have it both ways—belief in a type of Triune God while still allowing other deities to participate in the Godhead.”

    The LDS church interprets the scriptures to mean that we all can be “joint-heirs” with Christ to his place in the Godhead through the atonement of Christ.

    We can become one with God like Christ is one with God. This was Jesus’ prayer in John. I think the Mormon answer to what this means is pretty direct. I don’t really have a good handle on how Evangelicals believe in this area. I have heard the metal in the fire analogy but that is about as far as I have gotten. . . .maybe I should post something on this issue.

  31. Jack: Still, just feels like the LDS church is trying to have it both ways—belief in a type of Triune God while still allowing other deities to participate in the Godhead.

    I guess it depends on what you define as the role of the Godhead. If creation is one of the main and exclusive purposes of the Godhead then yes is does seem pretty hairy because LDS doctrine teaches that Adam/Michael participated in the creation of the earth and that presumibly a “Heavenly Mother” if there is one would also participate in creating us.

    But if Godhead means something more like the ruler of our soul and the only means to salvation then I don’t think anyone else participates in the Godhead. This is the stance I tend to take, but maybe it isn’t the average take. I had never heard of and still don’t think I can agree with Jared’s comment that “The LDS church interprets the scriptures to mean that we all can be “joint-heirs” with Christ to his place in the Godhead through the atonement of Christ.”

    Godhood and Godhead don’t mean the same thing to me even though I can’t quite define either one. Becoming “joint-heirs” with Christ has always meant “Godhood” to mean, but distinctively not “Godhead”.

    And while we’re on the Women and the Priesthood kick I would like to point out that the Gifts of the Spirit, which include the gift of prophesy, healing, tongues, etc., are available to ALL, not just men.

  32. It is crucial to separate the issue of a Heavenly Mother as a divine person, from the notion of a Godhead comprising four divine persons. To my knowledge, Mormonism has never advocated for a Godhead comprising of four divine persons. From the beginning, the Godhead was conceptualized as comprised of three divine persons. Joseph Smith taught:

    “An Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages according to Abraham’s record are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator.” emphasis added, Extracts from William Clayton’s Private Book, 10-11, Nuttall collection, BYU Library, see also Teachings, p. 190.

    In addition, I’m not aware of any Latter-day Saint philosopher or theologian taking up such a project to redefine the Godhead to encompass four divine personages. To my knowledge, neither Peterson nor Barney has taken such a position in their respective articles. In Paulsen and McDonald’s recent Faith and Philosophy article, the authors explain:

    “In everything related to the multiverse with which we are even faintly aware, it is God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost who jointly created, will jointly redeem and jointly rule while holding all the “keys of power.” The same holds true for the Mormon belief (attributed by some to Smith) in a Heavenly Mother. Little has been revealed concerning her. Though a divine person, she is not understood to be a member of the Godhead and because of this, she is not worshiped. As Smith taught, “Our only confidence can be in God; our only wisdom obtained from Him; and He alone must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall.” (internal citations omitted) (emphasis added), “Joseph Smith and the Trinity: An Analysis and Defense of the Social Model of the Godhead,” Faith and Philosophy Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 2008): p. 69 footnote 38.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I am not quoting Paulsen and McDonald as an appeal to authority to support an argument that a Heavenly Mother is not part of the Godhead. Rather, I’m referring to a very recent academic article that comprehensively surveys Trinitarian discourse in both orthodox traditions and Joseph Smith’s thought as an example or illustration of what I mean when I say that, based upon Latter-day Saints texts and history, that I’m not aware of anyone in the Mormon tradition to have ever advocated, or to be currently advocating, such a position.

    To say that there is a Heavenly Mother is one thing, but to claim she is part of what has been revealed in both ancient and modern scriptures (i.e. unique Latter-day Saint texts) as the Godhead (the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost) is a completely different matter. I would like to advocate some prudence and rigor in positing that Mormonism teaches that Heavenly Mother is part of the Godhead.

  33. Aquinas & Toria & Jared ~ Back when I was a teenager taking the missionary discussions and reading Women & Authority and going through a proto-Mormon-feminist phase, I went through my angry “Where is Heavenly Mother” line of questioning. In the face of that, the missionaries and several apologists on the old FAIR message board told me that Heavenly Mother is an inseparable part of who God the Father is, that she participated in creation, that women are made in her image, and that whatever God the Father does, it can be assumed that Heavenly Mother is silently participating with Him.

    I should really know by now not to trust anything I learned from the missionary discussions; I mean, they also told me that Bigfoot was Cain.

    In any case, it doesn’t sound like all of you (or possibly any of you) accept those things, so I’m happy to broaden my understanding if you’ll help me out. Questions:

    (1) Did Heavenly Mother participate in creating the world?
    (2) When the Bible says women are made in the image of God, do you understand that as saying women are made in the image of Heavenly Mother?
    (3) Is Heavenly Mother a deity? (I’m sure everyone is going to say yes on this, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything)
    (4) Concerning theosis, what role do you think women who obtain exaltation will be playing in the next life?

    I’m all ears.

    Toria ~ I’ve never said women in Mormonism can’t have gifts of healing, prophesy or tongues, though I’ve never seen a Mormon woman attempt to exercise one of these gifts. They certainly don’t have rituals or offices for prophesy or healing like men do, at least not authorized ones (anymore).

  34. Aquinas,

    I agree that I haven’t been too careful in distinguishing godhood from godhead in my comments. However, I think that it is far from clear what is really going on there and the revelatory record has left all kinds of room for guessing what is happening. I think the Church, as well as scholars, are justifiably hesitant to make comments that can be seen as speculation, and likewise, I am justifiable in making natural speculations regarding what the doctrine of human potential for godhood and the Heavenly Mother mean.

    To be clear, most all Mormons agree that Mormons don’t worship or pray to the Heavenly Mother, and that Mormons don’t believe that we will ever take God or Jesus’ place as “author and finisher of our faith”. However exaltation is described in the bible as taking a place on Jesus’ throne. (What this precisely means is anyones’ guess) Mormons also believe that exaltation means participating in new creation. We also believe that humans participated, with Jesus, in the original creation of the world. I think these scriptures and doctrines can reasonably mean some “participation” in the Godhead. I think I am very justified in saying that in Mormon doctrine, the heavenly Mother (and potentially all of His children through Jesus) “participate” in in the Godhead, just as hundreds of people participate in a presidential administration.

    This is a controversial doctrine among the Christian community, perhaps the most controversial. But I also think that these new concepts are close to the heart of Mormonism.

    Some Mormons, unorthodox ones, even pray to our Heavenly Mother, while the Church has officially distanced itself from this practice.

  35. Jack-

    Obviously I don’t speak for the “Church” but here is a lifelong mormon take on what Mormon thought would say.

    (1) Did Heavenly Mother participate in creating the world?

    YES she is the mother of our spirits

    (2) When the Bible says women are made in the image of God, do you understand that as saying women are made in the image of Heavenly Mother?

    YES, this is a common theme in Mormon thought

    (3) Is Heavenly Mother a deity? (I’m sure everyone is going to say yes on this, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything)

    She is a “god”, but we don’t necessarily worship her. Not sure what that is really meant by “god”. Could probably fill a book with speculation.

    (4) Concerning theosis, what role do you think women who obtain exaltation will be playing in the next life?

    Essentially the same as men. . . but with bigger breasts.

  36. While it may be an argument from silence to say Mother is not a “part of the Godhead,” it is equally an argument from silence to say she is not.

    It should also be noted that the line between worship and “mere reverence” in Mormonism is not always exactly clear.

  37. I think Seth makes a good point regarding “reverence”, Catholics “worship” God alone but they pray and venerate all kinds of saints. Mormons are not even close to as fragmented as Catholics in this regard.

    Mormons actually think that some men are, can or will be exalted like Jesus, through his atonement, but we don’t really pay any attention to them. For all of our talk of many gods, in practice we look an awful lot like typical protestants.

    I think that considering the nature of Joseph Smith’s revelations concerning a Heavenly Mother, and exalted beings, gods etc. its a perfectly valid conclusion to think that the Heavenly Mother is “one” with God, and therefore “part” of the Godhead. However when coming to this conclusion one should recognize that nothing at all is really clear in this part of Joseph Smith’s teachings. Like so many other areas, he throws intriguing ideas without any systematic explanation.

    I think the acknowledgment that we can’t jump to too many conclusions (positive or negative) about things where revelation is not crystal clear ts an essential part of Mormonism.

  38. Unlike Jared, I think that while acknowledging that those ideas are close trajectories to what the Church teaches about women in the heareafter, the actual answer is, “We don’t know enough about it to say.” Thus my answers to Jack’s leading questions are, “Dunno. Enlighten me if you find out.”

    Here’s another trajectory: If we want to combine the doctrines of plural marriage with Eliza Snow’s almost-but-still-not canonical poem, we get the idea that women are spiritual daughters of an HM, but without a way to tell *which* HM.

    From there, it just gets simply absurd, mostly on the basis that while we sing “O My Father”, there’s no scriptural foundation to support Sister Snow’s reasonable and eternal truthiness.

    That is to say, yes I *do* think that my HM exists, but if it turns out to work out differently, I’m not gonna be all that fussed.

    Jack, I see that some of the ideas I gave on my blog about Mormon gender roles and the priesthood are handled here, so I’ll take it as answers given there, so you don’t feel obligated to repeat them.

  39. Regarding the OP, I think a couple of things about Mormons are true:

    1 — We don’t rely on Greek philosophical underpinnings to build an understanding of the Godhead. (Body and Spirit are not a dichotomy in Mormon thought, for one example.) But, Trinitarianism does.

    2 — We don’t have an objection to Trinity on the basis of its being the Trinity, but rather on the basis that the creed is difficult to understand without a basis in Greek philosophy, which we reject as a basis for understanding God.

    3 — When we refute the Trinity, we’re really refuting Sabellianism, which educated mainstream Christians actually think is heresy. Problem is, most of the lay Christians we encounter on our mission are either too busy trying to refute the Mormon Godhead, or they don’t understand it themselves, and so their own protestations of belief end up sounding like Sabellianism.

    Thus, Mormons refute a strawman because most lay mainstream Christians don’t themselves understand the Trinity enough to teach anything to Mormons that doesn’t sound like Sabellianism.

    That said, I’ve said elsewhere that if a Mormon gets a good Aristotelian education and squints really, really hard, there is no reason to call Trinitarian ideas all that unreasonable.

    It is therefore fortunate that BYU teaches Greek philosophy, because then that can be a path for some Mormons to sorting all this out and not looking completely uninformed in front of educated Christians.

  40. Regarding women & the priesthood, I’m not the one who brought it up, and it seems that the person who did bring it up is no longer responding, so I’m done. I’d rather be complaining about complementarian evangelicals than complaining about Mormon priesthood anyways.

    On Heavenly Mother: If half of the human race is looking at her image every time they look in the mirror, and she participated in creating our spirits, doesn’t that make her significant to us? And that just goes back to my original complaint: whether she’s a part of the Godhead or a completely separate deity, there’s more to the LDS doctrine of God than just three divine persons. It’s not Mormonism’s rejection of homoousia that bothers me.

    We so need a new discussion. Maybe we can discuss who would win in a fight, cavemen or astronauts.

  41. No way man. Astronauts are fully fed and highly trained and honed physical specimens, with guns (They’re all Republicans, you see ;p ) and without hunger. Their fury is cold, and therefore more effective than some club-pounding cave dweller.

  42. True, but cavemen are all polygamists and their wives are eternally loyal, skilled assassins. Astronauts hath no fury like a woman scorned.

  43. Feh. Those wives will take one look at that jump-suited astronaut physique and sue for divorce with a club to the husband’s head. Scorned will be the cave chump, not the astronaut hotness!

  44. What do you mean “let Rob in on the joke”? He doesn’t already know about it? What, has he been living in a cave or something?

  45. No no no, I knew about that joke.

    I assure you that my mind has been in outer space all this time, right there with the astronaut winnars. THANKYEW!

  46. I don’t even know why I’m arguing this. Ninjas would dispense with both groups before we could even ask the question—except during Lent; ninjas do not fight during Lent.

  47. I would be grateful that it is currently Lent, then, except that Ninjas are Shinto, which means that they will ignore Lent when it comes time for the Ninja-Astronaut alliance to wipe out the cavemen once and for all.

    Why do you think there are no longer any cavemen around? Ninjas, maybe, if you can see them. And everyone sees the astronauts, ’cause they get to be on TV.

    And of course they’re in an alliance, because otherwise Ninjas would never get to space to fight the aliens. Duh!

  48. A few weeks ago, one of the couples at my church threw a huge birthday party for their 3 year-old with a pirate theme, which basically turned into a big church social. We were told to dress our kids like pirates.

    The thought didn’t occur to me until I arrived at the party that if it was a pirate party, I should have dressed my daughter up as a ninja.

    BTW, here is the astronauts v. cavemen clip from Angel.

  49. My dad ruined that episode for me by telling me the whole joke before I watched it.

    By the way, the best Angel episode ever is the Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco.

  50. Oh, great. NOW I learn that you made a Whedon reference. I entered the Jossverse first with Firefly. Buffy reruns on hulu make me ROFLMAO, tho. bwahahahah! hahahahahahaah!

    If Angel is on hulu I will look. Otherwise it’ll have to be Dollhouse and The Occasional Firefly repeat. And favorite scenes from Serenity, of course. Was the Operative a ninja?

  51. By the way, the best Angel episode ever is the Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco.

    I disagree. I think “Guise Will Be Guise” was the best episode ever.

    Favorite Buffy: Toss up between “Selfless” and “Storyteller”
    Favorite Firefly: “War Stories”
    Favorite Song from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: “A Man’s Gotta Do”

    It’s too early to have a favorite Dollhouse, but I did enjoy this quote from an interview with Eliza Dushku: “People have a better chance of seeing God than seeing me naked.”

    Rob, if you don’t mind being a bit of a pirate, all five seasons of Angel are available streaming through Surf the Channel. Probably the same with Buffy.

    Or you could sign up for Netflix and get them all legally for $9 a month.

  52. I found the journal that has my Sheri Dew correspondence in it. I won’t quote the whole thing, here’s part of it, dated May 10, 2000. I wrote to her in August 1999.

    While I can understand the questions you raise, I must tell you that this entire question of women and the priesthood does not distress me unduly. And that is for one simple reason: I truly believe that Joseph saw what he said he saw in a grove of trees in upstate New York. I know for sure that President Hinckley is a prophet, prepared and ordained of God. … I also know that the priesthood is the most powerful, penetrating force on earth—and it is the only power that can only be used to bring about good.

    My bottom line, however, is this: As President Hinckley has said numerous times, we don’t know precisely and exactly why the Lord has chosen to organize His kingdom as He has. But I have complete and total confidence in Him. … Because I have complete faith in the Lord, then I am willing to accept the way He has organized His kingdom.

    So, she did not give me any of the dumb explanations I listed above; she said she honestly didn’t know why things are the way they are and spent most of the letter bearing her testimony of the church and GBH. She did not deal with the question of women prophets in the Bible, but I still thought it was nice of her to write back at all.

    I confess though… the fact that she referred to the priesthood as “penetrating” in a discussion of its relation to gender makes me snicker like an 8th grader in sex ed.

  53. The Trinity:
    Is it Biblical?
    Does it make sense?
    Does it matter?

    I would like to add a fourth question: Is it necessary to believe this doctrine to be a true Christian and/or be saved? Maybe “Does it matter?” covers this.

    Personally, as one who bases his faith on the Bible alone, I think it is not necessary for salvation and that too much emphasis has been placed on it(seeminlgy on the same level as faith alone in Jesus Christ, see the Athanaisan Creed as an example) and has become a stumbling block to many who would otherwise believe the Gospel. From my understanding, it is the Athanasian Creed(and related declarations) and not any verse in the Scriptures which has declared one must believe the Trinity to be a true believer or saved. I have no problem with somebody wanting to believe it, but I have no problem with somebody who rejects it as well. What happened to those who died in faith before the doctrine was defined(consider the people to whom the Apostles preached and converted…there is no record of a trinitarian “God in Three Persons” doctrine given to them). From what I see, the Scriptures put much emphasis on God being one and that in Jesus dwells the fullness of the Godhead. On the testimony of the Scriptures, I confess one who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved regardless if they know about the Trinity, accept it or not. Maybe it is a way to explain God, but to make it a requirement for salvation? Salvation is an important matter and if believing the doctrine of the Trinity was necessary, I think it would be emphasized in the Scriptures in similar terms to faith in Jesus(Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved).

  54. Matt ~ I agree. I think a lot of evangelicals and other non-LDS Christians put too much emphasis on a correct understanding of the Trinity for salvation. Seems like if a correct understanding of the Trinity was a requirement, it would be clearly in the Scriptures.

    Believing in Christ for salvation, now that is clearly there.

  55. Thanks for the response Bridget. I would expect to verbally stones, get hauled to the gallows or stake for such a position, but that is my conviction(Michael Servetus didn’t escape so easily in the 1500s for holding similar beliefs about the Trinity). I think we can preach the truth about Jesus without much dogmatic inoculation…just keep it to the baiscs: God dwelled among us in Jesus Christ, He came in flesh and likeness of man, in him is the fullness of God in bodily form(these are basically direct quotes or paraphrases from the New Testament). Thanks for a sensible and peaceful response. I also liked the article about theosis, exaltation and sanctification and I agree too many Protestants have run from this and don’t realize how important this is, whether we call it theosis, exaltation or holiness and sanctification. God says to be holy as He is holy so would he give us an impossible goal to reach? I don’t think so. He is actually able to do this in us if we believe and ask. Sanctification comes by faith as well according to the scriptures(1 Peter 2:12-16, John 17:17-19, Acts 26:18, 1 Thess. 5:23, Rom. 15:16, Jude 1). Call it what one wants or attempt to reject it, it is nevertheless a New Testament theme…….And greetings to my Mormon friends here. I can’t remember the original reason for stumbling upon this webpage, but I am glad I found it. Although I am not Mormon, I have much respect for them and don’t think they are so far off base as many make them out to be. I think we can learn some things from them. One thing I have in common with the LDS is that I believe we all reserve the right and freedom to worship God and study the scriptures how, where or what we may. We may disagree on some things, but the Scriptures and Jesus Christ are foundatioinal to all of us.

  56. I noticed someone else posted under the same name. Sorry for any confusion. I will add a 2 at the end of my name for clarification.

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