With Gentleness and Respect

This strikes me as a way to serve notice that “I am right and you are wrong” rather than an effort to find clarity and understanding for why he views Mormonism as “non-Christian”. It doesn’t in any way engender Mormons to his point of view.


The last part of 1 Peter 3:15 seems to have been neglected.

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About Tim

Evangelical Christian living in Southern California. I live with my wife and whatever foster children happen to be in our home at this moment. I love photography, baseball, movies and I'm fascinated by Mormonism.

93 thoughts on “With Gentleness and Respect

  1. Can someone tell me where exactly in the Book of Mormon it talks about the “Curse of Cain?”

    Somehow after over a dozen readings of the book and multiple classes, I missed that part.

  2. Yes, that may have been a bit too strong.

    But St. Paul didn’t pussyfoot around with the Galatian churches either.

    He used some awfully tough language in hopes of waking them up and correcting them from their ill fated course. Telling them that if they wanted to add to Christ’s work by what ‘they do’, then they are not Christian and headed for hell.

    There’s a lot at stake here. It’s a matter of life and death. We certainly don’t want anyone “severing themselves from Christ”, even with the best of intentions.

  3. This strikes me as a way to serve notice that “I am right and you are wrong” rather than an effort to find clarity and understanding for why he views Mormonism as “non-Christian”.

    It doesn’t even make much of an effort to explain why he considers Mormonism non-Christian. It just traipses aimlessly through a wealth of problems with Mormon history, Scripture, or theology.

    BTW, nonpologies are always lame. Always.

  4. Right, that does bring up a rather crucial structural flaw of his argument.

    “Mormonism isn’t Christian because Joseph Smith was a dick.”

    Assuming he’s right about Joseph Smith (assuming – mind you), what planet’s logic did he apply to make that little leap?

  5. Thanks for the hat tip, Tim. I’m no fan of Mormonism, obviously, but if you’re going to criticize it, do it right (and don’t be a sarcastic jerk). Summarizing why one believes Mormonism is false is irrelevant as to whether its adherents are Christian. And the snarky non-apology shows nothing but contempt for his readers.

  6. I don’t buy the argument that Paul’s direct rebuke of the Church in Galatia is a justification for the use of harsh rhetoric when discussing religion or ethics. I’m not sure if the context of Galatians fits the example of Paul we need to be looking at. Paul’s reaction to the idols of Athens in Acts 17 may provide a better example.

    In Galatians Paul is (a) exercising his authority inside the Church, (b) addressing doctrinal issues inside the Church, and (c) rebuking and rejecting those inside the Church who would teach a false gospel. Whereas in Acts 17 Paul (a) preaches Christ to those outside the Church, (b) calls those outside the Church to repentance, and (c) leaves when he is mocked.

    What I take from a comparison of Paul’s letter to the Galatians and Paul on Mars Hill is a distinction between how he handles calling those outside the Church and how he handles those he has authority over inside the Church. Paul clearly condemns the idolatry of Athens, but he does so as part of a call to the gospel and repentance without unnecessary inflammatory language. The situation in Galatia is quite different, Paul is not calling the Galatians to the gospel, instead he is disciplining people who have already accepted and are now distorting the gospel.

  7. Seth R.,

    The person who says it is not the point, but what is being said. If Paul spoke the truth to the Galatians, then similar admonitions are credible. To whomever, by whomever.

  8. The word “Galatians” could just as easily have the word “Mormons” substituted for it.

    The principle is exactly the same.

  9. theoldman,

    I couldn’t disagree with you more this isn’t a principal its context. There is no such thing as the Galatians Jerk Doctrine. First rule of public speaking, know your audience. Paul addresses the Galatians as being inside the Church, and treats their failure as treachery, while he calls the Athenians to the grace of Christ and repentance. Paul knew his audience, and it shows. Substituting Mormon for Galatians ignores both audiences and the context.

    Who delivers a message matters, most obviously, in this context, precisely what authority does Paul have to his audiences. Paul takes pains to lay out his apostolic authority inside the Church to the Galatians. He quotes Epimenides and Aratus to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers bolstering his intellectual authority outside the Church.

    The object or end goal also matters, correction, rebuke, and a reapplication of the gospel in Galatia, the initial calling to the gospel and repentance in Athens. Paul is clear to the Galatians the distortion of the gospel is a desertion of Christ. Paul doesn’t mince words about Athens idolatry either, but he doesn’t rebuke them he calls them to Christ and repentance.

    I’m sorry if you think Mike Adams is speaking in a Pauline manner. Frankly what I see is someone without any authority in the church, without any purpose (except maybe political), and without the free offer of the gospel rebuking and chastising Mormons for not being Christians. Well if they aren’t Christians maybe we should treat them the way Paul treated his audience in Athens.

    Instead we get an internet rant that doesn’t even get all of its facts correct. Epic facepalm, Posted on June 5th, by 12:15 AM Seth R has already pointed out factual flaws in Adam’s argument. By 0705 a 1,500 word critique of the 900 word article is posted by runtu, self described, “no fan of Mormonism” who describes the author as “lazy or dishonest” because Adams fails to understand Joseph Smith’s intent in a quotes taken out of context.

    I don’t buy your argument that Galatians defends this.

  10. He’s being honest. Mormon doctrine is heretical and antithetical to the gospel. It is leading them back into themselves and their own works. In addition to Christ’s work, maybe. With the help of Christ, maybe. But Christ’s complete work isn’t enough in Mormonism, as it wasn’t enough to the Galatians that Paul was addressing.

    As I said before, this is deadly serious business and calls for harsh criticism.

  11. When Paul said that “even if an angel from heaven comes down and gives you another gospel, let him be accursed”, he certainly could have named Moroni explicitly. It is another gospel and that means that it (Mormonism) is not the gospel, at all.

  12. Good thing Joseph got his gospel directly from Jesus and not from the angel Moroni – huh adam?

    Seriously, you’re like a broken CARM record or something.

  13. theoldman,

    I’m not denying that Mormonism places a yoke on the Gospel. I’m not denying that Mormonism is outside the bounds of orthodoxy. I’m not calling for communion between Salt Lake and Geneva. I’m not even saying that people shouldn’t study LDS theology and history with the goal of showing it’s theological and historical errors. In fact after years of study I pretty much convinced that except for the English spelling of Jesus Christ, Mormonism hardly has any theological resemblance to any historical representation of the Church.

    What I am saying is, if Mormonism is so far outside the bounds of orthodoxy that it cannot be regarded as a Christian Church then we need to examine how we approach and communicate with Mormons. Why would anyone be surprised or worked up that people outside the church who deny orthodoxy are heterodox.

    I agree that the is serious business, but the fact is that Paul reserved his harsh rhetoric for failure inside the Church while always preaching Christ and his gospel to the people outside the Church. You cannot have it both ways. If Mormonism is outside the church then the means of grace to be used is not harsh criticism

    You’re not even being consistent with your Lutheran theology. As Mueller teaches in Christian Dogmatics

    “The Gospel is therefore the object of converting faith; but it is also the means of conversion. Through the same means by which God offers to man the merits of Christ He also works in man faith in the proffered grace.

    This truth is clearly taught in Holy Scripture, e. g., Rom 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

  14. gundek ~ School is great! Done with all of my classes for my degree, just working on my thesis now. (And I have a church history comp to do.)

    Thinking of doing an MDiv and going into chaplaincy next.

    Also, I’m 24.5 weeks pregnant with #2.

    Good to see you again. (Sorry for the personal derail.)

  15. Come on Gundek.

    I know my Lutheran theology. We are saved by grace through faith…alone. “Faith is a gift”.

    After we are saved, we will do. And we will not do. But that has nothing to do with Jesus’ finished work on the Cross for REAL sinners. The kind we all know that we are.

  16. Yes and the unregenerate, “becomes a believer [is endowed with faith], is regenerated and renewed, by the power of the Holy Ghost through the Word when preached and heard, out of pure grace, without any cooperation of his own.”

    Which should make you woozy when you see someone compares an internet post proclaiming the heterodoxy of Mormonism, absent any announcement of grace, to an Apostle because…

    “by this means, and in no other way, namely, through His holy Word, when men hear it preached or read it, and the holy Sacraments when they are used according to His Word, God desires to call men to eternal salvation, draw them to Himself, and convert, regenerate, and sanctify them.”

    So no I am not convinced by your argument that harsh criticism of people outside the church is either Pauline or consistent with the preaching of the word as only way to call men to salvation.

  17. I’ve always found the “grace alone” reason to be one of the most unhelpful criteria for judging who is or is not Christian.

    For one thing, I’ve never met an Evangelical, Baptist or Lutheran who could coherently explain the concept of grace-alone or demonstrate how its qualitatively different from what is already contained in LDS doctrine.

    The entire “grace alone” concept sounds nice in group-therapy sessions. But it falls completely apart when you simply ask – “well, what do I have to do to lay hold of Christ’s grace?” I’ve asked that question of countless Christians like theoldadam.

    They all fall apart completely from that point in explaining.

    As such, I’ve pretty-much slotted “grace” along with the “Trinity” as one of those concepts that some Christians like to use as criteria for keeping people out of the club, but are completely at a loss to explain coherently or convincingly.

  18. The simple answer to your question how to lay hold of Christ’s grace is “faith in Jesus Christ”, “repentance unto life” and “due use of the ordained means” of grace the preaching of the Word, the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and Prayer.

    I think your more basic problem is that faith alone is a Protestant / Roman Catholic argument, and despite a similarity of language LDS theology is so distinct from either of ours people don’t even know what the LDS mean by being saved much less what is contained in LDS doctrine. So what can quite easily be explained contra Rome becomes more difficult with Salt Lake. Besides that, with Mormons belief that the dead choose to accept or reject baptism in the afterlife, it is difficult to understand how faith in this life plays a role.

    Once again the simple answer for the Trinity’s importance begins with a Christian’s understanding of worship. The Trinity explains how there is one God while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each to be worshiped as God. Practically, the trinity is first and for most a question of liturgy and worship, piety, and practice coming out of the first century. Only in explaining the propriety of the received liturgy and practices did the orthodox language of how to explain the trinity develop. Simple answer the Trinity begins in with Ex 3:14 and Matt 28:19 and ends in the worship and glorifying of God as revealed.

  19. Seth R.,

    In “grace alone” we (Lutherans) are declared holy and righteous for Jesus’ sake (not even for our own sakes) totally apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think. There is no progression or improving in God’s eyes. We are already there.

    We don’t believe in the hogwash of perfecting ourselves in this life. “It is finished”.
    “We are to consider ourselves dead to sin.” (because of what God has done to us, for us, in our Baptisms – Romans 6)

    Christ is not the stable boy who helps us into the saddle so that we can get better. He kills us off…so that He can raise us anew in Himself. (also Romans 6)

    There is real freedom in that. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1)

    No religious/spirituality ladder-climbing for us. None.

  20. This is very a very good audio on Trinitarian controversies in the early church:

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/trinitarian-and-christological-controversies.mp3" /]

    There’s also a part 2, if anyone is interested.

  21. theoldadam,

    Obviously you want me to do something to have Christ’s grace apply to me. If I do nothing, I stay Mormon, and, according to you – I’m not saved.

    So obviously you want me to DO something.

    Which means you basically believe in salvation by certain select human works.

    Don’t even bother going down this line of argument theoldadam. We’ve had it before – you and I. And you never did manage to sort out the contradiction then. I doubt you’ll do any better today.

  22. Gundeck, that’s fine about the Trinity.

    It’s when Christians try to explain why Mormons aren’t really worshiping the Trinity that all the nice stuff you were saying kind of falls apart.

  23. For the record, jaded perspective aside, I like Gundeck’s expositions of faith a lot as well.

  24. I think that the problem with taking Paul as an example of how orthodox Christians should address Mormonism is that, simply as a matter of time and place, we see examples of Paul addressing the Church (as in Galatians), and those outside the Church (as on Mars Hill), but Mormonism doesn’t really seem to fit either category.

    Perhaps the later Church Fathers give us a clearer example of how to address Mormonism. They had to deal with competing heretical sects of Christianity constantly, and Paul didn’t really. Honestly, Mormons (in their relation to orthodox, catholic Christianity) are a whole lot more like the Manichaeans or the Arians than they are like the Galatians or Athenians.

  25. Seth R.,

    Maybe you did not rightly hear me before.

    We do ‘nothing’ to become Christians. That’s right, ‘nothing’. We hear the Word of promise, and by God’s grace, believe it.

    After that, you will do what you will,. But being told that NOW you need to kick in…or else…is not Christian. Properly stated, it is this reality, “Now that you don’t have to do anything…what do you want to do?”

  26. We do ‘nothing’ to become Christians. That’s right, ‘nothing’. We hear the Word of promise, and by God’s grace, believe it.

    “Believe” is a verb, which means “believe it” is a thing that you do.

  27. No. Actually the Bible tells us that, “faith is a gift of God”.

    It’s not something that we muster up on our own. There is a big difference between believing something…and trusting in Someone.

  28. “Gentleness and Respect”

    When Jesus dealt with unbelief and religiosity, he said things to people like this, “you whitewashed tombs. You brood of vipers.” And then he went beyond that. “fashioned whips out of cords and turned their tables over.”

    When He sent them out, two by two into outlying towns to speak of Himself, He told them, “If they accept what you say then go and have lunch with them. If they reject what you say then slap the dust off your sandals and leave them.” That action, of slapping the dust of your sandals in front of someone is a blatant insult.

    Jesus didn’t mess around with those who preferred the religious/spirituality ladder-climbing project, over the person of the Living God (Himself). He also pulled no punches.

  29. OK, theoldadam.

    Guess I’m already saved then right?

    I can go to LDS church services, attend the temple, and all those other LDS observances secure in the knowledge that Jesus saved me with his free gift that I could do nothing to obtain right?

    I’m already saved right?

    How about it theoldadam?

  30. The Lord only knows that, Seth.

    But if you were Baptized into His Name, then you can trust in that external Word of promise for you. There’s where your assurance lies. Not in anything that we say, do, feel, or think. Contrary to so much of what many Christian traditions, and others are saying.

  31. Kullervo,

    You make a good point, the analogy between Galatia/Athens inside/outside is not without problems and cannot be applied to Mormonism mechanically. This also shows the care that must be taken when deriving Biblical imperatives from Biblical narratives, especially where the questions we are asking may not match the context. It should also cause us pause when our interpretation runs directly contrary to the direct testimony of Scripture.

    No matter how you understand Paul’s address to the Galatians, Paul in Athens, our Lord’s interactions with the Pharisees and Sadducees, or dusty sandals, any claim that they can be used as a warrant for ungracious and disdainful behavior (Prov 15:4; Matt 11:29; Jam 3:17; 1 Pet 3:15; Gal 6:1; Col 4:6 Tit 3:2; 1Tim 3:3, 6:11; 2 Tim 2:25) runs into difficulty.

  32. Interesting point Kullervo

    I’m slowly reading Augustine’s Confessions right now, and I have to say that I have been blown away by how similar Augustine’s world is to ours. We somehow get this myopic idea in our heads that humanity has only really gotten sophisticated in the last generation or so, but it’s jsut not true. The late 4th-century/early 5th century Roman Empire was an amazingly diverse and cosmopolitan place. Christianity was not being actively persecuted, but it also wasn’t the universal norm that it later became. A truckload of religions and philosophies competed, and it seems like a whole lot of people then–just like now–were jaded and indifferent at best. Unsurprisingly, simplistic answers and appeals to religious authority just didn’t work for a lot of the population of the world that invented philosophy.

    Augustine was born the son of a Christian mother and a pagan father, converted to Manichaeanism as a young man, but eventually grew disaffected and became a Platonist before converting to Christianity.

    The spiritual, social and intellectual struggles he went through, trying to figure out what he believed, wouldn’t be out of place at all in 2013, and totally undermine the postmodern/emergent/”relevant” crowd’s mantras about how the spiritual challenges and needs of the postmodern world are totally new and different than anything that has gone before.

    That’s the world that gave us heresies like the Gnosticisms, which weren’t heretical teachings within the orthodox catholic church, but heretical Christian sects outside the orthodox catholic church. Just like the modern world has given us heresies like Mormonism, Christian Science and Jehovah’s Witnesstry. In other words, post-Christendom turns out to be a whole lot like pre-Christendom. Maybe we should be a little less arrogant about assuming that our situation is totally unique (and that nothing notable or interesting happened between the apostolic age and 2013), and start paying a lot more attention to how the Church Fathers dealt with nearly identical situations in a nearly identical setting?

  33. Kullervo, I get that sense every time I read history in any depth.

    I was reading about the normal economics of small merchants in Renaissance Europe recently and was blown away by how shrewd, mentally disciplined, and adept at complicated economic and financial transactions even a simple merchant with a horse and wagon had to be.

    These guys were actually brighter than most people you’ll meet today.

    Yeah, I got over looking down my nose at the past and touting the superiority of the modern age a while ago.

  34. theoldadam,

    For not knowing what “only the Lord knows” you sure seem to be spending a lot of breath on the subject.

    Personally, I don’t believe you. I think your statement that “only the Lord knows” is nothing more than pious lip-service.

    I think you have a pretty darn-good idea in your own head of whether I’m damned or not. It leaks out in all your other comments constantly.

  35. Only the Lord knows who belong to Him. But he is the One who Baptizes us. If we trust in those promises, then we have assurance. If we don’t, then what do we have?

    It’s not the person (MikeAdams), it’s what comes out of their mouths. (that Living Word).

  36. Maybe we should be a little less arrogant about assuming that our situation is totally unique (and that nothing notable or interesting happened between the apostolic age and 2013), and start paying a lot more attention to how the Church Fathers dealt with nearly identical situations in a nearly identical setting?

    Yes, this is why I’m somewhat encouraged for the future of Christianity. It ended up thriving in this environment.

  37. I wish I was as encouraged as you are, Tim.

    I am seeing more and more Christianism (religion)…and less and less faith in what Christ has done for real sinners.

    Jesus himself asked the question, “When the Son of Man returns to earth with His holy angels, will He find faith?” Will there even be any?
    I’m sure there will be lots of self-centered religions around (always has been, always will be).
    But faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross for real sinners, is another matter altogether.

  38. It seems to me that just on general principles you get much more of a hearing when you speak with grace and patience as opposed to harshness–you know, flies with honey.
    And, this isn’t exactly a theological observation, but to me the tone Paul sets in Galatians is one of a man who is upset and distressed. In most of his other letters, he comes across with a more patient and less belligerent tone (with some exceptions, of course). In other words, i suspect that Paul himself would not list Galatians as a ‘normal’ method of speaking to either believers or non-believers.

  39. I am seeing more and more Christianism (religion)…and less and less faith in what Christ has done for real sinners.

    Again, you are monotone about this to the point of serious tedium, but also I question your assumption that at some point previously (when? and how do you quantify that or demonstrate it in a meaningful way) there was less “Christianism (religion)” and more “faith in what Christ has done for real sinners.”

  40. We are ELCA (officially)…but we have virtually nothing to do with them anymore (close to 15 years now). We believe that they have thrown God’s Word overboard, for more generous words.

    The reason that I may sound monotone is that there is so much self-focused religion (ladder-climbing) and so little trust in the finished work of Christ. I cannot remember the last time I hear a sermon (poor excuses for sermons they are) on radio or t.v., that isn’t human centered. If the gospel is presented (rarely) it is given with one hand and then taken away with the other by laying more demands on you.

  41. This is a really good sermon. Pastor Mark publicly criticizes the ELCA in it. And he has done so many, many times.

    [audio src="http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/are-you-doing-enough-full-sermon.mp3" /]

    We explored leaving. Took straw polls, etc., and found that it would probably tear us (our congregation) apart. So, for the time being we stay. And hold our noses, and plow ahead with our ministry.

  42. theoldman,

    Earlier Seth asked, “What do I have to do to lay hold of Christ’s grace?” You replied in part, “We don’t believe in the hogwash of perfecting ourselves in this life. “It is finished.””

    Now, I am not questioning the obvious truthfulness of your response. What I am wondering about it the propriety. You and I have been commenting on this site long enough to know that Seth is well aware mottos of protestant theology. In fact he is so aware of Protestant slogans he quotes them as an argument against the theology they were intended to teach.

    My theology is richer than slogans, and if someone wants a civil conversation on the Trinity, how the two natures of Christ matters, or how the Law is applicable I’m willing.

    My basic though is that our theology, not just out slogans, should influence how we interact with Mormons. If my neighbor asks me, “how do I lay hold of Christ’s grace?” I have to point him to the Word of God preached, the means of grace. I can no more separate the grace of God from the Word of God than I can separate the love of neighbor from the love of God.

  43. gundek,

    I do appreciate your thoughts. And believe me, I am sensitive to the feelings of others (Mormons) with whom I have relationships with, be it at work, or friends. But there is also a place and time for straight, honest talk. The truth will make it’s own way and the Word will accomplish what it sets out to do. We all know the sort of language that Jesus used against the good religious people of his day and we are fully aware that he even called one of his own disciples ‘the devil’ (“get behind me satan”), when Peter tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross.

    It certainly may be a tricky proposition to when to take what course and how far to go before you “dust off your sandals and leave them”.

  44. You’re still here theoldadam.

    That means you obviously haven’t dusted off anything yet.

    Given that fact, you might try to make your message at least approachable.

  45. Seth,

    I happen to think that the complete grace of God through the cross of Christ Jesus is more than approachable. In the hearing of it, it actually does what it sets out to do. And sometimes someone will hear it and be set free of the self-ascendanct project.

    Anywho, I think I’ve said enough about for tonight, anyway. Thanks for the opportunity.

  46. My wife was once in a business meeting where a coworker kept asserting that the words “thank you” should be on their invoices. It didn’t matter how the participants tried to explain they didn’t have control over the matter or tried to redirect the meeting toward the agenda items; she persisted.

    Finally, my wife said “it sounds like you think we should put the words ‘thank you’ on our invoices and you think this is important for reasons X, Y, and Z. Am I understanding you correctly?”

    To which the woman responded by once again asserting all of her reasons for putting the words “thank you” on the invoices.

    I’m not sure why I’m telling this story other than I just like it.

  47. Nice one, Tim.

    Gerhard Forde once said that when you hear objections to the pure gospel,” just hoist more sails”. Sail right into them. Announce it again. Don’t give in to the “yeah buts”.

  48. No one is talking about giving in. And of course the Word will accomplish what it sets out to do, but internet chat is not the preaching the Word. At best the internet is only going to affect knowledge, not belief, or trust.

    I am at a loss at that you don’t see a distinction to be made between how Jesus confronted the leaders of Israel and His sending of the 12 apostles to Israel and internet activity focused on Mormonism.

  49. gundek,

    You can’t preach the gospel in written form? When people read about what Christ has done for sinners, the Spirit is not capable of using that Word? I think He is.

    Jesus confronting unbelief then and the Word encountering unbelief (untrust in His finished work) is not distinctly different, I believe. Not different at all.

    Jesus realized, and maybe we ought take a clue from it, that sometimes the clay is just baked.

    I have to hand it to Mormons. They go door to door looking for clay that is soft and ready to mold. I think Christians (including myself) ought to learn from that. Maybe we’ll understand why Jesus was so tough on unbelief and and religious self-ascenders.

  50. “You can’t preach the gospel in written form? When people read about what Christ has done for sinners, the Spirit is not capable of using that Word? I think He is.”

    Not according to the Formula of Concord (2.4-5). In fact that type of “enthusiasm” (2.80) is frowned upon.

    “On the other hand, the enthusiasts should be rebuked with great earnestness and zeal, and should in no way be tolerated in the Church of God, who imagine [dream] that God, without any means, without the hearing of the divine Word, and without the use of the holy Sacraments, draws men to Himself, and enlightens, justifies, and saves them.”

  51. gundek,

    I do believe that they are speaking of internalizing the Word. A danger to be sure. But the Word in written form is still an external Word that comes to us from outside of ourselves.

    I forget exactly who, I think it was John Wesley, who had his light switch turned on by the Spirit of God while reading Luther’s commentary on Romans.

    Thanks, friend.

    I’m off to work. Bah-humbug.

  52. No, they are taking about conversion, a changing of the will, absent the means of grace.

    “the Father will not do this without means, but has ordained for this purpose His Word and Sacraments as ordinary means and instruments; and it is the will neither of the Father nor of the Son that a man should not hear or should despise the preaching of His Word, and wait for the drawing of the Father without the Word and Sacraments.” Formula of Concord XI:76

  53. Oldadam,

    I think the point that is most frustrating is that you continue to assert that other commenters are opposing your core message of the Gospel, when in fact the discussion is about something else entirely. Even when Gundek presents citations from Lutheran sources that support his position on a side topic, you persist.

    Your persistent, repetitive, obstinate resilience from understanding the content of the current topic of discussion would be considered remarkably unique if it didn’t mirror the behavior of those with Aspergers Syndrome.

    . . . or at the very least wasn’t as humorous as constantly asking me to put “thank you” on my invoices.

  54. Ok, Tim.

    This is my last on this thread. (shouts of joy from the crowd)

    Just know that there ought be a time when we cut bait. The whole universe doesn’t revolve around any particular person coming to trust in the finished work of Christ. The religious types, the self-ascenders, will always be the majority. Look at how Jesus handled them. Not with kid gloves.

  55. My theology is richer than slogans,


    …and if someone wants a civil conversation on the Trinity, how the two natures of Christ matters, or how the Law is applicable I’m willing.


  56. Interesting article.

    I don’t see that the author is engaging with actual Trinitarian theology. Nathaniel seems to define person in a modern way, as if there are three centers of consciousness in the divine (modalism). I don’t think “3 people comprising 1 God” cuts it, because it ignores the theological language behind the creeds. It’s a dismissal of the first five centuries of questions and answers by fiat, simply offering answers that ignore the original questions. This is a redefinition of the creeds and foreign to received theology.

    I think the comment to Kullervo “Let’s be clear: the “substance” in question is a theoretical metaphysical construct that is defined almost entirely by it’s total lack of any observable characteristics” misses the basic trinitarian dogma that language used to describe the divine nature or substance is always imperfect, and this is why precision is required to express not what is observable but what is revealed.

  57. One more thing, Nathaniel focuses on consubstantiality dismissively as neo-Aristotelian. I don’t want to sound rude but, duh. So we to dismiss the Fathers outright because they didn’t use terminology from Scottish Common Sense Realism? Or better yet we redefine the fathers as post modernist?

    If there is one part of Trinitrian development that is extensively documented its the homoiousios/ homoousios debates. To read these debates and come to the conclusion that consubstantial is compatible with Mormonism is beyond baffling.

  58. To read these debates and come to the conclusion that consubstantial is compatible with Mormonism is beyond baffling.

    Its baffling to me, too. The Nicene Creed isn’t a mysterious divine text that dropped from heaven ten minutes ago and so we’re trying to figure out what these words mean. It’s not like the US Constitution, deliberately broad and vague in bits in order to get as many people to agree to it as possible, and therefore constantly open to interpretation and reinterpretation. The Creed was formulated deliberately and precisely. The words used were argued and debated about, and so we know what they’re supposed to mean. And they mean something that is entirely incompatible with Mormon doctrine about the identity and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Godhead.

  59. So, some of this may stem from a misunderstanding of the use of creeds. Rather than depriving “members of the privilege, of believing anything not contained therein” the creeds provide members with a common language to confess their belief. Rather than boundary markers the creeds themselves become liturgical communal documents.

    If your presupposition is that creeds take something away from believers, it makes perfect sense to look for a way around them, if only to liberate their victims. If on the other hand the creeds are part of your history and liturgy, such redefinitions really miss the point.

  60. Gundeck your objections sound a bit like the objections one of my learned Mormon friends had to the article. He didn’t feel like the article was engaging either Joseph Smith or the Nicene Fathers in much detail or substance.

    But I suppose it’s at least worth noting there is a difference between what the prophets and theologians say and teach, and what the modern masses perceive.

  61. I read something in Stephen Holmes “The Quest for the Trinity” when he was reviewing Schleiermacher’s Trinitarian theology

    “As long as we think that the doctrine is a logical problem to do with one and three we will never express it adequately.”

    I think goes equally for trying to understand the formulas that have been passed down. If you assume the Fathers were looking to philosophy to devise an acceptable 3 and 1 mathematical formula, your missing out on what they were asking.

  62. “[The words of the Nicence Cree] mean something that is entirely incompatible with Mormon doctrine about the identity and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Godhead.”

    Indeed. Mormonism began when God himself denounced the creeds.

  63. According to Teryl Givens God did not denounce the Nicene Creed. I’ll provide the source later.

  64. Indeed. Mormonism began when God himself denounced the creeds.

    Right, but author of the article Seth linked to maintains that it’s not the content of the creeds that is incompatible with Mormonism, but the creeds qua creeds.

  65. Well there is that Kullervo, but I’d also say there were quite a few “creedal” ideas (loosely defined) floating around in that day that fully deserved to be labeled “abominable.”

    Like… say… just about the entire TULIP.

  66. The author says, “Mormons are basically social Trinitarians” as a sign of trinitarian orthodoxy, ignoring that the critique of social trinitarianism’s tendency to tri-theism, is the same critique of Mormonism? If he is aware of the theology behind social trinitarianism and embraces it, go for it. Unfortunately I get the impression that social trinitarianism is seen (incorrectly) as a narrowing of the creedal gap.

    What good idea fairy came up with the idea affirm heterodoxy to prove orthodoxy.

  67. Gundeck, as far as I’m concerned tri-theism is an overwhelmingly better side to err on than modalism.

  68. I think you’re defining “creed” too narrowly. I suspect you are limiting it to the historical creeds that have been accepted in hindsight after 2000 years of Christian history. Am I wrong?

    I simply meant the word to mean any theological framework that was being taught and advocated at the time. My belief is that God had a similarly broad definition of the word in mind at the time as well.

    I imagine you could probably accurately guess yourself at what I find abominable about total depravity and predestination and the like.

  69. Le me back up a minute and say that this is something I’ve been wrestling with recently. I am very sympathetic to criticisms of Calvinism (Roger E. Olson sums it up really well here), but at the same time, when I read the New Testament, I see a whole heck of a lot of God’s sovereignty, mankind’s inherent sinful nature, predestination to salvation, and even a little bit of double predestination. I’m not sure how to reconcile those passages with my discomfort with TULIP-Calvinism’s philosophical implications (and I say “TULIP-Calvinism” because there’s a lot more to Calvinism than TULIP, and Calvin himself never even formulated TULIP as far as I know), but I also don’t think it’s a good idea to just reject out of hand the parts of the Bible that I am uncomfortable with. I feel obligated to really grapple with God’s word, and think long and hard about whether the problem is with the Bible or with my own preconceived/cultural notions.

  70. I think I’ll just let it slide Kullervo, because I’m pretty sure you have a good idea what I was getting at.

    I’ll agree, for the record, that John Calvin did a formidable job of grounding his writings in the actual Bible. No argument there.

  71. Seth,

    I understand why modalism would be more problematic than tri-theism for the Mormon. The very nature of your heavenly Father with a body of flesh and bone doesn’t allow for it.

  72. The very nature of human beings trying to connect with God allow weighs against it Gundeck.

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