Serious Mormon Questions for Evangelicals

A frequent commentor named Ray has asked a series of questions. I appreciate these questions because they get at some of the most deeply seeded controversies between Mormons and Evangelicals. A full post (or book) could be written on each question so don’t expect my answers to be completely comprehensive, just an introduction to each issue. The comments section might be a great place to direct Ray and other Mormons to further resources on each topic.

You’ll notice that I will not make a lot of Bible references in my answers. This is not because my answers are not informed by the Bible but because I can answer these questions much quicker and make the length much shorter if I leave them out. To be sure, I can direct anyone interested to the Biblical texts that support my answers.

I have proposed that continuing in sin can cause some one to lose their salvation. Do you agree or do you think once saved always saved? What does “endure to the end” mean to you?

The question of “once-saved-always-saved” rages on within Protestantism. This is by no means a settled question, it’s the kind of question that forms denominations. First off I think it’s important to clarify that there is no Protestant church who thinks its believers should go on sinning. Every church teaches some conformity to moral standards. The question is whether or not failure to meet these standards can nullify the grace that has been granted by Jesus’ death on the cross. Anyone who accuses Protestants of believing that you can just go on sinning because of grace is egregiously mischaracterizing our beliefs.

The “reformed” and “covenant theology” faction of Protestantism believes that it is impossible for a true believer to lose his salvation. They acknowledge that there are “Christians” who either fall away or don’t display the life of a true disciple, but they reject that those people were ever truly saved to begin with. On the flip side of the coin are those who tend to agree with the Methodist or Wesleyan tradition. They teach that personal holiness must be maintained to secure salvation. Shortly after his First Vision experience Joseph Smith joined the Methodist church. So it’s not surprising that his theology would follow this pattern (not to mention the form of worship and church architecture).

Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that all disciples of Jesus exhibit a life where sin is diminishing but (probably) not eradicated from their life. Even the most ardent defenders of the Wesleyan tradition continue to sin in some manner. Despite this ongoing sin, their salvation is secure. Sin should be confessed and removed from a believer’s life but salvation is not in jeopardy for those who suddenly die with unconfessed sin. Despite that security, personal apostasy is possible for someone who wishes to disown Christ. Christ’s love is never-failing but neither is it coercive for those who do not wish to have it.

Where do Evangelicals say is this physical body of Jesus residing? I realize you may not know the answer, but based on your theology, what is your best guess or understanding.

The short answer is “with the Father”. God is spirit, so it’s not in a physical location. I realize the absurdity of saying that Jesus’ physical body is in a non-physical location and I don’t have an answer for exactly where it is or how that can be. All I know for certain is that a person can not travel there in a rocket ship. The knowledge of the location of a star named Kolob would not help us find his body. (I suspect that if I asked a Mormon “where is Kolob?” they would give a similar answer.)

Jesus has a resurrected and perfected body. He will come again in this body and will reside in the “New Earth” with all of us in our resurrected and perfected bodies.

Tim thinks the “Trinity” is the reason the LDS are ‘Not Christians”. Maybe I don’t understand your version of the Trinity. If Jesus has a body and his Spirit is in it, then where is the rest of the Trinity? Is God the Father inside the body of Jesus? Is the Holy Spirit in this body as well? Or there really isn’t a God the Father and it’s just really Jesus?

The first place to begin in understanding any religion is with its description of God. In the orthodox Christian tradition (Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants) there is one God that is manifested by three persons who share one essence. This “essence” is spirit, non-physical and supernatural. It is not “anywhere”, it is “everywhere”. We describe God as omnipresent.

The Bible is very clear that there is only one God (e.g. Isaiah 43:10 – Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.) It also describes three separate and unique persons as God. The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, it’s not a biblical word. Rather it is a logical argument to answer the question of how the Bible can describe three persons as God yet declare that there is only one God. The solution of the Trinity is that there is only one essence that can be described as God, but there are three persons who share that essence.

Jesus has a body and his spirit resides in that body. The Father and the Holy Spirit do not possess any body of their own and they do not reside in Jesus’ body. Only the person of Jesus is in his body. According to the logic of the Trinity only one person can possess a physical body. Other posts have been written on this blog you can read them here, here, here, here and here.

When I was at the Baptist Church, they seldom addressed “Our Father in Heaven” but prayed directly to “Jesus” or just “Lord” and then they would close their prayers with something like, “And we say this in Your name.” They always prayed in “Your name” and never said “in the name of Christ”.

So today, when Evangelicals pray, who do they address? And how do they close their prayers?

This will totally vary by church. The way that the Bible (specifically Jesus) says we should pray is to the Father in the name of the Son. Different denominations and churches have different levels of formality and structure in their prayers. The way Fred Sanders describes these prayers in “The Deep Things of God” (a great book about the Trinity) is that they are like rubbing a cat the wrong way. God receives these prayers and doesn’t condemn anyone who doesn’t address him properly or anyone who gets the wording wrong but they don’t conform to the Biblical pattern. Ultimately the heart is more important than the words used.

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334 thoughts on “Serious Mormon Questions for Evangelicals

  1. I think you did a good job with the questions, Tim.
    My curiosity wants to ask two more questions: What do the orthodox and traditional Protestants do with Revelation 5:7 where Jesus “took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne”? Is that seen as a temporary manifestation of the Father or as a representation of the Father?
    Also, what’s the harm in believing the Father has a body like Jesus does?

    “Anyone who accuses Protestants of believing that you can just go on sinning because of grace is egregiously mischaracterizing our beliefs.”

    I would like to strongly confirm that statement. I think a lot of Mormons misunderstand us in that area.

  2. Most people recognize the “aggressive symbolism” used in the book of Revelation and understand that great care should be taken with the genre of apocalyptic literature.

    Clearly a material god is dependant on material, that is what is wrong with saying the Father has a body.

  3. There are lots of places in the scriptures where God is said to have hands, feet, a back and a face. But he is also described as a spirit. I don’t think we must assume that only physical human bodies have those features. We gain information from the Bible that God is immaterial, but not in the form of a vapor or a mist of fog.

  4. I look at the question of ‘continuing to sin’ not as a scorecard (“I’m sinning less now than I used to”)…but as ‘our condition’. ‘Sin’ is our disease unto death. We are stuck in it. We don’t want to stop sinning…otherwise we would just stop. As Luther said, “we are bound to sin”.

    Many Evangelicals look at ‘sins’. They treat sins like so much doggie-stuff to avoid or step around. The trouble here is that they really never appreciate the severity of the problem…of our condition. The propensity to self-righteousness, then, is so much greater.

    If one reads Romans 7, one does not get a picture of a Christian ‘gradually getting “better”. But rather one who recognizes their condition…and the greatness of Christ Who is the only One…the only way to do away with sin.

    Thanks.

  5. “Many Evangelicals look at ‘sins’. They treat sins like so much doggie-stuff to avoid or step around. The trouble here is that they really never appreciate the severity of the problem…of our condition. The propensity to self-righteousness, then, is so much greater.”

    As for me, I think of CS Lewis in Screwtape Letters, wherein Lewis addresses this whole problem and how quickly and easily self righteousness comes into play. Sin is around every corner, and captures us without our knowledge. I also once heard a sermon called “The Sin of Comparison”. Its so easy to look around at everyone else and see what we don’t have, or what we have over other people. Sin develops out of both of these positions. A third point of reference is Paul himself, who constantly told us that he sinned always, and hated that he did. Even when he did good, he was sinning.

    I am well aware of the problem and subtle nature of sin. Mormons do misrepresent what believers think on sin, whether salvation is lost or not. Its also quite easy for Mormons and non-believers alike to look at professed Christians and conclude that Christians take sin quite casually. Christians are the worst witnesses all too often because it is so easy to look at actions rather than messages.

    The Trinity: well, it is one of the easiest things to describe and one of the hardest things to fully comprehend. I think it is easiest to consider that there is only one God. If that is true, then the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must, by necessity, be part of the one God.

  6. I like what Tim said about the Father having some kind of form.

    theoldadam, do you believe in the doctrine of sanctification?

  7. Sanctification is a term theologians often use to refer to our process of growth in the Lord, the changing of our behavior, our transformation into the image (likeness) of Christ, becoming more like Jesus by the power of his grace (his Spirit) in us.

    theoldadam said, “Many Evangelicals . . . treat sins like so much doggie-stuff to avoid or step around. The trouble here is that they really never appreciate the severity of the problem…of our condition.”

    I agree that sin is a more deep-set problem than most of us realize. Even born-again Christians, who have the nature of Christ in them, are nowhere near fully aware of how far they are from God’s perfect holiness; however, theoldadam goes on to say, “If one reads Romans 7, one does not get a picture of a Christian ‘gradually getting ‘better,'” as if getting better by the grace of God was not something we should expect. First John 3:3 says, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he [the Son] is pure.” In other words, purification (getting better) is a part of every Christian’s life.

    theoldadam seems to deny that spiritual growth is even a reality in the life of a Christian—but maybe I’m misunderstanding him.

    I hope you had a merry Christmas.

  8. Cal,

    Spiritual growth has NOTHING to do with one’s ability, or one’s progress in lessening their sin. Or even the Lord’s lessening the sin in someone’s life.

    Spiritual growth is completely God’s work and His business.

    I do love what Dr. Gerhard Forde said about sanctification. He said, “Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.” It’s “getting used to your justification in Christ” (also Forde).

    This liberates us from the navel-gazing, spiritual ladder ladder-climbing project, that far too many religious people are engaged in.

  9. Gundek, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary how would you describe his appearance? Could you use the word “form” in your description?

  10. Sure, I can use form in describing the angel Gabriel, but I don’t think I would use form to describe God. That is why I asked what it means to describe God as having and form.

  11. I’m open to using any word that’s appropriate. I’m not sure what the objection to using the word “form”. The Father is said to have a “right hand”, it seems whether or not he has a literal right hand or not an object that has a form was used to describe God.

  12. theoldadam,
    You seem to be misunderstanding me to some extent. Anyway, I’m glad to know you believe in sanctification.

    Gundek,
    Tim seems to be about where I am on this. This is not a real important issue for me and I’m hesitant to get into it because I haven’t totally escaped the speculation zone on it. I mean I don’t know for sure whether the Father has a form or not. I tend to believe he does because of all the accounts by reputable Christians who said they saw the Father in a human form when they visited heaven while dead or in a vision.

    Since angels are called “spirits” in Hebrews in spite of having a form, I don’t see that John 4:24 (“God is spirit,” or as the KJV has it, “God is a Spirit”) eliminates the possibility that he has a form. Also, John 4:24 could refer to the nature of God and not to the first person of the Trinity (Geneva Study Bible).

    I heard someone remark, “How could God maintain control over the universe if he had a body?” My answer would be, “The same way Jesus does.” Everything is possible for God except to sin.
    Some say the references to God’s body parts in the OT are temporary manifestations of the Father or that the parts belong to Jesus. I don’t currently know of any way to disprove those theories. If someone knows how to disprove them, please let me know!

  13. Does the bible describe Father as having a right hand? Or does it say that resurrected Christ reigns and intercedes from The position of power and authority?

    My objection to saying the Father has a form would be that by implication it denies the absolute infinity of God. It makes God contingent to spacial restrictions and places temporal limits on His existence.

    Comparing God to angles is, well… comparing the creator to creation. Our knowledge of God is always analogous because the finite cannot comprehend the infinite, but there is such a thing as taking an analogy too far. Unless you are willing to deny the immensity and omni-presence of God, I don’t think I would say God has a form.

    This does not mean that God does not make his presence known in a particular place or to particular people in a particular way such as the burning bush, pillars of smoke and fire, or the the glory of God seen by Stephen and described by Luke .

  14. I understand your objection a little more when considering God’s omnipresence. But I think he could make himself seen in the form of a man, or the partial form of a man, without defining himself in a limited space.

    If it was God’s hand that wrote on the wall in front of Belteshazar would we be forced to believe that God is definitely proportional in size to that hand?

  15. I would probably maintain a distinction between a theophany as revelation and the essence or nature of God having a form.

  16. “You seem to be misunderstanding me to some extent. Anyway, I’m glad to know you believe in sanctification.”

    Maybe so, Cal.

    I go with what St. Paul said about it; “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…”

    “He sanctifies, and He justifies.” Both orders (which word is used first) are used in the Bible.

    Thanks, Cal..

  17. Good discussion. I tend to agree largely with Cal on this one largely because we can’t prove it one way or another. Sure we can speculate but we’ll never know for sure until we meet him in heaven. I think it’s problematic to guess on things that are not clear in scripture. To say it’s an unimportant matter is not accurate but whether God has a form does not affect our salvation. We can disagree on this without denying the primacy of the Cross.

  18. I find the omnipresence of God is clearly attested in scripture and don’t generally speculate which of God’s attributes is unimportant.

  19. I’ve never read in the Bible where it says God is omni-present. Being all knowing does not mean being everywhere, so I’m wondering where this idea comes from. Chapter and verse would be helpful.
    God clearly has a visible form as Stephen saw it. The author of Acts and Luke was quite literal in his composition, unlike say Isaiah, so the idea that this was a symbolic view doesn’t work for me. Stephen saw someone that he recognized as God. Stephen did not see the”glory of God”, he saw God.

    If God is merely a spirit, then I think we can reason that a spirit has a form which looks like a man. When Jesus was raised from the dead and the Apostles first saw him, they thought they had seen a spirit. And what did the spirit look like? Well, they were looking at the body of a Jesus which they thought was spirit. So, I would think a spirit looks like a man as far as shape: a head, eyes, body, limbs and so on.

    If God has some visual form and Jesus has a body which God does not enter because Jesus is in there, then the idea that God and Jesus are seperate individuals is bolstered substantially. This means the two are not one “substance” but one in purpose, unity and love.

    I don’t think any one believes that our spirits are going to physically merge with God and we will be one substance and lose our identities. Since we are all to be resurrected, we will be one in Christ in love and unity, but not as one individual.
    So, in Rev 3:21 where it says that we as physical beings will be sitting on a throne as Christ is sitting on the throne with his Father, I think the individualism is confirmed. God, Christ and us are seperate beings. But this is awkward too, since Jesus has a body and we will all have bodies but God, he just has a spirit form that looks like a body.

    If man is the ultimate creation because we are literally patterned after God himself, then it makes perfect sense. The words of man being created after “God’s image” have serious meaning. Then the word “image” in the creation account actually means “image” (something we look at) and is not a metaphor for something else. Also then, God’s other creatures which have heads, eyes, limbs, fins and so on are variations of the Creator’s appearance.

  20. Deut 4:39; 10:14; ; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chron 2:6; Job 12:10; 31:4; 34:22; Psalm 139; Prov. 15:3Isa. 66:1; Jer. 23:23; Jonah 1:3; Acts 17:28 Heb 2:11 etc.

    Did God clearly have a visible form as Stephen saw Him (not it)? That’s not what Luke says. Luke says Stephen “saw the glory of God”. If you want Luke to be quite literal that is. It is also quite consistent with what Christ said in Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69.

    Why would we assume that a spirit has a visual form that looks like a man?

    If man is created in the image of God do you really think he wants you to return the favor?

  21. I think slow cowboy’s comment that “we can disagree on this without denying the primacy of the Cross” is a very important one for Mormon/Evangelical relations.

  22. Leaving the basic question unanswered, does a contingent deity accomplish anything on the cross?

  23. Gundek, ask that question in a simplified format.

    Ray, what do you make of God appearing as a burning bush, a dove and a collection of burning tongues? Can we infer the same thing from those appearances as his personified appearances?

  24. I’m reading Terryl Givens Book Wrestling the Angel. He summarizes the LDS materialist concept of divine…

    “Dualism is rewritten as two-tiered monism (spirit as more refined matter), and laws are themselves as eternal as God. The godhead consists of three separate and distinct deities (two of them embodied), with an unembodied Holy Ghost.”

    Its really a great book and I recommend it, but the question I keep asking is can the God Givens describes actually deliver on the promises of the new heavens and the new earth.

    Rephrasing the question in a simplified format…

    Can Terryl Givens’ weeping God “wipe every tear from their eyes”?

  25. “I find the omnipresence of God is clearly attested in scripture and don’t generally speculate which of God’s attributes is unimportant.”

    I agree on the omnipresence of God, but am curious which of God’s attributes you may think that we are minimizing.

    I see God as God, and thus has the power to take the form of whatever is necessary to get the message across. Generally, I do think he is Spirit, and all too often we have to speak of God in terms we can grasp. I don’t take those terms too literally, though, as they are used to help us understand God, not literally describe him.

    That said, I don’t want to limit God.

    Ray, why must God be literally something we can understand, something tangible? Is it not possible for God to be beyond our full comprehension?

  26. Ray said:

    If God has some visual form and Jesus has a body which God does not enter because Jesus is in there, then the idea that God and Jesus are seperate individuals is bolstered substantially. This means the two are not one “substance” but one in purpose, unity and love.

    I don’t think any one believes that our spirits are going to physically merge with God and we will be one substance and lose our identities. Since we are all to be resurrected, we will be one in Christ in love and unity, but not as one individual.
    So, in Rev 3:21 where it says that we as physical beings will be sitting on a throne as Christ is sitting on the throne with his Father, I think the individualism is confirmed. God, Christ and us are seperate beings. But this is awkward too, since Jesus has a body and we will all have bodies but God, he just has a spirit form that looks like a body.

    Ray, Mormons are quick to point out to Evangelicals how the Father and Son are separate and we AGREE! They are different persons. The question for Mormons is how you reconcile that the Bible says that there is only ONE god. The only way the Bible acknowledges other gods is to say they are false.

    We may be created created in God’s image, but that doesn’t mean that we can become a god. Christianity has traditionally described God as an “uncreated creator”. If we are created in God’s image then we by definition can never be “uncreated creators”.

    I was pushing against Gundek a little bit on the “form” of the Father but I agree with him in principle. Though God may have revealed himself in a “form” that doesn’t by any means mean that he is defined or limited in that “form”. After all God has revealed himself in several non-human forms as well. Revelation is a tricky book to get a handle on the image of God. It describes Jesus as a terrifying being with a double-edge sword coming out of his mouth AND as a slaughtered lamb. Which are we to conclude IS the appearance of his resurrected body?

    Mormons claim that Jesus is Jehovah and the God of the Old Covenant. If that is the case Mormon theology needs to makes sense of Isaiah 43:10 – “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.” What can this mean in terms of Heavenly Father and all the exalted humans who come after him.

    I understand the resistance to the doctrine of Trinity. It’s not simple. But in my study of the Bible it seems to do the best of reconciling all of the data. There are three persons who share one essence. When the Bible and the Book of Mormon describe God as “one” the context almost never can be construed as “unified in thought.”

  27. There are many replies to my post and Tim, Gundek, Cowboy, you’ve posed good questions. I will answer them fairly soon but not right now due to time limitations on my part. I promise to reconcile my views with the Bible.

    I wanted to mention something about the “glory of God” mentioned in Acts where Stephen saw God. In verse 55 is says he saw the “glory of God” and then in verse 56 Stephen said “he saw God.”
    The word “glory” can me a lot of things. This earth and all it’s creatures are the ‘glory’ of God, as is Jesus and as is the stars. What glory means according to Strong’s is something which is “readily apparent”.
    When applying glory to an individual as Luke did in Acts, he was saying what Stephen saw was readily apparent. In other words, it was readily apparent that he was seeing God as verse 56 confirms.
    Additionally, I think when applying the word to a person in a physical way, I think it refers to bright light. The kind which can be blinding. 2 Cor 15: 41 is my source on that. Moses’ face could not be seen for a time, I think because it was too bright for the others to see it.
    I think Stephen was also seeing an enormous amount of light radiating off the Father and The Son.

  28. Ray, in all due respect, you are projecting something in the text that is not there. There is nothing in the text to suggest God has a man-like form.

    Here’s an interesting question: could the light to which you refer be the light of Christ that Jared has been speaking about?

  29. Ray,

    I don’t know what translation you are using, but in v56 Steven said, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” You may think this means Stephen saw a man slightly to the left of Jesus but that isn’t what Luke wrote.

    It is much more likely that Stephen, “full of the Holy Spirit”, used inspired language to best represent the risen Lord as reigning and interceding with all authority in heaven (Ps 110:1; Dan 7:13f; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2; 1 Pet 3:22).

    We need to ask what is more consistent to the actual text and the intent of Luke, Christ the risen Lord reigns with authority or the Father has a body?

  30. Cowboy,

    I am not saying you are minimizing any of God’s attributes. The practical implication of omni-presence is often overlooked.

    Historic orthodox Christianity generally holds that God’s essence cannot be defined only described. Omni-presence describes God’s immensity and transcendence of the limitations of space. His essence is equally present in all places, never absent. It speaks not only to His vastness (immensity) but importantly to his closeness (presence). Practically, pastorally omni-presence provides God’s people with the assurance that He is in reality always present. Our God does not flee, the ever-present nearness of God enables a real, if not always perceptible, communion with the living God. The presence of God is, I think critical to the application of the cross. Unlike some religions Christianity doesn’t need to go anywhere to be closer to God.

    There is a distinction to be made between the Father having a form and revealing Himself in forms perceptible to His people.

    To say the Father’s divine nature has a form denies the Father’s omni-presence, His continual relational presence. It does no good to use language that limits God to a specific form and deflect objections with the claim that God can do anything. The implications are clear, if God has am essential form He is not with us, He is with HIs form. If it is not intended to limit God to a form then the description of God having a form should be rejected.

    I am not a poetic person and my language can sometimes be sterile. There is an overriding beauty to the here and now presence of God. As is sung in the 23rd Psalm in our weakness, “You are with me.”

  31. Yes as Luther said, “Therefore, indeed, he himself must be present in every single creature in its innermost and outermost being, on all sides, through and through, below and above, before and behind, so that nothing can be more truly present and within all creatures than God himself with his power.”

  32. I’ll address questions in coming days. Work, commuting and family things have me quite occupied right now. I will do a little at a time.
    Much of the ideas we have about the nature of God is based on a study of the Bible and then we come up with conclusions. So, we can say, there is nothing which says God has the shape of a man, but that discounts two important scriptures. Namely, In Genesis “let us man man in our image, after our likeness…” and Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus is “the express image of his person…”

    The first means men were patterned after the appearance of God and the second means Jesus looks exactly like the Father. In fact, everything about Jesus his appearance, attitudes, personality is exactly like the Father.

    Additionally, in the OT, there were men who literally “wrestled with angels” and an “angel” was in the furnace with the prophets being burned. The men outside the furnace saw a fourth person in the flames, therefore angels also have the shape of men.

    By studying the Bible we can see that it looks like a contradiction to say man looks like God when we have things such as burning bushes in the mix. From the LDS view that was explained with the Brother of Jared story, when Jared at first could not see the Lord in Ether 3: 6 and then saw his finger and then the rest of him.

    In other words, God is not a shape shifter, though I see why others without present day prophets would think so. God, does not openly reveal himself, even to most prophets. Hence, burning bushes. In the Baptism of Jesus where the Holy Ghost descends in “bodily shape like a dove” does not mean the Holy Spirit looked like a dove. It looked like a man, but the descent was like a dove meaning, the spirit body glided down towards Jesus. The Holy Ghost did not shape shift into a dove. And further misunderstanding can be sited in translation, which brings up another topic.

    All translators seem to put the spin of their beliefs in the translation. The NIV seems to be the worst at this, literally “correcting” many Bible errors. These corrections get further away from the true text. So, I will stick with the KJV, which is over all closest to the original language, yet it too has partiality included as well. I’ll explain this later on.

  33. Is the omnipresence of God a logical conclusion or a revealed truth?

    I would say it’s a bit of both. There is revealed scripture that God is everywhere but it’s the cumuliative case of all those scriptures that he is “omnipresent”. As has been pointed out, the word “omnipresent” isn’t a biblical word. It’s a term for what is described in the Bible. Psalm 139 probably has the most direct description.

    I’m guessing that LDS would say that the Light of Christ is omnipresent.

    Here are some introductory articles to Omnipresence
    http://www.gotquestions.org/God-omnipresent.html
    http://www.allaboutgod.com/god-is-omnipresent-faq.htm

  34. Slowcowboy, in Mormonism there is no difference between spiritual and physical. “Spirit” is a finer physical form.

  35. Tim, then we are back into the world of talking past each other with that distinction.

    Maybe the better question is our physical bodies vs. our souls, by which I mean the spirits which are given physical bodies in Mormonism. The question is designed to address what is created in God’s likeness.

  36. Trying to picture Ray’s description of the holy ghost’s appearance at Christ’s baptism, this was the best I could come up with.

  37. Yes, Tim, they show a dove but the whole tape is a representation of what happened.

    “The Holy Ghost is a person and is in the form of a person. It does not conform itself to the sign of a dove but in the ‘sign’ of the dove. The Holy Ghost can not be transformed into a dove; but the sign of the dove was given to John to signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and innocense.” – Joseph Smith Teachings (pgs: 275-276)

    A dove was no doubt present, just as a burning bush was present while God and the Holy Ghost were present in both situations, though not seen.

  38. Cowboy: Ray, which image: spiritual or physical?

    An image is something you look at. “Resemblence” is the Greek meaning referencing appearance.

    And not the light of Christ which is a symbol for conscience but an actual blazing light such as when he was transfigured:
    Matt 17: 3
    “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”

    This is what Paul saw, a light. Then later he tells us he saw Jesus. Actually, he saw both but just did not share all the deatils at once. Similar to Joseph Smith when he saw God.

    Gundek – don’t appreciate that humor.

    Tim, and Gundek-
    Now, there is definitely symbolism through out the scriptures. So, how does one know if something is symbolic or literal?
    It’s very obvious from the style or writing in Luke and Acts that the author is conveying the story in literal terms. He is trying to explain exactly what occurred. There is no reason to think Stephen’s description wasn’t a literal one.

    And it’s very obvious from the text that much of Revelations is choke full of symbolism. As cited Rev 3: 21, I realize it is a symbolic representation of something else: exhaltation, but that is not why I used it. I was illustrating that if we are individuals and will have our own body, and Jesus has his own body, why wouldn’t God have a body as well?

    Some of you have said, if God had a body that would limit him. That was Plato’s thinking.
    So, I ask, is Jesus limited? Jesus could crush the Galaxy just by thinking it or bring in another Galaxy into existence just by thinking it. I would hardly say God is limited if he isn’t a spirit.
    It’s got to be just the opposite. We are going to be resurrected which is a higher state than being a spirit. Being away from the body is a curse, a form of bondage until we are raised from the dead. We are restrained by death. Jesus conquered death. Jesus went from a spirit being to one with a physical body. This is evidently a higher state than being just spirit. God the Father must exist at as high a state as Jesus, therefore he must have a body. This clearly would make him a seperate entity, a seperate individual, a seperate person. Yet, the Father and the Son are so identical, they are used interchangably when describing what they do. That is why they are “One”. And that is why Jesus said, “if ye have seen me, ye have seen the Father.”

  39. Psalms 139 is lined with much symbolism. It does not show that God is omni-present or a physical description in any way. It means God is always aware and cares about what we do where ever we are and if we rely upon Him, He will guide us.

  40. Hi Ray,
    It seems we may continue our exchange from the Yahoo board here but perhaps on a different subject.
    We were discussing B. Young’s teachings on blacks and the priesthood. And why it was not considered doctrine because it had not been canonized in LDS Scripture, Doctrine and Covenants to be precise. And so, because of that, B. Young was only sharing his personal views on that subject when addressing the church.
    As far as I know as a former LDS member, this book you just mentioned, “Joseph Smith Teachings”, is like the “Journal of Discourses”, in the sense that it is also not part of LDS standard Scriptures, not canonized. Could we assume then that this could, very possibly, be only J. Smith’s personal views on this subject of the Holy Spirit’s form as well?

  41. The problem with that thought process on the belief of multiplicity of gods, is that, obviously, it still requires an Uncreated God to come first and begins the process.
    Also, if God, the Father was supposedly a man once, living on a similar planet as ours, and just as us, struggling with sin and the continuous choice between good and evil to prove himself worthy of and through personal merit, receive his own godhood, wouldn’t he still be less than Jesus in the sense that Jesus came to earth but was sinless?

  42. Ray,

    I think the apostle Paul helps us understand that the image and likeness of God cannot be reduced to physicality (Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18; Eph 4:24; Phil 2:7; Col 3:10).

    And this is the basic disagreement between us. We read the bible completely differently. Christianity has, for the most part, rejected a Platonic view of eternal mater and pre-existence of souls so vital to Mormons. Greek philosophy in the Mormon cosmic narrative gives you a distinctive reading of the Bible. Anthropomorphic descriptions of God are taken literally while passages showing God as The creator or transcendent over creation are dismissed as symbolic.

    I’m not trying to dismiss you out of hand but I just think we need to keep in mind the futility of throwing Bible proof texts at each other, when we don’t have a common hermetic. The material God of Smith and Plato have simply been rejected by Christianity.

  43. “I’m not trying to dismiss you out of hand but I just think we need to keep in mind the futility of throwing Bible proof texts at each other, when we don’t have a common hermetic.”

    …More of the basic problem of discussing faith between traditional Christians and Mormons.

    I would even add Jesus’ admonitions in John 3 discuss the nature of God vs. man. He chides Nicodemus pretty hard on the subject. I wonder what LDS make of the first part of this chapter (1-21).

  44. The key is recognizing the different interpretive grids. I’m more than willing to discuss various passages in the bible and how they drive theology, but I also acknowledge that our basic presuppositions effect our how we read the bible.

  45. You too Cowboy!

    Solange,
    What I have tried getting across to you is prophets are men and they can make mistakes. I’m not going to berate Bible prophets but they in their actions have made enormous mistakes. Far worse than anything Young ever said by their bad example. I don’t disparage leaders if they make a mistake or don’t know something and make assumptions.

    Think about this for a minute: take the Book of Revelations. Do you or any of your ministers understand it sentence by sentence, can identify what is symbolic and what is literal? One simple item in the book is that there will be a 1,000 year reign of Christ of earth. Yet, the vast majority of Christianity is a-millennial. Who is right? Are the ones who are not right, are they going to Hell for believing false doctrine?

    Joseph, Brigham and other church leaders have experience with the Lord and insights that most of us don’t have. So, while most of the things are very relevent and can aid us in our salvation, they may not be 100% correct.
    The Bible, in my opinion, is not 100% correct. The most pro-Bible Protestant scholars say it is 99% correct, while my estimate based on the JST is about 97% correct. This is what happens when things get filtered through the hands of men, even inspired ones. But I trust and love the Bible and live my life by it, just as I trust church leaders to tell us the right things, over haul.

    In coming days, I will address the 3 in 1 Godhead, as I promised Tim I would, so I’m not avoiding the topic of multiplicity of gods.

    As far as the Journal of Discourse and Teachings, yes, it is true they do not rank to the level of Scripture. However, Joseph was not a typical Prophet. He had more visions and more revelations than just about any one who has ever lived. To put it in his words, ‘a man can learn more about God by gazing into heaven for 5 minutes than can be learned in a life time of study.’

    All the church Presidents after Joseph are recognized as prophets but, they haven’t have the type of visions and revelations Joseph had. There is likely to be less error in Joseph’s statements than the others which I would catergorized as, like the Bible, 99% accurate or more. Joseph also conjectured opinions based on his understanding too, such as that God the Father was once a man. He got this, from all places, the Bible. But he never had a revelation or vision on the subject, so we don’t promote it as canonized scripture.
    The 3 in 1 Godhead, though, is promoted as his First Vision is canonized scripture. So, statements made by Joseph on the subject are then very relevent. That is why I quoted him concerning the Holy Spirit.
    And incidentally, I have seen other church representations of Jesus’ baptism which depicted the Holy Ghost descending in the form of a spirit being of a man. I mention this for Tim and Gundek.

  46. Gundek – I’m quoting you a little out of order but I’m not trying to be confusing:

    “I’m not trying to dismiss you out of hand but I just think we need to keep in mind the futility of throwing Bible proof texts at each other, when we don’t have a common hermetic.”

    Actually we do have important commonality. That’s why we are talking. I’m trying to learn from you and I hope you are trying to learn from me.

    About 100 years before Jesus was born in ancient Judah there was some sort of debate over the then future coming of the Messiah.The Old Testament prophets did not make a very clear distinction of whether there would be one or more advents. Back then, based on the prophecies, some had concluded there would be two seperate comings of the Messiah. Yet, there was a large, I think , majority contingent of religious leaders who believed there would be only one advent of the Messiah.
    Now, that the Savior has already come, we can look back and easily say, well, it was obvious there was going to be two seperate advents, however, seeing the out come of prohecy which is yet future is not so easy, which is why Jesus explained it all on the Road to Emmaus to two of his disciples after he was resurrected. If understanding the fulfillment of prophecy was so easy, then Jesus would not have needed to explain it.

    The point is not every thing is crystal clear in the scriptures and I think the Lord has made it that way on purpose, so that we will think, ponder and pray about spiritual things. Discussing these things helps us to think about things related to God.

    So Gundek, if your inclination is I can’t contribute any thing valid to the conversation and I should be dismissed out of hand, consider this:

    “I think the apostle Paul helps us understand that the image and likeness of God cannot be reduced to physicality (Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18…”

    I went to Gen 1: 26 where the Godhead is determining the creation of man to be in their “Image”. Using Strong’s Concordance (which I obtained from a Christian group at e-sword) the Greek word “image” in Genesis is “tselem” which means something visual while “image” in the verses you selected from Paul is “eikon” which implies similarity beyond visual.
    It looks pretty clear to me that the creation “image” is talking about at a minimum of physical creation while Paul’s “image” is talking about becoming Christ like in attributes.

    Yet, in Hebrews 1: 3, Paul uses “image” is the word “charakter” from the Greek which means ‘an exact copy of something physical’.

    In other words, using the verses in Genesis and Hebrews, “image” means visual; something which is looked upon with the eyes. One could say, God looks like a man but the truth is man looks like a God.

    However, he prophets in the scriptures are not so concerned about the physical nature of God but his attributes. That we will be resurrected and have physical bodies is a fore gone conclusion. It’s going to happen regardless of what we think or believe but ‘how’ and under what circumstances we exist after the resurrection is the concern of the prophets and apostles.

    Now, if my expanation does not help you think about the things of God, then I suppose the solution is not to reply to my comments.

  47. Hi Solange!
    Forgive my manners. I invited you here and you came. Thank you. If you stick around, search the site and read Tim and Jared’s articles and positions on things and the comments, I’m sure it will help you have a bigger persective of the topics. The Evangelicals and Latter day Saints here have very good views on important Gospel topics.
    As far as Blacks, slavery and the priesthood, I think we pretty much covered that at Yahoo. I explained I understand your point of view and explained why it wasn’t completely valid from my point of view. We don’t agree on the topic. Unless this group wants to explore the topic I’m inclined not to say more about it.
    I have posted comments on three different articles here. The topics have been very interesting to me. I hope you enjoy and grow from the learning as I have.

  48. I specifically said that I was not dismissing you. That doesn’t change the obvious that Mormonism and Christianity have opposing ways of interpreting the Bible. Why that would be in any way controversial is beyond me?

    In his books on the Nicene Faith John Behr writes that one of the most important things to come out of the Nicene era was a common language and understanding of the humanity and divinity of Christ. This understanding provided the Church with a common hermetical grid setting the boundaries of orthodox scriptural interpretation. Behr explains that the Trinitarian/Christological debates centered on different understandings of the same sets of passages and not so much on philosophy.

    In the same way Christians see Christ as the hermetical grid for understanding the Old Testament and interpret the Old Testament differently than Jews.

    I think we also need to distinguish the dictionary definition of a word and a words theological meaning. Obviously we both would agree that charaktēr is not used to mean “inscription” or “engraved” in Heb 1:3 as the original use of the Greek in making money might imply.

    Context dictates meaning so, we should also realize that the use of צֶלֶם does not compel or even allow for an anthropomorphic reading as the Dictionary of Biblical Languages explains, “the exact reference of whether this is moral, ethical, physical, nature, etc. is not clear.”

    Similarly the historic use of χαρακτήρ as a theological term as understood in Jewish and Christian history plainly doesn’t allow for an anthropomorphic reading.

    Historically the Image of God (Imago Dei) has been variously understood as moral, spiritual, dominion, relational, etc. Not physical. Christianity just hasn’t embraced the Platonic view of a material god the way Mormonism has.

  49. Ray said

    Jesus went from a spirit being to one with a physical body. This is evidently a higher state than being just spirit. God the Father must exist at as high a state as Jesus, therefore he must have a body.

    Can you tell me where you in your scriptures you get the idea that having a physical body is a “higher state”?

  50. Ray, when Young warned his followers that eventual salvation would rest upon accepting Adam as God, was that a mistake? His words were pretty darn confident he was correct. That’s the problem with your thesis. Do you see that or not?

  51. Hi Ray,
    Wishing you Happy New Year!
    Yes, you did invite me to come and check this forum as Chidi did as well, after our exchanges on the Yahoo board on “Mormons say race remains taboo topic in church” came to an end. I have read Jared’s, Tim’s, Gundek’s, SlowCowboy’s posts, as well as yours. Although, I commend Jared for having this initiative attempting to start a dialogue between evangelical Christians and LDS members, I am not sure how successful such effort can be, if as stated here before by other participants, and as I, myself have mentioned to you in prior messages, we basically speak two different languages when discussing Bible texts. Same words, divergent meanings. Or, we can both say “potato” just fine but while I also think “potato”, you are thinking “tomato”. (Sorry- I cooked up a storm today and am still in that frame of mind, I guess..) True communication cannot take place in such circumstances: we will just go round an round indefinitely, without ever arriving at any real conclusions other than what we already know, which is, that we hold opposing spiritual core beliefs.
    So, as I have already mentioned before, that is precisely the reason why I do not engage in much talk about the biblical texts with LDS members in my interactions with them. But since all the differences in the interpretation of the biblical texts in LDS theology came about because of LDS prophets, mainly J. Smith, to me it is of the uptmost importance that we place him and his prophetic claims under scrutiny to ensure ourselves that he passes the test of a true prophet.

    Ray, the premise you have adopted to test truth, seems backwards. You begin with Joseph Smith and his teachings being true, and proceed by attempting to make the biblical texts conform to that pattern, instead of the other way around. Since both the O.T. and N.T. texts precede him by a very long time, it is just a much more prudent approach to verify spiritual truth guided by them as the foundation. As it is logical to take a deep, prolonged look into all J. S. says to consider the source and his credibility.
    You said that you were ready to drop the discussion on B. Young and the blacks’ issue and that is fine, although some main points I raised with you went unanswered. But leaving this differentiations on what is doctrine and what is policy in your church for a moment, I am hoping we can find some solid ground in the argument that will follow in regards to J. Smith’s teachings on the nature of God, the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Since you used non-canonized LDS texts to support your explanation of the Holy Spirit based on his teachings on it, I am going to hold you to that same standard of fairness when I quote him from non-canonized records myself. I am actually, a bit relieved that you just affirmed that J. Smith is more accurate than any other LDS prophet due to his stronger experiences gazing into divine truths. So, I am hoping you will not come back to me with any “hidden clauses” types of justification that say this and that are not valid because he is speaking as a man and not a prophet.

    First, and I am assuming you already are familiar with this, his teachings on the current LDS view on the nature of God, which clash with the evangelical one, are nowhere present in Smith’s earlier teachings. You mentioned only his current official account of the First Vision, but there were several accounts which did not get canonized, where he mentions seeing only an angel, angels, Jesus but not the Father, and then only years after, we have an account where God, the Father also appears and has a body like Jesus.
    The book of Mormon, first published in 1830, which obviously precedes D&C and where this doctrine is found, also lacks references to support it. But curiously, we find several which agree with the traditional biblical view: (Yes, I am making use of the highly detailed research of LDS documents the Tanners have already done, for sake of time.)
    Book of Mormon
    2 Nephi 31:21—And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.
    Mormon 7:7 Speaks of those in heaven singing endless praise “unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God.”
    3 Nephi 11:27 The resurrected Jesus instructs the Nephites “verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.”
    Ether 3:14 “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.”
    Mosiah 15:1-3 We read that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son. And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.”
    Alma 18:28 Ammon instructs the king that the “Great Spirit” is “God.” Later in the story a man named Aaron tells another king of the “Great Spirit” who is “God” (Alma 22:8-11).

    The title page of the Book of Mormon reads: “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations.”
    Testimony of the three witnesses, in front page of the Book of Mormon,“And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

    In 1830, J. Smith was working on his “Inspired Revision of the Bible” and this is how he translates Luke 10:22 “. . . no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”

    First changes in the doctrine began appearing in 1837, when in the second edition of the Book of Mormon, the phrase “the son of ” was added to several verses to distinguish between the Father and Son. One of the most significant changes was made in 1 Nephi 13:40 where it originally stated that the purpose of the Nephite record was to make known that “the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior” (Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, page 32). But in 1837 it was changed to read “the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:40).
    Another important change was made in 1 Nephi 11:18. In the 1830 edition, page 25, it read “Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.” In modern editions it has been changed to read, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.”

    In Doctrine and Covenants:
    The first part of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants was the “Lectures on Faith,” which were a series of seven lectures delivered to the elders of the LDS Church in Kirtland, Ohio, to establish them in correct doctrine. Yet these lessons fail to present the view of God currently held by the LDS Church. These lectures were printed in every edition of the Doctrine and Covenants until 1921.
    Lecture five made the distinction that the Father is “a personage of spirit” while the Son is “a personage of tabernacle.” This would contradict the current LDS teaching that God the Father has a physical “tabernacle” as well as Jesus. The lecture goes on to explain that there are two personages in the godhead, with the Holy Ghost being the mind of the two.” Lectures on Faith, Section V, p. 53-55 (And it also contradicts what you said about doctrine not changing, just policies.)

    From his own accounts:
    . . .while in attitude of calling upon the Lord a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life . . “ (The Joseph Smith Papers, 1832.)

    On November 9, 1835:
    “…being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at the different systems taught the children of men . . . I retired to the silent grove and bow[e]d down before the Lord, . . . I made a fruitless attempt to p[r]ay, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, I strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet, . . . I kneeled again my mouth was opened . . . and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer . . . a personage appeard in the midst of the pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication; When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels in the night . . “
    Dean C. Jessee, ed. Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), pp. 104-105. Words in brackets indicate the words were written above the line.

    On November 14, 1835:
    “I commenced and gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from 6 years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14. years old and also the visitations that I received afterward, concerning the book of Mormon, . .” (same reference above)

    1831 — Lucy Smith, Joseph’s mother, wrote to her brother Solomon Mack, Jr., about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the establishing of the true church, but made no mention of God appearing to her son in 1820. Instead, she began Joseph’s story with the angel telling of the hidden record:
    He [God] has now commenced this work. he hath sent forth a revelation in these last days, & this revelation is called the book of Mormon, . . . Perhaps you will enquire how this revelation come forth. it has been hid up in the earth four=teen hundred years, & was placed there by Moro[ni] one of the Nephites; it was engraven upon plates which have the appearance of gold . . . Joseph after repenting of his sins and humbling himself before God was visited by an holy Angel whose countenance was as lightning and whose garments were white above all whiteness and gave unto him commandments which inspired him from on high. and gave unto him by the means of which was before prepared that he should translate his book . . “
    “Lucy Smith to Solomon Mack, Jr., 6 January 1831,” Dan Vogel, ed. Early Mormon Documents, vol. 1, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996), pp. 215-216 .
    Will continue tomorrow.

  52. Hi Tim –

    “Can you tell me where you in your scriptures you get the idea that having a physical body is a “higher state”?”

    I get the idea from a sum total of verses both in the Bible and in other LDS scripture and with the understanding of the destiny of man designed by God as laid out in the scriptures. I will reference the Bible, then other LDS scripture. I do this separation because you believe the Bible to be the word of God, while I am sure you don’t feel the same way about other LDS scripture.

    We already lived as spirit before we were born. This was evidently common knowledge to the Apostles when they asked Jesus if a man born blind was so because of his parents or his own sin. Since he was born blind we can easily ascertain that the blind man lived as a spirit before birth (see John 9: 1, 2).

    Job 38:1-6 discusses the foundations of the earth being laid. At this exciting time verse 7 tells us that the “sons of God” shouted for joy. Since the man born blind lived before his birth, he and we were no doubt the “sons of God” at the earth’s creation. As such we existed as spirits. That was many thousands or possibly millions of years ago.

    Then we are born and come to this earth. We live a relatively short time, up to 120 years there about, and we die. Then our entire eternity of who knows how many hundreds of billions of years from here on out is determined by what we do in this very short mortal existence. What is it about our spirit’s receiving a body for a few years can have more influence on our futures than all the millenniums we lived as spirit only? The answer is simple. Having a body allows us to learn and experience things quickly. For instance, a spirit is immortal and can’t feel or understand pain. In a body, one experience with pain and we know what it is. More importantly, spiritual growth can be achieved very fast by being in these fragile bodies. It dramatically encourages faith and reliance upon God. So, these corruptible bodies are very useful in that way and can experience things a pure spirit can not.

    Death, which is the separation of body and spirit (James 2: 26) does not destroy our spirits. We are still conscious as spirits after the body dies. This is illustrated quite well with the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16: 19-31). Our spirits live on. But when we die and live on as spirits, this is not the resurrection. The resurrection won’t begin again until the second coming of Jesus. The resurrection will be with an incorruptible body (host of verses on this topic). Hell, where the “Rich Man” still exists, will yield up the dead at the last day before final judgment (Rev 20: 13).

    If living as spirits after our physical death is a higher state than with a body, then at the resurrection we are given tangible bodies again, this would the taking away of a better existence. And it means Jesus, God, also has stepped down in his existence on an eternal basis. For an Almighty God, this is counter intuitive. Based on the Bible, I conclude that a spirit with a physical eternal body is a higher state than one without a body.

    In two places in the D & C (45: 17 & 138:50) it says, “For the dead had looked upon their long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage”.

    Those spirits residing in the after life want their bodies back. Apparently, having a body is more desirable than not having one and thus higher state.

    In D & C 93: 33, 34 it says, “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy. And when separated man can not receive a fullness of joy.”

    In the realm of men, spirits and God, there is definite advance to possessing a celestial physical body and thus a higher state of existence.

  53. Ray said

    For instance, a spirit is immortal and can’t feel or understand pain.

    Where do you get this idea? Do you mean a spirit can’t feel or understand “physical” pain? As the creator of everything physical is it your understanding that God would not understand his creation if he didn’t have his own body?

    In two places in the D & C (45: 17 & 138:50) it says, “For the dead had looked upon their long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage”.

    Is it possible that this feeling of bondage applies to created beings such as men and not to God? After all Mormons don’t believe that God is dead do they? Did Heavenly Father die?

    Was Jesus in bondage until he came to Earth 2,000 years ago? My understanding of Mormonism is that Jesus is Jehovah and that he created the world. Did he do this with a feeling of bondage?

  54. Hi Solange!
    You posted a very long comment with many points. I’ll review it and get back to you, but you should know I don’t have 5 hours a day to answer all questions. However, I will address some if they are an actual concern of yours. I am not intertested in writing 500 pages to over come all the information you receive from the Light House Ministry.

    I will not convince any one here that Joseph was a Prophet. Indeed, that was the problem I had before I became a member of the church. It took a very powerful personal revelation for me to accept that he was the Prophet of the Restoration. The experience I had was at least ten times more powerful than when I came out of atheism to being a Christian.

    What humbled me was the Bible. (I didn’t read the B of M until years later). When I read and studied the Bible, I could see that my church didn’t really believe it and the LDS did. I knew there was a reason for this but I didn’t know what that reason was. What made it possible for me to actually seriously pray about Joseph was something I read on the God head in the Bible. This is why I want to talk about this subject with Tim and others here who have an interest in the topic.

    So, for now, I may make spot comments about your post, but I need to finish up and compose my thoughts on the Godhead as I promised I would.

    And one last thing. When we talk, it needs to be a conversation. I’m not going to debate you. I asked a question I think you and perhaps others should answer because it leads to a serious situation. About 90% of all Trinity Christians deny that the earth will go through a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ as mentioned in the B of Revelations. As I understand it, Evangelicals, like the LDS, do believe in the Millennium. If you don’t please say so. Assuming you do, then are the other 90% of Christians going to Hell for not believing in the Bible since they believe in “another” Gospel?

    If no, the follow up question is then, just how much false doctrine can one believe and still be “saved”?

  55. Ray, differences in opinion concerning the end times do not constitute a different gospel. There is one gospel: that God came to earth as a man to humble himself to offer a final sacrifice for his creation by dying a humiliating death to come back to life after 3 days, thereby conquering sin for those who believe in him by sharing his spirit with those that believe. Virtually anything not in this, and the Trinity is in this, can be fairly disputed without losing Christ and salvation.

    I don’t know what church you went to before, but it seems you never understood Christ or Christianity. Beware of your emotional experiences as they can be deceiving.

  56. Tim, don’t know how you get italics to post but you said:

    “Where do you get this idea? Do you mean a spirit can’t feel or understand “physical” pain? As the creator of everything physical is it your understanding that God would not understand his creation if he didn’t have his own body?”

    God understands everything. He is God. We don’t understand everything. Our spirits don’t understand physical and probably emotional pain until after we experience it in a body. I get the idea from various talks I’ve heard by church leaders through out the years.

    “Is it possible that this feeling of bondage applies to created beings such as men and not to God? After all Mormons don’t believe that God is dead do they? Did Heavenly Father die?”

    Heavenly father did not die but his Son, Jesus did since his spirit left his dead body. Did Jesus feel this feeling of bondage? I don’t think so because he is a part of the Godhead and all powerful but I don’t know, maybe he did. He seems to have experienced everything we experience in the way of feeling while a mortal; possibly, post mortal too. But he had the power to over come death. Its hard to feel in bondage if you have the power to break free from bondage.

    “Was Jesus in bondage until he came to Earth 2,000 years ago? My understanding of Mormonism is that Jesus is Jehovah and that he created the world. Did he do this with a feeling of bondage?”

    I don’t think pre-mortal spirits felt in “bondage” before earth life because they hadn’t ever felt what it was like to have a body. I would assume this would apply to Jesus as well but he was different than us since he was God. Assuming Jehovah was all knowing he probably knew in advance what having a body felt like. We need to remember that in earth life Jesus grew line upon line. He wasn’t “all knowing and all powerful” in mortality until a certain point. (If I remember correctly, “Judgment” was not committed to Him until after he was resurrected). When in his mortal life that point was reached, I don’t know. Certainly before the start of his ministry and maybe when he was still a child: I really don’t know.

    My answers about what Jesus experienced may sound like I’m talking out of two sides of my mouth. I’m just throwing out the possiblities since there aren’t any revelations on that subject of which I know of.

  57. Cowboy!

    “Ray, when Young warned his followers that eventual salvation would rest upon accepting Adam as God, was that a mistake? His words were pretty darn confident he was correct. That’s the problem with your thesis. Do you see that or not?”

    Adam was a member of the God head in the pre-mortal life. That makes him a god below Jesus and Heavenly Father. Adam had the privledge to come to earth and get the plan of salvation started for mankind.
    Adam is the “Ancients of Days” spoken of by Daniel. He has a special place in the entire plan of things.

    Young’s idea of attempting to altering the Temple endowment was a bad one. I say Young’s idea because several members of the Twelve did not support this unilateral action. Young may have been suffering dementia later in life. God settled the problem by bringing him home.

  58. Ray,
    Good morning to you.
    It seems to me that it is not so much the length of my message that you are opposed to as the content itself because it shows inconvenient truths which do not reconcile with your own opinions and feelings.
    It is a fact that this evolved view of the LDS theology in regards to the Trinity, cannot be found in the early teachings of Joseph Smith, neither in LDS scriptures,, the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, in their publications preceding 1837, when this change began taking place.
    Because you said that the First Vision supports the truth of this LDS doctrine, a discussion on the existence of several non-canonized statements, some from Smith himself, which diverge from the official one, becomes very pertinent to this dialogue.
    So, the question to be asked is why there are such inconsistencies both in accounts as well as in scripture? What we observe is that texts in LDS scripture needed to be reshaped and rewritten, as it was the case with the B.of M., to accommodate and agree with the new teaching.

  59. Actually Solange, I only read a couple of paragraphs and want to give you a thoughtful explanation. After, I scanned down to see how long your post was, I knew this was something I would need to read later. But I didn’t want you to wait a long time to hear back from me so I wrote what I did. I want to converse and I will answer your objections if they really mean something to you but this needs to be a conversation. I’lll address your concerns about Joseph but you need to answer my questions too. Incidentally, I asked my question before you put up your post. So far, you are the one ignoring what I asked.

  60. Cowboy – yes, I know what was recorded concerning Adam being ‘God our father’. Most likely, the transcription was an error because Young understood and taught Michael’s (Adam’s name before earth life) position in the Godhead quite clearly. I’m sure the error came because Adam is the “father” of the human race as far as our bodies are concerned. However, there were some goofy things going on concerning the endowment. This is why I think he might had some sort of dementia near the end of his life.
    Prophets are not gods. They can make errors and are subject to human frailty like the rest of us. This is why after Christ came the church was originally set up with 12 to 15 main leaders to help over come the human error factor which always slips into everything.

  61. Ray said

    My answers about what Jesus experienced may sound like I’m talking out of two sides of my mouth. I’m just throwing out the possiblities since there aren’t any revelations on that subject of which I know of.

    Well that’s at least a pleasant admission. 🙂 I was going to say that it seems like your current answers were contradicting what you said earlier about physical bodies being necessary for a “higher state” but it looks like you recognize that.

    Am I correct in understanding according to the LDS Church that both Jesus and the Holy Ghost became gods without first having the experience of having a physical and mortal body? If this is true, then it seems that it COULD be the case that Heavenly Father is also a god without a physical body. Am I wrong that it is not absolutely necessary to have a physical body to be a god?

    About 90% of all Trinity Christians deny that the earth will go through a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ as mentioned in the B of Revelations.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. Pre-Millenialism is by far the most popular understanding of the Book of Revelation. It’s totally off topic but this statement seems to indicate that your understanding of classic Christianity is probably not sufficient to make generalized judgments about what Christians do or not believe about the Bible. It could be that we don’t ignore the Bible quite to the extent that you think we do.

    —————————————————————-

    You can learn how to format the text in your comments from this link. Just go to the “formatting text” section. I typically use the blockquote function. http://en.support.wordpress.com/beginning-html/

  62. Thanks Tim, I will check out the formatting.

    “If this is true, then it seems that it COULD be the case that Heavenly Father is also a god without a physical body. Am I wrong that it is not absolutely necessary to have a physical body to be a god?”

    You are not wrong as with “god anything is possible’. However, I was citing a pattern laid out by God. For us, having a resurrected physical body is without question a higher state of existence. Jesus conquered death and retains his glorified body which is also a higher state than when he didn’t have a body. Being in a different state before resurrection does not take away from his Godhood. Having a resurrected body increases Christ’s state. Jesus is now at his highest state possible. I contrasted this against statements claiming that unless God isn’t mere spirit, he is limited.

    Christ is identical to God, “express image”, meaning an exact copy (according to the Greek). If you want to discard a body, then Paul is lying. This is a strong inference meaning God is a person (not a corruptable man like us), but person, none the less.

    Edmund Cherbonnier, Bible Scholar, is not LDS but clearly understands what the early Christians worshipped:
    http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/reflections-mormonism-judaeo-christian-parallels/9-defense-anthropomorphism

    Persons have bodies.

    Now Jesus clearly tells us that God is a person by citing Jewish law in John 8: 17, 18

    ” It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.”
    ” I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”

    There is no illusion here. Jesus is saying he is a man and so is his Father (though highly exalted).
    Otherwise, frankly speaking, Jesus is lying about his Father since if he is not a man, he couldn’t comply with the law as a witness.

    Additionally, Jesus tells us his Father has a shape (Greek: “form”). See John 5:37 We know from the text of Jesus explaining they hadn’t heard the Father’s voice he was speaking literally about his form. In other words, God has an appearance which can be defined in spacial coordinates.

    Now, if I am wrong in my understanding of these scriptures, then please re-explain them to me. I would be interested in hearing it.
    ________________________________________________________

    If we add up the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, the Catholics, Lutherans, Angelicans, Methodists, Churches of Christ and others (though some of the Protestants have changed back) add in the Postmillenialists then I would say this accounts for 90% of Christianity (mostly those who believe in Trinity). So, if it’s not 90%, it is still a very large percentage: well over half.
    Now, if you are only counting Evangelicals as Christians and excluding every one else, then I see your position.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amillennialism

    I used this as an example to ask, how much false doctrine can one believe and still be saved?
    Actually, I think this is asking a simple question, so I am puzzled why it can’t be quickly answered by some one.

  63. I used this as an example to ask, how much false doctrine can one believe and still be saved? Actually, I think this is asking a simple question, so I am puzzled why it can’t be quickly answered by some one.

    Ah, if you were merely asking this question, you chose a poor way to ask it. I think it’s a great question for discussion. I think I’ve answered it on this blog before. If I can’t find my original answer I’ll write a new post on it. I don’t think it’s a quick question to answer because it’s a terrible way to approach Christianity. It’s like asking “how much adultery can a man commit and remained married?” But I’ll get to all of that later.

    I’ll also check your biblical references in detail.

  64. Solange,
    Now, that I have read your post, I see it is not too far off topic since it has to do with the Godhead. Your comment was a lot of work on your part, even if you were copy and pasting and I recognize your effort.

    I think you should realize that “anti’s” of just about any thing are crafted in deception and your post reflects that premise. I don’t think you are deceptive per say but you allow these bad people to blind you from seeing clearly. It still boggles my mind there are “ministries” whose soul purpose is to destroy some one else. This doesn’t sound anything like the Gospel I read about in the New Testament.

    Everything Light House and the big anti-Mormons have put out has been either refuted or credibly explained by LDS scholarship. A practical acknowledgement of this was issued in 1997 by Mosser and Owen:

    http://www.cometozarahemla.org/others/mosser-owen.html

    If you do some internet searching you can find all answers on all the topics. I still rely on books for this since I bought them through the years.

    Mosser and Owen produced their own book in 2002, the “New Mormon Challenge”. Their goal is to get Protestant Scholars to look at all the discoveries which have come forth and re-interpret the evidence to discredit Joseph and the LDS church and make it appear like Evangelical Christianity was taught in the first century when it obviously wasn’t. But their concern about LDS scholarship says it all.

    And what, you may wonder does this have to do with your “test for a prophet”? It means this attack you presented on Joseph and the accusation that he made up his version of the Godhead as he went along in baseless.

    It is true that Joseph was reluctant to talk about and write the First Vision down. It was a sacred experience and one he didn’t think he needed to share. But he did share it with friends and they convinced him to record it. He did so as you noted in four different versions. Each version tells aspects of the experience but none tell it all, not even the canonized version. This is hardly evidence of anything sinister.

    I tell aspects of my conversion story all the time. I seldom tell it the same way twice, though I generally convey the idea of what happened. My conversion was a little thing in comparison to the event of Joseph’s First Vision. For Joseph to leave out this or that here and there or include this or that here and there doesn’t prove anything other than he is not a computer spitting out the exact same information every single time.
    I believe anyone who had an actual conversion experience would a test to this which makes me wonder, if the people who attempt to use this argument have ever had such experience.

    As far as Joseph’s understanding of the Godhead, it is indeed reflected in the B of M in 1830. In Ether 3: 14-18 We learn that there are two main personages in the Godhead, the Father and the Son and we also learn that Jesus’ spirit body is in the shape of a man and man was created in the visual image of Jesus. That Jesus is the Father and the Father is Jesus is the common verbal exchange to indicate their unity. So alike are they, this is commonly done in the scriptures: B of M, NT and OT. However, when translating the B of M Joseph understood who the “Gods” were so he identified them as the Father and Son and Holy Spirit in various places. This is clearly an anthropomorphic view.

    But Joseph was in no hurry to reveal God the Father has a body. I suspect this is because his restored version of the gospel was so different to what people we used to about God that he didn’t want to scare them off prematurely. When he realized his friends would accept the truth, he was more open about sharing it.

    I just so happen to have a copy of the Lectures on Faith and the Father and Son are clearly identified rather than typical interchanging of each other. Still, even in 1835, Joseph was not ready to discuss the physical nature of God calling him a spirit but it says referring to Jesus, “he is the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father” meaning they are identical copies of each other in appearance, attributes and abilities. In other words, it was deeply implied then.
    As far as the doctrine, it hasn’t changed on this issue since. It says that the Father and Son possess the same mind “which mind is the Holy Spirit”, meaning the Holy Spirit has the same mind as the Father and Son as well because it continues on to say “…these three constitute the Godhead.”

    What needs to be remembered in LDS theology is the members of the Godhead are not equal and the focus is on Christ. The Father sent us the Son and the Son sent us the Holy Spirit. There is structured order here. Not a lot is discussed on the Holy Ghost other than what he does for us. The Father and the Son rule together and are pre-eminent.

  65. Ray,

    Yes, God is personal. Trinitarian theology says God is more than personal, God is tri-personal. I don’t know where you got the idea that orthodox Christianity denies that God is personal.

    Saying that No one has ever seen the form of God (John 5:37), isn’t exactly the same as saying God has a Body, now is it? In the same way, saying that the Son is the exact representation of the Father’s divine nature (Heb 1:3) doesn’t mean the father has a human nature, does it?

  66. I read through the article and it is clear that the author has confused Biblical Literalism and Biblical Inerrancy. They are by no means the same thing. Making such a fallow mistake is not a good place to write an article from.

    Yes, we affirm that Jesus and the Father are both persons. There is no argument from us there. We even agree that they are both distinct and unique persons.

    Persons have bodies.

    I don’t know that it’s a given that persons have bodies. For instance the LDS Church teaches that the Holy Ghost is a person, but it also teaches that the Holy Ghost does not have a body. Further it teaches that Satan and his demons are persons without bodies.

    Proof-texting is by no means an isolated issue for Mormons. People of all religious traditions commit this error to one extent or another. I’ve noticed that Mormons have a particular bent to proof-texting the KJV. It may be difficult for the LDS Church to ever move away from the KJV just because of how much Joseph Smith made of certain English phrasings in the KJV. I think a question Mormons need to ask themselves as frequently as possible is “If Joseph Smith had never come on the scene, would I understand this passage the way the LDS Church is encouraging me to read it?”

    Mormons tend to choose literal and figurative approaches to the Bible not so much because the passage or historical context calls for it but because of how it helps or hurts Joseph Smith.

    John 18,17 uses the word “men”. Other translations use the word “witnesses”. The main point of the passage is Jesus explaining who is witnessing on his behalf. He’s not giving an explanation on the physical nature of God. In fact if he was there would have been a much bigger kerfuffle than the one Jesus was facing at the time. Jews never thought of God as a physical man. The thought of God being part of the physical realm would make no sense of the Jewish religion.

    John 5:37 doesn’t really say anything more than that God has a “form”. That’s no indication that he has a physical body like a man. Steam and smoke both have forms. I agree that there are times when God reveals himself in a way that can be defined by spatial coordinates (the hand on the wall, the dove, the back of God that Elijah saw) but those are mere manifestations of God, they are ways God chooses to show himself. They aren’t a definition of his nature.

    What do you make of John 4:24? “God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

  67. Ray, why the focus on the differences in opinion on end times? What are you hoping to prove with the train of thought? What do you have to say that it’s not something that will dam someone?

    I also think you are doing a lot of explain away Smith’s and Young’s positions. I, for one, think the line of being misquoted is terribly weak. With it, we can’t trust anything recorded. If you say we can then it opens the door to selective use of the defense. Either way, it is unreliable.

    And lrt me adk you this, too: what do you gain by God having a body?

  68. Ray said:

    Mosser and Owen produced their own book in 2002, the “New Mormon Challenge”. Their goal is to get Protestant Scholars to look at all the discoveries which have come forth and re-interpret the evidence to discredit Joseph and the LDS church and make it appear like Evangelical Christianity was taught in the first century when it obviously wasn’t. But their concern about LDS scholarship says it all.

    Totally off topic but, based on this comment I’m guessing you haven’t read “The New Mormon Challenge”. The book is about new challenges for Mormons rather than new challenges from Mormons. I’ve met almost every author in the book and I can assure you your summary of the book and their reasoning for writing it is completely wrong.

    Mosser and Owen were not saying that all the old questions have been answered definitively and satisfactorily they were saying that they’ve been answered. (in fact Mormon Scholars still continue to come up with new answers to all of those “old questions”).

  69. Tim, Cowboy and others, thank you for the responses. It helps me to see better how you think and hopefully is a true represenation of Evangelicals in general and how they think.

    Yes, I stand corrected, the New Mormon Challenge is what you said. I should have applied what I was saying to the letter they sent in 1997 and not the book. I wanted to mention the book because I didn’t want to leave the impression the 1997 letter was the final word on the subject. I do not hide information to bolster my thinking to others. I think intentionally leaving out relevent information is a form of deception.

    “I don’t know that it’s a given that persons have bodies. For instance the LDS Church teaches that the Holy Ghost is a person, but it also teaches that the Holy Ghost does not have a body. Further it teaches that Satan and his demons are persons without bodies.”

    In my comment to Solange, I mentioned the Book of Ether, where Jesus describes his spirit has a shape and it is the shape of a human. I know you don’t believe the B of M, which is why I mentioned when the Lord was resurrected and the Apostles saw him, they thought he was a spirit. I see this as the Apostles understood that spirts have the form of a man but in truth man has the form of a spirit. Briefly stated, all spirit beings have bodies which look human.

    If God does not have a physical body and he does not have a defined spirit body and is everywhere present, then this makes a case for idolatry. It explains why some Catholics and Orthodox pray before statues.

    Carve up a rock to what you want it to look like and pray to is since God is everywhere, he’s in the rock too. I spoke with an actual idol worshipper once. I told her that God was not a rock. She told me that God’s spirit came and resided in the rock when she prayed to it. That’s what idol worship is about. A shape shifting God that does what we think he does and not what he actually does.

    I think when we do not understand the physical nature of God, then it is hard to understand the spiritual nature of God and the plan God has laid out.
    When the Trinity was being defined there were competing ideas. Once the issue was “settled”, those who continued to maintain different beliefs on the Trinity were killed or declared heretics by those who established the doctrine. By using murder to promote their ideas, they clearly did not understand Jesus, not one bit. Since they did not understand the physical nature of God they couldn’t understand the spiritual nature of God. And in my opinion, these men are in Hell for what they did. This is the danger of false doctrine which is the actions it can lead us to do.

    I think the idea that God is a shape shifting spirit essence which fills the universe can cause people to image enormous ideas about the nature of God and do silly things like worship statues. Now, if they were reading their Bible they may stay on the right path, by understanding the charactor of God, but most people, believers, don’t do that. They go on what they hear at church.

    Frankly, when I thought as you did about God, and came to realize he was something different meaning tangible, it increased my faith greatly because it made understanding the Bible so much easier which made living a Christ centered life also much easier. Understanding God is the key to getting closer to God.
    The B of M is nothing more than a New World Bible, but it is written in such clarity and eaze of understanding in draws people closer to God. That’s why Joseph made the claim that it was the most correct of books and could draw people closer to God than any other book.
    So, Cowboy, understanding truth principles and the scriptures increases our faith which helps us be closer to God. That’s why it is important to understand what God is.

    There are a couple of more concerns in your posts I will address later, including John 4 and some Jewish beliefs. That will be in another post.

  70. Ray, to adreess your entity post in a single question, if God can exist everywhere, including a rock, and the woman was praying TO God, not the rock, whats the problem? How is she praying incorrectly?

    She recognizes God is not the rock and can do nothing for her. there is no idol here. If you disagree, consider that an idol is something different. You can look that up.

    As to you belief it is important to get Gid right, that is my chief objection to Mormonism.

  71. Additionally, you say God is not a a shape shufter, how would that change you salvation if he appeared to us in ways we need to see him?

  72. Tim and others,

    What we have going here is our understanding of the scriptures is different in that, what I think is literal, you fellows think is figurative and what I think is figurative, you think is literal.
    This issue is based on our theology differences concerning the physical nature of God. Your theology goes back to the 4th century and was set up by men who, in my opinion, were never inspired or authorized, to make the clarifying identification to the nature of the Godhead. I think I have the authority of a Prophet who God sent us messages to clarify things so we can worship him in truth.

    You asked about John 4: 24 wherein it says “…God is a Spirit…”

    Jesus always spoke with non-believers from the base of their beliefs and answered them accordingly. Here, Jesus was speaking to a Samaritan who was a half pagan Hebrew-Assyrian who undoubtedly worshipped idols.

    John 4:23, 24 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

    “Spirit” can mean a lot of things depending in usage. Here, Jesus is not talking about the corporal nature of spirit as he was in Luke after the resurrection but he was talking about the rational living part of God mentioned in Strong’s Concordance as one of the definitions of the word ‘spirit’: “mental disposition”.

    Idols are dead in that they have no spirit in them which is what life is about. God is alive but idols are not. So, Jesus referenced the living part of God as “spirit”.

    This view is backed up by two things: first, it says we are to “worship him in spirit and truth”. This doesn’t mean we are to leave our bodies as spirits to worship and to worship we need to understand the truth.

    Other scriptures say what God is as well. “God is love” in 1 John 4: 16, “God is light” in 1 John 1:5 and “God is a consuming fire” in Hebrews 12: 29. All symbolic references to what God is, but they are all physical references as well. God is spirit just as man is a spirit. Spirit is what makes bodies live. But God is not just spirit or just light or just fire.

    This verse in no way discounts “the express image” of Christ and the Father in Hebrews 1:3 since Strong’s shows that the term means a physical identical copy like engraved images of idols which were produced in that time period.

    _____________________________________________________

    The New Testament author of Luke seems to realize that God was not changed into a “burning bush” but was hidden in a burning bush, much as the B of M’s Brother of Jared when the Lord was hidden in a cloud:

    Luke 20:37 “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

    I would think if the bush was actually, physically God, there would have been much more reverence about it in this description.

    I checked other translations of this verse and it is quite predictable how many extra words can be added to brush aside the significance of the failure to mention that God was physically a bush. Phrases such as “the story of the burning bush” are added when no such language is in the text shows the deliberate translation flavor of those who think God is shape shifting spirit.

    I don’t believe God transforms himself into other objects, He conceals himself in or near objects He instantaneously creates and rarely shows his true physical form; the one we are patterned after.

  73. Ray, so Jesus talked to us in ways that will reach us but God cant reveal himself in ways that will reach us?

    hmmm…. interesting logic. Also interesting to consider God hiding behind a tree when talking to us.

    Now, at the beginning of this post you mention differences in our theology and how ours is based on 4th century, uninspired folks lacking authority. I simply have one question from this: show me evidence the Christians from the 1st through the 3rd centuries were Mormon.

  74. Actually Cowboy, she was equating God with the rock.

    In idolatry, the spirit ‘enters’ the statue and the two together become a ‘living god’. If, the worshipper is really lucky (and stoned) then the statue might appear to move as a sign of something.

    The person I spoke with did not want to tell me that part, but that is what they think. They know we live in a modern age that ridicule people for believing such things.

    In ancient Greece, sophisticated science was used to make the statues appear to move. One site was discovered and written about that used powerful magnets to get the statues to levitate. The worshippers were in awe. Unfortunately, for them, their God was a fraud. And their faith in vain.

    God strictly forbids kneeing to idols, be it statues, pictures or even a Bible on our bed as we are praying. We are never to worship God’s creations: the stone, the paint on canvas or the pages of scrip in place of God.

  75. Cowboy:
    “I simply have one question from this: show me evidence the Christians from the 1st through the 3rd centuries were Mormon.”

    First, early Christians called themselves “saints” as we call ourselves today, “Latter day saints”. So, they weren’t “mormons” per say but they did teach many of the doctrines which are unique to LDS teachings. For instance, the saints after the Apostles were obsessed with salvation for the dead. Baptism for the dead was a wide spread practice in early Christianity. They prayed in prayer circles so similar to what happens in the LDS temples that it is simply stunning. And there is much, much more.

    This is where the link of the Mosser and Owen letter I posted comes in. It is admission of the extent of the credible work done in this area:

    http://www.cometozarahemla.org/others/mosser-owen.html

    LDS scholars and non-LDS scholars don’t deny these things with all the discoveries in the last hundred or so years. Nibley was the forerunner to this type of research. If you click on this link you’ll see the vast body of his work:

    http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/people/hugh-nibley/

    Ultimately, there was an Apostacy. A big one. And it didn’t start in the Middle Ages shortly before the Protestant rebellion. It started in the first century. This Falling Away started before the Apostles died and was prophecied by them to be complete and long with a bright hope of a future restoration.

  76. Ray,

    Both LDS and Evangelicals share an aversion to idolatry and the semi-idolatry often found in Christian congregations. I think it is also difficult to explain the Church to Evangelicals because of they see the LDS understanding of God as an exalted man to be an especially glaring theological error. The Evangelical position is not an unreasonable. It is very difficult to imagine the God of the Universe taking the form of any particular creature. Because of this they eventually give up on offering a good explanation of Jesus’ divinity and conceded that the ability for Jesus to be both human and God is an unfathomable mystery.

    Many Mormons explain the divinity of Jesus by pointing out that He was precisely like his father. This squares with the literal language of some translations of the Bible, but it is hard to imagine that it is the only reasonable interpretation. Mormons generally point the First Vision as the primary proof that God is precisely like Jesus. Where do you stand on the question: How was Jesus both God and human?

  77. For the group,

    When I was an LDS missionary, the most fervent defenders of the Evangelical position seemed to almost worship the Bible. They often talked as if the Word of God was the source of all knowledge about God. To me, it made no sense to believe that God loves me simply because the Bible tells me so. I saw Evangelicalism as a simplistic devotion to a particular texr. I rejected what appeared to be a slavish to accept that they should only trust the Bible when it is clear — Mormon own life at least — God shows up in all kinds of other places. To those who have powerful experiences with the Spirit, these sorts of manifestations appear to be a more reliable source of knowledge than the Bible. This belief is perhaps the primary cause of theological differences between Mormons and Evangelicals, and it is not a trivial problem.

  78. Morning, everyone!
    Ray, I had a pretty busy weekend with various family events going on and could not reply to you any sooner. I own you an apology for assuming you had read my long post in its entirety before you replied to me.
    You said:
    “And one last thing. When we talk, it needs to be a conversation. I’m not going to debate you. I asked a question I think you and perhaps others should answer because it leads to a serious situation. About 90% of all Trinity Christians deny that the earth will go through a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ as mentioned in the B of Revelations. As I understand it, Evangelicals, like the LDS, do believe in the Millennium. If you don’t please say so. Assuming you do, then are the other 90% of Christians going to Hell for not believing in the Bible since they believe in “another” Gospel?
    If no, the follow up question is then, just how much false doctrine can one believe and still be “saved”?”

    I am all in for a conversation in which we do not resort to personal attacks about anyone’s character, level of intelligence and/or spiritual state. You have had some pretty choice words for me on that regard on the previous forum we were both in, way beyond merely debating our differences, so I do welcome your new demeanor here, and am very agreeable to your proposition.
    As for the information from the Tanner’s, first, one cannot plagiarize what is public information,( I do appreciate that this time you did not tell me that), and secondly, because it is clear that you are one LDS member who actually reads a lot and in depth, you may not like their work of releasing to the public sensitive LDS documents and records, but you yourself recognizes that they have not doctored anything in any way. Years ago, I spent a considerable amount of time verifying their released information with LDS original records to ascertain their veracity for myself, and there is no deceit on their part: it all matches with the originals without any changes. In my opinion, that is why they have been such a thorn in the church’s side. It is mainly due to their work and the arrival of the internet, that the church could no longer suppress information they would much rather leave locked away and now for the last 15 years or so, LDS apologists have been working hard trying to come up with plausible explanations.

    In regards to your question about salvation, I had read the new message from slowcowboy in my phone while running errands, and saw that he had addressed it quite well and succinctly but I will be glad to answer it myself. No, no one who is truly saved cannot lose their salvation if they are not sure, don’t believe, or are neutral about the Millennium.
    This is what I see as the single essential difference in doctrine which makes Mormonism have a different gospel. (And any other belief system that negates or diminishes the centrality and finality of Christ’s atonement.)
    That was also the single reason why I left Mormonism after 25 years of very devoted membership.
    The burden of being responsible for my own salvation, or better, exaltation, was an impossible one to continue carrying. Since in LDS theology Christ’s atonement guarantees immortality only, the goal is to perform in such a way that one earns their own right to become a god. But no one knows for sure when enough is enough and how well they did until judgement day arrives. So, no guarantees.
    The same with blessings here on earth. One needs to make himself worthy of God’s blessings.
    If things are not going well, the presupposition is that some personal sin might be involved or the need to do more good and be more obedient might be what is lacking. So, you try to do more, read more, go to the temple more, serve in callings more, go on a mission, and guess what? Is it enough? When does one know for sure when enough is enough? Eventually, I felt like that hamster on the wheel. And began thinking that if things I was doing were not being enough for the blessings of this life, how much of a real shot did I have for attaining exaltation? God became less of a Father and more of a task master.
    And if I was going to be honest with myself, sin was not only an external Goliath but the enemy living within, in my nature. My awareness grew to realize how futile my attempts were to develop a nature like Christ on my own efforts or good works. But I also began to resent God for giving me an impossible task, “Be perfect as I am perfect.”
    I remember years before that, as a missionary, reading Paul’s epistles on salvation by grace and not by one’s works and it impacted me strongly, where before, I had not paid much attention. His words gave me a longing for it to be true because contrasting them with my own experiences, they made a whole lot of sense. But it would be years until I would not look at the biblical texts with the mistrust I was taught to have for them.
    I cannot begin to describe to you how much freedom, joy, peace and specially, gratitude I now have for a Redeemer who have not only died and resurrected to give me immortality but has paid a full, final and complete price, with his own blood, for me to become a daughter of God, by adoption through his name, which cannot be revoked and never taken away from me or anyone who surrenders to him completely, in brokenness and humility through faith.
    The third chapter of the book of Romans powerfully articulates that.

  79. Ray said

    I do not hide information to bolster my thinking to others. I think intentionally leaving out relevent information is a form of deception.

    That is admirable and appreciated. Thanks.

    If God does not have a physical body and he does not have a defined spirit body and is everywhere present, then this makes a case for idolatry. It explains why some Catholics and Orthodox pray before statues.

    That’s an interesting supposition. Especially since the Bible makes the case against idolatry by saying God is everywhere and not confined to an idol. You’ve essentially reversed the Biblical argument against idolatry. Christians are just as opposed to idolatry as Mormons. To suggest otherwise is absurd. The reason Catholics and Orthodox pray before statues is because the proper use of icons in prayer is not well understood and the paganism of the surrounding cultures as slipped in and infected the faith in some areas of the world.

    By using murder to promote their ideas, they clearly did not understand Jesus, not one bit. Since they did not understand the physical nature of God they couldn’t understand the spiritual nature of God. And in my opinion, these men are in Hell for what they did. This is the danger of false doctrine which is the actions it can lead us to do.

    No argument from me on murder. But your history on the development of the Trinity and the enforcement against heresy borders on bearing false witness. You’ve compressed five or six hundred years of church history around a few decades surrounding Nicea. It would be a bit like me saying “Brigham Young ordered the Mountain Meadows Massacre to get even for the murder of Joseph Smith.” There’s so many thing wrong with that statement it’s hard to know where to start.

    understanding truth principles and the scriptures increases our faith which helps us be closer to God. That’s why it is important to understand what God is.

    YES! Absolutely. I agree. I think people can be sincerely wrong despite their sincerity and that heresy can mislead them into idolatry. I’m glad we agree on this. One way of being closer to God is to understand his nature as well as we can. This puts us in the right posture toward him and gives us the right perspective on his power and his attitude toward us.

  80. The New Testament author of Luke seems to realize that God was not changed into a “burning bush” but was hidden in a burning bush

    How is God “hiding” in a burning bush functionally different from what your idolater friend believes that her god enters the statue? I’m not sure I see the distinction. FWIW, I don’t think Jesus/Jehovah was the burning bush.

    As far as John 4 I think it’s important to look at the question Jesus was answering (regardless of how we’re choosing to prooftext it). The woman wanted to know where was the right place to worship; Jerusalem or Samaria. Jesus told her the location doesn’t matter because God is Spirit. He’s not found in a temple but where ever he is worshipped in spirit and truth.

    Your theology goes back to the 4th century

    Just a quick clarification, extra-biblical teachings on the Trinity go all the way back to the first century. It was only formalized in the 4th century. Similar to how the LDS church says polygamy was practiced starting in 1832 but not officially canonized until 1876.

    Your theology goes back to the 4th century and was set up by men who, in my opinion, were never inspired or authorized, to make the clarifying identification to the nature of the Godhead. I think I have the authority of a Prophet who God sent us messages to clarify things so we can worship him in truth.

    I think THIS is the true lynch pin between us. Does Joseph Smith prove himself to be a true prophet of God? Does his character and teachings line up with everything the Bible teaches us? His teachings and the biblical controversies that follow quickly evaporate once we come to a conclusion on Smith’s prophetic mantle.

  81. Ray said

    Ultimately, there was an Apostacy. A big one. And it didn’t start in the Middle Ages shortly before the Protestant rebellion. It started in the first century.

    Why are you tearing down my religion?!? That’s so un-Christlike. You should devote yourself to building up faith rather than tearing it down.

    😉

  82. Ray, gleaned through Mosser/Owen’s article. Interesting, sure. I had read it before, but it says nothing of the veracity of the Mormon claims, only that Mormons are getting more sophisticated and need to be addressed in a like manner. I also gleaned through this article:

    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/cpoint10-3.html

    Clearly, not everyone agrees with Mosser and Owens, who are no friends to Mormons, themselves. Sure, Mormon scholarship has some credibility by way of status, but it does not follow that just because more Mormons have PhDs that they are correct, or that their answers get rid of the questions.

    They called themselves saints, huh? That’s hardly an argument. Baptism for the dead was hardly a practice the early Christians were obsessed with. At best, it seems an isolated practice that was not one the “Saints” were generally engaged with.

  83. Hi Ray,
    As far as LDS scripture changes on this subject about D&C you said:
    “Joseph was not ready to discuss the physical nature of God calling him a spirit but it says referring to Jesus, “he is the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father” meaning they are identical copies of each other in appearance, attributes and abilities. In other words, it was deeply implied then.
    As far as the doctrine, it hasn’t changed on this issue since.”

    But it changed once. Which you affirmed emphatically have never happened in LDS canon of scriptures.
    You did not recognize that originally, the Lectures on Faith read that God, the Father is “a personage of spirit” while the Son is “a personage of tabernacle.” There is a perfectly clear distinction in his description and I do not see how one who is not predisposed to believe in Father God as having a body, could make that jump. The text does not allow for such implication.
    Even the “express image and likeness to the Father” part does not allow for that. It goes along with Paul’s verses in Colossians: He is the image of the invisible God. (1:15) ” for God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, (v.19), “for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity leaves in bodily form” (2:9)

    The same agreement occurs with the original texts in the B. of M., the testimony of the three witnesses and the front page of the book.

    As far as going to modern LDS apologists, who are not prophets, neither apostles themselves, to get an explanation of Joseph Smith’s teachings, seems to me a little off. Why defer to the word of apologists and not be studying straight from the prophet’s own mouth?
    Due to his level of accuracy being so higher than anyone else’s we should be focusing in his words.

    The First Vision, after the first coming of Jesus, should be the most important event in human history, yet, after seeing God and Jesus, and being called to restore truth on earth, why would he be so quiet about this happening? His own mother does not appear to know anything more than the visitation of angels. And yes, whenever we recount a story, we may use different words, but the content must not alter in order to be considered the same story. He could have used different words, but to mention angel/angels and leave the central part, Jesus and God, the Father entirely out of his several accounts…Does it truly seem feasible to you?

    We agree that he was not teaching this openly to church members. In fact when he did, a group immediately left the church and renounced mormonism, claiming he was teaching heresy. Their public renouncement is recorded in Times and Seasons, the church owned paper then.
    By looking at the changes needed in those passages of the B. of M., Lectures on Faith, and his several discordant accounts, there is evidence available which points to an “evolution” of his own mind on the subject rather than a purposeful suppression on his part of what he saw in those woods.

  84. “I saw Evangelicalism as a simplistic devotion to a particular texr. I rejected what appeared to be a slavish to accept that they should only trust the Bible when it is clear — Mormon own life at least — God shows up in all kinds of other places. To those who have powerful experiences with the Spirit, these sorts of manifestations appear to be a more reliable source of knowledge than the Bible. This belief is perhaps the primary cause of theological differences between Mormons and Evangelicals, and it is not a trivial problem.”
    Jared, I don’t think I get what you said here.

  85. I see why you are confused.

    My not-well-made point was that in an age of strong skepticism regarding the accuracy of texts, individual experience with God seems to be more reliable, at the very least, to the individual who has an experience with divine facts.

    My impression as an LDS missionary was that many Evangelicals put the cart (the Bible) before the horse (the Spirit of God). I saw that relying on the Bible is an act of faith similar but not precisely the same as relying on God, and many people appeared to be relying on the text more than God.

    At this point in my life I see the wisdom in relying heavily on traditional texts because of their ability to point to keep the mind focused on important facts that may be confused when other concepts and language are introduced. The canon serves to isolate the discussion to the facts that were considered most important by early Christians. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants opens up the discussion to other areas, particularly those dealing with seeking and finding spiritual answers, but in my experience this shift in focus often comes at the expense of the important facts that the Bible points to.

  86. Yes, as a missionary in the south of Brazil, I had several encounters with Evangelicals whom I thought at the time, had a one track mind about the Bible. But we were asking them and everyone who accepted us into their homes, to pray and wait for a warm feeling, given by God, as a confirmation of the divine truth about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. If they relied heavily on the biblical text to refute that, in light of already given revelation that conflicted with our new message, good for them!
    I wish I had a way to go back to every door I knocked on during that year and a half and ask the people for forgiveness.

    I may not still be getting your point as you wish it to be understood, but one of the important reasons why the canon is in place, is for the individual’s discernment in testing spiritual experiences, as not all of them are divine.

    “The Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants opens up the discussion to other areas, particularly those dealing with seeking and finding spiritual answers,”
    Which areas do you refer to and what kind of spiritual answers?

  87. The Book of Mormon has themes that are not addressed in New Testament: the relationship of God to nation and nationalism, religious governance, the relationship of the individual with national identity and political power, the nature of the Kingdom of God on earth in relation to religion and politics, war, and gangsterism. Mormonism introduces a unique and compelling view of history that can be very enlightening given the very muddled and generally false view of history that liberalism presents. It also addresses, at length, the process of finding truth through, following that truth, and applying revelation to temporal political contexts. It’s not hard to see the relevance of these themes to people these days.

    The New Testament canon teaches submission to authority in a way that has been the source of enormous suffering, I think Mormonism addresses some of that, i.e. how to identify and submit to spiritual authority in the context of political authority.

    I think that those Brazilians were probably right on holding tight to the truth they found in the Bible, but the narrowness of the New Testament’s focus leaves a lot of room for discussions that most people do not engage in. Arguably most of the things Mormons and Evangelicals argue about are a complete distraction from the more important truths of Mormonism and Evangelicalism. I don’t have these things figured out, but my hunch is that that Mormons need more of the truth that Evangelicals have, but I don’t think they have to abandon the truth they know to accept it.

  88. Hmmm… jared, I am not sure if the topics of government and politics and national identity really matter to God. These seem topics very much in vogue in the 19th century but irrelevant to God and our spiritual lives. I’ll be honest and say they strike me as products of a 19th century thinker, not as a restorern of a list faith.

  89. Hi Tim,
    I was not suggesting that Evangelicals were idol worshipers. But when I see Catholics praying before statues, it looks pretty close to it to me. When some claim the statues are weeping, it is sounding like idolatry.

    Since I don’t know what you are talking about here, perhaps you can explain:

    “the proper use of icons in prayer is not well understood”.

    And:
    “You should devote yourself to building up faith rather than tearing it down.”

    You got me there!

    But seriously, don’t the Protestants think there was an Apostacy? Why else did they rebel against the Catholics and start new churches?

    I’ll learn the italics soon (I hope):

    “I think THIS is the true lynch pin between us. Does Joseph Smith prove himself to be a true prophet of God? Does his character and teachings line up with everything the Bible teaches us?”

    Every version of religion has a keystone. Remove the key stone and down that religion comes. For the LDS, Joseph must be the prophet of the Restoration. For say, Evangelicals and a large assortment of Christians, the Bible must be absolutely true. For Catholics, it’s Papal Succession.

    And, I, of course answer, “Yes” to those two questions, but I realize that you don’t or you too would be LDS!

    “How is God “hiding” in a burning bush functionally different from what your idolater friend believes that her god enters the statue?”

    In Idolatry, when “God’s” spirit enters the statue, it must be considered alive. As we both agree, God’s spirit does not enter statues.

    I believe God the Father is capable of anything, even shape shifting, but I don’t think he does it. I think he is happy with his form and doesn’t alter it. We are patterened after that form. Christ is permanently in that form. Light literally radiates from his presence, but he can control how much we see. The Apostle Paul was blinded by this light and yet no one around Paul saw the light. (We know Paul saw the Lord in the light because he later said he was a witness of the resurrection). So, God can control what we see.

    The Lord didn’t need a bush to hide in with Moses. My use of “hiding” was simplist. As in Paul’s case the men with him didn’t see anything. The bush was there, the Lord was near by but unseen and since Moses needed to see something to prove his power, God gave him a miracle: a burning bush that wasn’t being consumed by flame.
    The difference is the Burning Bush was not God himself while the Idolator thinks, once the spirit enters in the statue, it is God.

    Now, I thought you were suggesting God turned into a burning bush. What were you saying that I seemed to have missed?

  90. Slowcowboy, these topics are also very much 20th and 21st century topics. There is no question that Joseph Smith was a 19th century thinker and there is also no argument from the Mormons that the Book of Mormon was aimed squarely at those in the 19th century.

    Mormonism is rooted in the idea that our temporal lives are integral with our spiritual lives and to history. This is may be a 19th century concern, but it’s hard to say that it is merely a 19th century concern.

  91. Hi Jared!

    “Many Mormons explain the divinity of Jesus by pointing out that He was precisely like his father. This squares with the literal language of some translations of the Bible, but it is hard to imagine that it is the only reasonable interpretation.”

    I believed at one time that God was some sort of all powerful undefinable Spirit. I always assumed then when we returned to God that we too would turn into undefinable spirts as well. After really getting a grasp on the Christian Story, this idea about God just seemed all wrong. So, I suppose the undefined Spirit is possible, but I don’t think it can square with the majority of the Bible on the subject, even if I didn’t think Joseph was a Prophet.

    “Mormons generally point the First Vision as the primary proof that God is precisely like Jesus. Where do you stand on the question: How was Jesus both God and human?”

    As far as I know only three people have seen God the Father. Adam, Jesus and Joseph (and maybe Enoch but I don’t think there is a record of it). Many Prophets have seen Jehovah. I think this is illuminated by John when he says a couple of times that ‘no man has seen God but Jesus has revealed him’. Essentially speaking, Jesus has made us aware of the existence of God the Father.

    Jesus did something very radical in his time. He referred to God as” Father”. But not just his Father but ours too. There are verses indicating God is the father of spirits and as you know we take this literally.

    Jesus was God before he was born. He created the earth and much other things. He was a spirit being which entered into a human tabernacle. His spirit was God and his body was human.

    Jesus is no longer ‘human’. He is all God: body, spirit and all.

  92. Solange – I was rough on you at the other thread. I apologize.

    I’ll be back in a couple of days.

  93. “I believed at one time that God was some sort of all powerful undefinable Spirit. I always assumed then when we returned to God that we too would turn into undefinable spirts as well. After really getting a grasp on the Christian Story, this idea about God just seemed all wrong. So, I suppose the undefined Spirit is possible, but I don’t think it can square with the majority of the Bible on the subject, even if I didn’t think Joseph was a Prophet.”

    We won’t be undefinable spirits. We will be fully resurrected showing our perfect selves.

    I really wonder where you got your grasp on the Christian story.

  94. Jared, true, but my point, which was not well explained, was that the focus on national identity leads to a conclusion it is a work of Joseph Smith and the 19th century and not an inspired, ancient book.

  95. It doesn’t lead to that conclusion at all. On its face the Book of Mormon was prepared and compiled by an ancient editor guided by the spirit for modern times, and was meant to address the modern issues facing those like Joseph Smith, not ancient issues.

  96. No, that’s not what the Book of Mormon is. Specifically, it was a collection of ancient writings translated, word for word, letter by letter, character by character, by Joseph Smith.

    http://www.mormon.org/faq/what-is-book-of-mormon

    https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation?lang=eng

    http://www.mormonhandbook.com/home/book-of-mormon-translation.html

    If you mean to reference the Title Page (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/bofm-title?lang=eng) by saying “On its face”, I don’t see it. Can you reference a place where it says it was guided for modern times? If it is intended for modern times, what precisely is it intended for in modern times? The only reference is found on the title page reads:

    “Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.”

    This seems to show that the records of Nephites and Lamanites would be sealed until modern times, but it says nothing about the purpose of revealing it in modern times, ie that it was written to guide modern peoples, especially by way of politics and nation building, as you claimed.

    I respect you, Jared, and enjoy discussing with you, but I must admit you seem to have a strong loyalty to the Book of Mormon.

  97. I believe that the BoM was made up out of whole cloth…helped along by a work of science fiction that went missing around the same time.

    I opened it (the BoM) one evening in a hotel room and just started reading, at random in several places. I found everything I read to be antithetical to the Bible and the Word of God. From not baptizing babies to putting yourself on the road to perfection by how you live.

    That book has helped keep far too many for the peace and comfort of trusting in what the Living God Jesus Christ has won for them on that bloody cross.

    The truth needs to be told. Sorry if anyone gets their nose out of joint.

  98. BoM was made up out of whole cloth

    This seems as far-fetched as Joseph Smith’s claims. The Book of Mormon clearly has roots deeper than Joseph Smith’s imagination.

  99. I respect you, Jared, and enjoy discussing with you, but I must admit you seem to have a strong loyalty to the Book of Mormon.

    I don’t have loyalty to the Book of Mormon, I believe in the most reasonable explanation of the book, i.e. that it was dictated by Joseph Smith to scribes. This is something that everybody should be able to agree about. I judge the book only by its effects on people.

    I shoot down your argument not because I have some unreasoned loyalty to the book, but because it is extremely tired and basically irrelevant. It has no power to convert the faithful among the LDS. It shows a profound misunderstanding of Mormonism.

  100. I don’t want a drawn out argument here, but you seem to defend it quite a bit and even said just in your prior post that it has roots deeper than Joseph Smith’s imagination. Forgive me for therefore assuming a loyalty to it and even Smith.

    As to converting the faithful LDS, I have no interest in doing that. I can only speak to that which I see, and I see it as a product of the mind of a creative 19th century man. And it is not unreasonable to think that, either. Rather, to me, it is the more plausible answer.

  101. Slowcowboy, I am sure you have a reasonable view of the Book of Mormon, I am not arguing with you. I was pointing out how your argument doesn’t work, i.e. the conclusion does not follow from the premises, not that your conclusion was unreasonable.

    As to converting the faithful LDS, I have no interest in doing that.

    I guess this is where you and I differ. In my mind, the Book of Mormon is no different than the United States Constitution vis-a-vis God. Given it’s history, it is worthy of respect, even if it was not inspired by God. Plenty of good people believe it was, and have arguments and evidence to support there position, that impression must be reckoned with when discussion of it’s merit comes up. In my view, attacking the Constitution is not a good way to free someone of Americanism.

  102. Thanks for the link. So, the contention that it is written for today is from an opinion piece in 1988? I realize Ensign can be considered official, so take “opinion piece” with an open mind, not sure what else to call it. I simply disagree with the conclusion, and that’s fair, I hope.

    I really don’t expect to, nor do I care to, convert anyone over questions over the Book of Mormon. And I am not sure you understand my premise to begin with: the themes you bring up concerning politics in the BoM reflect trends in 19th century political and philosophical thought. That’s it. I see it as lending credence to its being a creation of JS, Jr. There’s nothing really more to it than that.

  103. I get the argument, my point is only that the fact the BoM reflects modern questions does not entail that it was of modern origin, even if it is consistent with that conclusion.

  104. I’ll grant it does not prove anything, and it is possible the Ensign article is correct, however, I do think it absolutely is evidence that leads to a conclusion of modern origin.

    A modern author would be more prone to include such thoughts than an ancient one. A modern author concerning politics today would be more likely to include discussions of the struggle with Islam and terrorism than one from the 16th century, for instance. Or, we would see references to technology now available that was not available in the 17th century. No one would be surprised at this, and in fact we see it all the time. It is in this manner that the inclusion of various modern political themes involves Smith as author.

    Again, doesn’t prove a thing, but there is indeed a connection.

    Anyway, the Book of Mormon is nothing if not a greatly important work in that it has influenced many a person since its inception about 180 years ago.

  105. Just as the Koran, Quoran (whatever) is a religious work that puts people on a path of self-progression to God…the BoM is in the same category. They may tip the hat to God, and maybe even Jesus. But so what?

    If they do not rely solely on the Cross for all that is needful, then they might as well be of the devil.

  106. Hi Tim, thanks for the new article. I still have some comments to put up here fairly soon, but I will read your article and post there in the near future.
    Here, I will to respond to Cowboy, Jared, you and Solange. I’m also going to post some experiences I had at the Evangelical Church, what I learned and I would like the group’s opinion on it.
    I’ll do this as soon as time permits, possibly Thursday or Friday!

    By the way, thanks for the discussions. I find this very intriguing!

  107. Hi Solange – it’s been a very busy week. I’m replying to one post at a time, first your experience as a Latter Day Saint.

    “I felt like that hamster on the wheel”

    Here, you have my sympathy. When I joined the church, it did not take me long to realize their was a serious disconnect between what the General Authorities were teaching and what the local Stake and Ward leaders were doing and pushing.

    “Be ye therefore perfect as your father in heaven is perfect” – Matt 5:48

    The only problem with that scripture is our modern day understanding of what “perfect” means. It actually means to be complete and holy.

    Years ago, when some leaders insisted I do more to be perfect, I had to tell them, that’s not what perfect means and explained it to them. They did not like this ‘youngster’, at the time, explaining the gospel to them, but they knew I was right and backed down.

    It was not long after this time period our stake was instructed to show the wards a video of a documentary put out by one of the major television networks. It was about the stress put on LDS women by the “Church”.
    After this viewing, all talk about being ‘perfect’ by working ourselves to death stopped.

    This type of tragedy comes about when local leaders got over zealous about something a church authority said and it spreads through the branch of “Mormon culture”. From the out set, I recognized this problem of ‘Mormon Culture’ getting in the ‘LDS Church’ and have been a vocal critic about it. Decades ago, I often explained to new members of the church, the difference and this helped them greatly not to fall away. There is good news as I have seen the influence of Mormon culture diminish greatly in my Stake.
    Not long ago, a friend of mine in Utah went round and round over ‘grace vs. works’ with his Bishop. The Bishop was wrong and my friend was right, but it wasn’t until my friend produced talks by authorities on Grace requested of him by his stake president’s wife that something changed. LDS culture is a plague on LDS doctrine. We need to continue rooting it out.
    _____________________________________________________________

    And you also said:

    “But it would be years until I would not look at the biblical texts with the mistrust I was taught to have for them.”

    I often hear former LDS make this claim. In my 30 + years as a member, I do not on a single occasion remember it being taught either by local or general leaders that the Bible can’t be trusted. That it may be difficult to understand, yes, but untrustworthy or unreliable, not one time.
    This does not mean there aren’t problems with the Bible, there are. But we know what those problems are and these problems do not interfere with its message. The Bible is not perfect. The Book of Mormon is not perfect and the Church leaders are not perfect. There is only one perfect and that’s Christ.

    The primary problem with the Bible is not the text itself. It’s how people interpret it. The Bible is being killed by religionists. There is a growing trend of Christians which view the entire Bible as a collection of fable stories meant to inspire us. And that nothing in the Bible’s history or events of the prophets including Jesus ever happened. The entire Creation Story and Adam as an actual person are dismissed as symbolic. This accounts for 70% of Christianity today. Now, there certainly is some symbolism in the Creation and other areas of the Bible, but the Bible is primarily literal.
    To these various groups, the only thing true in the Bible are the basic principles such as love God, love your neighbor and do right.

  108. Solange, I’ll continue:

    The problem with anti-anything is they are deceitful. You presented an argument of the Tanners, according to them; Joseph’s view of the Godhead was an evolving thing because the First Vision never happened.

    And you said:
    “you may not like their work of releasing to the public sensitive LDS documents and records, but you yourself recognizes that they have not doctored anything in any way.”

    You couldn’t be more incorrect about the release of the Church’s documents. That is why I am very happy about the coming forth of the Joseph Smith Papers. This is a boon to every one except the anti-Mormons.

    The anti-Mormons, like the Tanners, were welcome to come and view our documents. And they were hardly the first to do so. The Church has not done what you said here:

    “…could no longer suppress information they would much rather leave locked away…”

    Claiming the Church has suppressed information until the Tanners is certainly far fetched. In my copy of “The Twenty Seventh wife” the author, Wallace, publicly thanked the LDS church for allowing him to go through LDS documents for information and assisted him in finding exactly what he was looking for. That book was published in 1962. Wallace was not favorable to Joseph or Brigham. His book is considered anti-Mormon.

    Any “suppression” of information was due to the frailty and theft of the documents not because the Church was trying to ‘conceal’ information from the public.
    __________________________

    And Solange:

    “…and there is no deceit on their part”

    The reason the Tanner’s are deceitful is they have seen the documents and deliberately leave out information which would undermine their attack on the Church.

    I showed you in the 1830 edition B of M, where Jesus was a Spirit Body that looks human. Clearly, the Anthropomorphic view of God was identified here, but the Tanner’s only quoted “God … is a Great Spirit” and the verses where the Father and Son are referenced interchangeably.
    Scripture is not of private interpretation: the Tanner’s view of what the B of M means is not valid.

    And God – Jesus- was a Spirit before he came to earth, but the Tanner’s completely leave that part out leading you to believe something completely different about Joseph’s understanding of the God head. That is deceit.

    My view is Joseph did not want to talk about the First Vision. That is my opinion based on what Joseph said himself. In our canonized version, which is in the original papers, in verse 1 he says, “…I have been induced to write this history…”
    Joseph was a reserve person any way. That’s clear when, at first, he told neither his mother nor father about the first vision and only told his father about the angel because this angel told him to do so.
    You have asked why he was reluctant to talk about the First Vision. I think we should consider at age 14 he tells a trusted minister about his vision and gets attacked over it and this minister gets others to attack too. And later, anytime he mentioned a vision to some one they too attack. These types of experiences can cause mental inhibitions about sharing certain things.
    Needless to say, but I’ll say it any way, the Book of Mormon was what was important here. The Book was being provided as tangible evidence one can hold and read that Christ still lives, cares about us in this day and age and is a witness that the time of the Second Coming is drawing near.

    That says it all but you did bring up one item that is worthy of discussion and that is the reference in the Lectures of Faith. First, let’s clear up the lectures were kept with LDS scripture as a supplement, like my Bible maps in my Bible and not as canonized scripture.
    The concern you have about the Father being spirit and Jesus having a body is the subject I’m referring to.
    I have shown in my other posts, assuming you’ve read them, that a spirit body looks like a tangible body. The ancient Apostles couldn’t tell the difference. A spirit body is not necessarily “see threw” in appearance. During the first vision, Joseph did not touch either being, so he may not have known what their bodies were at the time. So, while I favor Joseph did know but rather concealed the physical nature of God the Father, there is another credible possibility that when the Lectures were composed he simply didn’t know and it was revealed to him at a later time.
    The reason this is more valid than the Tanner’s ‘evolution of mind’ on the subject is because they knew, that the fullness of the Gospel came forth a little here and a little there. A good case in point was at the time the Lectures were written, the very important events in the Kirkland temple hadn’t happened yet, nor had the endowment been reveal, nor had the Book of Abraham come forth and many of the other revelations. And as more had been revealed it merely clarified and built upon what Joseph already knew in the establishment of the Church in these latter times. Joseph view of the Godhead was always anthropomorphic and that’s what matters. Declaring in 1843 that God the Father has a body was hardly altering his view of the physical nature of God.

  109. And Solange asks:

    “As far as going to modern LDS apologists, who are not prophets, neither apostles themselves, to get an explanation of Joseph Smith’s teachings, seems to me a little off. Why defer to the word of apologists and not be studying straight from the prophet’s own mouth?

    The Apostles of today and yesteryear primarily spread the Gospel and lead the church. The Lord is not going to allow his special servants to have their time tied up by anti-LDS whose goal is to stop the Church.

    The doctrine of the Gospel was laid out in the time of Joseph with very few exceptions. We all should know what it is. Apologists are better read than the typical member. The apologists explain why the arguments of anti-LDS are of no value. We don’t need an Apostle to do that.

  110. Cowboy,

    We can say anything we want about what we think happened in the past, but there is a difference when backing up when one says it with facts.

    I said ‘baptisms for the dead’ was part of the ancient church as well as the LDS prayer circle and I gave you a link which shows the volumes of information which backs up many points of doctrine which I haven’t mentioned also. If you ever read any of it, your ancient world view may change.

    Baptism for the dead was practiced by Christians and is mentioned in the Bible by Paul. He uses the practice to show support for his discourse on the resurrection.

    “Else what shall they do which baptize for the dead? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” – 1 Corinthians 15: 29

    I’ve checked Strong’s and the word “for” in the Greek means ‘on behalf of’ or ‘in place of’. There is no way to twist the meaning into something else.

    One would think if the ancient saints were performing baptisms for the dead, we would have more information than Paul’s casual mention of it. And we do:

    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/temples/baptism_ancient_nibley.html

    “Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.”
    – Psalms 85: 11

    Truth has been coming out of the ground a long time now.

  111. Tim,
    I agree with you on the Mormons who committed murder. They deserve to burn in hell. But I also believe Arius, who put forward doctrine against the current Trinity was also murdered as were some of his followers.
    Unfortunately, many have been killed over theology through out history and it happened again this week in France.

  112. I attended an Evangelical church in the second half of 1970’s and went from being an atheist to being a Christian. I began reading the Bible, listening to the classes and socializing quite a bit!
    After God answered my prayer, the following Sunday, I went ‘forward’ and accepted Christ. As time went on I started becoming confused by some doctrines, such as; does one need to be baptized to be saved? If I went forward and accepted Christ, wasn’t I saved?
    I asked the question and they told me, that technically, I didn’t have to get baptized but that it was a good idea since they were a Baptist church and the Bible talks about it. (This was the American Baptist Churches which has about 1.3 million members today).

    Later, we discussed the Trinity. I was very confused by this topic. I’m still confused by Tim’s article here and puzzled due to what I was taught at this church. They explained the Trinity as such:

    God is like water. It’s vast and fluid. Some of that ‘water’ came and entered the body of a person, so God became a man: Jesus. Jesus lived and died and was raised from the dead. After Jesus left the earth, he went back to the vastness of God and like pouring water from two glasses into a bowl, Jesus and God fused back together into a larger bowl of water. Jesus’ body simply turned back into whatever God was made of. God (Jesus) came back to the earth in the ‘form’ of the Holy Spirit like water poured out of a bowl into another vessel. When we accept Christ, then Jesus, part of that water, literally and physically lives within us and that is how we have a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’. If he still was in his own body, I was told then this couldn’t happen.

    At the Second Coming, Jesus will resume physical form and come back to the earth.
    Essentially, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same single individual spread out in different forms at different times.

    So, when the Evangelicals here say Jesus still has his body and is a separate individual with his own identity from the rest of essence of God, it makes me think that changes have occurred in the way the Evangelicals view the Trinity.

    Since I sincerely went forward and accepted Christ but am LDS today, do the Evangelicals here think I am saved? And because the Baptists that taught me this version of the Trinity is not consistent with what Tim has presented, are these Christians saved?

  113. Strong’s was not written by a Latter Day Saint and defines the meaning of Greek words in the Bible.

  114. It really doesn’t matter who wrote Strong’s, it is still an index, not a translation tool.

  115. So, when the Evangelicals here say Jesus still has his body and is a separate individual with his own identity from the rest of essence of God, it makes me think that changes have occurred in the way the Evangelicals view the Trinity.

    Is that really the only option? Couldn’t it be likely that the person describing the Trinity to you was mistaken? Perhaps you’ve just now encountered Evangelicals who have a more sophisticated understanding of the doctrine. I know I’ve been told all kinds of kooky things by Mormon missionaries that turned out to be incorrect.

    Since I sincerely went forward and accepted Christ but am LDS today, do the Evangelicals here think I am saved?

    As stated in my other post, I have no way of gauging your heart or judging your conversion. Not my job.

    And because the Baptists that taught me this version of the Trinity is not consistent with what Tim has presented, are these Christians saved?

    It’s a complicated doctrine. I’m not at all surprised to hear that someone didn’t understand it correctly or did a poor job of explaining it. I probably don’t explain it entirely correctly either. It seems like you’re still asking the “Are these people saved?” question without reading my post addressing the issue.

    I think there’s room for sincere mistake, particularly in the case of the doctrine of the Trinity. I’d be curious to hear if they teach any other doctrines that contradict Trinitarianism or if they are just suffering from a poor analogy. I’d also be curious to see what they do when presented with clearer instruction on the doctrine.

    FWIW, the person you were talking with was teaching a heresy known as Modalism. You can see how it compares to Trinitarianism here: https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/the-nature-of-god-illustrated/

  116. Morning Ray,
    I see by your reply that you tried to give attention to most of my points and I appreciate the time invested. I am away from my computer at the moment but plan on writing in more detail later on today.

  117. Tim, how is that other people know when you have put up a new article? Have I not pushed the right buttons?

  118. Ray,
    Whenever I wrote about my own experience as a LDS “working for my salvation”, I did not necessarily just thought about the women in the church, as the emphasis put on one’s work for the
    achievement of that goal is an intrinsic part of the LDS doctrine on salvation and one applicable to and demanded of every member, despite of gender. But because you brought it up and as a side topic to this discusion, let me comment on it. I am not a feminist by any stretch of imagination, actually, I might be the only woman I know who still iron clothes…Having said that, I cannot see how LDS women can relax in their pursuit to be perfect. First, as I said, a works-based lifestyle is in order for the achievement of one’s salvation, or in your faith, exaltation, becoming gods and goddesses. But for the women, that is not still enough: they still have to rely on having a husband to call their name so they can be resurrected, and through whom only, they can obtain this highest level of glory.
    That kind of spiritual dependency on their husbands, added to the belief they will be sharing him with other wives in eternal life, is not an easy thing for the women in the church to truly accept and embrace. Most LDS women I used to know and the ones I do nowadays, just prefer not to talk about it. The thinking seems to be that knowing there is no good option available, one better try not to dwell on it and keep on keeping on. But we can observe ramifications from this teaching which leads to all kinds of stressful situations, as not all LDS women can find a husband within the faith or others who remain single in this life, will have to be matched as a plural wife to someone whom they presently might not even know, since an exalted being cannot be single. My experience is that all of this is not really conducive to real peace.
    But how different this doctrine is from what the N.T. teaches us about salvation: that no person can do anything to change their sinful nature, but to humbly accept the perfect and complete work of redemption Jesus has already provided for all who believe in his sacrifice in our behalf. He has made full payment, with his blood, of our debt to God. No human works, no person between us and Christ. That is the Gospel.
    Sometimes, I wish I could convince family members and people in the church in a way that they too could see, come to know and experience true freedom in Christ. But that is the job of the Holy Spirit, thank goodness, as he is the one with the power to do so.

  119. The focus on works instead of on grace is Mormon culture because it is Mormon doctrine. Obviously, we can say that any culture is the result of the sum of common behaviors, beliefs and lifestyles that define a group of people. These traits in LDS culture come from its doctrine which negates salvation by grace through faith only:

    2 Nephi 25:23 “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” This verse uses very similar words from Ephesians 2:8 as it states “it is by grace we are saved”, but after that, it just goes into another direction. Comparing, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no can boast.”

    “After all we can do” does not go together with grace, as they are contradictory in nature.
    We see the same dichotomy on the 3rd Article of Faith, “we believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
    ”After all we can do” means one is responsible for his/hers own salvation, for the most part. Only then, after all one can do, Jesus’ sacrifice comes into play.
    But “all we can do” is a tricky one to measure as one can always improve and do more. So, we are back at asking, how much personal work is enough and when does one know for sure they did enough? But more importantly, can a person really keep all of God’s law to gain His acceptance on his/her merit?
    For God’s standard is this high: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

  120. Ray:
    “I often hear former LDS make this claim. In my 30 + years as a member, I do not on a single occasion remember it being taught either by local or general leaders that the Bible can’t be trusted.”
    The taught mistrust for the Bible text is very well illustrated here:
    “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Articles of Faith 1:8

    Anything that does not agree with Joseph Smith’s teachings or LDS doctrine, is where the Bible cannot be trusted: that means something got “lost in translation.” Therefore, the authority of the biblical texts gets greatly undermined and understanding of its contents misinterpreted.

    I am not aware of any such survey who provides this data you mentioned of 70% of Christians believing the biblical texts as being allegoric only. Not among Evangelicals, as far as I know.

  121. Ray:
    “The primary problem with the Bible is not the text itself. It’s how people interpret it.”

    I would say that there are not problems with the text but the problem is with people like Joseph Smith, who interpret it erroneously. I will use your illustration of the Creation story, specifically to Adam and Eve and the Fall: their “falling up” and not just falling from God’s grace and favor by choosing to distrust Him and sin, as the text points out, is outside of Smith’s influence, considered a heresy.

  122. I’ll clarify something:
    “The entire Creation Story and Adam as an actual person are dismissed as symbolic. This accounts for 70% of Christianity today.”

    The 70% dismiss the creation and Adam and Eve as totally allegoric and take the rest of the Bible at face value. There is a much smaller percent who dismiss the entire Bible as allegoric, but that group is growing. This is all within the ranks of Christianity.

    The Baptist Church I was part of had 1.6 million members in the 1980’s and despite population growth, they only have 1.3 million today. This down slide is likely to rapidly accelerate.

    At the current rates of Evangelical young adults leaving their ‘churches’, Evangelical Christianity will be decimated within 40 years. The rest of Christianity is headed down the allegoric road. The European Christians are not having enough children and have allowed a mass of Muslims to settle there. These Muslims are multiplying. In this same 40 years, the Muslims will become the majority religion in Europe.

    This is a big concern of mine because the LDS have more in common with the Evangelicals than any other religious faction of Christianity. The LDS will grow but we will be an even bigger minority as the Evangelicals and other Christians diminish.

  123. Ray,
    “You couldn’t be more incorrect about the release of the Church’s documents. That is why I am very happy about the coming forth of the Joseph Smith Papers. This is a boon to every one except the anti-Mormons.”

    Well, I am happy for the coming of the Joseph Smith Papers in a “better late than never” kinda way. Although, judging by the church’s last two releases on J. Smith’s polygamy / polyandry and of the priesthood and race bit, where things were just glossed over on the more sensitive parts, I will wait and see before getting too giddy.

    I was 5 years-old when my parents joined the church in Brazil. I am a LDS Seminary and Institute graduate and as you know, also served a full-time mission. My family would have describe me, in my close to 25 years as an active member, as a serious, avid, dedicated reader/student of LDS scripture, doctrine and history. When I say the church has suppressed sensitive, troubling facts, I am trying to be kind. They have not only tried to kept the public away but worse, for being more damaging, was all the information they withdrew from the members themselves.
    Not one time, in all my classes in Seminary or Institute, in preparation for my mission,or later in Relief Society, did I ever come in contact with B. Young’s teachings from the Journal of Discourses on blacks and the curse on them not to be lifted until the Second coming of Christ or the mixing with their blood being punishable with death on the spot; or Joseph Smith’s life of polygamy/ polyandry and marrying women already married to living men and done behind’s his wife’s back; or his prophecies that Jesus’ return would be in 1831, that there would be a Missouri temple which he would himself dedicate, nor that the Civil War would turn into a World War, just to cite a few highly problematic issues.
    I was familiar with the Journal of Discourses though, (which was not translated in Portuguese), History of the Church, etc because they were frequently quoted in manual of lessons.
    I lived in Utah for a couple of years in my late 20’s and still no classes in church addressed any of that.
    Now I know that all my reading and all the teaching was only of approved, glossed over version of facts.

    Two years after I had left the church with a bad case of spiritual exhaustion, I had a friend who came to me asking if I knew what B. Young had said about blacks and the mixing of blood. This friend showed me the quote. I recognized the reference for it in the Journal of Discourses and knew it was church owned records from the early LDS prophets in General Conferences. The content was so absurd and unrecognizable to me and I immediately, went in defense of the church. Said that it could not be true or I would know of it and that it was for sure a fabrication by enemies of LDS. A call to SLC History Department was made and a copy of the records was purchased because there was no way I would take these people by their word. And despite having left the church, I was in no way interested in maligning the organization. I was ready to prove my friend wrong. I was in for a big surprise but not of the pleasant kind.

    It was the beginning of a new era of education in LDS history that is kept away from the classrooms but nevertheless, truer than the approved version. All mostly found in the church’s very own records.

    With the arrival of the internet and of people like the Tanner’s who uploaded a whole lot of these documents and records, it became impossible to keep things quiet. LDS apologists seem to be working around the clock trying to package Smith’s, Young’s, and whoever else said or did confounding and wrong things and taught them as from God, in a more palatable manner.

  124. Solange,

    I was reading in Joseph’s journal as recorded in the history of the church and something interesting struck me. In there, he explained how some of the Apostles had gave talks in the meeting and then afterward he took them aside and explained the errors in their doctrine.

    It was pretty obvious that the early Brethren brought ideas they had about their old version of the Gospel from the churches they previously attended and included elements into the Restored Gospel when they gave talks. These false doctrines were said across the pulpit. Joseph continued to teach and instruct and correct until the day he died.

    There is no doubt bad ideas came forth because of this reason. Brigham even said of his opinions, that you did not have to believe them to be a member of the Church but you had to believe the doctrine in the scriptures.

    The small amount of doctrines on various topics which were brought from these other religions and ideas that may have come up due to putting statements together from other leaders have been irradiated over time. So, attacking the Church based on such things from the distant past is not realistic.

    You criticize the LDS for glossing over sensitive topics but readily accept the same behavior from the other Christian sects. I never knew the Bible taught slavery was okay when I attended a Baptist Church. Or the selling of a daughter in marriage to some one she didn’t love to the highest bidder was okay, that polygamy was okay or the extermination of whole cities to the last child was okay and on and on.

    Things which are considered controversial in our time are not discussed in any church and depending on what it is may not have been controversial during the time those things were happening.

    I see how the Tanner’s attacked Joseph over his First Vision accounts, so I can only assume they have taken the other material you have read and cast it in the same light. It’s easy to take something controversial and cast it as something either evil or good: as you tried to do with slavery as something acceptable.

    The things you’ve mentioned that I do know about, I know there isn’t a real problem such as the Prophecy on War. This is a prophecy which declares there was to be a Civil War starting at South Carolina, fulfilled just as prophesied, and it will end with the Battle of Armageddon in the mists of a major devastating world war. The Tanner’s interpretation of the prophecy is not the one which counts.

  125. I did not not need the Tanners to interpret anything for me, as the words on record of both J.Smith and B. Young speak for themselves.
    The work the Tanners did was to upload them in the net showing where precisely to go to in the church records to learn about all this stuff.
    And about the first vision with its various opposing accounts, that also I never heard of in any of my Seminary/Institute classes or in any church lessons but the approved version. What reason would you give for that?

    “The small amount of doctrines on various topics which were brought from these other religions and ideas that may have come up due to putting statements together from other leaders have been irradiated over time. So, attacking the Church based on such things from the distant past is not realistic.”
    What such things are you referring to?

    “You criticize the LDS for glossing over sensitive topics but readily accept the same behavior from the other Christian sects. I never knew the Bible taught slavery was okay when I attended a Baptist Church. Or the selling of a daughter in marriage to some one she didn’t love to the highest bidder was okay, that polygamy was okay or the extermination of whole cities to the last child was okay and on and on.”

    Do you mean by OK? That it was God-commanded or cultural? And were these PROPHECIES?
    I am not familiar with the daughter selling verse. Where do you find it in the Bible? I try to back up all my points by giving detailed reference of source, so people can go check things up for themselves.
    Ray, we have gone this path before about slavery in the Bible versus what B. Young taught the church as revelation as a prophet. You say it wasn’t revelation, he says it was.
    Those two are not equitable for comparison on the same level, and the verse you mentioned about Moses telling Israel that their servants were for forever does not read like that. But says that it was legal for slaves to pass from fathers to sons. We covered that one before.

    I have been participating in Bible studies for over a decade now and hard topics are not skipped over because they are hard. The extermination of whole peoples when Israel was taking possession of the land led by God through Joshua, was God-commanded for specific reasons which you can read in Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 9:5. These peoples were committing all of those sins as they worshipped demons, Molech, Baal and Astoreth. Their rituals involved all kinds of sexual deviancy and the sacrifice of their own children who were burned to death during rituals. God commanded them to be exterminated and admonished Israel never to follow in their ways, as destruction would also come to them.
    The book of Joshua relates Israel’s conquest of the promised land beginning with Jericho. It also states the Lord was actively helping the Israelites. (Joshua 10:1-15)
    That is not the only time God judges sin in this manner: we are all familiar with the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19.

  126. Ray:
    “My view is Joseph did not want to talk about the First Vision. That is my opinion based on what Joseph said himself. In our canonized version, which is in the original papers, in verse 1 he says, “…I have been induced to write this history…”
    Joseph was a reserve person any way. That’s clear when, at first, he told neither his mother nor father about the first vision and only told his father about the angel because this angel told him to do so.
    You have asked why he was reluctant to talk about the First Vision. I think we should consider at age 14 he tells a trusted minister about his vision and gets attacked over it and this minister gets others to attack too. And later, anytime he mentioned a vision to some one they too attack. These types of experiences can cause mental inhibitions about sharing certain things.”

    A revealing characteristic of a true prophet is that he declares a message from God. He makes no apology for the message, nor does he fear for any social repercussions which may lead to derision and persecution. (Ezra T. Benson, Joseph Smith: Prophet of our generation. Oct. 1981)

    “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”
    (JS—H 1:25.)

    Yes, but whatever that vision was, kept on changing through those various accounts of his and was not clear for over a decade. Aren’t those modifications in account a form of denial? And for such, according to his own words, is he under God’s condemnation?

  127. Ray:
    “Needless to say, but I’ll say it any way, the Book of Mormon was what was important here. The Book was being provided as tangible evidence one can hold and read that Christ still lives, cares about us in this day and age and is a witness that the time of the Second Coming is drawing near.”

    Well, The Bible already does a very excellent job on that.

  128. “Needless to say, but I’ll say it any way, the Book of Mormon was what was important here. The Book was being provided as tangible evidence one can hold and read that Christ still lives, cares about us in this day and age and is a witness that the time of the Second Coming is drawing near.”

    Really? As Solange already pointed out, you need something besides the Bible to know that Christ still lives and cares about us in this day and age, and that the Second Coming is drawing near?

    Baptism for the dead: I am not sure we can base an entire doctrine off of an obscure verse than cannot be proven anywhere else in history that it was widespread. Do you?

    I’ve also noticed you like to quote numbers of members of a church. Why? What does that prove about veracity of doctrine?

    The Trinity: I’ve never found a metaphor to it that completely works. They are helpful to describe it, but none are completely accurate. If the story of the water is all you base your Christian belief of the Trinity off, you need to look into it some more.

  129. Solange:
    “Yes, but whatever that vision was, kept on changing through those various accounts of his and was not clear for over a decade. Aren’t those modifications in account a form of denial? And for such, according to his own words, is he under God’s condemnation?”

    Not really. As far as we know he was never instructed to reveal the First Vision. He was instructed to reveal the Book of Mormon and this he did despite the persecution and difficulties he encountered.

    I think if you were to go to the BYU channel and start watching “the Joseph Smith Papers”, you might start to get a clear picture about what was happening back in his time. I’ve set my DVR and recorded about 16 espisodes over the last few months. They present a pretty balanced picture, dismiss third hand accounts, even those accounts which favor the Church, so it’s pretty reliable. They cite non-members as well as members. Lots of people were writing things down back then, so the history is fairly accurate. But there is a difference in segregating fact and slander of which there was much against the Church, especially then. There is slander today, lots of it and as I living in this time see this slander and know what it is, then it is not such a great leap to know the slander back then was far worse as Satan was doing his best to destroy the Church before it could get off the ground.

    LDS scholars are first class and recognized as such by other non-LDS scholars. And this is the reason a host of universities are buying up the books as they come out.

  130. Ray:
    “Not really. As far as we know he was never instructed to reveal the First Vision.”
    I am not sure if I understand what you want to say here. Surely you don’t mean to say that since you think he was under no divine orders to reveal the visit of both Father and Son, in order to avoid persecution, he was somewhat free to alter his accounts (from seeing Father and Son) to angel/angels only and that it is just fine? Isn’t omission of truth a form of lying?

  131. That’s right Solange, he was not obligated to tell us about the First Vision. Joseph had many visitations. That’s clear from comments he made in his sermons. He was visited by the Apostle Paul, the three Nephites and many others of which we have no accounting. These were necessary to restore the Gospel in it’s fulness by teaching him.

    You need to realize that Joseph became practically a walking book of scripture. I have a book here which takes the “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” and explains just how often Joseph quoted scripture. At first, the author came up with 700 references which Joseph was obviously citing from either by direct quotes or seamlessly intertwining parts of verses in his sermons to convey the message.
    Then, after using computer software, something amazing was discovered. Joseph was quoting scriptures as part of his teminology from 11,000 different verses! Eleven thousand! And mostly a major portion of this was from the Bible! For every verse Joseph actually cited, parts of 20 other verses were intertwined.

    So, when Joseph said he “knew the scriptures” and had forgotten 1,000 times more scripture than the other ministers of his day, he wasn’t exaggerating.

    Needless to say, he was a spiritual genius trained by God on a level the rest of us wish we were taught. And this isn’t such a surprise. God has tipped the direction of the world through geniuses all along. For instance, the electricity you use was invented by a man named Tesla, who said he had a vision of how to turn DC electricity into AC electricity. And you may think, well what’s the big deal about that? And the answer is, there is not enough copper on earth to electrify the world had AC never been invented.
    Radio, remote control, robotics and even computers can be traced back to Tesla. God sends mankind creative geniuses to tip the course of human events and Joseph was sent to tip the spiritual direction. It’s amazing to me how many other churches are slowly adopting the LDS view of things and then claiming that it was in the Bible. And it’s true, these things are in the Bible but the way they had been understanding it was completely different back then and now they have adopted the LDS views in certain areas. Most don’t even know the source is Joseph Smith.

    One example of this is the stars in heaven. After the telescope had been invented, Christians assumed that the ‘stars number the sands of the seas’ was a figurative Bible phrase. But Joseph’s Moses clearly indicated it’s a literal phrase. Once the telescopes became powerful enough to show that the stars do indeed number the sands of the seas, then the Christians of today glowingly claim it was in the Bible, never realizing that their interpertation has dramatically changed and that Joseph was right while the others were all wrong together in their Bible understanding.
    And there is a string of these types of things. Joseph has been shown to be right in his view of the scriptures while the others have changed their views to conform with new information.

  132. Solange:
    “I am not sure if I understand what you want to say here. Surely you don’t mean to say that since you think he was under no divine orders to reveal the visit of both Father and Son, in order to avoid persecution, he was somewhat free to alter his accounts (from seeing Father and Son) to angel/angels only and that it is just fine? Isn’t omission of truth a form of lying?”

    Altering his accounts only means he didn’t reveal everything that occurred in the First Vision. There may have been angels present at first, the grove may have looked like it was in a fire that did not consume the plants but decided to leave that out in the official version. Not mentioning God and Christ in an earlier account only means he didn’t want the others who had access to this writing to know he had seen the Father and the Son.

    “Isn’t omission of truth a form of lying?”

    Are we obligated to tell some one something if we believe they will kill us over it?

    Was Abraham, the cited common core of three of the world’s big religions, a liar because he chose to NOT reveal to Pharaoh that Sarah was his wife?

    Is Judism, Islam and Christianity common core person a liar, therefore all of them are false religions because Abraham lied in a form?

  133. Cowboy:

    “Really? As Solange already pointed out, you need something besides the Bible to know that Christ still lives and cares about us in this day and age, and that the Second Coming is drawing near?
    …I’ve also noticed you like to quote numbers of members of a church. Why? What does that prove about veracity of doctrine?”

    The Christian world is losing faith. They are falling for secularism at an astonishing rate That’s why I quoted numbers to cite one example of what is happening out there.
    I loved the American Baptist Church. It breaks my heart to see them collapsing because now we know the church is a sea of gray hair. As people die off, so will the church.

    Maybe you should reread my post. You as a Christian should be alarmed at what the trend holds for the immediate few decades in front of us. I pray for a turn around, but the truth about the Bible and the clash with science is killing Christianity and morphing it into something unrecognizable.

    You Cowboy, have more in common with the LDS than you do with the current future trend of an entirely allegoric Bible, including Christ’s resurrection being allegorical.

    “Baptism for the dead: I am not sure we can base an entire doctrine off of an obscure verse than cannot be proven anywhere else in history that it was widespread. Do you?”

    This verse is only obscure because you don’t realize that Christ died for all, both past and future. And that baptism is an ordinance that must be performed as part of salvation. Paul used this, then well known practice, to support his argument against those who were denying the resurrection.
    I posted a link that shows clearly, the ancient saints did indeed do this work for the dead.

    I know it’s hard to accept, but it is the truth.

    “The Trinity: I’ve never found a metaphor to it that completely works. They are helpful to describe it, but none are completely accurate. If the story of the water is all you base your Christian belief of the Trinity off, you need to look into it some more.”

    I have been looking into it. And it’s becoming clear that different Christian groups look at it differently.

  134. Well, Ray, I do agree that Christians should be alarmed at the dropping numbers. But that is really beside the point of my question. It sounded as if you are suggesting that the Mormon church is somehow doing better and has the numbers to prove it. I am not sure I buy that, and I certainly don’t think that membership numbers have a thing to do with the truth of the belief.

    I did some research on my own concerning baptism for the dead. I found that it was not widely spread, despite your article’s claim. Its an obscure verse. Only one mention in all of the Bible and it is in a way that is certainly not definitive in that Christians ought to baptize folks for the dead people. This verse is quite unlcear, and I suggest you read through the different interpretations. The vastness of them indicates my point that it is obscure.

    I know you think you have the answer, and I have my own thoughts on 1 Cor 15:29. They are indeed different.

    I am curious how you think different Christian groups look at it differently. Which groups and what are they saying? Without knowing what these are, its impossible to respond. And I do admit that different groups will describe it differently. That is no surprise. Its a difficult concept to explain and grasp in its entirety. That different groups use different ways to explain it is neither a surprise nor is it proof of different beliefs on the topic. They virtually all believe there is a 3 in 1 God who manifests his singular self through 3 different beings, who are all equally separate.

    Anyway, Ray, I want to emphasize here that my aim in this response is to educate on our positions. You are free to accept or reject them as you wish, but I do feel it is important to make sure Mormons understand the Christian perspective.

    Fair?

  135. Ray:
    “Are we obligated to tell some one something if we believe they will kill us over it?”
    If you are a prophet of God who has a message straight from heaven that will revolutionize the world as it is, what do you think?
    The only big news about the vision IS that Smith allegedly, saw both Father AND Son. With the entire Christendom believing that Jesus is the only one having a bodily form, that specific piece of information would be vital from the get go. As I said earlier, that would be the greatest event in history since Jesus Himself walked the earth. And you tell me that to save his skin, he would withdraw completely the Deity from his accounts and substitute them for angel/angels? And God would be pleased with him?
    For a good twelve years, that is precisely what he did. You have the right to believe all the claims he has made about being a prophet. But when you ask other people to do the same, to gloss over these very problematic examples of unreliability of his person becomes…well, problematic.
    As I said previously, if you begin with J. Smith being true, then I can see how hard one has to justify and keep moving pieces to find a better fit until finally, finding a position that seemingly works. That happens here.
    To answer your question:
    Yes, if it involves God’s truth and message that is vital for salvation: beginning with Jesus and his apostles and going back to the O.T. prophets who lost their lives doing the same.
    And no, I do not add the death of J. Smith in the same category.

  136. Cowboy – yes, it’s fair to tell me what you think and believe. I hope that by exchanging thoughts we both can learn. I’ve learned a lot already from the Christians here.

    Of course, there are scholars who want to minimize ancient baptism for the dead because, like you, they don’t believe it could possibly be part of the ancient Church. This is exactly what Mosser and Owens want Protestant scholars to do because the ancient documents being found are seriously backing up Jospeh Smith.

    The truth is, if we’ve possessed the Gospel in its entirety all along, then why is there anything obscure in the Bible?
    We should already know what it means. I’m very certain the Corinthians knew what Paul was talking about. Supposedly, they had the same Gospel as us, but according to you we really don’t know what Paul was talking about.

    What Paul wrote is as plain as day. There’s no metaphors here. He wasn’t condemning the practice, as I’ve heard some say since, he was supporting his thesis on the resurrection with it.

  137. This, Cowboy, poses a much bigger question. Why didn’t the Apostles call replacements and keep the Church growing and organized? While they were alive the Church was run by the cord group of Apostles with Bishops at the local congregation. Then after they died, these Bishops quickly started having different variations of the Gospel. After Constantine took over Christianity and a long fight, the doctrine of the Trinity was established. Why was there a fight? If the Christians back then understood the Trinity so well, why didn’t they just all go along with it in the first place? Why did it have to be imposed, by force in some cases?

    My answer is they didn’t understand the writings of the Apostles and were never trained up by them. So, when ‘obscure’ doctrine come up we have to think of creative explanations, which we simply don’t know the answer, despite the fact, if we were endowed with the full truth, we would know the answers.

  138. “Gospel” is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, became incarnate as the Messiah to take on our human nature, inaugurate his rule over all creation, and save the elect by suffering the entire weight of the wrath of God on their behalf.

    “Gospel” means something specific, and (unlike how it is frequently used by Mormons) is not merely a shorthand for all revealed doctrines, except to the extent that they are implicated in or made necessary by the Gospel proper.

    The fact that we don’t really know for certain what Paul was talking about in that one verse in 1 Cor. doesn’t mean we’re missing the good news, or even part of it.

  139. Ray, I think you need to think about what Mosser and Owens were saying more closely. No where do they say that Mormon scholars are correct. All they are saying is that they have now gotten better degrees, which speaks nothing about veracity.

    I am curious if you have paid attention to the rest of 1 Cor 15. He is talking about a general resurrection, and vs. 29 could well be interpreted as saying that we are baptized for the future generations who will come to die. He could be saying that folks are dead when baptized and why do we even do it. Ether of these, and more, are plausible. His point was not to suggest a wide-spread practice, but to emphasize resurrection. Its also clear that it was not widespread.

    Its interesting you accuse me of having blindfolds on concerning this issue when I can say the same thing to you and your acceptance of it.

    You ask why there is anything obscure in the Bible? Because it was a) written in another language to a specific group of people a long time ago and b) it is God we are reading about, and not everything can be understood on our terms concerning God.

    This is something I think Mormons want to do: put God in terms they understand. Consider your line that God is not a shape-shifter. I agree. However, God is God and can do things I cannot imagine. I am not God, let along a god. His logic and position, let alone power, is very different from mine. Therefore, not everything God does, or tells me, is going to make sense to me. Once I accept that, it becomes perfectly natural and reasonable to believe and argue that God can reveal himself in whatever way he feels necessary to get our attention.

    Anyway, again, I hope you take this as opportunity to learn our position in our faith and how we view yours.

  140. Solange:
    “If you are a prophet of God who has a message straight from heaven that will revolutionize the world as it is, what do you think?”

    And that was Abraham and what did he do?

    Both Jesus and Paul ‘ducted’ out of town a couple of times to “save their skins”.
    You can’t preach the Gospel on earth if you are dead.

    Yes, the First Vision was the greatest event since the resurrection of Jesus. We have something we can agree on. But telling some one about the vision is not going to have the same power as a whole book of inspired writings, that is clear, concise and easy to understand.

    God knew and Daniel prophesied, that the “Latter Times” would be an era of “increased knowledge”: that the Lord’s kingdom would be established in such a time. We are living in that era that Daniel prophesied which began with the Great Awakening in the late 1700’s.

    God sent us a book which is a powerful spiritual witness of Christ. Now, why do this? In the days of Joseph people were becoming literate. More and more people could read, but not very well as a whole of society. Now, as we are getting closer and closer to the Second Coming, people are beyond literate, they consume reading. So, while even 50 years ago putting a 500 page book in front of some one and asking them to read, it was such a chore, but people today and in the future are more and more not thinking twice about reading a 500 page book. Reading 5 pages of the First Vision does not give some one the time to absorb spiritual depth as reading a 500 page book. The B of M in that regard is far more important at converting people by the Spirit than the First Vision.

    God is interested in saving souls; not promoting visions.

    And honestly speaking, not to disparage the Bible, but I have never met anyone who by reading the Bible alone (without a lot of church attendance along with it) to have converted to Christianity. On the other hand, I have actually met one man who would not join our church because of the Bible. (He read about the ruthless village exterminations the Israelites did and wouldn’t be a part of any church which believed God ordered that).

    On the other hand, I’ve met many people who have picked up a B of M from somewhere, read it and knew it was true. Then, afterward started attending church. This truly attests to the Spirit that can come from reading the book.

  141. Ray, what, Mormonism has been around about 170 years, right? Why all the splinters and disagreement there? I could argue the FLDS looks a lot more like Smith’s and Young’s Mormonism than does Monson’s. And there has been a steady stream of apostles and leaders since that they governed over the church.

    And you argue for the apostasy from a negative position. You cannot prove its existence, only suggest it by the absence of a line of rules and disagreements on doctrine. You do realize this is very weak evidence, right?

    So, I urge you to consider two things: the state of the restored church Smith brought forth against what we see today both in terms of the SLC version and others, and also verifiable evidence that original Christianity was lost until Smith restored it.

  142. Solange:
    “And no, I do not add the death of J. Smith in the same category.”

    And you probably feel the extermination order issued by the state of Missouri to kill Mormons on site was just, too? You know, the order which wasn’t lifted until 1977?

  143. Cowboy:
    “It sounded as if you are suggesting that the Mormon church is somehow doing better and has the numbers to prove it.”

    I am suggesting the LDS will do better in the future for the reasons I’ve explained to Solange. We won’t be facing extinction as many of the smaller Christian churches may.

  144. Ray,
    The comparison you try to make between J. Smith and Abraham is on the same level as your other one between Moses and B. Young.
    Did Abraham lie to Pharaoh about who Sarah was? Yes, he did. Did God approved of it? No, he did not. And made sure to leave it in Scripture for all of us to know and understand that when we decide to strike on our own without God’s leading, bad things happen. Nowhere in the text we read about God telling him to go to Egypt to escape famine. But God had told him to go to and stay in the promised land.

    That was not a high point for Abraham, neither was it when he doubted God’s almighty power to give him a son of promise and decides to make things happen his way, with Sarah’s ill-devised plan. The ongoing conflicts in the Middle East are surely a proof that we are always better off trusting God and waiting for Him. But apart from that, I fail to see any real correlation with what we are talking about. Abraham, Jesus and the apostles, never compromise on their message about God’s plan of salvation in order to save themselves from persecution. The message was not altered, denied, added on to, or modified in anyway whatsoever because God does not allow for that to happen and real servants of His know it. Because that IS bad fruit, to borrow from a favorite expression of yours.

    When the only constant is change, that needs to continually be excused for, “explained away”, glossed over and or suppressed/controlled in order for people to accept it, that foundation is shaky, at best. I have found it to be made of “sinking sand.” No amount of LDS scholars can put enough spin on things to where it all of a sudden, will become solid.

  145. Hey Cowboy – that was a good link.

    I’m pretty sure the rate of retention is around 33%, not 30% and there is another 30% who, while not active consider themselves LDS.

    We will struggle like every one else with this tide of secularism. Secularism is here and it will get much stronger. It has been and will continue to destroy people’s faith: what ever that faith is.

    We will also grow. Even if our population triples in the next 40 years but the Christian world at large falls by 50% this will be a very sad time for people who believe in Christ. Actual state sponsored persecution may return against Christianity in various places.

    What we take for granted today is likely to become a cherrished gift in just a few decades.

  146. Solange – I see you need to study the life of Abraham.

    Sarah was a distant sister of Abraham, so Abraham did not lie. He just didn’t reveal to the Pharaoh that she was also his wife. Just like Joseph did not reveal all the details of the First Vision. We still don’t have and never will have those details.

    What is certain is, you will not give not one speck of human decency to the Prophet. I asked, name me one thing good about the LDS and Joseph. Can you think of one?

    You said:
    “When the only constant is change, that needs to continually be excused for, “explained away”, glossed over and or suppressed/controlled in order for people to accept it, that foundation is shaky, at best.”

    And this is why Christianity at large is getting plastered and will continue to get plastered. The only thing we “have” to explain away are things which people in our society deem as “different”. If you’ve been following the thread on the other article, then you would know exactly what I’m talking about.

    The LDS membership fought hard to stop the legalization of Gay Marriage. We won the battles but lost the war. In the next ten years, our society and especially younger people won’t think twice about this as being a moral issue. Those people who know not God which will soon be a majority of society, do you think they will actually be turned away from Joseph because he was a polygamist? They won’t think twice about it. They will be more receptive to listen to the LDS message but they won’t be more receptive to the Evangelical message because the world will continue to paint you as biggots.

  147. Ray said

    I do not hide information to bolster my thinking to others. I think intentionally leaving out relevent information is a form of deception.

    Ray then said

    Sarah was a distant sister of Abraham, so Abraham did not lie. He just didn’t reveal to the Pharaoh that she was also his wife.

  148. “Sarah was a distant sister of Abraham, so Abraham did not lie. He just didn’t reveal to the Pharaoh that she was also his wife. Just like Joseph did not reveal all the details of the First Vision. We still don’t have and never will have those details.”

    Yes, but Pharaoh’s question to him was if Sarah was his wife, not his half sister. “Are you married to this woman? was the question. He answered, “No, she is my sister.” Genesis 12:18-19
    Abraham failed to answer that truthfully and that is why the subsequent problems occurred. From which God had to save them from. He did not do right in that situation but my point is that his lie was NOT about any of the spiritual truths that God had revealed to him. Joseph omitted to tell the crucial part of his vision, when he was not under any kind of duress. He was asked by those people to tell what he had seen and he was happy to oblige.

    “Altering his accounts only means he didn’t reveal everything that occurred in the First Vision. There may have been angels present at first, the grove may have looked like it was in a fire that did not consume the plants but decided to leave that out in the official version. Not mentioning God and Christ in an earlier account only means he didn’t want the others who had access to this writing to know he had seen the Father and the Son.”

    Right, if we are going to talk about all the open possibilities of what may have happen about what he says he saw, we also need to include all the possibilities of what may not have happened: no Father and Son, no angel/angels from God, no burning bushes. But all fabrications of a young, intelligent but proud mind, seeking power and recognition among his fellowmen; a satanic manifestation disguised as an angel of light.
    Have any of those possibilities ever crossed your mind? How are you so sure Joseph Smith is what
    he says he is? Because of feelings solely?

  149. Ray:
    “In the next ten years, our society and especially younger people won’t think twice about this as being a moral issue. Those people who know not God which will soon be a majority of society, do you think they will actually be turned away from Joseph because he was a polygamist? They won’t think twice about it. They will be more receptive to listen to the LDS message but they won’t be more receptive to the Evangelical message because the world will continue to paint you as biggots.”

    Are you saying the LDS will experience a bigger growth when our society becomes more amoral and immoral? What a strange statement you made here.
    They might not care about polygamy but they will care if the LDS church maintains their current stance on homosexuality. You are not suggesting a change of position by the church on it is in the horizon?

  150. Tim,
    Solange was suggesting that not revealing the truth was a form of lying. I was illustrating Abraham did this. I don’t think it’s a form of lying; I think it’s being discreet.

    I assumed since she had been LDS all those years that she knew Sarah was Abraham’s sister as well.

    You are trying to accuse me of being a hypocrite which I am not. I have been open and honest in everything I talk about.

  151. Ray, and others have shown how God did not treat Abraham ‘kindly’ for his discreet judgment.

    And as Tim pointed out, YOU were the one who said leaving out relevant information is deception.

    So which is it? Is it being discreet, or is it deception?

  152. Genesis 20:12 is where we find originally, that Sarah was his half sister.
    And coincidentally, in this chapter, we can verify that Abraham did not learn his lesson in Egypt and repeats his mistake again by lying in the same manner to Abimelech, king of Gerar. Who is found by God, to be clear of any wrongdoing in regards to having taken Sarah (vs 3-5.)
    I cannot remember if the book of Abraham teaches it differently, but this is what the Bible text says.

  153. Ray I wasn’t calling you a hypocrite. I was just pointing out that you seem to be unwilling to hold Abraham to the same standard you hold for yourself.

    Call it lying or deception but the Biblical account makes it clear that it was the cause of a great amount of trouble.

    Calling it “discreet” is actually a display of Mormon culture that stems back to keeping polygamy hidden from public view. At times that sort of “discretion” extended all the way to distorting or negating the truth.

    I think you are right that withholding pertinent information is a form of deception.

  154. And coincidentally, in this chapter, we can verify that Abraham did not learn his lesson in Egypt and repeats his mistake again by lying in the same manner to Abimelech, king of Gerar. Who is found by God, to be clear of any wrongdoing in regards to having taken Sarah (vs 3-5.)
    I cannot remember if the book of Abraham teaches it differently, but this is what the Bible text says.

    Conveniently, in Abraham 2:21-25, God actually commands Abraham to lie.

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/2.21-25?lang=eng#20

  155. Solange and others,
    Putting it simply, it’s tough to be a Latter Day Saint. And I expected that before I was baptized. After all, the Father didn’t let Jesus off the hook – he had to endure to the end. And so did all the early Apostles and early church members and even in these modern times it’s been tough. And many quit – Solange being our prime example here. Where much is given much is expected and that seems to the fate of an LDS believer.

    I have high expectations of this group. I am trying very hard to understand your thoughts and views of your beliefs but I’m not seeing the same thing in return. And if you want to nit pick something that’s legitimate then okay – but if not, then let’s move on to more important things.

    The fact that Abraham was married to his “half” sister does not negate the fact that he was married to his sister. It has only really been in this country in very recent times that a “sister” or a “brother” starts recieving distinguishing makes of “half” or 1st, 2nd or 3rd cousin. In ancient times and today these relationships are still “sister” or “brother”. The idea this was a fabrication and a lie is just ridiculous.

    And no, Kullervo, in Abraham 2:21-25 God doesn’t instructed him to lie, he was told to use his sister relationship with Sarah and not disclose his marital relationship with her.

    As far as I can tell, the only one who was unhappy about this supposed lie was Pharaoh, not God. Abraham was one of the greatest examples of faith recorded in scriptures and you demean him nearly as bad a Joseph. Just remember we are judged how we judge others.

    And Solange, you really have to get a better Bible translation. It does not say, “No, she is my wife”, it says simply, “she is my wife.” The “No” is not in there and also in the “God is a Spirit” verse, the “a” is not in there either. These are things added by translators which support their theological views, not what the writers intended.
    I noticed this problem with your translation on the possession of slaves issue which you said, “…for the rest of his life” where as both the KJV and Strong’s lexicon note the word means “forever, eternal”.
    You’ve got a beginner’s Bible and it’s leading you to think things which were never intended by the prophets. You are willfully being deceived with your translation.

    So, if not disclosing information is evil, then what about Jesus when he refused speaking to answer Pilot’s questions. Was that deception too? Did he sin? Are you going to pass judgment on the Lord too?

    As far as being discreet on issues that can get you killed, I think the Lord approves. But the issues we talk about in this forum, there is no need for such behavior. So, if I know both sides of an issue, I’ll bring up the other side, if I deem it to be reasonably plausible.

    And, NO, cowboy, I assumed Solange already knew that about brother/ sister realtionship of Abraham and Sarah. Apparently, she did know since she gave us the verse which supports what I said. I was in no way being deceptive.

    This group is just too quick to find fault with what I say. If I make a gaff, I’ll fess up, but I have no intention in deceiving any one. And I expect the same due.

  156. Ray:
    “And if you want to nit pick something that’s legitimate then okay – but if not, then let’s move on to more important things.”

    I did not bring this up – you did because you thought that it would help you to affirm your point. But perhaps it did not turn out as you expected it to?
    Just for clarification purposes, I looked it up in D&C and that is what the verse says:

    24 “Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister, and thy soul shall live.” That is the opposite of what is narrated in Genesis.

    Both Pharao’s and Abimelech’s reason to question about their marital status was to discover if Sarah was single and therefore, available for them to take her. By answering as he did, he left her uncovered and unprotected. But despite all this, God who is faithful to His own plans and is
    self-sufficient to make them come to fruition, intervened and saved them.

    I did not quote the verse from Genesis verbatim. And no, mine is not a beginner’s Bible. I also have the same availability as you do to look at different translations, concordances, etc. to verify context.
    I disagree that Moses was telling the Israelites that the slaves they had were theirs for eternity. Perhaps, this understanding derives from LDS belief that all who go to the inferior kingdoms from the celestial one, will be the servants of the newly exalted gods, but that again, is not biblical.

    “Abraham was one of the greatest examples of faith recorded in scriptures and you demean him nearly as bad a Joseph. Just remember we are judged how we judge others.”

    Yes, he was. But borrowing another favorite line from you, he was also just a man, sometimes prone to commit mistakes and do wrong, just as every one of us. That is not demeaning him. But it would be demeaning God to say that He instructed him to be deceptive: “God is not a man, that he should lie;…” Numbers 23:10
    Please, read chapter 20 of Genesis and we can discuss this further, if you wish.

    But again, the comparison you were making between Abraham’s deception and Joseph’s repeated changes of accounts about the First Vision are not, in my opinion, equitable. Abraham did not change/alter anything which the Lord had told him about His covenant and promises, in order to escape persecution.

    “Just remember we are judged how we judge others.”

    “After all, the Father didn’t let Jesus off the hook – he had to endure to the end. And so did all the early Apostles and early church members and even in these modern times it’s been tough. And many quit – Solange being our prime example here.”

  157. Yes, Jared it looks that way. I think Tim runs this site and if he wants me to leave all he has to do is state it so. I’ll stop posting. However, I think he a better man than to use insults to get me to leave.

  158. Ray:
    “You are willfully being deceived with your translation.”

    Here is a fair question to you: Is there a possibility of that being the case with you and the LDS clashing interpretations to biblical texts?

    You said,
    “So, if not disclosing information is evil, then what about Jesus when he refused speaking to answer Pilot’s questions. Was that deception too? Did he sin? Are you going to pass judgment on the Lord too?”

    No. “God is not a man, that he should lie;…” Numbers 23:10
    That is an argument I do not make use of, the possibility of God lying or being anything less than He is, which is holy. As Paul states: “Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.” Romans 3:4
    He did answer Pilot’s questions but Pilot was not interested in listening to Him as his mind was already made up.

  159. Solange:

    “But perhaps it did not turn out as you expected it to?”

    Sadly, it has turned out as I expected.

    “But again, the comparison you were making between Abraham’s deception and Joseph’s repeated changes of accounts about the First Vision are not, in my opinion, equitable. ”

    And Tim’s comment:
    “I was just pointing out that you seem to be unwilling to hold Abraham to the same standard you hold for yourself.”

    First for Tim, my comments on a discussion board are not life threatening, while Abraham’s situation meant certain death if he disclosed fully his relationship with Sarah.

    I lived near very unsafe neighborhood’s growing up. I truly know what it feels like to be at the whim of serious life threatening people.
    Joseph, clearly, experienced this very often, so no, he didn’t want to disclose the First Vision account in it’s entirety.
    So, let’s take this one view at a time. First, your view, I’m going by memory as a summary, so correct me if I’m wrong:

    The reason his 4 accounts a different is because 1) he was a con man and 2) couldn’t make up his mind about what his theology on the Godhead was until 1838. So, 3) there is a progression in the 4 accounts when he finally made up his mind of how he wanted it to read. 4) He made a typical con man rookie mistake and this is how we caught him.

    If one does not believe God can call a prophet in the last days, or their is no God, then this is the obvious answer. This must be it! Because nothing else is credible.

    This is a very elementary conclusion except in negates all the facts and circumstances that I have brought forward. We know enough about Joseph, now, to know that he was a certifiable genius and a genius is not going to make this type of simpleton mistake.

    Further, Joseph must have been the luckest guesser of all time. The number of things he knew about the past and the universe which couldn’t be known by him in the 1830’s can be validated or close to validation by anyone who studies the subject as I have. The probabilities of him guessing all this are literally asstronomical. So, your argument may convince ignorant people, but it’s never gonna convince me.

    But I will help your argument. Because of what I know, Joseph had some source that we would term “super natural”. He was tapped into something the rest of us could not possibly know about. Now, if I believed he wasn’t a real prophet of God, and I believed in God, I would say Satan was inspiring him. There is no doubt that he had visions because Oliver, who was a sane sober man, had them with him, as a few others did too. From what I can gather, these were not delusional people so the events they witnessed actually happened.

    To summarize, he was either a literal prophet of God or he was a literal prophet of Satan.

    On a very powerful spiritual level, I can say for certain he was a Prophet of God.

  160. Cowboy:
    “Now, if I may, why play the victim?”

    Before that you said:
    “And as Tim pointed out, YOU were the one who said leaving out relevant information is deception.”

    I explained myself. My explanation sounds like it wasn’t even read by you. When people ignore what you say in response to a personal attack, then it’s a personal attack.

    Tim says he wasn’t doing that but the over tone was strong. It’s hard to brush off that type of feeling.

    I don’t consider myself a ‘victim’. But if you don’t want to take into account what I say when it gets to a personal level, that’s an implication of attempting to run some one off.

    Jared said it best.

  161. Ray, if I missed an explanation, my apologies. I haven’t seen anything to suggest an explanation, only things that seem to support the thesis that God told Abraham to lie and that makes it OK, which, as I see it, it fits in well with your admonition in question here that intentionally leaving out information is deceitful. If there was something else, I have missed it.

    As to playing the victim, what else could it mean to state:

    “Putting it simply, it’s tough to be a Latter Day Saint. And I expected that before I was baptized. After all, the Father didn’t let Jesus off the hook – he had to endure to the end. And so did all the early Apostles and early church members and even in these modern times it’s been tough. And many quit – Solange being our prime example here. Where much is given much is expected and that seems to the fate of an LDS believer.”

    What else could you be saying except that people are going to attack you and that life is going to be tough? Not only that, but you DO judge Solange for quitting, for not being able to put up with all the tough stuff you have to put up with.

    I do seek a positive conversation here, but saying how tough it is going to be doesn’t help. Christians are told by Christ that we’ll face persecution, too. And we do. But so what?

  162. Okay Cowboy (Solange), I seek a positive conversation too.

    If Solange is offended by my using her as an example of some one who quits the LDS church and later turns against it, then I seriously apologize. I thought this was precisely what she said. I never said she gave up her faith in Jesus. I never said she threw away her Bible or became an atheist or became a sin filled person.

    Actually, despite the path she has taken, I respect her for standing up for what she believes. And, on one level, I appreciate that she is trying to explain why I’m being mislead. This shows she has charity which is a Christ-like attribute.
    ________________________________

    You consider Abraham to be a liar because he used “deception”. I explained he didn’t actually lie (by the letter of the law) but by the “spirit of the law” you think he was deceiving and I said it was being discreet.

    Here is how I define the difference.

    A person using “deception” is trying to gain an advantage over the other person in an unfair way for the purpose of enriching themselves at the other person’s expense, either in a forum like this, to enrich their ego or to cloak the facts or in life in general such as an auto mechanic over charging for the work he did, to enrich his pocket book.

    Being discreet is to prevent another person from deliberately harming you with information you give them. A millionaire who goes to the auto mechanic might not want to reveal he is a rich man for the reason that the mechanic might over charge him and Abraham might not want to reveal that the woman he was with was his wife for the reason the Lord warned him that he would be killed.

    Now, if you don’t agree with my explanation, that’s your right, but I think I have explained it completely now.

  163. Can you read about the utter and total holiness of God in places like Isaiah 6 and still come back to me splitting hairs between deception and discretion?

    Or is your god really so impotent–and his commandments so arbitraty–that he has to his followers to lie (and murder!) in order to prevent his work from being frustrated?

  164. OK, Ray.

    This is where I hate online forums. Whatever I say will be construed some way I don’t intend, so I will simply accept your explanation and state that I do disagree with your take on the matter. I will also simply state that you were unclear on your position to Solange quitting and your explanation has little to do with the context of what you wrote. I don’t know what you meant. I can only read what you wrote.

  165. I agree Cowboy.
    With out being in person, words on paper do not always get the message across.

  166. Hi Solange!
    I again apologize if you were offended. I thought I had stated your position. I didn’t think you would take offense. If some one said, “Ray quit the Baptist Church”, I would agree, because I did. That was my line of thinking.

    I want to address a couple of things you said including one component of the 4 accounts.

    First this:
    “Are you saying the LDS will experience a bigger growth when our society becomes more amoral and immoral? What a strange statement you made here.”

    I readily admit that the LDS version of Christianity is not “Traditional”. Traditional Christianity has certain prejudices built into it which alienate even good people. A good example of one is “one heaven and one hell”. When a position is taken that ‘if you don’t believe my way, you’ll burn in Hell’ is taken, then what ever goodness you speak of Christ is very hollow to most generic theists.

    Right now, for many people from the Traditional World view, one of the stumbling blocks to the LDS faith is polygamy. As the children of these people fall away from Traditionalism, they will become more open to different life styles, so an LDS message having polygamy in it’s history will not sound as terrible to them as it does today to so many people. In that regard, people will be more open to hearing the message. But, as we see the trend now, the Traditional Christian will continue to get plastered by the media, the universities and in the sciences. This plastering will continue to peal away large secgments of Traditional Christians.

    “They might not care about polygamy but they will care if the LDS church maintains their current stance on homosexuality. You are not suggesting a change of position by the church on it is in the horizon?”

    The Church’s position on homosexuality is an interesting one. I have a very good friend who is gay and older than me and now an ex-Mormon. He’s one of the most intelligent people I know and he still believes the Church is true, still has a strong testimony but readily admits he can’t or doesn’t want to keep the commandments.
    From him, I learned how the Church “dealt” with “his type” from even four decades ago. He was not “X’ed” for being gay, but was “X’ed” for all the other things that came from spending too much time in the gay world when he went inactive. Prostitution, drugs and his inability to repent of his sins. A life long pattern had been established that was contrary to commandments, so because of this and the law breaking, he was excommunicated.

    The Church’s position in the past and now is if you are gay, you are welcome to be a part of the Church provided, like an adulterer, that you repent or at least make serious efforts in that direction. We don’t hate gay people. We don’t ‘witch hunt’ them. We don’t believe in gay marriage and I am certain this will never change because it is contrary to the Lord’s plan.

    Changes which have been implemented in recent years include 1) an acknowledgement that most gays are born that way 2) You can be gay and attend LDS schools provided you live by the school’s standard’s charter and 3) That we as Church members not be judgmental of gay people and love them into the Gospel like we would any one else. And 4) making the long held position on gays much more public.

    Right now, many Gays hate the LDS for our participation in maintaining Traditional marriage. But that will fade over time, since our efforts towards them is far more open and loving than in the past. I believe this will have a powerful impact since love conquers all.

  167. Kullervo:
    “Can you read about the utter and total holiness of God in places like Isaiah 6 and still come back to me splitting hairs between deception and discretion?

    I’m hardly splitting hairs Kull. I speak of reality, not some idolized view of how things were in the past.

    Kullervo:
    “Or is your god really so impotent–and his commandments so arbitraty–that he has to his followers to lie (and murder!) in order to prevent his work from being frustrated?”

    I think you are confusing the Latter Day Saints with Islam.

    I have literally seen and felt miracles. I know this by observing the power of God directly. So, no, the God I believe in is not impotent at all.

  168. “When a position is taken that ‘if you don’t believe my way, you’ll burn in Hell’ is taken, then what ever goodness you speak of Christ is very hollow to most generic theists.”

    What if it is true? Wouldn’t we be lying or deceiving them if we denied it? Further, isn’t it deceitful to deny it initially and then reveal it after they joined the program?

  169. Cowboy:
    What if it is true? Wouldn’t we be lying or deceiving them if we denied it?

    Yes, you are correct “if” this is true. Of course, I know the Bible teaches different.

    Cowboy:
    “Further, isn’t it deceitful to deny it initially and then reveal it after they joined the program?”

    Now, this is a good question and a subject we spoke of earlier. How much do you say of things which could potentially damage a growing testimony?

    When I was “accepting Christ” at the Baptist Church, there was no mention at all of all the other people burning in Hell for not believing.

    Nor was there the mention of polygamy.
    Nor was there the mention of the bloody slaughters by the ancient Israelites, including babies and enfants as “commanded” by God.
    Nor was there the mention of selling of woman, daughters, in marriage.
    Nor was there the mention of slavery being a good thing in the Bible and authorized by God.

    So, was I deceived? Or were they being discreet?

    In your church, are theses controversial things taught to people before they join?

  170. Ray,
    After all, the Father didn’t let Jesus off the hook – he had to endure to the end. And so did all the early Apostles and early church members and even in these modern times it’s been tough. And many quit – Solange being our prime example here.”

    For clarification purposes, you did say that unlike Christ, the apostles and the early church members, I did not endure and quit. I did resign from the LDS church. I do not equate that to losing God. In fact, I found Him, as you have already “heard” me say. I was not insulted because I think you spoke of a place of unawareness.

    Just pointed to the fact that you were using double standards when admonishing not to judge Abraham, and then proceeded to call me a quitter…That shows how difficult it is to do good all the time and we all fall short.

  171. Valid point Solange.

    Sometimes, we and in this case I, say things that after the fact we wish we hadn’t said because we didn’t think it all the way through.

  172. Ray,
    Just curious: do you have your finger on that Bible verse about the daughter selling?
    Also, would you send me the link reflecting this very recent change on the church’s position on homosexuality? I was reading up an article on this movement within the church, led by parents of LDS gay youth, who seek with the General Authorities to set an example of more understanding towards them for members to follow but that it had not born much fruit yet. According to the article, the teen suicide rate among young gay people in UT averages of one per week. I will see if I can locate it for you.

  173. I think I can get that verse to you later today.

    I remember Marie Osmond’s gay son ending himself. This is sad.

    As I understand it, there is an article on the LDS dot org site. I haven’t read it this article. I have read all the news stories Yahoo posts on the topic. Recently they posted a story about what happens after gay LDS men marry woman – divorce.

    My friend was also married for a couple of decades. They had three children together. In the end they divorced, not because he was gay but (mainly) because he had gained so much weight their physical relation went to zero.

  174. Ray,
    I am not sure if you saw that Jared posted a new message entitled Live by the Sword?
    The discussion kinda moved that way yesterday.

  175. Solange,
    Nope, didn’t see it. Thanks. Guess I should go to the home page more.

    The selling of daughters into marriage and their ‘rights’ is in Exodus 21:7-11

    You’ll also note verse 10 is a rule if the man takes a second wife: polygamy.

    This wasn’t the general culture at the time. The Hebrews had been slaves for 200 plus years and were living in the ‘wilderness’. They had set up their own culture.

    I’ve checked various translations and they all say the same thing, however, I have grave concerns about your translation because of the “slave verse” where the KJV says “forever” and your Bible says ” the rest of his life”.
    This is important because I fear your Bible translators are assuming this “forever” was metaphorical and then appying their own interpretation rather than letting the manuscripts speak for themselves.

  176. Interesting section, Exodus 21. I am reviewing it now. I will say that the context is dealing with slaves. I wonder if the reference to the slave master taking on another wife has more to do with concubinage than it does with a husband/wife relationship.

  177. Yep, the daughters were practically slaves.

    And I simply do not believe God authorized slavery in any form. Period.

  178. Concerning slavery:
    While I know the Bible contains the Words of God, I also know it has been tampered with.

    In Fredrick Scrivener’s 3rd edition (1883) he says this on p505:

    “The changing of sacred writings had very early become so common that Dionysius, bishop of Corith, writing to the bishop of Rome in the second century, complained his own letters had been tampered with (about 170 AD). Heretics produced their own corrupted texts.
    Irenaeus, “the glory of the Western Church in his own age” who “had been priveleged in his youth to enjoy the friendly intercourse of his master Polycarp, who himself conversed freely with St. John and others that had seen the Lord,” had no text (NT) to which he could refer as authentic and was forced to settle discordant readings. as scholars today settle them, that is “to search out the best copies and exercise the judgement on their contents.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Plain_Introduction_to_the_Criticism_of_the_New_Testament

    Modern Textural Criticism by scholars is far more brutal than Scrivener.

    I do not bring this up to “attack” the crediblity of the Bible, because I fully believe the Bible is very credible. But certain things I believe were added or altered to the OT before the compilation of the manuscripts we now possess. (The oldest manuscripts go back to about 300 BC). When we see what can occur in the space of 100 years or less, then what about a thousand?

    Now, I do not speak for the LDS church on the subject. I don’t know what the ancient slavery position is or if there is even a position. This is my view based on my understanding about the facts of the Bible and my understanding of the Gospel.

    And this whole idea that slavery was sanctioned by God in any form in the past is one of those additions.

  179. Ray, then why trust any of it?

    I agree with gundek: your statement is rich indeed.

    Why? Because you can say that any part that disagrees with your position has been tampered with. And I’ll return to my question: why trust any of it if it has been tampered with and can be manipulated to suit your (generic) needs?

  180. Cowboy:
    And any part that disagrees with your position is glossed over, such as the three levels of the resurrection mentioned by Paul or the redemption of the dead through vicarious baptism.

    I look for details and explanations which are consistent with the Gospel. Slavery is not consistent with the Gospel in any Age and neither is the sale of daughters into marriage slavery.

    You said:
    “Ray, then why trust any of it?”

    Now, that I know how the Bible came to and the enormous amount of conflicts within the manuscripts in existence, I would be very reluctant to trust any of it. Had I known these things before I started attending the Baptist Church, I would have never set foot in the door. And this is the problem with college educated Christians today as they are being informed of these things by their atheist college professors.

    But I have living prophets today who, through inspiration and revelation, claim it is indeed the Word of God despite some small amount of errors which may have crept in over time. I respect and trust their authoritry on the subject just as you respect and trust your theologians.

    I mentioned once before that LDS “problems” are not what you think they are. They are the same “problems” Christians have and that is the faulty areas of the Bible.

  181. Hi Ray,
    Busy, full days going on but I did not want to let too many days go by before carving time to reply to you.
    Because you are under the impression that I have a “beginner’s Bible”, let me just emphasize that nowadays all of us have easy access to any translations, concordances, commentaries, etc. The prior exchange we had with Abraham being “economical” with the truth, can be read just about in any translation of Genesis and still come out the same. The difference is found in the book of Abraham. It was not my personal opinion but what the text reads like. Also, if I were to make a mistake and misquote the Bible, these fine gentlemen in this forum would point it out immediately as bad interpretation of the biblical texts is very pernicious to the establishment of truth.

    OK, the first verse you mentioned is Leviticus 25:46 about slaves in ancient Israel being an eternal possession to their owners, (in the sense of “next life” kind of eternal), according to your understanding of this passage.
    KJB, American KJ, KJ200 all say “for ever.” So does, the English Standard Version. NIV, (New International Version) says “for life”, NLT, (New Living Translation) says “as a permanent inheritance.”
    The context is laid out in three different books: Exodus 21, Deuteronomy 15 and Leviticus 25.
    They are forming a new nation, which is supposed to be a theocracy. Spiritual laws and civic, legal ones will at points, entertwine but they are not one and the same, due to their nature. This example you gave about the slaves, falls into what is to be their legal system, contained in their book of laws, Leviticus.
    The fact that the Israelites owned slaves, does not mean they were commanded by God to do so, neither does the fact that some of them who had more than one wife was commanded by God to do so also.
    The fact that the law of Moses made an exception for divorce as a legal recourse, to take place in some cases, for example, was not because it was the will of God for the people to behave in such manner, (then nor now) but the law needed to provide rules to guide all of those aspects of their way of life back then just as we have a legal system to guide and rule ours.

  182. In the case of possession of slaves as well as possession of more than one wife, in the O.T., it seems that it was culturally acceptable and I know of no verse where God either commands or condemns it.
    The chapters I mentioned above, all talk about different aspects of the Sabbath Laws (Lev.25:1-7/ Deut. 15:1-6 / Exod 23:10-13 : every seen years, a year of rest, for the land, etc but pertinent to our discussion, also a time to free Hebrews slaves. The same after seven seven years, when they celebrated the year of Jubilee.
    We read that people who became very poor with no means to provide for themselves, would borrow for their needs and repay with their work, selling themselves for the time needed to pay back their debt. But if the seventh year was up or it was the year of Jubilee, they were to be set free and send back with presents. People with means were to help out and give even if they knew their Hebrew slaves would have to be set free before they would have time to repay with their full- time service.
    This was not applied to foreign slaves which were bought from foreign lands. Unless they were redeemed by a third person or bought their own freedom, they stayed in the family as slaves and could serve father and soon for as long as they were to live. That would be the meaning of “for ever.”

    In the Hebrew mindset, because of the teachings of God by the prophets, it was never believed that one would/could take earthly possessions with them to the afterlife. That was a big part of spiritual beliefs in pagan cultures though, the kind as they would have encountered in Egypt and they knew what God thought of that pretty clearly. So, Moses would not have meant “for ever” in that sense and the people would not have understood him in any other way but that it was pertaining to this life only.

  183. What we cannot infer from the texts in these chapters is that those slaves were all black people who had been cursed by God and were to remain like that until the return of Jesus, as B. Young taught the church as God’s revelation, in his official position as the church’s prophet. There is no evidence for it in the biblical texts to support that thought.

  184. I meant to write: “they stayed in the family as slaves and could serve father and son for as long as they were to live. That would be the meaning of “for ever.” here.

  185. Ray, you wrote:

    “But I have living prophets today who, through inspiration and revelation, claim it is indeed the Word of God despite some small amount of errors which may have crept in over time. I respect and trust their authoritry on the subject just as you respect and trust your theologians.”

    Just as Solange gave an example, these living prophets whose revelations are discarded as readily as the winds change? I’ll ask again: why should I trust a book rife with errors and how do prophets whose revelations get discarded quite easily give me confidence that this book with many changes is true?

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t trust my theologians. I trust God as revealed through the Bible. All the theologians do is give me insight but I also seek to see if what they say is true through the primary source. You are not accurate to make a comparison, because you revere your living prophets far more than I trust and respect my theologians.

  186. Welcome back Solange, I was beginning to wonder if you were getting bored with this group. I barely have time for the posts I do and I often do them in haste.

    I think we have to accept the fact that adultery was a serious offense in ancient Israel, one which resulted in being stoned to death. If a man took a second wife and if polygamy was wrong, then he would have been stoned to death for adultery. Since they weren’t stoned to death for adultery, the Lord must have approved.

    The laws were laid out by Moses. Who do you think wrote Leviticus? Who do you think wrote Exodus?

    Since the Israelites were notorious for wanting to stray and do things such as have slaves, worship idols and such, then at some point additions were inserted into what Moses originally wrote. It doesn’t matter what color some one’s skin is if they are a slave. It is a terrible sin. And we should note the Latter Day Saints never had slaves and never supported it. The only restriction for black skin was the Priesthood.
    And incidently, I was a young convert when the Priesthood restriction was lifted. After I was baptised and before the restriction was lifted, I elected not to receive the priesthood for about 6 months. The Bishop didn’t understand my refusal but I didn’t care. I wanted to know what it felt like to be a male member of the Church and not have the Priesthood. Now, maybe this is my laziness coming through, but I preferred being a Church member without the Priesthood than with it.

  187. Cowboy:
    “I’ll ask again: why should I trust a book rife with errors and how do prophets whose revelations get discarded quite easily give me confidence that this book with many changes is true?”

    The Bible is not “rife” with errors. But there are errors in it. Any knowledgable Christian, Pastor and theologian can attest to this.

    Look at the law of Moses verses the Law of Christ. Massive changes there. No one is condemning Christianity for it except atheists.

    The revelations of living prophets are not discarded so easily. At different times and places circumstances can change quickly. I’ll give you an example of not having a living prophet. One Church I know has a policy of “where the Bible speaks we speak, and where the Bible is silent we are silent.”
    The Bible does not say anything about social programs for youth, so they have no social programs for their youth. This was fine until the advent of social media when the world changed so much that this formula of ‘nothing for their youth’ became obsolete. By not having living revelation, they are stuck on the past, continue their ‘no programs for youth’ policy and as a result are losing something on the order of 90% of their college age people and half of their high school youth are getting consumed by the ways of the world.

  188. Cowboy:
    “I don’t trust my theologians. I trust God as revealed through the Bible. All the theologians do is give me insight but I also seek to see if what they say is true through the primary source. You are not accurate to make a comparison, because you revere your living prophets far more than I trust and respect my theologians.”

    Would you have really developed the Catholic Trinity which you say you believe based on your reading of the Bible?

    I would dare say that nearly all of your beliefs which are based on the Bible come from your Pastor or Church and the theologians which taught them.

    Or am I wrong and your personal beliefs are radically different than those of your church?

  189. Solange:
    ““they stayed in the family as slaves and could serve father and son for as long as they were to live. That would be the meaning of “for ever” here.”

    The base word is “eternal”. By saying “forever” can mean a metaphoric phrase as “the rest of one’s life” opens the door that Christ, Jehovah, can indeed the First born of Heavenly Father and isn’t really “eternal”. “Eternal or Forever” then becomes are phrase representing a lengthy passage of time and as such isn’t really literal.

    Now, you see where this becomes a problem. The theology of every church is caught in a vise. This means Joseph can be right after all or slaves can be owned eternally. Either position is untenable for any Christian.

  190. Ray,
    If we throw away context and focus in one word to construct an entire argument, its foundation will be shaky. It looks to me that you are missing it here and then trying to compare apples to avocados. But don’t take my word for it; I am sure there are several commentaries you can look up.

    It gets hard for me to understand where you are coming from in a given discussion when in my opinion, you keep on changing positions. You have said previously that the Bible is the Word of God and you believe it, that it has a few problems but LDS prophets say it is still true, and now it seems you said that Moses wrote those books by himself? Meaning, without the Holy Spirit? I am not sure if I got your position correctly.

    It amazes me the amount of faith you have decided to place in Joseph Smith, and the lengths you go to find excuses to justify inconsistencies in his accounts, writings, teachings and personal conduct but are so ready to cast stones at the biblical texts, seemingly eager to find fault with it, or to dismiss explanations to your questions without considering them much at all, so Joseph “can be right after all.”
    As I told you before, it seems to me this is a backwards way to establish truth.
    How are you so certain that Joseph Smith is what he said he is?

  191. Ray, first, you wrote:

    “Or am I wrong and your personal beliefs are radically different than those of your church?”

    This is a different question than the question at hand: the reliability of the Bible. Actually, my beliefs are consistent with my church, but in answering what you brought up concerning would I believe what they believe if I did not trust them? I have to answer that in the affirmative. I came to my beliefs apart from my church, through reading a variety of sources and attending a variety of churches. So, don’t make assumptions about me without knowing who and what I believe, and why.

    As to the trustworthiness of the Bible, of course there have been minor changes. I don’t think that is in dispute. Where you and I differ is the extent of these changes and their impact on the meaning of scripture. You take a position that the changes alter meaning; I don’t. If the meaning has changed in one or two parts, how are we confident that the rest has not changed? If we can’t be confident it is reliable, then we can’t trust it at all. However, if through copying errors a comma was left out or added, or a word misspelled then we can be confident that meaning is pretty consistent. (I also realize a few portions may have been added, and those are usually pointed out in modern translations.)

    We have enough early manuscripts to glean what was the correct typing. We have enough to be confident what was in the originals. I am confident that what I read is close enough to what Luke, Paul, Moses, and others wrote such that I have no doubt it means what it says.

    What your position allows you to do is to pick and choose those portions that fit or don’t fit your view point. Kinda like the slavery issue: you can say that this was altered and that what really was there was what you now believe. This is another example of convenience for Mormons, much like being able to say that Young’s Adam/God was mis-copied or was merely his opinion, or Smith’s evolving first vision.

    And, finally, let me vent a frustration: stop comparing churches and looking for where they differ and where you find them wrong. Start looking to what they really believe and why. What you continue to do is to look at the messengers, churches run by flawed men. Look at the message.

  192. Cowboy:
    “So, don’t make assumptions about me without knowing who and what I believe, and why.”

    Good enough. Then share more personal information. I’ve been pretty open about mine. I’ve told you my basic religious history including years and referenced my testimony, told you the name of the Church I attended before being LDS. And you know, I’m LDS. On the other hand, I don’t even know which of the denominations the Evangelicals here attend.

    And this information is relevant because there are stark differences and I want to understand why there are differences, why you can accept those differences with each other but not the differences with the LDS.

    You said:
    “I am confident that what I read is close enough to what Luke, Paul, Moses, and others wrote such that I have no doubt it means what it says.”

    And I agree. There are a few places where I have trouble believing God authorized things such as slavery. I simply don’t believe it because it’s contrary to the nature of God. But, I also realize that at times God “lowers the bar”, if people can’t live it. In general, that’s what the Law of Moses was about. But I don’t think the bar was lowered so much to make slavery or the selling of daughters acceptable.

    And you said:
    “What you continue to do is to look at the messengers, churches run by flawed men. Look at the message.”

    Actually, I haven’t “attacked” any leaders of other churches. I have challenged the doctrine and used the Bible to support my view. I think Joseph and Brigham have been attacked and LDS leadership is often being referred to as “liars”. I think the LDS message is not being heard, though, I’m sure every one hear could explain the talking points.

    And:
    “Start looking to what they really believe and why.”

    I’ve been asking why. I’ve asked why does any one here believe the Church Fathers figured out the “Trinity” correctly. Still no answer. I’ve asked you questions on this thread which you have not answered. I realize there has been some effort to answer my questions, yet, it falls short of explanation. Maybe you can enlighten me.

  193. Hi Solange,

    I will explain:

    “If we throw away context and focus in one word to construct an entire argument, its foundation will be shaky.”

    And generally, I agree. To understand the writing of any author, one must understand the context. This is why I don’t understand why so many things I say here, no one seems to get because they miss the context of the passages of scripture I cite.
    The prophets have certain meanings for certain phrases. For example, in the NT where we are to receive “eternal life”, most people will immediately think this means immortality. But, “life” or “eternal life” does not mean immortality, it means being in the physical presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ in “heaven” (see John 17). But even “heaven” doesn’t mean some mystical spiritual realm, it means a glorified earth as the Book of Revelations clearly attests of.

    Some people assume the OT says Jehovah is from “everlasting” to “everlasting”, therefore he can not be a created being. But, as in the case of “forever” and “eternal life”, “everlasting” doesn’t mean from infinity to infinity in relation to time. It means something else such as from one eternal creation to the next. But, you can’t know these things unless some sort of messenger of heaven has explained it. Some things have been revealed in the scriptures, anciently, and some have not.

    And:
    “You have said previously that the Bible is the Word of God and you believe it, that it has a few problems but LDS prophets say it is still true, and now it seems you said that Moses wrote those books by himself? Meaning, without the Holy Spirit?”

    You had said in your post that slavery was not authorized by God, so I asked you who you thought wrote the books where it is authorized. I thought we both assumed Moses wrote Lev. & Exodus, so it must have come from God unless…

    Five hundered years later some one in power who wanted slavery to “appear” authorized by God forced those verses into the Tora. This is what I think happened. Otherwise, if not, then God really lowered his standards by which people should live making the withdrawal of modern LDS polygamy insignificant in comparison. I think this is possible too, but it’s not my first choice.

    And:
    “It amazes me the amount of faith you have decided to place in Joseph Smith, and the lengths you go to find excuses to justify inconsistencies in his accounts, writings, teachings and personal conduct but are so ready to cast stones at the biblical texts, seemingly eager to find fault with it, or to dismiss explanations to your questions without considering them much at all, so Joseph “can be right after all.”

    I am not eager to cast stones at the Bible. I know you believe the Bible to be true. My pointing out potential flaws with the people in the Bible is merely to show you that prophets are far from perfect, though I can say with certainty that Joseph was a better person than many of the OT prophets.
    I mean, you have attacked Joseph on his “four accounts” and the discrepancies between them and considering this is the second most important event of all time, why do you discount the descrepancies of the the number one event of all time? Or are you even aware of the discrepancies in the resurrection story?

    I am aware of the discrepancies in both the number one and two events of all time. The discrepencies do not mean the events didn’t happen. It means there are very good reasons the “problems” are present. I’m not going to throw away the two most precious events given to mankind because of human failings. I would hope you wouldn’t either.

  194. Ray,

    The reason people think the orthodox understanding of the Holy Trinity is correct is because it works. Nothing else is consistent with the Biblical revelation that there is One True God, that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. It promotes the historic and ancient liturgical practices and the rule of faith of the Church.

    I’d be happy to answer any particular questions you have but sometimes your comments are hard to follow.

  195. Solange, I’ll continue:

    “As I told you before, it seems to me this is a backwards way to establish truth.”

    What, I am getting from you is that to establish the truth, we need to read the ancient texts which have gone through the hands of uninspired men for two thousand years, study and establish doctrines on various things concerning salvation and then declare the “truth” and then set up a church based on what we learned from our study. So, you are suggesting this is the right way to go about establishing truth?

    This has been done repeatedly, and the result is a boat load of Christian sects which disagree with each other on many important gospel topics. So, one should ask the question, why? If it’s all right there in the Bible, then why don’t all the sects agree? Why isn’t the Gospel crystal clear?

    The answer to this is, it’s not all right there. Many things in the Bible are not explained enough and just mentioned in passing by those who had more knowledge than what was recorded. Important, relevent information has been lost.
    Now, if you have followed the other thread, you learned, if you didn’t already know, there were “great debates” concerning the Trinity. One has to ask, why? Didn’t Jesus and the Apostles understand the Godhead and pass that information down? Of course, they did. The “debates” over the Godhead came about because the knowledge had already been lost by the third century.

    I could write many pages on the Apostacy and the foretelling of it by the NT prophets. It’s not a question of “if” there was a loss of important knowledge but how great was the loss of knowledge. And from my readings of the Bible and history, this loss was enormous.

    Hence, in order for the Lord’s Church to be on the earth, there needed to be a restoration. There are only about three main churches today which claim to be “restoration” churches. In my view, only one teaches all the doctrines of the Bible and expounds upon them. So, the Bible is a standard bearer. I am left to conclude that either 1) the Church has been restored through living prophets since Amos (3: 7) tells us, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing save he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” or 2) the Lord’s church is not on the earth at this time and is yet to be restored.

    I do not believe Joseph was a prophet because he established a Gospel that was closer to NT Christianity than any other, I believe he was a prophet because of an extremely powerful answer to a truly humble prayer. That witness is my motivation for speaking up.

  196. The answer to this is, it’s not all right there. Many things in the Bible are not explained enough and just mentioned in passing by those who had more knowledge than what was recorded. Important, relevent information has been lost.

    Or alternatively, and without begging the question, it actually is all right there, but humans are fallen and sinful and desperate to create a god in their own image no matter what the word of God actually says, so really we should not be surprised at all at the number of false interpretations of the Bible. We should actually expect it. The fault is not the Bible’s, but humanity’s perpetual state of rebellion against the one true God.

    And if you think anything about Mormonism corrects this, you are living in fantasyland. Just ask a room full of Mormons about pretty much any doctrine, and see that you have as many permutations of doctrine as you have Mormon in the room. Jared C thinks this is a feature, but it certainly belies the notion that anything about Mormonism corrects for the diversity of opinions about what the Bible says.

  197. “I’d be happy to answer any particular questions you have but sometimes your comments are hard to follow.”

    Thank you, Gundek.

    Yes, I have a few questions.

    It has been made clear to me that the Trinity means there are three seperate “persons” (if you will) which make up the one true God. Yet, nearly all the Christians I speak with insist there is not three individuals but one individual manifest at different times. So, this group looks at the Trinity quite different than what I’m hearing. So, two questions:

    1) Why is the Trinity version this group believes the correct version?

    The LDS view of the Trinity is closer to this group’s Trinity than many of the Christians out there. Yet, by this group, we are not considered “Christian”.

    2) Are all the other Christian groups also not Christians because they view the Trinity different than this group?

  198. Kullervo:
    “Just ask a room full of Mormons about pretty much any doctrine, and see that you have as many permutations of doctrine as you have Mormon in the room.”

    This happens in Sunday school all the time, but it’s because the individual speaking is usually looking at one portion of the specific doctrine in their comment. It’s more like a statistical deviation heading in one direction. There are many dots near the average and some far away depending on the gospel education of the individual.

    The only “way out there” comments are usually from individuals who are new and bring their old ideas with them, or those who don’t read and study the scriptures.

    This is why we have a central leadership. If the church as a whole gets too far off in their thinking, the authorities can and do correct. A good example of this is the “grace & works” doctrine which has been a stumbling block for many.

    If local ward individuals get too far off, individuals can speak with them and help them see the correct way.
    Doctrinal opinion is not “out there” like you think.

  199. Solange – questions for you.

    You were a missionary at one time. Didn’t you ever feel the Spirit confirming to you the things you were teaching were true, at the moment you were teaching them?

    Were you never with some one when the Spirit fell upon them and they and you knew the Gospel was true?

  200. Ray,

    The three distinct persons of the Holy Trinity coexist eternally. What you have described as three individuals manifest at different times is classic Modalism and has been rejected by the Church as an inappropriate way to explain God’s existence because if fails to accurately reflect the eternal existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    With the exception of oneness Pentecostals I am unaware of any “group” that endorses Modalism.

    Incidentally, when Mormons try to explain the orthodox doctrines of the Holy Trinity they generally describe Modalism.

  201. Ray the difference is between how individuals incorrectly describe the trinity and how organizations incorrectly describe the Trinity.

    The people you spoke to described it inaccurately, the denomination they belong to describes it correctly.

  202. Tim,

    Have you ever heard someone, oneness Pentecostals and Mormons not withstanding, describe the Trinity as not three individuals but one individual manifest at different times?

  203. Gundek,
    “Incidentally, when Mormons try to explain the orthodox doctrines of the Holy Trinity they generally describe Modalism.”

    Pehaps this is so, but it’s based on what others are telling us.

    My sister who is C of C is not some ignorant believer. The description she explained does represent her church. And when I was at the Baptist Church, this “Modalism” was explained to me by several people and the person I was in a discipleship with and with the little booket we used.

    So, the question is, if these people believe in Modalism and their church leadership believes something different, are the individuals Christains or not?

    And if it turns out their churches believe in Modalism, like I suspect, does that mean they are not considered Christian by this group?

  204. Ray,

    I’m not sure the C of C or the American Baptists believe Modalism as is perfectly clear from the orthodox description of the Holy Trinity in the CoC publication Truth For the World.

    “It is sometimes difficult for man, largely because of false teaching, to accept
    the fact of three personalities in one God or one Godhead! The scriptures reveal
    quite forcefully that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6). However, with equal
    force, this one God reveals Himself to us in scripture as God the Father
    (Ephesians 4:6), God the Son (Matthew 1:23), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-
    4)! These three separate and distinct personalities make up the Godhead or God
    (Matthew 28:19; Acts 17:29; Colossians 2:9)! Each of these personalities, being
    all-present, all-knowing, and all-powerful, possesses all the attributes of Deity.
    They are coequal and coeternal! They are individually and collectively, God!”

  205. Gundek, this description sounds like multiple personalities in one being. This is beside the point.

    1) If these people believe in Modalism and their church leadership believes something different, are the individuals Christians or not?

    2) And if it turns out their churches believe in Modalism, like I suspect, does that mean they are not considered Christian by this group?

    And I will add a third question, which I asked before and no one has answered.

    3) Why are you sure the Church Fathers figured out the Godhead correctly?

  206. Ray,

    That’s not besides the point it’s orthodox Trinitarianism. These people obviously don’t believe modalism as their own teaching demonstrates.

    Any institution that confesses the One True God, maintains the biblical distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the coequal, co-eternal nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not Modalist.

    I think the Church Fathers have provided a language that allows the church to describe and understand the One True God in a manner consistent with the Biblical revelation that there is One True God, that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God equal in nature and glory and deserving of worship.

  207. Gundek,

    I’ve heard the “water, ice, steam” analogy many many times, but no, I have not heard a clear and distinct teaching on Modalism from anyone but a Oneness Pentacostal and from Mormons as a straw-man for what we actually believe.

    Ray,
    I’ve researched what both the Community of Christ and the American Baptists teach and they do not hold to Modalism. They both teach an orthodox understanding of the Trinity. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some lay people in both denominations have an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the doctrine but it for sure is not what they officially hold to.

    If you “push poll” members of any Christian church I’m sure you can manufacture answers that inadvertently affirm Modalism, but if you let their official position papers do the talking they all will reject Modalism and teach the Trinity.

    If these people believe in Modalism and their church leadership believes something different, are the individuals Christians or not?

    If a Mormon doesn’t know it’s is wrong to drink hard liquor and get drunk is he still a Mormon? If a Mormon does know it’s wrong to get drunk but does it any way is he still a Mormon? Or in both cases is he a sinner on his way to perfection?

    In most cases with the Trinity people just don’t know they aren’t describing it correctly. It’s a mistake but not a sin.

    Why are you sure the Church Fathers figured out the Godhead correctly?

    Because I have read the scriptures that describe only ONE God, I’ve also read the scriptures that describe THREE different persons as God. I’ve investigated the ways the Church Fathers sought to reconcile these seemingly contradictory views and I find their answers intellectually satisfying without reducing or ignoring either set of scriptures.

    The Holy Spirit also confirms to me personally that this is a true teaching about His nature.

  208. Gundek, this description sounds like multiple personalities in one being. This is beside the point.

    By all means NO, this is exactly the point. Multiple personalities/person in one being IS the Trinity.

  209. Hi Tim,
    Thank you for answering my questions. I have a few follow up questions.

    In answer to my question you said:

    “In most cases with the Trinity people just don’t know they aren’t describing it correctly. It’s a mistake but not a sin.”

    Honestly, I am trying to understand your view of the Trinity. I am NOT deliberately setting up a straw man on the subject. I hope you realize this.

    And what I am getting here is, the person is a Christian as long as the church they attend believes in the Catholic Trinity, whether or not they understand it themselves. And, I will presume, as long as they believe the Catholic Trinity, whether or not their church believes it, then they are a Christian. And since neither is the case with the LDS, then we are not Christian.

    When I said my sister was a member of the C of C, I didn’t mean the Community of Christ which is RLDS, I was referring to the “Church of Christ” as founded by Alexander Campbell. But now that you mention the former RLDS, it’s interesting to see how far they have strayed from Joseph Smith’s teachings.

    And you said:
    “Multiple personalities/person in one being IS the Trinity.”

    Are you saying three independant minds, inside of one mind? Is that what you are saying?
    And now, one of those minds is sealed permanently in the physical body of Jesus, is this not a form of eternal seperation? So, has the physical nature of the Godhead changed from OT times to now?

  210. Tim (and others):

    The Holy Ghost seems to verify everything you believe. So, you have on going spiritual experiences.

    Tell me, when the LDS have spiritual experiences, do you think it’s of the devil?

  211. Ray:
    “Solange – questions for you.

    You were a missionary at one time. Didn’t you ever feel the Spirit confirming to you the things you were teaching were true, at the moment you were teaching them?”

    Honestly, no. The relationship I nowadays have with the Holy Spirit, after He took residence in me, is not anything similar to any spiritual experiences I had as a LDS. The difference is really great.
    And please, do not take this as any kind of personal attack, it can be hard to describe if a person cannot relate to it by experience themselves. I will be glad to attempt to be more detailed if you would like.

    “Were you never with some one when the Spirit fell upon them and they and you knew the Gospel was true?”

    Again, no. (And I am assuming you would obviously, be referring to the LDS version of the Gospel.)
    As Jared C. has mentioned himself in one of his previous posts, a lot of people LDS missionaries speak to are poorly versed in the Bible, as was the case with my own parents. So, it was not that difficult to present our message. I think the main factor which led people to baptism, was the early integration efforts with the local ward members and the bonding of friendship with us, the missionaries.

    Let me just say while we are in this subject that when I was around 16 or 17, our Seminary area supervisor came to talk to our class and asked us to raise our hands if we had clearly been answered by the Spirit, “without a shadow of doubt” about the veracity of the Book of Mormon. Although I was like a little Saul, very serious and committed to do and obey the church’s commandments, I could not raise my hand. I had had no clarity from the Spirit on it. He sternly told us that we should pray on our knees until we were told by God it was true. The challenge was to pray for an hour. After I got home, I did just that. After an hour had expired, it was just me and a dead silence. I still stayed on my knees for another amount of time. Never a feeling, inner voice or anything like that happened.
    But I still believed in the book. I was taught to believe it was the only way to God, the only way for me to interact with God was if I were in the Mormon church.
    God to me has always been very real since I was a small child So, even not having an answer to that prayer, I still believed.
    I am mentioning this experience because of the other thread. “Moroni’s challenge” does not always go according to plan.

  212. And what I am getting here is, the person is a Christian as long as the church they attend believes in the Catholic Trinity, whether or not they understand it themselves. And, I will presume, as long as they believe the Catholic Trinity, whether or not their church believes it, then they are a Christian. And since neither is the case with the LDS, then we are not Christian.

    I’m not sure what a “Catholic Trinity” is. The Trinity is the same in all three branches of Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant).

    I’m not really making a distinction about whether any individual is a Christian or not, I’m only describing the teachings of a movement. Mormonism isn’t Christian in part because it denies the Trinity. Whether individual Mormons are Christian or not is between them and God; but if they teach Mormonism then they are not teaching Christianity.

    Tell me, when the LDS have spiritual experiences, do you think it’s of the devil?

    I have no way of accurately determining what other people are experiencing or where these experiences may be coming from. Some of them may be from the Holy Spirit as part of their eventual path to the truth, others may be from the devil, still others may be manufactured from the person’s own desire. I know several ex-Mormons who are now Christians, I don’t doubt that their spiritual experiences helped them remain focused on Jesus when they lost their faith in Joseph Smith and the LDS Church.

    I’ve heard of a man who saw the risen Jesus while high on LSD. He immediately cleaned up his life and became a serious Christian. I would typically be prone to believe any visions inspired by LSD should be disregarded and would produce nothing but falsehood.

  213. Ray:
    “Tell me, when the LDS have spiritual experiences, do you think it’s of the devil?”
    In my own experience, looking back on those days when I was LDS, I can see the Lord’s hand of protection in my life and His mercy. He met me where I was in my knowledge of Him then. My faith in Christ’s sacrifice for me, was what made me want to keep on pushing ahead, in the midst of a lot of difficulty, as He, eventually led me to truth about Him; truth which I needed to understand in order to also comprehend the extent of my need to be redeemed of my sins and forgiven.

    I firmly believe we can discern spiritual experiences by their context and results: if we are being led away from the understanding that Christ’s Cross and Resurrection is not sufficient and needs human effort to be made complete; that is a message in which God has no part of.
    If it diminishes, adds on to or alters in any way the centrality of Christ’s redemptive work for mankind; if it diminishes or alters God’s nature, position and attributes so men can be exalted, that is a message in which God takes no part of.
    One can only discern that by using the biblical texts as a foundation. That is why Satan attacks them as much as he can. Without them as base, everything becomes relative and any belief can be considered as good and plausible.

  214. Solange & Tim, thank you for the answers.

    You, and we believe God has been around a very long time. There are now, obviously, millions of earth like planets in the universe. (It would only take one earth like planet per galaxy to have hundreds of billions of earths). Do you think these have been or will be populated by other people God has or will create?

  215. Ray,

    “And this information is relevant because there are stark differences and I want to understand why there are differences, why you can accept those differences with each other but not the differences with the LDS.”

    First, I attend and am a member to an Evangelical Free Church, but consider myself Christian, with no real attachment to a particular denomination. My Church is one where I feel comfortable and agree with most of its teachings, but I also agree with most of the teachings of a host of other churches. I grew up between Presbyterian and Methodist churches.

    Second, My story is one where I grew up in a Sunday Morning Christian home, where I went to church most Sundays, but I never feel it was a huge part of my family’s life. Me, I always felt a strong connection to the Spirit, and always tried to do right and good. I was the ‘good’ child in my family and never got into much trouble. Christianity always drew me in, until college that is. But before hitting on my college experience, I want to express what I mean when I say Christianity always drew me in: a couple of my earliest memories involve prayer and listening to sermons, yes as a young child. I remember being embarrassed caught listening once at my grand-parents to a sermon on the radio. Its always made sense to me, and there has been no question that the Bible shows a tri-une God with Christ as much God in every sense as the Father. Its never been something that has had to have been taught: its made sense since my earliest memories. I’ve never had any problem understanding who God was and is. As you will see, if I lacked something, it was God’s role in my life, for it was I who was trying to do good.

    Now, I went to college and, while I never stopped believing, I found it harder and harder to do good. I partied, got lazy, fraternized with girls, etc. etc. (proud to say I never did any drugs). I kinda gave up on being good. This does not mean I stopped believing, but I found myself trapped in a system where I could not get out of. I felt i was supposed to do certain things, and to a certain extent, had fun doing it. I pushed God aside. And I struggled. I struggled mightily, but I thought I was in control and could do good again. I graduated, still in this mindset. I moved to Washington, DC and continued to party, with God riding trapped in the trunk, so to speak, there, but not really there.

    I was still struggling. I wanted to be in control though. It was safer, easier to deal with things on my own, largely by pushing them aside. I thought I knew that all I had to do was turn a switch and everything would be better. I went to church a few times, even bought a new Bible. It was during this time that I began reading the Gospel of John again. It struck me as simply bizarre and trippy. (Christ telling people to drink himself to get eternal life? Wow! Off the wall messages everywhere.)

    But it struck me once, in prayer, in my dining room/bedroom (I was renting a place in DC as an intern in someone’s dining room) that my problem was that I was in control. My experience was that I needed to let God in and take him our of the trunk and put him in the driver’s seat. My problems and tensions melted away at that moment, and that moment was so powerful and unmistakable that I have no doubt it was from God. I put him in the drivers seat that day, and I fully understood what it meant to believe in Christ with all your heart and soul. My previous knowledge and beliefs became real that night.

    This is not to say I never take control. I do that all the time, in fact. Its what I struggle with the most, even 15 years later. Its hard to be patient and wait on God. Its hard, for that matter, to always listen to God to know where he’s taking you. But I now know that I rest comfortably in Christ’s arms, knowing fully that he is My God. He’s got my back, always.

    That is my story. I am now 38, married with two wonderful boys, 8 and 9, and a good professional career. Who knows where I would be if I had not allowed God into my life as he needs to be.

  216. And Ray, you expressed a curiosity as to why we accept other faiths and not yours within the bounds of Christianity. The answer is really quite simple. Its been told you before, here. The answer that is that your idea of Jesus is so radically different from ours that it takes you outside the bound of Christianity. The answer is also found in your beliefs concerning your relationship to God and Christ.

    You can study all the different forms of accepted Christianity and you will find loads of differences. The one area where you will see consistency is the question of who is Christ. An immediate sub question you will find similarity is what does He do for us.

    It is my experience that Mormons now try to desperately fit their faith within these bounds and be accepted as normal Christians. Recent ad campaigns suggest that Mormons are normal people, too. However, early Mormons were quite proud to be different.

    Which brings me to something that I find extremely problematic within Mormonism: its inability to hold a single truth as the foundation. I’ve asked before, and it has been answered (but I even pointed out that in the answer was confusion), but what is the single foundation of Mormonism that if taken away would make the entire faith crumble?

    The answer to that question is what separates Mormons from the rest of true Christendom, which does span a wide range of beliefs. However, the foundation of Christ as the author and source of our salvation, as God Incarnate, who gave His Spirit to guide us in this present age, who rose from the dead after three days of death after dying on a Cross; if taken away would destroy our faith. Your Christ’s death on the cross is a sidenote, as the work was done even before he was hung upon it. Your Christ is not the one God incarnate, but one of many, maybe millions of gods. Your God is your brother, as is Satan. You may even be able to become precisely, in every important detail, like Christ, perhaps even assuming your own world someday.

    It is for these reasons, and even more, as to why I cannot consider you a Christian. You do not like the message, sure, but that is up to you. You can research all the churches of the world and still miss the point. The power of the Christian body is not in our differences but in our unity in Christ.

  217. Ray, you posted a lot that I want to respond to in your last post directed to me. I’ll do my best to address each point.

    “I’ve asked why does any one here believe the Church Fathers figured out the “Trinity” correctly.”

    Tim answered this sufficiently, and I will echo his answer. The Trinity supports the oneness of God while also showing the separate entities of Christ and Holy Spirit. The early church fathers knew it and we glean the doctrine from the same scriptures they used.

    You also said that you believe God lowers the bar, at least in the context of maintaining his word, his message to us. You believe that God would lower his standards? You, somewhere, said that you believe the translators/copiers were not inspired. Do you have proof of this?

    I never accused you of attacking anyone. What I suggested is that you are looking at the wrong things. You’re looking for differences, not the unity. And as Tim has pointed out, it is not surprising to find different individuals describe doctrine differently. When people ask about Mormonism, is it not unusual to find people turned to lds.org and other Mormon sites and sources? Why should you expect anything different when talking about other faiths?

    But have you been looking to see what is really believed? Before one can even begin to answer the why, you have to know the what.

    If I am missing answering specific questions, please let me know.

  218. When I said my sister was a member of the C of C, I didn’t mean the Community of Christ which is RLDS, I was referring to the “Church of Christ” as founded by Alexander Campbell.

    I’ve looked into the Church of Christ as well and they too are Trinitarian.

  219. Hi Ray,
    From your previous post:
    “And generally, I agree. To understand the writing of any author, one must understand the context. This is why I don’t understand why so many things I say here, no one seems to get because they miss the context of the passages of scripture I cite.”

    I would say that understanding the context in Scripture before getting to any conclusions is of the upmost importance, always.
    What I think it happens oftentimes when you quote a passage of the Bible, you quote it with the understanding that J. Smith gave to it, either from LDS Scripture or doctrine but which will not necessarily agree with the correspondent text/context in the Bible. Case in point would be the verse in Genesis about Abraham and his marital status. In the book of Abraham, one whole new sentence is inserted, where we have God and not Abraham, telling him and Sarah to fib. That addition to the original text logically, changed the entire context of the passage.

    “Some people assume the OT says Jehovah is from “everlasting” to “everlasting”, therefore he can not be a created being. But, as in the case of “forever” and “eternal life”, “everlasting” doesn’t mean from infinity to infinity in relation to time. It means something else such as from one eternal creation to the next. But, you can’t know these things unless some sort of messenger of heaven has explained it. Some things have been revealed in the scriptures, anciently, and some have not.”

    Ray, with all due respect, Jesus Himself is the best messenger of Heaven we will ever have. I don’t see where He left us in the dark about who He is. Again, if it weren’t for Joseph Smith’s divergent interpretation from the Bible in regards to Jesus Christ and His work of redemption for mankind, we would not be having this conversation. There are too many places in Scripture where Christ’s proclaims He is from everlasting to everlasting. The text you brought up was specifically about the differences in the release of a Hebrew servant, (after 7 years/ at the 7th year or the year of Jubilee) and a foreign one. That is the context. “Forever” as taking them to the next life is an impossible argument here for the reasons already given.

    “You had said in your post that slavery was not authorized by God, so I asked you who you thought wrote the books where it is authorized. I thought we both assumed Moses wrote Lev. & Exodus, so it must have come from God unless…

    Five hundered years later some one in power who wanted slavery to “appear” authorized by God forced those verses into the Tora.”

    Well, obviously, from Scripture, we know that God has safeguarded His Word through thousands of years and He is more than able to put a stop to anyone’s attempts to tamper with it. I think you selling Him short here.
    Being that both slavery and polygamy were legal practices back then, why is it that I hear you only making noise about one and not the other? Or do you think women, if given the chance and if not brain washed, would opt for that life style? But that is one good example of something that although legal, has never been ideal, not for this life and definitely, not for the one to come.
    As Paul says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28

  220. Thank you Cowboy. Now, I don’t feel like I’m talking to some one standing in a dark corner.

  221. Ray:
    “I am aware of the discrepancies in both the number one and two events of all time. The discrepencies do not mean the events didn’t happen. It means there are very good reasons the “problems” are present. I’m not going to throw away the two most precious events given to mankind because of human failings. I would hope you wouldn’t either.”

    Anything I could say about the “second most precious event” in History would be received as an attack on Joseph Smith. So I will just say that the entire O.T. prophecies about Christ’s First Advent are all described in minute detail. Daniel prophesied to the day of Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem, sitting on a donkey. All of those prophecies have been completely fulfilled. Tim can easily confirm all of that to you.
    What is of concern to me, and gives me a sad heart for you, Ray, is that you seem to have made up your mind to disprove the Bible, in order to lift up Joseph Smith’s claims. You are missing vital information on God’s truth, which you really need, by doing this.

    I do have a question for you to ponder on, please. What is your biggest gain if J. Smith is who he says he was? Or what is your biggest personal loss, what would you have to give up if he was a false prophet?

  222. Tim:
    “Can you provide a reference for the millions of earth like planets?”

    I think should realize the vastness of the universe God has created. As far as I know, Joseph was the first religionist leader since the Dark Ages, through his writings in the Book of Moses, to identify that the Bible text which states the “stars of heaven number the sands of the seas” was literal.

    Astronomers will readily tell you, the number of stars in the heavens exceeds the grains of sands on all the oceans around the world. And around those stars are planets in abundance. We are, just in recent decades able, to show many of the things noted by Joseph in Moses are not some far fetched ideas but are heading towards plausible theory.

    http://news.yahoo.com/study-8-8-billion-earth-size-just-planets-212232920.html

    While there have been about 4,000 planets discovered so far, it’s becoming apparent how the universe is made up and that is going to include millions of earths at the least.

    If there is only one earth for each of the 200 billion galaxies we know about that is an enormous amount of earths.

  223. Tim:
    Concerning the C of C:
    “I’ve looked into the Church of Christ as well and they too are Trinitarian.”

    Then there is a serious disconnect from what is official and what the people believe. And I want to know why that is. I know several C of C people and I’ll have to look into this.

  224. Solange –
    “What is of concern to me, and gives me a sad heart for you, Ray, is that you seem to have made up your mind to disprove the Bible, in order to lift up Joseph Smith’s claims.”

    You really think I’m disproving the Bible to prove Joseph? How do you get that from what I write?

    I’m not the one who has it backwards. If anything Joseph proves the Bible by explaining it properly and using his authority as a Prophet to declare it to be the Word of God.

    As far was slaves and women sold as slaves, yes, I think something is wrong here and I don’t believe God authorized it. That is my personal opinion. Do I think slavery and the selling of daughters for money into marriage slavery occurred in ancient Israel? The answer is yes, because of the fact that the ancient Israelites had a very hard time living the laws of God. This weakness was so pervasive is why, “the bar was lowered” because these people for what ever reason couldn’t live the higher Gospel law and were put under the Law of Moses.

    The classic example of this is after saving the Israelites from the Egyptians with Miracles, in a matter of days while Moses was away, they were back to worshipping idols. They had to be put under a lesser Law.

  225. Solange and Cowboy:

    If I bring up facts about the Bible and you consider it an attack?

    You are offended that Joseph said, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly”?

    I look at reality, not some romanticized view about the Bible.

    You should read these links I’m posting in totality. Maybe then, we will be on the same page when I say something that you consider “against” the Bible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_inerrancy

    “The average NT manuscript is about 200 pages, and in all, there are about 1.3 million pages of text. No two manuscripts are identical, except in the smallest fragments, and the many manuscripts which preserve New Testament texts differ among themselves in many respects, with some estimates of 200,000 to 300,000 differences among the various manuscripts.[25] According to Bart Ehrman:
    Most changes are careless errors that are easily recognized and corrected. Christian scribes often made mistakes simply because they were tired or inattentive or, sometimes, inept. Indeed, the single most common mistake in our manuscripts involves “orthography”, significant for little more than showing that scribes in antiquity could spell no better than most of us can today. In addition, we have numerous manuscripts in which scribes have left out entire words, verses, or even pages of a book, presumably by accident. Sometimes scribes rearranged the words on the page, for example, by leaving out a word and then reinserting it later in the sentence.[26]

    In the 2008 Greer-Heard debate series, noted New Testament scholars Bart Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace discussed these variances in detail. Wallace mentioned that understanding the meaning of the number of variances is not as simple as looking at the number of variances, but one must consider also the number of manuscripts, the types of errors, and among the more serious discrepancies, what impact they do or do not have.[27]

    Ehrman has a romanticized view of the Bible until he got into it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_D._Ehrman

    He lost his faith because he wasn’t told the truth by his Church. This is the said part. And you criticize the LDS for being truthful about it?

    This I do not understand.

  226. Ray,

    “Then there is a serious disconnect from what is official and what the people believe.”

    There is another option, of course.

  227. While there have been about 4,000 planets discovered so far, it’s becoming apparent how the universe is made up and that is going to include millions of earths at the least.

    If there is only one earth for each of the 200 billion galaxies we know about that is an enormous amount of earths.

    I don’t know that we can really give Joseph Smith a “bullseye” for predicting that there are millions of stars, or at the very least I don’t think he earns unique credit for it. Can you tell me, based on your understanding of Smith’s teachings what do you expect to find on the other earths?

  228. Hi Tim,
    “I don’t know that we can really give Joseph Smith a “bullseye” for predicting that there are millions of stars, or at the very least I don’t think he earns unique credit for it.”

    It was known in the 1830’s there were millions of stars. The Bible tells us there were “more stars than the sands of the seas.” No one took this seriously, Bible believers included, until the 20th century that is except Joseph. What I give credit to Joseph is the correct understanding of what those Bible verses meant which has been validated by revelation.

    No one was sure even a mere 20 years ago there were planets around the other stars. It was thought that our solar system might be a fluke. “And worlds without number I have created” (Moses1: 33), is another bull’s eye or at least the projection as everywhere they look the astronomers are finding worlds.
    After planets started being discovered, no one was sure there would be earth like planets. “…millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations” (Moses 7: 30) Now, Joseph hit this on the bull’s eye or at least the projection looks very likely. And further more, he hit the “many heavens which can not be numbered unto man” (Moses 1: 37) on the bull’s eye too. It’s becoming clear now what was meant by this: each galaxy or portion of a galaxy is a heaven. This is multiple correct “predictions” of the nature of the universe based on his revelation, all documented before we learned these things.

    You asked:
    “Can you tell me, based on your understanding of Smith’s teachings what do you expect to find on the other earths?”

    In general, I think these earths are either being prepared or already have life on them or have already passed away after running God’s purpose for them. Some of these stars and planets, we know about, may not even exist anymore.
    Since, I believe man is patterned after God, I would expect there are people on some other worlds some where as the process has been going on a very long time:

    http://phys.org/news/2015-01-astro-archaeological-discovery-dawn.html

    I don’t believe we will have the capability to reach another earth before the Second Coming. However, we might be able to pick up some sort of transmission such as radio, television of other forms of electric communication.

  229. Gundek:
    “There is another option, of course.”

    The one thing I am not is a liar or can’t understand what other people say when I ask them specifics about topics.

    I contacted some non-LDS Christians from another group about the Trinity. This is what was said:

    “”Trinity consists of three personalities in one mind but while the Father and Holy Ghost are Spirit, Jesus has a physical body. Is this the standard Trinity?” –Ray

    I don’t know of anybody who would put it that way, Ray. The first big division over understanding of God’s triune nature came with the Arian Controversy of the late 4th century, when Arius refused to recognize that Jesus was uncreated. That heresy was suppressed by the state church.
    The next big division came during the reign of Karl the Great (Charlemagne), when the Western Church insisted on formulating the doctrine that the Father begets the Son, and together they breathe out the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Church eventually split off in refusal to promulgate that doctrine.

    Since then there have been few novel conceptions of the nature of the Godhead, all by small splinter groups that, if they gained any influence, went on to become religions of their own.

    Mr. Buck

  230. Ray, we don’t believe in three personalities in one mind. Your question wasn’t properly formed.

    We believe in three persons in one essence.

  231. Cowboy:
    “Isn’t this what I said earlier?”

    Yes, you said that, which is why I don’t understand why most Christians have a hissy fit when Joseph said there were careless errors by scribes.

    Those “careless errors” may be the majority of the problems but certainly do not cover all the errors and discrepencies and conflicts or doctrinal partiality in translations.

    It’s pretty frightening to say with all the 15,000 manuscripts no two verses are the same.

  232. Solange:
    “What is your biggest gain if J. Smith is who he says he was? Or what is your biggest personal loss, what would you have to give up if he was a false prophet?”

    I’m not sure I’m following your thought process.

    Let’s try this:
    “Or what is your biggest personal loss, what would you have to give up if he was a false prophet?”

    The same thing I gave up when I left the Baptist Church: my closer friends. With my church friends, the gospel is the commonality I have with them. So, if I change my way of church thinking I will give up those people.
    My family is going to accept me no matter what. I was not raised LDS.

  233. Ray,

    I am interested to know more about what about your experience in the Baptist Church.

    Was the loss to give up the Baptist Church greater or less than the loss you suffer if you were forced to leave the LDS Church? If, for example, you were forced to move to a place on earth where you could not openly be Mormon, what kind of loss would that be?

  234. Ray,

    I don’t credit you with being a liar, but I agree with Mr. Buck I don’t know of anybody who would put it that way.

  235. Ray, I don’t see that as a problem. See, let’s go a little deeper: given how many manuscripts we have we can compare them to see the consistencies and glean what the original writings were. The careless typos are do not change any meaning. Even your quote admits that. Sure, there are a few that add on, but most Bible’s note when that is the case.

    You are looking for a reason to put the Bible in question. And yes, you do not trust the Bible with the same passion in which I trust it.

    You keep saying you have been talking a non-LDS group. Can you tell us what group that is?

  236. Cowboy, the non-LDS group is a Yahoo discussion group. Entrance by approval of Robert, the fellow who runs it.

    I rephrased the question to go with Tim’s correction.

    Here are the answers of my Christian group:

    Note two of these are C of C like my sister. My sister is in AL, Charles in Texas and Robert in the Mid West. They all say Jesus no longer has his body.

    Charles also thinks in Modalism terms.

    I don’t completely understand Buck’s term of “composed” in three persons.

    And Pi has a Roman Catholic background which sounds a lot like Tim’s Trinity.
    _________________________________________________________________________

    Ray asks the group:

    Let me re-state the description I am hearing from others:
    We believe in three persons in one essence while the Father and the Holy Ghost are Spirit, Jesus has a physical body. Is this the standard Trinity?
    _______________________________________
    From Charles said (C of C):

    Or one person with three manifestations….

    I don’t believe Jesus has a physical body, although he did have one for a while.

    Charles W.

    “Standard” COC belief — now there’s a concept. LOL!

    Charles W.
    ________________________________________
    From Robert (C of C):

    Here’s my simple perspective.

    “God” may be seen as something/someone possessed of certain characteristics and the characteristics that may define something/someone as “God” are one.

    Those characteristics that define “God” are to be found in descriptions of the “Father”, the “Son”, and the “Holy Spirit”.

    They each possess the characteristics which define what we call “God”.

    I asked a follow up:
    Does God the Son, Jesus, still exist in a physical body?

    Robert’s response:

    I’m thinking not, Ray!
    _________________________________________
    From Buck (an Evangelical):

    We believe in three persons in one essence while the Father and the Holy Ghost are Spirit, Jesus has a physical body. Is this the standard Trinity?

    Close. God is composed of three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God the Son became known as Jesus after He incarnated. While on Earth, God the Son gave up the independent exercise of His Divine Attributes.

    Mr. Buck
    ____________________________________________
    From Pi (Roman Catholic):

    OK… from the RC perspective, as best I can recall…. I haven’t thought about this stuff much for a really long time ….
    1) The Trinity is a “mystery of faith.” It is inexplicable in logical terms.
    2) Doctrine is that the physical body of Christ ascended to heaven. I guess we should assume from that it still exists.
    3) Other than that, it’s pretty much what Buck said…. but since He performed miracles it’s pretty clear that His surrender of divinity was temporary around the time of the agony and crucifixion.

  237. Jared:
    “Was the loss to give up the Baptist Church greater or less than the loss you suffer if you were forced to leave the LDS Church? If, for example, you were forced to move to a place on earth where you could not openly be Mormon, what kind of loss would that be?”

    I am currently married to a LDS woman. Obviously, my giving up my religion would put some strain and disapointment on the marriage, but I’m sure we would survive it. At the time I was a Baptist, I was not married. I was a fun loving single fellow. The Baptist Church had an awesome youth and College/ Career group and was one of the featured groups in California. They were cited as the example of how to run these age related programs with the other Baptist Churches.

    The local LDS youth and Young Adult Group was nothing in comparison. But what was more important to me was the truth, and the LDS had it and the Baptists only had some of it.

    I would never move some place where I couldn’t openly practice my religion. But if I found myself in a such a position, I wouldn’t like it but I would still believe and live it.

  238. Cowboy, I think you should read the whole articles.

    And I do love the Bible. I wouldn’t quote from it and live the Gospel if I didn’t love it. However, I am a realist. Solange points out how one little sentence added changed the whole meaning of the Abraham incident. With all the sentences there and not there in the manuscripts, it is certainly something to be considered.

  239. Ray,
    I pointed out that the addition to the original manuscripts in this passage of Genesis is found not in any translation of the Bible but is found ONLY in Joseph Smith’s version of that event as read in the Book of Abraham. To me it is not a small thing, since he interjected a whole sentence to the original text and in his version, the idea (and command) of them lying comes from God Himself. There is a lot that is messy about that, in many levels.

  240. And Solange, there are many “added” sentences in the later manuscripts that are not in the older manuscripts which do the same thing. The difference here is a prophet, under inspiration, is correcting the intent of the original writer verses some one wanting to “improve” the Bible on their own, which they obviously did.

  241. A quick review of Joseph’s Cosmology from my January 27th post:

    1) There are more stars than grains of sands in the seas being literal.
    Proven fact.
    2) There are an innumerable number of planets.
    Projections suggest this
    3) Millions of earth’s like this are a reality.
    Projections suggest this.
    4) There are limitless “heavens” we call Galaxies today.
    While hundreds of billions is not limitless, it’s all we can see now and there appears to be no end. The deeper we look into space the more galaxies appear.
    5) This creating of “earths” has been going on a very long time.
    Proven recently.
    6) I didn’t include that “creation” is an on going process but is clearly in the writings of Joseph’s Book of Moses. This was also in contrast that Creation was finished at the end of six “days”.
    Proven.

    Now, these six fundamental facts were not known in Joseph’s day. Some of these were guessed at by Kant, the Founding Fathers and others in the 18th century as there was much speculation in the “Age of Reason” but no religionists, pastors or others clergy would have anything to do with other “earths” since the basic belief was all creation was done and about man of this earth only.

    In light of the religious and scientific thinking of 1830 to be correct at all the six fundamental points of cosmology, in terms of odds, is a billion billion to one or one in 10 to the 15th power.

    What is clear here is Joseph understood the Creator and his Creations before others knew it. And this is an important point to be made because, I posed the question, how do you know if the Church Fathers were correct when they figured out the Trinity?

    So, let’s look at the Cosmology of the Catholic Church through the centuries. Geo-centered borrowed from the Greeks and reinterpreted to fit with the Bible. The Church Fathers got this so wrong it’s embarrassing. Then, like in the early days of Trinity doctrine, there were death threats to any one who went against this “truth”. Galileo attests to this.

    The Trinity, an idea also borrowed from the Greeks mixed in with Plato’s dualism for God being a Spirit rest upon the weight of the thinking of the Church Fathers. Since they were so wrong on God’s creation, they certainly did not know the Creator. They, therefore, could not have been inspired by God to come up with a correct Trinity Doctrine.

    On the other hand, my testimony of the God head has the validation of proven Revelation in a marvelous way. It goes way beyond some confirming feeling about what I already believe. If I was not LDS, I would be deeply concerned about these “lucky guesses” by Joseph.

  242. Ray,
    We will agree to disagree on this. None of the changes, as you yourself posted, made any changes to context or altered meaning.
    J. Smith’s version imputes God who is holy with sin, instead of Abraham, a man. A prophet, yes, but a sinner as all the rest of us.
    Why did it offended you so when I pointed out Abraham’s lie but you seemingly find nothing amiss with the idea of God lying? That to me, is very offensive.
    And to God as well: “God is not human, that he should lie,” Numbers 23:19
    I can see how the idea of being economical with truth was appealing to Joseph, though. He seemed to have used healthy dosages of that “discretion” himself in several circumstances.

  243. Thanks Tim!

    Both the Bible and Joseph make claims which can be investigated. If Joseph is validated, then the Bible automatically gets validated.

    The importance of Joseph’s vision of Moses is it clearly means that ancient Bible Prophets had a true understanding of the universe. And so, the Bible must be understood Jospeh’s way. This is major support for the Bible, since the atheists are on a mission to destroy the Bible.

    They use suggestions that Hebrew cosmology was a dome with stars glued to it and such or the Hebrews viewed the earth as a flat disk.This all indicates, that God never did talk with man and as he learned more he altered his religion to keep up with knowledge. This creates a situation which clearly means the writings in the Bible are not inspired one bit. This very thing is one of the tools being used to take down Christian Young Adults.

    But as far as other earths, some have been discovered that are “earth like”:

    http://news.discovery.com/space/alien-life-exoplanets/earth-like-planet-life.htm

    There are several known, I think about a dozen.

    The other ones which are “earth size” are all candidates to be “earth like”. We need better instruments to find out. And as I said before, if each galaxy has only one earth “like” planet, then that means in excess of 200 billion. This projection is not in any way considered fanciful.

  244. Solange, I appreciate your efforts. You are standing up for what you believe. I give you credit for that. But God also said, “Thou shalt not kill”, then turns around and says ‘wipe out this village and leave no survivors, not one’.

    And you are right. God does not lie, and as I already explained, Abraham was not lying when he said Sarah was his sister. However, he was being discreet in an untenable situation.

    I consider your attempt to pin Joseph making God a liar as straining at gnats.

    Here is the camel:

    Did you look up the resurrection contradictions and can you explain them?

    I do not want under, any circumstance, that you lose faith if you find out things about the Bible which are different from the claims of your Church’s theology. Christ is true while beliefs concerning the Bible are often not true. So, I hope you have faith in Christ as opposed to a book which speaks of him.

  245. Ray,
    I appreciate your loyalty to Joseph Smith. I would say that it requires more faith than my belief in the Bible. You may consider Smith’s version when he interjected a whole sentence in to the original text and changed from Abraham to God the idea to lie as small potatoes but you display double standards when you denounce any minor differences with let’s say, early manuscripts for the NT.
    You believe J. Smith got that passage right because he was a prophet. I do not, obviously. There is no untenable situation which God is not Sovereign over. And He never needs to compromise His holiness in any of them. The other point Joseph missed was the fact that Abraham was not told by God to go to Egypt. He was to go to the Promised Land and stay there. He took matters in his own hand and messed up. God needed to go and help him get out of trouble he brought on himself and He did. That is a pretty good illustration, actually of us as people and of God’s mercy towards us.
    It is interesting to me though, how this event is retold in the book of Abraham. The idea of telling half truths/half lies is a concept born out of eating of that forbidden fruit…It is a concept very familiar to fallen people. But I do not see God in the Bible needing to resort to that.

    As far as the people He commanded the Israelites to kill preceding their entrance to take possession of the Promised Land, and your repeatedly mention of it as wrong and an example of the fallacy of biblical text, well, what about the Flood? The destruction of Sodom and Gomorra? God’s final judgement on earth as written in Revelation? Are they wrong, do they point to a further error in the text? Does God judges sin?

    Ray, I have no doubts about Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. There are plenty of OT prophecies that predict in minute detail about His first coming. And they are all fulfilled in the NT. It is not a book without evidence. Although, faith is still required of anyone who comes to Christ as Savior.
    LDS doctrine/faith needs the Bible to exist: the B. of M. is ANOTHER witness of Jesus Christ. It cannot stand alone. It requires the information of the biblical texts to be.

    You said:
    “I do not want under, any circumstance, that you lose faith if you find out things about the Bible which are different from the claims of your Church’s theology.”

    I appreciate your concern. My faith and understanding of the biblical texts are not dependent on any church. As my personal relationship to Jesus Christ does not require any person or organization as a middle-man. That is why it is personal because it is direct between He and me.

    And, “So, I hope you have faith in Christ as opposed to a book which speaks of him.”
    I hope the same for you in relation to Christ as opposed to the Book of Mormon, D&C, and Pearl of Great Price.

  246. Solange,

    When I mentioned the order to exterminate people, I was presenting it from the view that it “appears” that God has a “double standard”, which is what those outside the faith will see. As the public gets more educated about the origin and content of the Bible, these types of inconsistencies are killing the Christian world and leading many to secularism. This is not about believers in the Bible bickering about small things.

    I’m not arguing that God did not order the exterminations. I believe in some instances he did, despite the “thou shalt not kill” rule. I only argued that God did not authorize slavery and marriage slavery of women.

    And that was the whole point in Abraham, which was to preserve his life by not revealing the truth all at once, for God’s purposes. Abraham did soon reveal the truth to Pharaoh, but the guards didn’t need to know. It was none of their business.

    From the LDS view, Abraham did need to meet with Pharaoh. Abraham had knowledge given him of God, in astronomy and math, which was to be imparted to the Egyptians as a dissemmination tool to the world.

    While archeology wants ancient Greece to be the bowl of knowledge to the modern world, further research implies the Greeks got there great ideas from ancient Egypt, which in my opinion, got their ideas from Abraham.

    We learn of this in the Book of Abraham. Many of this book’s implications have been discovered in apocraphal writings about Abraham of which Joseph Smith could not have had access. Nibley has done great work on this, indicating even today, the general public can’t easily get a hold of these writings. And Nibley’s research helps greatly with the Book of Abraham’s historical credibility outside of mere faith.

    This means, of course, some of the Abraham’s experience was either pulled from the Bible before it came to our hands or it was never recorded in the first place.

  247. Solange or others – I would like your opinion on a scripture: Exodus 1:15-20

    This is how I see it:

    Pharaoh wanted the men children killed by the midwives at delivery.
    The midwives feared God more than Pharaoh, so they didn’t do as ordered.
    When questioned about this, the midwives lied.
    Then the Lord blessed the midwives, despite the lie.

    The midwives were in an untenable situation. Either kill or lie or just refuse and be killed.

    Based on your view of Abraham telling a lie, why were the woman blessed for lying?

  248. Hey Ray, The conversation on the blog has kind of moved on to different things. Because this isn’t a message board, it’s tough to keep up on your comments when they are buried in an older post. Particularly when you introduce new topics or when there are so many overlapping conversations in one comments section. I ABSOLUTELY want to answer your questions about the Evangelical perspective. If there is something you would like more clarity on, I’m totally open to you writing a blog post to pose your questions in. Let me know if that interests you.

  249. Ray on Jan 16 you said,
    “Nor was there the mention of the bloody slaughters by the ancient Israelites, including babies and enfants as “commanded” by God.”

    On Jan 29:
    “Solange, I appreciate your efforts. You are standing up for what you believe. I give you credit for that. But God also said, “Thou shalt not kill”, then turns around and says ‘wipe out this village and leave no survivors, not one’.

    Yesterday, after I replied to that, reminding you that God had exterminate people before, exemplifying the point with the Flood, Sodom and Gomorra and the judgements in Revelation, then you said:
    “When I mentioned the order to exterminate people, I was presenting it from the view that it “appears” that God has a “double standard”, which is what those outside the faith will see.”
    And,
    “I’m not arguing that God did not order the exterminations. I believe in some instances he did, despite the “thou shalt not kill” rule. I only argued that God did not authorize slavery and marriage slavery of women.”

    Do you see the contradiction in your stance? I guess you can jump from one position to another as much as you desire but it does not make it for a truly meaningful exchange. So, what is your real belief on this matter? Did God acted rightly in commanding the Israelites to exterminate all the peoples occupying the Promised Land before their conquest of it or not? Was it inserted in the biblical texts by wicked men? If so, did such men likewise corrupt the texts when narrating about those other judgements I mentioned above?

    Before I answer your question about Pharaoh’s order of extermination for male Hebrew babies, let me ask you again about Genesis 20. It talks about Abraham going to Gerar (after Egypt) and lying about Sarah only being his wife again, in the same manner, to king Abimelech. I am interested in your views of this entire event but specifically, on verses 3-5, the conversation between God and Abimelech on Abraham’s “discretion”.

  250. Hi Tim,
    Yes, it’s easy to get off topic but, as we can see one topic is always related to another topic.
    I’d like to say I appreciate your intellect. You know far more (as do the others) than the typical evangelical and I find that refreshing. Your simple but concise explanation of the Reformation made me understand the Protestant view for the first time in a way that made some sense.

    I am still struggling to understand your version (the correct one) of the Trinity.

    I might be interested in doing a blog post some time, but not soon. Work is about to become very demanding, but I like this group and will post as often as I can, if I think I have something to contribute to the conversation.

  251. Cowboy,

    I wish to thank you again for your heart felt explanation of your spiritual path to date. You gave more deatil than you needed but I appreciate the open and honest effort.

    Thanks again – Ray

  252. Hi Solange,
    I think we are covering too many areas too fast, so I will try a break down on a point by point basis. I have not changed positions.

    On Killing:

    1) God has and will destroy whom he decides to destroy.
    2) Despite the fact that God said “thou shalt not kill”, some times of necessity, God, in the distant past, ordered people to kill other people.
    3) From a non-believers view, this is a double standard. But from a believers view, this is what God orders from time to time to accomplish his purposes.

    4) This apparent double standard is one of the ‘hard sells’ for non-believers to become believers, just as polygamy is a ‘hard sell’ for many to become LDS. I brought this angle up in hopes you would understand that many accusations you make against the LDS, is simply one of our ‘hard sells” and not necessarily wrong.

    5) Since Christ came to earth, we live in a time when God no longer orders people to kill other people, as he says he will do it himself when needed. The exceptions to this include fighting in war, self defense and things like that.

    On Slavery:

    1) I don’t think God ever ordered slavery of anyone, women or strangers, in ancient Israel.
    2) In the Bible, where it reads like God ordered slavery; some one changed the text to make it read that way. They did this to make it appear that God authorized slavery where as it really it was men who authorized slavery.
    3) I think God knew the Israelites would hold slaves against His wishes so rules were established to lessen the negative aspects of slavery on the slaves. (I have verses which support this).
    4) The idea that God would authorize or allow slavery is of the Devil because slavery takes away
    the one fundamental gospel aspect and the reason we are allowed to be on this earth and that is freedom to choose. Slaves do not have freedom to choose anything.

    Now, hopefully, you understand my position and I brought it up in the first place to illustrate to you that many of the accusations you have made against the LDS are greatly manifest in your Bible and your beliefs. And that if you are going to dismiss these double standards displayed in the Bible; then you should at the very least allow some one to give a rational explanation on the part of the LDS and at least consider accepting it. After all, we are commanded to “do unto others as we would have them do unto you”.

  253. “Before I answer your question about Pharaoh’s order of extermination for male Hebrew babies, let me ask you again about Genesis 20. It talks about Abraham going to Gerar (after Egypt) and lying about Sarah only being his wife again, in the same manner, to king Abimelech. I am interested in your views of this entire event but specifically, on verses 3-5, the conversation between God and Abimelech on Abraham’s “discretion”.

    Okay, I will hold you to that.
    My next post will deal with these concerns you mentioned.

  254. The events involved are in Genesis 13 & 20.

    Please follow along with your Bible.

    First, in Egypt Chapter 13:

    V 10) Abraham and Sarah go to Egypt because of the famine
    V 11 & 12) Abraham tells Sarah they will kill him to obtain her if they know she is his wife
    V 13) Abraham instructs Sarah to say she is his sister (not mentioning they are married)
    And that way he, Abraham, will not be killed
    V 14 & 15) They enter Egypt and just as expected the Egyptians want Sarah to wife
    V 16) Because the Egyptians want Sarah, they treat Abraham well giving him gifts of animals and servants
    V 17) The Lord “plagued” Pharaoh because he wants Sarah to wife
    V18) Some how (undetermined) Pharaoh discovers Sarah is Abraham’s wife and this is the cause of the “plagues”
    V 19 & 20) Pharaoh is not happy because of he did not know the full story about Sarah’s marital status and sends both of them away with all the gifts.

    No where in this description is God angry with Abraham for lying. God is angry with Pharaoh and plagues him while Abraham and Sarah are there.
    The reason for this is Pharaoh set up wicked rules about acquiring wives: that is by killing the husband of the woman he desires.

    What we can learn from this is if some one intends to kill you over information you may give them, you don’t have to disclose everything.

    As a result Abraham did no wrong here.

    Now, in Gerar Chapter 20:

    V 1 & 2) Abraham and Sarah travel and end up in Gerar. Abimelech takes Sarah to be a wife.
    V 3) God comes to Abimelech in a dream and tells him he is a dead man for taking another man’s wife.
    V 4) Abimelech as yet hasn’t consummated the marriage and ask the Lord will he slay a righteous nation?
    V 5) Abimelech pleads with the Lord explaining that he was informed this was Abraham’s sister and he took Sarah in all innocence.
    V 6) God tells Abimelech he knows he was sincere in heart and prevented him from sinning with Sarah.
    V 7) God tells Abimelech to return Sarah to Abraham, that Abraham is a prophet and will pray for him and heal him of his infirmity, then warns if her does not return Sarah that he will die
    V 8-12) Abimelech speaks with Abraham and wants to know what he did to deserve not knowing Sarah’s marital status. And Abraham explains that what he saw in Abimelech kingdom, it was likely he would be killed to gain Sarah. And because of Abimelech’s approach to strangers he didn’t see the fear of God in this place. Then in verse 12 Abraham reveals he didn’t lie out right but didn’t disclose the whole truth.

    V 13) THIS IS IMPORTANT: Abraham explained God caused him to wander from his father’s home. This journeying was an errand given him by God. And while he told Sarah what to say when they came upon strangers, it is HEAVILY implied that this thinking came from God because God sent him. The JST takes the implication away and simply states that God told Abraham how to deal with strangers due to Sarah’s stunning beauty.

    V 14-16) Abraham and Sarah are showered with wealth and access to land.
    V 17 & 18) Abraham prays as God promised and Abimelech and his kingdom are healed.

    As in Egypt, God is not angry at Abraham for telling a half truth but is angry at Abimelech’s method of acquiring wives.

    And this shows once again that fear of death is a good reason not to disclose all the facts, which is exactly what I said concerning Joseph and the differences in the four accounts of the First Vision.

    And once again, Abraham did no wrong here.

  255. Ray,
    When we begin with chapter 12:1, we see in the text a clear command of God to Abraham to leave his father’s place, Haran and go to the land He was giving him and his descendants. Verse 3 says he obeyed God and went. When he and his family arrived in Shechem, having entered the territorry God had promised, the Lord appeared to him, confirming the promise and His presence.
    No mention from God that he should leave the promised land to go to Egypt. Verse 9 tells us that there was a severe famine and Abraham decided to go to Egypt to leave there for awhile until it passed. One could argue that was mistake number one.
    The problem with him telling the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister and not his wife to protect himself was that it obviously it meant she was single and available. Verse 15 tells us that BECAUSE of that, she was taken to Pharaoh’s household to become one of his wives. The presents Abraham received were a dowry for her as next of kin.
    It must have been very hard to him to see her being taken from his side and to realize that his half truth to protect himself left his beloved’s chastity unprotected. Those presents were a bitter reminder of the bad situation he put both of them in.
    It is very hard to imagine that God would be the originator of such foolish plan with even more foolish results.
    The Lord needed to intervene and save them, for He was making sure His word would be accomplished through both of them in Isaac’s lineage.
    He got reprehended by Pharaoh as consequence of his action. He was a complete pagan but was the one to point out he was not the one who had done wrong: “What have you done to me? Why did you say,”She is my sister, so I took her as my wife?” That is pretty humbling.

  256. Chapter 20 is deja vu all over again…
    Abraham is known as the father of faith and he certainly was. It is a good thing that the Lord does not portray his servants in the Bible as super heroes because they weren’t. Abraham was on his way to develop and strengthen his faith but he is not there yet.

    Verse 2: “Abraham said about his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.” So, Abimeleck had Sarah brought to him.” I think we can easily agree that he brought her to him to become his wife, right?
    So, here we go again. She has to leave her husband, pretend she is single and be at risk to have to consummate an illicit pretend marriage to this man.
    Why do you think God would be fine with that?

    If we stay with the text, we can see God was not fine with it and once again, he needs to intervene before things take a real bad turn.
    When the Lord talks to Abimelech in a dream to warn him to stay away from Sarah for she is a married woman, Abimelech is able to tell God that his conscience is clear on the subject due to Abraham’s deception. ” I did it with a clear conscience and clean hands.” Which statement God confirms as true, ” Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience.” And that is why God protected him by not allowing him to have sexual relations with Sarah and bring upon himself God’s wrath.
    Abraham is saved by God again but again he is called to answer to his actions by the one he had wronged with similar words of reprobation Pharaoh had used himself: What have you done to us?
    How did I sin against you? You have done things to me that should never be done.

    Abraham’s explanation of his actions is important, but not for the reason you pointed out, in my view: It confirms that he, and NOT God had come up with the plan to tell others they were only siblings. ” I said to her…”

    The main lesson in these events is the importance to lean on God and not on our own understanding. When we trust Him with our problems, He will make a way, be our defender, fight our battles. There is no need to be fearful. But as humans, we do fear, we doubt, we hesitate, even the best of us like Abraham, are, at the end of the day, just sinners who need redemption from a perfect Savior.

  257. Ray what may be best is for you to try telling us what you think we’re saying when we describe the Trinity.

  258. Solange – I agree to disagree, however, I want to point out that your view includes a host of assumptions and mine includes only one.

  259. Okay Tim, I’ll try that:

    God, as defined by the Trinity is invisible, fills the entire universe in size, can’t be defined as matter or energy or anything we understand, yet has a personality which is rather human in scope. (Technically speaking, because God is everywhere, we are all in God’s presence).

    This God is divided equally into three personalities. The Father and Holy Ghost are everywhere present together but Jesus is permanently confined in a physical body which has the form of a man. Each personality thinks independantly but yet, all think a like because they think in a perfect order, they must think exactly the same.
    Even though the Jesus personality is housed in a body his mind is linked with the other two personalities.

    I am trying to synthesize this down to a level I understand, because as the creed is written it makes no firm sense and might be understood a lot of different ways.

    Now, if I understand all this correctly, then this raises a host of basic questions, such as why does Christ have a body at all. And if this is correct then maybe those who say Jesus’ body just fused back into the physical nature of the Father and Holy Ghost is correct.

    Anyhow, I’m pretty sure I didn’t define the Trinity correctly, so please indicate where I’m wrong and what is correct.

  260. Ray, two points: The Trinity has nothing to do with the visibility of God, as I see it. It is only a tool to help describe how Jesus could be God and how the Holy Spirit could be God. The need for something to describe these beings as God arose because there is only one God. That is clearly stated, and was absolutely believed by the Jews, from which Christianity arose. Jesus described himself as God, and proved himself to be God. Yet he also was separate. A problem arose in defining God, something that still seems to strip people, including yourself. So, the visibility question is largely irrelevant to the Trinity, and instead it focuses on answering the question of how Jesus could be God, too.

    Second, I head a good description of the Trinity:

    1) The Father is God
    2) Jesus is God
    3) The Holy Spirit is God
    4) The Father is not Jesus
    5) Jesus is not the Holy Spirit
    6) The Holy Spirit is not the Father
    7) There is only one God.

    I believe this is from St. Augustine, but the formulation may be helpful in working your head around it. Maybe not…

  261. Hi Cowboy – thanks for trying but I honestly don’t understand this. I have a pretty vivid imagination, so I’m trying to wrap my head around three individual persons in one “essense” or substance which makes up the one God.
    I’m imagining a vast substance made of some unseen materials which is imbedded in everything, every where, or just pure thought (which is generated by this unseen substance) which makes up God. And in this substance, what ever it is, has three seperate thought processes in operation comprising the three individuals which makes up one God.

    Am I getting closer?

  262. Ray, Gundek answered it well: nope.

    Let me ask first if you understand the words I have written. I am not asking if you understand God from it, but do you understand the concept, even on a vague level?

  263. Ray I think you did pretty well in your description. I think the only thing I would correct is that they don’t necessarily all think the same thing. Jesus tells us that only the Father knows the time of the second coming.

    The language of the Nicean Creed is actually quite specific and very technical. If it can be understood in many different ways it’s only because the reader isn’t understanding what the authors of the creed meant when they wrote the creed. Language shifts, but the context of the controversies they were trying to clear up can be understood with a little historical investigation.

    Christ has a body because he chose to take one on when he became incarnate as a man. He maintains his body because he experience the final resurrection. He is the only member of the Trinity that has a physical nature. The Father and the Holy Spirit are not physical, they are spirit. So it would be completely inaccurate to say that Jesus’ body fused back in with their physical nature.

  264. Cowboy & Gundek,
    I think I understand TIm’s view. I think you will need to go into more detail to explain your view. This way we can determine how close it is to Tim’s view.

  265. Tim – Thanks.

    I am puzzled. If the Christ person of God has been spirit for untold eons of times, why would he now take up a permanent form of one of his creations: that of a man. Is there some Biblical or theological insight on this?

  266. Ray, I don’t believe God is physical substance. That’s what I see as the biggest problem in your answer. If, at this point, it helps you to view it that way, I suppose its better to get an understanding of the basics.

  267. Yes, I could give you books to read for days on the significance of the incarnation. Christ emptied himself to become a man and then allowed that form to be destroyed so that we might be redeemed. This magnifies the sacrifice Jesus made in the Atonement. He didn’t just die, he voluntarily took on a human form and then voluntarily died. He also did it to show us that a life led by the Spirit can be accomplished by a man.

    Philippians 2:6-8 says this about it

    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
    rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!

    Here is an article I found with a quick search. You could even jump to the second section “The Purposes of the Incarnation”
    https://bible.org/seriespage/1-importance-incarnation

  268. I’m imagining a vast substance made of some unseen materials which is imbedded in everything, every where, or just pure thought (which is generated by this unseen substance) which makes up God.

    I’m not sure why Gundek and Cowboy thought it would be helpful to just say “nope” to you without leading you to a different understanding.

    What I appreciate about your attempt is that you recognize that a “thought process” is an immaterial thing. That it exists even though it doesn’t have any sort of physicality. A spirit is very similar to a mind in that regard.

  269. Speaking for myself, I asked for more information from him on what specifically he finds what I wrote helpful, and if there was anything I could clarify.

    I, too, appreciate a sincere effort to understand our doctrine. I hope to be a part of the solution in understanding rather than in impediment.

    In that vein, I hope Ray can offer specific questions rather than offering his interpretation. Its more helpful to me, at least, to know specifically what is holding him up.

  270. I simply said, “nope” because I didn’t think it was an honest attempt to understand the doctrines of the Trinity because just about all of this has been discussed over the past couple of weeks.

    Yes God Fills the universe but the infinity of God transcends the limits of size so even infinite universe does not contain God; God is three persons but this cannot be understood in the scope of human personhood or personality; yes we are always in God’s presence.

    God’s essence is not equally divided between the three person, each person is God in entirety; the Son is not confined to a human body, the divine nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is omni-present, the human nature of the Son is a truly human nature now glorified with a rational soul; use of the word personality is problematic, the distinction between person is understood as distinction in relationship, yes God is understood to have one perfect divine will, Christ’s personhood is not housed in a body it is united to both his divine nature and human nature.

    God is not made, period. God is not embedded in everything. God is not three separate thought processes.

  271. Gundek & Cowboy:
    I believe by now you should know the difference if I am trying to learn something from you or if we are discussing an issue and we are presenting points of view.

    “I didn’t think it was an honest attempt to understand the doctrines of the Trinity”

    I think you should know, that practically speaking, I’m the most honest person I’ve ever met. I think the distrust you have in my comments stem from a prejudice that “he’s Mormon” as Mormons aren’t trustworthy as a group. I’ve noted your sarcasm and discontent, belittlement and even disbelief of things I say, but I choose not to return the ‘favor’.

    Now, having said this, I sincerely appreciate the effort you made on your last post to explain how you see the Trinity.

    I am honestly trying to understand something that seems non-understandable to me which according to this group the entire Christian world believes. And if the individuals themselves don’t understand it, at least this is the official position of most of the world’s Christian churches.

    Cowboy:
    “In that vein, I hope Ray can offer specific questions rather than offering his interpretation.”

    I was relating my understanding of your Trinity because Tim asked me to do so, in an effort to correct my misunderstanding on the topic.

    Cowboy:
    “I don’t believe God is physical substance”

    Tim has explained that “thoughts” are like Spirit, something intangible. I think thoughts are generated from something tangible (brain neurons) which produce thinking, but I don’t know about this for sure. This is why I said God is made of something which generates thoughts of personalities.

  272. Tim & Gundek,
    I do understand why God became a mortal man and how sacrifice and redemption works. I think our differences here are minimal.
    As far as God’s “physical” make up, I think I understand your view, but I’m not understanding Gundek.

    Gundek:
    “the Son is not confined to a human body”
    “the human nature of the Son is a truly human nature now glorified with a rational soul”

    I don’t understand these statements. Mainly, because I think our use of certain words means different things. To me a “soul” is the combination of a body and spirit. Once a spirit is in a body, it is alive and once it leaves a body, the body is dead. Are you suggesting that Christ can leave his resurrected body?

    “”Christ’s personhood is not housed in a body it is united to both his divine nature and human nature.”

    I don’t know what you mean by this. I thought Jesus, as a personality, and as a resurrected person was forever connected to his body like we are supposed to be in the future.

  273. Ray,

    I don’t know how else to say this, God does not have a physical makeup. God is spirit.

    In Trinitarian discorse “person” is not an exact correlation to “personality” in the human sense.

    At the incarnation there is a union between the divine person of the Son and the human body of Jesus. There is a union of the divine nature with the human nature. The divine nature does not change. The human nature does not change. The divine and human are not mixed together they are united “unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably”, but neither nature changes.

    Jesus Christ is truly the God-Man. God as to his divine nature. Man as to his human nature.

    To say that Christ can leave His body is a confusion of natures. The Person of the Son as divine has never been confined in a body because He is God.

  274. Ray, its fine if you were responding to Tim. I asked that you ask questions. There’s nothing wrong with that. Do you have any?

    God is not tangible. You keep trying to make Him so. He is different than we are, and we can never be like him. We can know Him, but never, at least in this life, fully understand Him.

    I urge you to stop trying to put God in box. He won’t fit.

  275. Hi Cowboy & Gundek,
    Any questions I ask in this forum are for any one to answer, though I may be speaking directly to some one else. So, If I pose a question, just answer it if you like.

    I’m not trying to put God in a box. I am trying to understand your physical version of Jesus as he is now.

    Gundek, are you saying Jesus no longer has a physical body?
    __________________________________________________________

    Divine nature verses human nature:

    I have always thought that divine nature includes things such as love, mercy, kindness and such human traits without the negative traits of revenge, hate and the like.

    Is not part of human nature also divine nature?

    Or are you referencing divine nature as power to do things such as create?

  276. “I have always thought that divine nature includes things such as love, mercy, kindness and such human traits without the negative traits of revenge, hate and the like.”

    No, divine nature is not a part of human nature. They are separate. Divine nature is something that only Christ/God can impart upon us. And that is given upon belief. And what we get does not make us Gods such that we can become equal with Christ or the Father.

    I would argue that the divine nature includes not emotions or outward actions towards other man, but eternal life and freedom from sin. Yes, we begin to strive for things like love, mercy, etc, but I do not see those as being the divine nature. Once can still possess those things and not have the divine nature.

    And, when I see you continually try to explain things in a way that puts God into a physical form, I see that you are trying to put him in a box. The physical nature of Christ is that he came to earth as man, but was resurrected with his eternal body, with which he will return in the future. To me, it is a mystery what his physical body is doing now. I believe one day we will get to see it, but now, I have no idea what ‘state’ his physical body is in.

    I have a question for you, though: why does it matter to you know precisely what Jesus physical body is like right now, at this very second?

  277. No, I am not saying that Jesus does not have a human body. It is a heresy to deny the physical resurrection ascension and glorification of Jesus Christ.

    Let’s try this. I would first refer you to the Athanasian Creed and the Chalcedonian Definition.

    There is one God.
    God is spirit.
    God is infinite.
    God is uncreated.
    God is the creator of all things.
    Only God is infinite, uncreated, and creates.
    Only that witch is infinite uncreated and creates is God.
    In the proper sense of deity only God is divine.

    When I use “Divine Nature” it is meant to refer to that which is God. “Divine Nature” is a term similar to “divine substance”, “divine essence”, or “divine being”, each is used to distinguish that which is God from His creation.

    The Person of the Son has a divine nature (spirit, infinite, uncreated, creator). The person of the Son has assumed a human nature (physical, finite, created) at the incarnation. The human nature is united to the divine nature in the Person of the Son. The union of two natures, human and divine, in the Person of the Son, is permanent and does not alter or change either the human or divine nature.

    What you are referring to as nature; love, mercy, kindness would properly be called attributes or characteristics. God’s attributes are essential or part of His nature or essence or being etc. So, it would be proper to say God’s nature is love.

    So all of this may seem oppressively technical, but really it is just Christianity. All of this permeated into the life of the Church, the creeds recited, the hymnody sung, the scripture read.

  278. Gundek,
    Thank you for your explanations. I know that took a little time and so now I have a better understanding of what you are talking about.

    “…each is used to distinguish that which is God from His creation”

    You explained this well. I see it as the things God can do or is which are things that no one else can do or be.

    “…love, mercy, kindness would properly be called attributes or characteristics”

    This would be attributes or characteristics of a person or his “nature”. It’s not going to be just attributes, it’s attributes of something, the type of “person” God is.

    ” The person of the Son has assumed a human nature”

    This means he took on a mortal body which later changed to an immortal body.

    Now, that Jesus has changed his body to an immortal glorified body, is this body part of divine nature as you described? Or do you think an immortal glorified body created by God is a human nature attribute?

  279. Cownboy:
    “why does it matter to you know precisely what Jesus physical body is like right now, at this very second?”

    All religions have a God made of Spirit. Christianity is different in that God himself came to earth as a mortal and conquered both spiritual and physical death.
    All religions can claim they conquer spiritual death by changing into a better person, doing rituals and being more like their God.

    Jesus’ resurrection is what set the followers of Christ apart from all other “truth” out there. It is the proof that God is real and not just part of our imaginations. If Jesus has abandoned his body then Christianity is just another run of the mill religion.

    Of course, those of us at this web site don’t think the body is abandoned which means it exists some place. Revelations (Chapter 21) tells us this earth is going to be transformed into a “new earth” and Jesus’ body (tabernacle) and our future bodies/ selves will reside there. If Jesus as an embodied spirit will reside in a place after the resurrection it only makes sense that he resides some place now.

    You may not care about such things but I do.

  280. But that’s the thing, he has not abandoned his body. What he is doing with it right now I cannot say with specificity. But the reason I ask about why it is such a concern to you is I am curious as to what benefit you get from the knowledge. Does it satisfy a curiosity? Does it have something to do with your salvation? Is it something entirely else? You say its important to you and that you care, so why?

    By the way, Jesus human nature is of the utmost importance to me. That he came to earth as a man and will return to earth as a man and rules at the right hand of God is vital to me. That he is God Incarnate is indispensable. What he’s physically doing right now is not.

    The dual nature of God is part of the identity of Jesus that I keep talking about. However, there are mysteries about God that we just won’t ever get because he is not like us. He’s very, very different.

  281. Cowboy:
    “Does it satisfy a curiosity? Does it have something to do with your salvation? Is it something entirely else? You say its important to you and that you care, so why?”

    Of course, I’m curious. I’m curious about a host of things which are in the Bible which are not talked about very often in either Protestant churches or even LDS churches.

    The Book of Revelations is primarily a book about the future from John’s time. Why would God authorize that book to be sent to the seven churches of John’s day?

    If God didn’t want us to have the information, then I would think the book wouldn’t have made it to our time. I think God wants us to know everything he’s told us. That type of investigation brings up questions, so I threw one out to you. If Jesus has a body, then it has to be somewhere.

    In the LDS view, Jesus is literally at the right hand of God at some unknown location to us. In your description of God and Jesus, I was trying to understand how you viewed this. But it sounds like it’s a mystery in your theology so you have no ideas.

  282. Ray,

    I think on a superficial level Christians are OK with the imagery of Christ at the right hand of God. However, the differences in how we view Christ make the question more difficult. You view Christ as a separate being, united with the Father in mind and spirit. Its an easier answer.

    I, too, an OK, with the imagery. However, Christ is fully, 100% God. How can he be at the right hand of something he is? I think this is what causes you trouble. And yes, to a large degree, I would describe it as mystery. But before you dismiss our position as being too much mystery and relying on the comfort of your answer, understand there is mystery there, too, that I don’t see as adding much comfort.

    Jesus is out there somewhere, doing something, at the right hand of God, apparently not very active if he remains sitting (or standing there) at this location. I see it as a limitation, as putting him in a box. The mystery still exists and is not resolved. There are still unknowns.

    Even with all of that, precisely what he is doing has nothing to do with what saves you or I. As a result, it is not important for me to dwell on too much. There may be Christians who really do care a lot about it and have very strong opinions. I am not one of them. Don’t take my position as being representative of what other Christians believe without confirming what others believe.

  283. Yes Cowboy, having an “easier” Godhead helps but I agree there is still plenty of mystery there. And I realize Protestants have a wide range of views, so when you speak, I take that in consideration.

    I have questions for you. I have mentioned several times that this earth will be transformed into a “new earth” (Rev. 21: 1-3) which the “meek will inherit” (to quote Jesus). In other words, earth will be “heaven” in the sense of our final destination after the Judgment.

    Do you take these verses literally like I do or do you understand them differently? And what about Protestants in general, do they take these verses literally or not?

  284. Gundek, I said that God authorized the book to be sent to the seven churches. John’s vision was not “authorized”, it was a vision. I assume visions are inspired by God.

    Prophets can have visions which are not “authorized” by God for others to know, such as when Paul heard things in his vision of the “third heaven” when he said he heard words which were “unlawful” to speak (see 2 Cor. 12:4)

  285. As I noted on some other posts, much of the Christian world does not take important events in the Bible literally such as the Global Flood or the parting of the Red Sea.

    Where does this group stand on these Biblical events?

  286. I can’t speak for everyone, but I trust what the Bible says on the topic of the flood and the parting of the Red Sea. Was the flood truly global in that the whole earth was flooded? I don’t know, but it was extremely significant and did flood the entire area.

  287. Yes, Moses was a historical figure and yes he crossed the Red Sea

    Yes, the flood was a massive local event as the Bible describes it.

  288. Okay, so you two think it was a massive flood regional event. I’ve watched a show on that idea. I think some LDS scholars accept that idea as well (though I do not).

    In 2 Peter 3: 3-7, Peter talks about the last days and the second coming of Jesus. In verse 5 he mentions the “flood” of old the world perished in. He then goes on to tell us of the fire which is to come.
    Since the “flood” of Noah wasn’t global in your views, do you think the future burning (verses 7, 10, 11) will only be regional as well?
    Or do you not think of the burning in literal terms?

  289. Ray, I don’t know, and honestly it is not a concern of mine. A lot has been written on eschatology that once I found fascinating. I have come, though, to believe only one thing matters: that we are ready for Christ’s second coming. What specifically happens is tangential to what we need to do now.

    Many, many, many predictions as to the specifics of end times have come and gone, with nothing to show for them. I have never believed in those specifics, but I do think the failure of the predictions demonstrates the importance of vs. 10 that you quote where Peter tells us Jesus will come like a thief. I am also reminded of several of Jesus’ parables wherein he says we need to be ready, the brides and the oil is a great example.

    Whether the whole earth burns or just the Middle East, or Rome, or New York, or the Amazons, I have no idea. I could also find some metaphor that encompasses burning, though I think there is likely to be literal fire. I could take a strong position and say it is this or that on faith, but I really see that taking a position is not relevant to salvation and misses the point. Even Peter recognizes that in the same chapter you brought up: “14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

    By the way, I do think an understanding of various theories of the end times is important, but I think we need a solid faith in Christ first.

    Oh, and if I may, do you still think Christianity lacks ‘meat’?

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