95 Theses for the LDS I-15 Corridor

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther initiated discussion by submitting 95 theses for the Roman Catholic Church to consider. Today, 490 years later, as one who was born and has lived in Mormon country for most of my life, I earnestly submit my 95 theses for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) to consider. The religious leaders of the intermountain West need to completely rethink the foundational undergirdings that hold up the well-oiled, seasoned superstructure.

Governor Mitt Romney, a man who intrigues me, is seeking the presidency of the United States of America. The LDS religion is a topic of discussion throughout many parts of the country. In observing some of the conversation in the corridor, I am at least aware of many undercurrents in popular LDS thought and action. As a Bible preacher who considers himself a latter-day saint living within the I-15 Corridor, the stretch of interstate from the top of southeastern Idaho to St. George, Utah, I offer frank and honest propositions for LDS in 2007. I am sure that for each earnest and regenerated Christian, as he lives in and observes his particular cultural environment in America, thoughts of conviction from time to time will arise to the surface that need to be expressed. Here are some of mine:

  1. Christian authorities must be driven by one sole passion—making big the glory of the one, living, absolute God among all.
  2. All Christian authorities of integrity should passionately highlight the revealed nature of God, deeply study theology, and vividly share with others the blessed findings.
  3. God’s earthly authorities must communicate how God defines Himself.
  4. Each attribute of God is riveting; it is inexcusable to lay aside theology.
  5. Among all visible and invisible phenomena and consciousness, God is the utterly unique, holy One,
  6. because God is manifested in three spheres of consciousness, displaying perfect and particular thought, will and emotion;
  7. because in the multiplicity, He is clearly expressed through the unique love, initiation, response, submission, and other direction among the godhead.
  8. But in all the distinctiveness, there is one center of operation, concurrence of word and action among the three,
  9. hereby radically establishing as a moot point any possibility of the fracturing of the divine triune.
  10. The triune godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit—is the initiating, responding, and completing Elohim of all, the Jewish Yahweh of hosts.
  11. The Father, being Yahweh of all, is honored as we give the Son status of Yahweh.
  12. Christian authorities must lead in full, unreserved worship to the Christ
  13. Because to see the Son is to see the Father, to know the Son is to know the Father, and to hear the Son is to hear the Father.
  14. The Son exegetes the Father.
  15. Christian messages are not Christian at all if they are not saturated with the nature of Christ, the word of Christ, and the work of Christ.
  16. In addition, thankful adoration and worshipful praise are due to the Spirit of Yahweh.
  17. Christian formulas that limit one’s worship to exclusively any member of the Trinity ought to be smashed.
  18. Worship to the full triune God must flood contemporary veins of Christian hymnody.
  19. Yahweh is the eternally commanding, sovereign supreme over all other elohim, either interpreted as earthly or heavenly creatures. In fact, Yahweh is able to destroy the whole pantheon of heaven.
  20. These elohim creatures are held accountable because their lives are not self-existent.
  21. The Christ came down from heaven to be fully a man, but remember that a male body is not what defines God in essential essence.
  22. Animals, humans, and angels (representing three kinds of God’s creative power) have life directly derived from the triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit.
  23. All bear the stamp of the Creator, but none, absolutely none, are of the triune God’s exclusive kind.
  24. Yahweh, the Servant of Yahweh, and the Spirit of Yahweh are one God.
  25. It is unbiblical to force the distinctions into separate Gods altogether for humans to worship. Again: where would the main theme in the reading of any one biblical scroll or epistle clearly project this?
  26. Yahweh among elohim is the only Holy One (evidenced through Father, Son, and Spirit) who asserts self exaltation above all else in totality of life existence.
  27. Absolutely all who live must bow either joyfully or miserably to this truth forever.
  28. Either Yahweh is to be everlasting burnings or the King in His beauty to every human.
  29. Eternal judgment, often described in fire and brimstone, is final and forever; so every Christian authority must earnestly warn all of such awful penalty and just consequence for disbelief.
  30. After death, there is an uncrossable chasm between hell and heaven.
  31. Thank God for the gospel! *“The right and true treasure of the Church is the most Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God. This treasure, however, is deservedly most hateful, for it makes the first to be the last.”
  32. Personal depravity condemns oneself as spiritually bankrupt and hopelessly destitute of individual merit, signifying the whole redemptive activity a marvelous intervention of God by grace alone. We do not come to this earth to merit righteousness for our personal exaltation.
  33. The single efficacious work of God by which man is justified as righteous occurs through belief.
  34. The object of that faith, not the alleged sincerity of the faith, determines whether it is truly salvific.
  35. Christian authorities have nothing to boast in because it is impossible for any of them to contribute efficaciously to their own justification, their own sanctification, or their own glorification in the greater and final work of God in man’s salvation.
  36. Today, Jesus Christ exclusively carries the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood.
  37. In Him is joined both priestly and prophetic authority.
  38. His sacrificial work as High Priest is altogether sufficient, justifying ungodly men by grace alone through faith alone in Him alone,
  39. breaking through the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, and tearing down the veil before the Holy of Holies,
  40. thereby making all regenerated believers, equally men and women, as individual priests,
  41. and graciously giving them direct access to the throne room of God.
  42. No other earthly human authority need stand between those who have become true sons and daughters on this earth and Almighty God.
  43. “Christians should be taught” that there need be no other earthly authority as the gateway for them in experiencing more intimate and sacred communion with God.
  44. “Christians should be taught” that in having Jesus as the meeting place, no other temple is necessary for a more perfect connection.
  45. For today’s prophetic voice, the Holy Spirit provides illumination for accurate forth telling rather than inspired foretelling. What prophet in America has ever foretold perfectly in every prophetic utterance?
  46. Prophetic authority is only as reliable as it is faithful to the already inspired prophetic voice of the one divine Author in the texts.
  47. Inspired scrolls are trustworthy; complete messages are intact.
  48. If I may use the scriptural analogy, mates to God’s words are never lost; written words are central for Christian authority.
  49. Christian authorities reveal no trust in God’s process of inspiration when they implicate that precious truths of Christian biblical texts have been either corrupted by Greek philosophies or falsely layered by early ecclesiastical redactors,
  50. and one is sadly told he is unable to easily recognize the full fundamental doctrines of the New Testament era within the ancient texts.
  51. It is a vain charge, both deceptive and divisive to the living body of Christ, the household of faith.
  52. To take a submissive stroll through biblical scripture is to enter the mind of God, to taste and see His goodness, and to come away momentarily with even a greater appetite for the experiences of knowing Him.
  53. Christian authorities who are unfaithful to inspired biblical messages should be swiftly removed by Christian communities.
  54. Christian authorities reveal their lack of authority when sidestepping or laying aside as secondary Christian theology rooted in Scripture.
  55. “Christians should be taught” that every contemporary message must be held accountable to the plumb line of Scripture before acknowledging trust and affirmation.
  56. Written biblical scrolls and epistles, on close and careful examination, have proven to be absolutely sufficient in pointing people to the Servant of Yahweh and in immersing them in the gospel plan for their full salvation.
  57. Messages from the mind of God are to be seen for each generation through both specific and general revelation;
  58. Thus, each person in whatever place on this earth is accountable to the light shown to him.
  59. For evangelicals and Latter-Day Saints in the corridor, the stakes are the highest in America for individual responsibility to the true Son, eternal God of God,
  60. because of the overwhelming availability of scriptural revelation in Sunday meetings, regular seminary classes, daily televised programs, radio broadcasts, established bookstores, major-length feature movies, etc.,
  61. because for more than any other large land region in the country there is the advertisement of Jesus Christ through every venue conceivable.
  62. Surely, knowing this, there is no other place in this green U.S.A. for cultivating the possibilities of damnable judgment through false prophets and deceived doers.
  63. We need spiritual awakening; we need a pouring out of the Spirit from on high.
  64. We need people of all ages through the corridor to stop and call upon God daily for mercy and for Him to bring about a new transformational restoration to individuals and families,
  65. where hearts are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, thereby experiencing a revival of true, joyous thanksgiving toward the self-exalting God,
  66. where we would be released from seeking Jesus out of mere appetite to appease ourselves,
  67. where we could be set free from our unbalanced preoccupation with success in business venture and material gain,
  68. where we would be set free from the undue attention to earthly gifts granted to us by our sovereign Creator: family status and even our own bodily appearance.
  69. In the beginning, God created so that all else might come into existence.
  70. All life is sourced in and dependent upon and accountable to the ultimately unique, lovingly personal, divinely perfect, infinitely eternal triune relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit.
  71. But know this: there is only one God, for the demons who know the spiritual entities believe and tremble before one God.
  72. You do well to believe in this one theos.
  73. You do even better if your life-works prove before others the transformational change wrought by this one God whom you believe upon for the imputation of righteousness.
  74. All professing Christian leaders must cling to the imputation of righteousness made available by the triune God’s sacrificial work, specifically the Son dying on the cross, to be truly Christian.
  75. The suffering Savior brought about the greatest gift of all—the imputation of His perfect righteousness in exchange for sin’s awful penalty incurred by the unjust creature in rebellion against God’s glory.
  76. It is a vain grasping for the label “Christian” when one believes that Jesus Christ’s work of grace is insufficient for freely receiving the gift of justification, sanctification, and glorification in the plan of salvation.
  77. It is hugely problematic when a Christian says he likewise eternally preexisted as spirit with the only preexistent Man.
  78. This belief highlights a circle of life beyond the self-exalting triune God, who will tolerate no other with similar potential.
  79. The belief in the preexistence of all spirits skews the creative work of the triune God,
  80. thereby reducing Jesus Christ to a reorganizer or restorer rather than God who is able to create from nothing such miraculous wonder.
  81. For Christians, Jesus Christ is not deity by divine investiture.
  82. The truth of Jesus Christ is singular among the multitude of various confusing and competing alternatives. His Word is clear in enforcing that which is essential.
  83. The judgment of Jesus Christ will be final and forever.
  84. The love of Jesus Christ is relentless in the pursuit of His lost sheep. Many might ignore His call, fight His shepherd’s crook, or squirm under His hand.
  85. But He will break, bind, and heal all the same among His beloved sheep.
  86. Not all who call themselves “Christians” are Christians. Not all who seek Jesus seek Jesus for Jesus’ sake.
  87. The mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ is gentle and patient, but He does not compromise or capitulate in His message or methods.
  88. The ways of Jesus Christ do not always appear safe or logical to our limited and often senseless reasoning.
  89. The omniscience of Jesus Christ enables Him to see every one of our inward heart issues.
  90. He sees beyond the outward dialogue and cuts straight to the core of men’s pride, fear, and lusts.
  91. Jesus Christ is the Wonderful Counselor. So why does mankind in the corridor run first to the family counseling centers, filled with psychologists and therapists?
  92. His wisdom is infinite. His responses are always the right answers.
  93. *“Christians should be exhorted to endeavor to follow Christ their Head” despite bureaucratic business, compromising dialogue, social and familial persecution, liberal scholarship, and the hundreds of clamoring voices in America defining who He is.
  94. Let the inspired written Word, the historical biblical words of Jesus Himself, bring the clear definition to the sundry of confused ideas in the corridor.
  95. For the love of Christ supremely, discount any prophet, apostle, authority, scholarly professor, church teacher, or Christian laymen who seek any less.

*translated from a contemporaneous German rendering of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (Christian Beacon, October 27, 1983)

57 comments

  1. Way to go Todd, I am pleased with what you have done. I just wonder how many comments will come up on this one. Folks out there who disagree, hold on there is more yet to come from the pen of a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Todd is serving the Lord and preaching the PURE WORD of God not this watered down stuff one hears about on a regular basis. Todd I am so thankful that my church no longer supports you as a church planter, the Lord has planted you and your family firmly where you are and has raised up a church who financialy supports their pastor. We may not support you financialy, but know that we support you through our prayers, I do as well and shall continue to do so as long as the Lord gives me breath.

  2. CJ, email me and tell me what local church family you belong to.

    This summer of 2008, we will begin hopefully the groundbreaking for a new educational/fellowship wing to our existing building in Ammon.

    I am only on the first page in the conversation in the corridor.

    But I pray that the word of the Lord would run and be glorified.

  3. i wonder how biblical “literalists” like yourself deal with the many textual problems of the bible. For instance – the documentary hypothesis is pretty well accepted by biblical scholars for the old testament, while scholars have found that the new testament, particularly the last chapter of mark and some of John, contains interpolations of later scribes…if the bible is God’s inerrant word, how can this be?

  4. Hey, this submit comment button does work though with errors. LDS anarchist would be laughing. I can’t even comment with my own laptop on my own crazy blog. WordPress has a conspiracy against me.

  5. Suggestion was made to try this comment without any links.

    Here we go.

    I am not claiming the KJV to be perfectly inerrant, a (if I may shorten your name handle), being both aware of the issues in Mark and John. I am claiming overall it is a reliable translation solidly anchored to trustworthy Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.

    Concerning the documentary hypothesis, pick up the Reformation Study Bible. There has been a good price deal going on, but currently they are sold out.

    But head to a Barnes and Noble; quickly read the introduction to the Pentateuch in the RSB; and then tell me what you think.

    My issues are primarily with the JST among LDS, and Bart Ehrmann and higher textual criticism in the realm of American biblical scholarship.

  6. Todd have you forgotten good old Mount Calvary Baptist Church:) The memory of you in your cowboy boots is eched in my memory, a good old boy from out west you are:)

  7. Nice! A place where I would like to take everyone of my LDS friends to experience . . . at least once . . . to hear both the gentle and sober biblical exposition in an atmosphere of Christ-like love. To richly feed on the bread of life.

    I recently read about churchplanter, Eric True and his family, soon coming out West from MCBC. I look forward to seeing how this fresh, new vision will unfold. “Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.”

  8. You know Todd I must be behind on things because I did not realize Eric was going out West. I sub in the 2 year old Sunday school class and have had his youngest son in class, funny little kid, but you can tell his parents are teaching him the Word of God as you hear him say his memory verse. We sure need to pray for more labours for the field out West and beyond.
    Next time I meet up with an LDS “missionary” I’ll try to remember to invite them out to MCBC:)
    Praying for you and your family as you faithfuly hold forth the word of God.
    I would e-mail you directly, but I figured it would help others who read these post to see that you are not alone in your standing for the TRUTH. May they one day Stand for the TRUTH. Be a light Todd, be a light.

  9. Here’s some constructive criticism. First, I applaud the emphasis on the Berean principle. LDS need to hear this preached more and really understand why the Berean saints were more blessed than the others. I would suggest that even mention the town of Berea and its scriptural story and reference. Second, for each of your points, I would put at least one scriptural reference. If you are telling a people to act like the Bereans, then back up your points with references that they can look up and verify your words, otherwise, the temptation to just think, “That’s just his opinion” will be there. Third, although you feel that you must break down the LDS definition of the Godhead, going there is just going to cause LDS to ignore these points. Don’t even bring it up. The LDS conception of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost is fundamental. If you contradict it, they will stop listening. Talk of God, talk of Jesus, talk of the Holy Ghost, but don’t talk of them being one and the same. Lead the horse to the water (the Bible) and let it take a drink and come to its own conclusions about the nature of God, from the Bible. Fourth, replace the word “Christian” with “saint” in every instance, except when you are specifically talking about non-LDS Christians. Although there is a modern fad going about of Mormons calling themselves Christians, we ain’t Christians. We are saints. The Lord has called his people saints, not Christians. We are not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Christians, after all. There are more instances of the word saint in the scriptures than Christians and all of this use of the word “Chrisitian” is ultimately going to confuse the heck out of your readers. Call us saints, not Christians. You will then get their attention more readily, as they will understand you are talking of them and not some other people. Fifth, talk to the weaknesses of the saints. That really gets their attention. Some weaknesses include: they ain’t all that saintly (although they are often good people), they aren’t scriptorians (although some are, most aren’t), their greatest scriptural weakness is the Bible, they don’t talk of Christ much like Nephi says he and his people did (it is possible to sit through an entire sacrament meeting without even hearing the name of the Lord except in ending a talk or prayer, the gifts of the spirit are largely missing from the general membership (though a very small minority do manifest the gifts), the spirit of charity manifested by having all things common is missing, or even of striving to have all things common, that equality that ancient saints sought for and some obtained, is not sought by the LDS, etc. Sixth, speak of gifts of the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit and the signs of true believers in Christ. Seventh, use all the scriptures of the LDS to preach or teach the LDS, not just the Bible. A Christian preacher using LDS scripture to preach and teach the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to LDS is going to raise eyebrows among the LDS. They are going to take notice and actually read what you have to say. You don’t have to use it all, just what you feel is within the realm of the gospel.

    The 95 theses in its present form will do little to influence LDS thought. They will just ignore it, as it stands right now. But I congratulate you on the effort, nonetheless, and would be curious if anything comes of it.

  10. Dear LDS Anarchist,

    I am not sure how Todd will reply to your thoughtful criticisms, but I do have a few thoughts of my own.

    The scripture reference idea is a good one, but I suppose Todd has thought of that and chose not to do so in this particular posting for one reason or another.

    The idea of using language to which the LDS will listen is prudent, but to suggest Todd “use all the scriptures of the LDS to preach or teach the LDS, not just the Bible” is not an acceptable practice. Perhaps to quote such “scriptures” to show contradictions in a movement or to motivate thought might be acceptable, but to suggest that one “preach or teach” from them is not possible.

    Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. It does not matter if using these would get their attention; what matters is whether or not they have the power to penetrate hearts and change minds. Only the Holy Scriptures can accomplish this.

    The Holy Spirit inspired the rhetorical question in Jeremiah 23:29 “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Yea indeed it is. We have no greater weapon than the the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) We may yield it with confidence that it will do as God promises in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

    So, you see, not only is it not acceptable to supplant or supplement to Word of God with other inferior texts; to do so would be counter productive to the Gospel.

    God’s best,

    Tim Sneeden
    San Francisco
    (Soon to be church planting in San Diego, God willing)

  11. Tim wrote:

    “Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. It does not matter if using these would get their attention; what matters is whether or not they have the power to penetrate hearts and change minds. Only the Holy Scriptures can accomplish this.”

    Tim, what if a scripture in the Book of Mormon actually teaches correct Evangelical doctrine? Some of them do, you know.

    Is such an LDS scripture unacceptable to teach? Why?

    As a practical matter, what does it matter what packaging the Word is coming in, as long as it is the Word? Christ told his disciples not to rebuke some individuals who were independently going about doing miracles, so he does not seems to share your scruples about the packaging of the Word.

    I’d worry more about the content of the message, than what book it’s bound in. Anything more than that risks a form of “Bible worship” that LDS sometimes accuse Evangelicals of practicing.

  12. In reply to Tim and in agreement with Seth, Paul felt free to get the attention of his Athenian hearers by quoting their poet(s) (see Acts 17.28, for instance). There are numerous other places in the NT that do this as well. In fact, there are literally dozens and dozens of places where the NT quotes directly from or alludes to writings that are now termed uncanonical.

  13. LDSA wrote Although there is a modern fad going about of Mormons calling themselves Christians, we ain’t Christians. We are saints.

    This isn’t true. We are Christians, but we aren’t creedal Christians (and neither were the Christians who lived before the Nicene Creed). But you are right that we consider ourselves “saints” in the same sense that Christians following Christ’s ascension and according to the admonition of the scriptures called themselves “saints”.

    I see that Todd refers to himself as a latter-day saint in the post. He should feel welcome to the term, even if he does not wish to allow Latter-day Saints to designate themselves as Christians based on their belief in and devotion to Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

  14. LDSA, first let me run this thought by you. It is easy for both LDS and evangelicals to accuse one another of proof texting (so I left out single verses). But I am eager to explore and trace a scriptural theme with any one of these propositions. Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

  15. LDSA, secondly, this 95 Theses is focused more on doctrine than practice. Though orthopraxy is clearly important, too.

    Seth and Mike, I have non-LDS friends who make reference to the BofM freely in their conversations. They would pick up a phrase or a verse to support what they believe in Scripture concerning the nature of God.

    But this is the interesting part: Some evangelicals utilize BoM phrases to support their Christian theology while LDS utilize Bible verses as a proof texting for their theology.

    But before I can sincerely quote phrases from the BofM, I need to be believe Joseph trustworthy in what he did to the KJV text.

    John f. do you find yourself right in line with what Polycarp and others taught? In other words, in examining the writings of the early church fathers, do you believe they taught the full gospel in sync with what you hold to?

    btw, LDSA, what is your definition of “saint”?

  16. “before I can sincerely quote phrases from the BofM, I need to be believe Joseph trustworthy in what he did to the KJV text.”

    Let God’s word speak for itself on that score.

  17. Are you sure about that, Seth? I am serious, buddy.

    What if I publicly submitted 95 propositions by the JST that I thought were tearing down God and the gospel?

    Would you be interested?

  18. You wouldn’t be the first to confront the divine nature of what Joseph wrote. And you won’t be the last.

    Still, I’ve always liked a phrase by Hugh Nibley: “we need more anti-Mormon writings – they keep us on our toes.” Not that I’d apply that particular label here, but intelligent debate will always be welcome to me. I dislike complacency in faith.

  19. Todd, in comment #18, you bring up an interesting question. Along with Polycarp, who was taught by John the Apostle, you also have Ignatius and Papias, who were also disciples and friends of John. There is also Clement of Rome, who was a companion of Paul and is probably mentioned in Philippians 4:3.

  20. #15 – john f., you inspired me to write a parable.

    The parable of the earth-diggers

    A particular clan had a chief whom they adored. The chief’s name was Bubuhu and he distinguished his clan form all other clans by calling them earth-diggers. They engaged continually in earth-digging, making great underground structures filled with all kinds of precious metals and stones, which they found in the earth.

    The other clans surring the earth-diggers didn’t like Bubuhu and his earth-diggers very much. They thought the name of Bubuhu sounded kind of funny and refused to call the followers of Bubuhu “earth-diggers.” Instead, they started calling them Bubuhulligans. The earth-diggers didn’t mind being called Bubuhulligans, as they loved Bubuhu, but they still considered themselves, and called themselves, earth-diggers, as that is the name that Bubuhu gave them.

    One day, Bubuhu left on a trip and never came back. Eventually, the earth-diggers stopped digging, even forgetting how to dig the earth and find those precious metals and stones, how to build the magnificent structures of their ancestors, and they stopped calling themselves earth-diggers. The surrounding clans began to respect the accomplishments of Bubuhu and his ancient Bubuhulligans and didn’t consider it an insult to be called a Bubuhulligan. They started to claim that they were a part of the original earth-digger clan and that Bubuhu was now their chief, too. Everyone now called themselves a Bubuhulligan and considered unmoral, unjust acts to be un-bubuhulligan. But neither the descendents of the orginial clan of earth-diggers, nor the foreign clans that were now calling themselves Bubuhulligans, could dig the earth like the originals, bringing forth those treasures.

    One day, of a sudden, Bubuhu came back and saw the confusion among all of the clans. So, he started to call to himself all those who would come from the various clans to restore again another clan of earth-diggers. He would teach them the original art of earth-digging, so that they could bring forth more magnificent treasures. Some came, many did not. Like at the first, he called them earth-diggers, whereas the other clans called themselves Bubuhulligans. The other clans rejected the new clan of earth-diggers, as they weren’t like their own clans. “How could they be followers of Bubuhu if they don’t even call themselves Bubuhulligans?” they said.

    After restoring his clan again, Bubuhu left again, for a little time. While he was gone, the earth-diggers maintained their peculiarity from the other clans, including not calling themselves Bubuhulligans. But after awhile, they got tired of being so different from the rest and wanted to feel more accepted by them. So, they started to refer to themselves as Bubuhulligans, like the other clans, rationalizing that since they were actual followers of Bubuhu, the other clans should accept them as being Bubuhulligans.

    This new trend was met with animosity and denial by the surrounding clans. “You are no Bubuhulligans! You are nothing like us Bubuhulligans! Everything you do is different than us. Everything you believe is foreign to us. We are the true followers of Bubuhu. The Bubuhu you cal Bubuhu is not the real Bubuhu. You do not even know the real Bubuhu,” they said. And they rejected the reasoning of the earth-diggers that they were Bubuhulligans. Instead of creating harmony among the clans, the use of the term “Bubuhulligan” by the earth-diggers to describe themselves became an item of conflict.

    But the earth-diggers persisted in their insistence of the right to be called Bubuhulligans, never fully understanding that the other clans wer the ones, the only ones, who could define the term, as they were the inventors of it. Bubuhu invented the term “earth-digger” and never once called his people Bubuhulligans. But the earth-diggers cared more about becoming like the other clans and their acceptance of them, than about how their beloved chief viewed and called his people.

  21. #18 – Todd (I got your name right this time…),

    A saint is a person who is holy, a sanctified person. Any person who is “sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 27: 20) is a saint.

  22. Seth, I problably will attempt this new 95 Theses sometime in the near future. But as my wife says currently with a smile, “Elon Todd Wood, right now, I have 95 house projects for you!”

    So chew on this (and for andrewsmiracledrug).

    Two things to share.

    While I have been sick (coughing and hacking) this week, I have been reading another highly entertaining book, How To Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now (Free Press, 2007) by the Starr Professor of Hebrew at Harvard, James L. Kugel (www.jameskugel.com ), presently living in Jerusalem.

    The Documentary Hypothesis

    Kugel writes in endnote #77 on page 700 about “minimalist” historians who have tried to challenge the documentary hypothesis. “ . . . Their arguments have not necessarily prevailed—but they have introduced a new element of uncertainty in a major area of biblical scholarship. ‘It is doubtful . . . that any theory of the composition of the Pentateuch will again command the kind of consensus enjoyed by the documentary hypothesis in the past.’ (J. J. Collins (1999:460) [review of Nicholson]). Note also the recent review of things by R. Rendtorff (2006). About the only thing that scholars are still prepared to agree on is that the traditional view of the Pentateuch’s origin—as the inspired word of God given to Moses after the Exodus—cannot possibly be true and that the text of the Pentateuch is a composite of different sources.”

    I laughed.

    Even more at this—the conclusion of his chapter nineteen, P and D.

    “In any event, the disagreement between P and D about who is a priest is yet one more bit of sorrow brought on by the Documentary Hypothesis. J, E, P, H, and D disagree, scholars say, about so many ideas—not just who is a priest, but who God is and how He is to be served. And they disagree as well about dozens of practical issues, including individual laws and their precise wording. They have sharply contrasting views on the giving of the Torah—not only on the name of the mountain (Sinai or Horeb), but on what the people saw or did not see, heard or did not hear. This, therefore, is the central question raised by the Documentary Hypothesis today: can any of this be thought to be Scripture, when so much of it reflects human disputes between different writers and their schools? Where is the word of God in a book that contradicts itself on so many different, and fundamental, items?” (316)

    Sounds like what some LDS would tell me. The Bible can’t even give the clear word of God.

    Maybe some like the promotion of Wellhausen’s ideas because of the very makeover he does on evangelical preachers. Listen to his words:

    “I became a theologian because I was interested in the scientific study of the Bible. It has only gradually dawned on me that a professor of theology also has the practical task of preparing his students to serve in the Evangelical Church, and that I was not performing this practical task, but rather, in spite of all restraint on my part, I was actually incapacitating my listeners for their position.”

    The Joseph Smith Translation

    James Kugel’s advice, “. . . my advice to readers is: keep your eye on the ancient interpreters.”

    Well, who is the first LDS interpreter of the Bible? Joseph Smith

    Tell me, do some LDS consider the JST as Midrash? Listen to this interesting paragraph written by Kugel on ancient interpreters:

    “Didn’t they know they were playing fast and loose with the text’s real meaning? This is always a difficult question. I personally believe that, at least at first, ancient interpreters were sometimes quite away that they were distorting the straightforward meaning of the text. But with time, that awareness began to dim. Biblical interpretations soon became an institution in ancient Israel; one generation’s interpretations were passed on to the next generation, and eventually they acquired the authority that time and tradition always grant. Midrash, as this body of interpretation came to be called, simply became what the text had always been intended to communicate. Along with the interpretations themselves, the interpreters’ very modus operandi acquired its own authority: this was how the Bible was to be interpreted, period. Moreover, since the midrashic method of searching the text carefully for hidden implications seemed to solve so many problems in the Bible that otherwise had no solution, this indicated that the interpreters were going about things correctly. As time went on, new interpretations were created on the model of older ones, until soon every chapter of the Bible came accompanied by a host of clever explanations that accounted for any perceived difficulty in its words” (13-14).

    Before LDS friends see the Bible, they must see their Midrash interpretation of the Bible, which Joseph Smith pioneered.

    This is what I have been musing over this morning.

  23. Interesting question about Midrash… I’ll answer it indirectly by laying out how the various sources of LDS doctrine, and how I think they all fit. Since I’m feeling lazy, I’ll simply cut and paste from another thread on another blog.

    When does a prophet speak for God?

    Well, let’s start with the “moon-men thing” [some anti-Mormons like to use a supposed statement from Joseph about the moon being inhabited as proof of a false prophet] that occasionally gets brought up by some who attack Joseph. Absolutely not in this instance. In an intimate and personal setting, Joseph supposedly expressed to his companions the fanciful view that the moon was inhabited by beings like us (not an uncommon notion in those days, silly as it sounds now in hindsight). I say supposedly, because we’re not even sure what the exact wording was, as it all comes from second-hand accounts. Just personal opinion. Not binding, not prophecy, nothing to indicate it came from anywhere other than Joseph’s own speculations. He never preached it, he never had it written down and sent forth to the LDS. It’s no more the word of God than if he had one evening come home and complained to Emma that the bacon was burnt.

    I think it’s safe to say that stuff we only know Joseph said because of non-official personal journal accounts from lay Mormons is not to be taken too seriously as either Church doctrine or the word of God. Stuff Joseph said in localized or intimate settings may have value, it may explain something of his personal views, but it can’t be relied upon as doctrinal.

    Now what about Conference addresses, the Journal of Discourses (much of which was conference addresses) and other books published by standing apostles and prophets? Bit tougher. Obviously we have to take these sources a bit more seriously, being as they were committed to paper by the most official means available at the time and distributed to the Church (and still are). Plainly, these are meant to be taken seriously by lay Mormons. But how binding are they?

    My view of these sources, as well as General Conference is that they are persuasive, but not necessarily binding. I say “necessarily,” because they might address only a localized cultural and situational concern (for example, the LDS focus on the family is fairly recent – probably for the simple fact that the family was not considered to be in any societal danger in Brigham Young’s time). Furthermore, they might be overruled by more recent sermons and addresses. For instance, Heber J. Grant took the suggestive tone of the Word of Wisdom contained in the Doctrine and Covenants and made it binding and mandatory. I see nothing wrong with him doing that. Finally, the best that can be said about General Conference and the Journal of Discourses is that it is “inspired commentary” on the scriptures. A great deal of deference should certainly be given to such commentary (given the inspired position of the speakers), but it is not the last word on doctrine. Nor should tweaks, corrections, or course changes trouble people too much. I view it as similar to rabbinical commentary on the Torah. Most lay LDS don’t see it this way, but I do. And this is because…

    The LDS scriptural canon is ultimate in doctrinal precedence. All prior sources of content must be compared and weighed against the accepted scriptural canon. Each lay Mormon is commanded (though they don’t always seem aware of it) to study out and question any pronouncement from the prophet in light of the scriptural text and personal revelation and witness from God.

    If that causes me to read, say… Pres. Kimball’s speech on interracial marriage in a much more limiting way than perhaps other Mormons (or their critics) read it, then so be it. For instance, I read the speech as simply warning that cultural differences may make marital interaction more difficult, but not as an outright discouragement by God of interracial marriage. It’s good advice, and deserves to be taken seriously and read carefully, but it’s not binding where it conflicts with other scriptural mandates.

    I’ll concede that this will seem confusing, and perhaps two-faced, to some. But I don’t see it that way. I think our obligation for interfacing with prophets and God’s Word is not easy, it is not simple. You aren’t going to get a plain roadmap in all instances. Being a Mormon requires study, intuition, a thirst for knowledge (from whatever source), and a critical eye. Otherwise you fall into brainless fanaticism, and neither Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, nor any prophet I know of every conveyed that God desired brainless fanatics.

    In short, you have scripture, then you have inspired commentary, then you have utterances that don’t even deserve to be included in a discussion of Mormon doctrine.

    [end quote]

    So yes, I do view a lot of what LDS General Authorities do as “Midrash” as you put it. I would note however that many lay LDS view this “rabbinical commentary” just as seriously as, for instance, Orthodox Jews do. Essentially, as far as many Mormons are concerned, it might as well be canon.

    But popular perception don’t make it so.

  24. #26 – Seth said, “Joseph supposedly expressed to his companions the fanciful view that the moon was inhabited by beings like us (not an uncommon notion in those days, silly as it sounds now in hindsight).”

    Not everyone believes it sounds all that silly. Check out this site, especially about the lunar structures:

    http://www.lunaranomalies.com/

    Todd, I don’t understand why the JST poses such an obstacle to you. It isn’t canonized scripture. Only the Book of Moses is. And that can be considered another revelation, like one of the D&C sections. (See Moses 1: 42.) As for what is considered official LDS doctrine, these links explain it more in detail:

    http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=970af549db852110VgnVCM100000176f620aRCRD

    http://www.mormonfortress.com/wordg1.html

    http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/What_is_Mormon_Doctrine.pdf

    If people choke on the three new books of scripture the Lord has given us (BoM, D&C, PoGP), I often wonder how people are going to react when we finally receive the plates of brass (2 Nephi 5: 18), the words of the lost tribes of Israel (2 Nephi 29: 13) and all the other greater things (Ether 4: 13) that is prophesied to show up in these latter-days?

  25. The obstacle is this–if you pick up most any new biblical commentary at the local Deseret, all my LDS friends will see is the JST lens wrapped right around the hard readings of the biblical texts.

  26. For starters, the JST has an influence on most LDS when it comes to difficult biblical readings that jar their theological paradigm.

    1. Beyond all the words of piety about the Bible, Joseph Smith saw many alleged inconsistencies in the Bible.

    2. Following his lead, most all the rest of the church agrees.

    Blake Ostler charges me with fundamentalistic uniformity in my view of Scripture, and that it is impossible to formulate cohesive theology solely with the Bible.

    I do see scriptural continuity on fundamental doctrines, and I think he is dead wrong on the latter.

    The problem is Joseph Smith didn’t give the Bible (I am not talking about all the denominations) a fighting chance for giving him the answers he desperately needed to fundamentally experience God and eternal life.

  27. Todd,

    I would suggest that Joseph Smith likely felt he gave the bible a “fighting” chance to “experience God” when he read James 1.5 and followed its guidance.

  28. Yes, Mike, I would agree with you that James 1:5 is key to the radical divergence between Joseph Smith and me in our truly knowing God as we sought his guidance. And God is still teaching me incredible truths.

  29. #29 – Mike, when you mentioned this, I do recall reading this at the end of last year.

    http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2006/12/31/what-is-and-what-isnt-the-jst-in-new-testament-study/

    I think the common LDS laymen or student on the streets in the highly populated LDS corridor will simply quote the JST when struggling with a particular biblical text that doesn’t quite match up with his or her doctrine.

    Seth and Mike, what is your definition of “inspired”?

    I am sure what messes me up is when someone says the JST is inspired revision or inspired commentary.

    I believe whatever carries the mark of inspiration should be authoritative canon. What God breathes out in written words should be the rule for our faith.

    Make sense?

  30. Todd,

    I can’t speak for Seth, but I do not see scripture as typically being propositional revelation (though it could be in some instances). This means I believe it could be edited, revised, updated, etc. based on current changes in culture, time, langauge, etc., because it originally came through a specific culture, language, time, etc. I don’t think Joseph felt his translation of the BofM or his revelations that came to form part of the D&C were “errorless” in the sense that the wording is somehow “inerrant.” I just don’t hold scripture to some philosophical standard that it doesn’t claim. I am sure you are at least somewhat familiar with the response to higher criticism in the 19th CE. I think this is ultimately why fundamentalist evangelicals hold the doctrine of inerrancy (though I should point out there are plently of other evangelicals who do not hold to such fundementalist views). I would also add that even if something was spoken by an angel or even God himself to someone, I just don’t believe that human language can be “inerrant,” or that “man’s language” which God uses to speak to man “according to [his] understanding” is “inerrant”. For instance, when an angel quotes the Hebrew Bible in the NT, typically the LXX is quoted (would an angel really quote Greek to an aramaic speaking individual?). I don’t think some super-original “inerrant” text is needed for God to be trustworthy. I think even those words could be expanded or revised if God felt they so needed to be because of the changing circumstances of human life. Of course, this is just my opinion.

    Secondly, just because somethings are “canonical,” in my opinion, doesn’t make it all equally authoritative. Even within the canon there are variations of authority in my opinion. For instance, I rarely find Canticles essential for my knowing God.

    For fundementalists I understand this is hard. I just recognize that there are contradictions and ambiguities in the scriptures because that is just part and parcel of being in the human condition (and these writings did come through humans in the human condition at least to some extent). However, this does not destroy things I find essential. For instance, the differing Christologies of John, Mark, Paul, Hebrews, etc. don’t destroy the fact that Jesus was resurrected (something I find essential). Whether everything the bible records actually happened the way it says it did just doesn’t change that for me. (I mean, did roughly 1/3-1/2 of Egypt’s population really leave without a trace? Should it even matter if those numbers aren’t historically accurate, or are inflated?) I don’t think the DH or Deut. History destroys Jesus’ resurrection either. Again, I understand this is hard for evangelicals who have grown up with such a rigid, fundementlist assumption regarding what scripture is and isn’t. I actually find it quite liberating, because it means that if there is more pressure on me to study harder, think more clearly, pray more earnestly and receive more personal revelation, line upon line. Again, however this is just my opinion.

  31. Todd,

    In #34 you said:

    “I think the common LDS laymen or student on the streets in the highly populated LDS corridor will simply quote the JST when struggling with a particular biblical text that doesn’t quite match up with his or her doctrine.”

    You seem to suggest that a commonly held understanding by the general membership is somehow a formal doctrine binding on the Church. You seem to follow in the way of Aaron Shaf., who explicitly told me that he ignores the most rigorous defenses and explanations of the LDS faith because they don’t always fit the “popular” belief (or his subjective understanding of the “popular” belief). Should evangelicals be held to such a similar standard? Should I conclude that modalism is likely what evangelicals really believe because that is how most evangelicals I have met ultimately end up describing the Trinity to me? Aaron always asks us to read the most intelligent responses he can find from an evangelical perspective, but he doesn’t even begin to offer us the same grace and respect. I would hope you don’t fall into his manner.

    Which leads me to say that your subjective understanding of what the popular belief in the LDS corridor is just that–your personal perception. I am personally unacquainted with any LDS Christian who “trumps” the biblical text with the JST and who is acquainted with the various issueshistory of the bible, JST, BofM, etc.

    Oh, and what about us who aren’t in the corridor? 🙂

  32. Sounds about like Aaron.

    I have been sadly disappointed in the lack of self-observation among a lot of the fundamentalist Evangelicals who dialogue with Mormons. It’s almost like they are unwilling to concede any point, or allow for anything to be right about Mormonism, since any such concessions would be to “give ground” in their ongoing crusade against the Mormon infidels.

    It’s an approach that is both, dishonest, intellectually bankrupt, and entirely hypocritical.

    But he does seem like a nice guy, for whatever that’s worth.

  33. I was wondering if there would be more post and there sure are, can’t wait to read them and then comment as well:)

  34. #11 LDS Anarchrist use ONLY the Bible not the other stuff, the Bible is the ONLY book we need, for the Christian/Staint (true Saints).
    Much will come of it as I believe Todd was lead of the Lord inorder to help the LDS folks.
    Preach the Word Todd Preach the Word.
    You know I have read a lot of stuff on these blogs, but this is the first one I have gotten fired up about, well fired up in the positive way, many of the others just make me mad which has lead to praying for several who regularly make comments.

  35. Basically, if God wished to say something directly to people today, He would not have your permission, since, according to you, He has said everything already in the Bible and is apparently incapable of speaking ever again.

  36. Tate, I know Mike.

    He worshipped with our church family a while back. I have been meaning to post his website, probably in the “evangelical counterpoint to LDS” venue of this blog.

    He is a fine apologetics debater. He makes me look like a soft teddy bear.

  37. #35 – Canticles

    Mike, I must confess this. A couple of weeks ago, I coudn’t remember what “Cant.” was, as I was studying cross-references in a chapter in Isaiah. I humorously thought to myself, is this Canticles or Cantebury Tales. But I coudn’t immediately recollect what the Canticles were.

    A brother reminded me . . . the Song of Songs.

    “Ah yes!” I cried.

    Sex to the glory of God! Who needs to go to marriage counselors when you have such an inspired book?

  38. Seth, now you can never accuse your evangelical friends that they are against the wondrous body and sex. Tell all your friends that we are not docetists. 🙂

    And believe or not, some of the godly Puritans within the proper context really knew how to play. Bag the wrong stereotypes. 🙂

  39. Your number 17 gives pause for serious concern: “Christian formulas that limit one’s worship to exclusively any member of the Trinity ought to be smashed.”

    On another blog today, you made the following comment:

    In other words, there is a severe doctrinal/social dichotomy. If any of your non-LDS friends show any hesitation about living in a Mormon town, just send them my way for a good referral.

    Todd, this is hard to believe given the Evangelical position taken in this treatise. This is one of the most creepy things that lies under the surface of Evangelical rhetoric against Mormons. In number 17 you talk about (what you claim to be) Mormon beliefs as deserving of being “smashed”. The problem is that people hold those beliefs. Smashing those beliefs is smashing those people.

    This leads to and is connected with another problem inherent in the Evangelical worldview. This is also partially expressed by number 17 quoted above. You have repeatedly taught that in the Evangelical worldview all people are depraved, utterly evil, etc. In addition to this depravity that characterizes everyone — except those whom God predestined to believe in the Jesus Christ preached by Evangelical Christians — your Evangelical worldview seems to hold that Mormons are doubly depraved because they do not believe in “one substance”-as-God but rather in God the Father and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost as the Godhead (which is indeed a Trinity in all but substance).

    This Mormon belief is to be “smashed”. Mormons are depraved and their beliefs are to be “smashed”. What can you say to convince me and other Latter-day Saints that you view a Mormon life as equally dignified and worth living as an Evangelical Christian life? We already see many Evangelical Christians loudly proclaiming a presidential candidate “unqualified” to be President because although he reads the Bible and professes his belief in Jesus Christ, he admittedly does not believe in “one substance” and therefore is supposedly unfit for leadership — if for no other reason than his occupying that position will supposedly lend credibility to the Mormon faith and perhaps even influence people to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have sensed from reading your blog all this time that these very arguments are persuasive to you personally. If so, how can Latter-day Saints possibly believe that you appreciate, value, or enjoy Mormon neighbors? It strains belief to think you would recommend living among Mormons given your view of them and their beliefs.

    This argument about a Mormon being “unqualified” or “unfit” to lead the country based on a failure to profess “one substance” (regardless of other qualifications to perform the executive function) skirts dangerously close to arguments that he should not have certain rights because he does not believe in “one substance”. It also flirts with the idea that the Mormon life is not worth living — is not equal to the Evangelical Christian life and so forth.

    In fact, what prevents you from following the Third Duke of Alba (Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel) and Philip II’s example and slaughtering thousands of “heretics” for their improper belief (torturing them first to elicit a confession of the Triune God you worship) for the benefit of their own souls? (God predestines everything, particularly people’s confession of belief in “one substance”, and therefore this predestined act of torture and murder is not only authorized but must be considered the will of God if it is carried out.) I ask this question genuinely. I have no idea why you would not think it better for someone to be dead than to be a Mormon.

    One fact of this episode of history I am referring to stands clear: Philip II, the Catholic King of Spain who ordered the massacre of thousands of Dutch and Belgian Protestants, and his right-hand man, the Third Duke of Alba, whose Blood Council presided over the execution of between 6,000 and 18,000 Protestants, sincerely believed that the death of their subjects in this manner was better than dying professing a Protestant faith because this way they would not suffer eternal torment in Hell. How can their logic not be persuasive to Evangelical Christians who so despise Mormonism? With a belief in the predestination to salvation, it seems impossible to counter this query with a statement to the effect that everyone is a child of God.

    Speaking of Hell, I am interested in your attempt to explain why God created billions of human beings only to live out lives of misery and suffering and then die bound for the eternal torture of Evangelical hellfire (because they did not profess a belief in “one substance” at some point in their lives, in the case of multiple billions of this earth’s inhabitants because they never even heard of Jesus Christ or YHVH). This follows necessarily from your treatise above. After all, you wrote Absolutely all who live must bow either joyfully or miserably to this truth forever. (Latter-day Saints have a more straightforward claim to a belief that all must choose to bow either joyfully or miserably to the truth that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world by virtue of the interaction of the rejection of notions of predestination to salvation and the work for the dead, opening up the opportunity to choose Jesus Christ to the billions who lived, suffered, and died having never heard mention of the name of Jesus Christ or YHVH.)

    A few other quick notes on your 95 theses against Mormons:

    1. The object of that faith, not the alleged sincerity of the faith, determines whether it is truly salvific.

    This contradicts very strongly any notion of predestination to salvation, so either you don’t believe that God predestines people to salvation or you don’t agree there is a contradiction here. If not, then this demands an explanation, particularly as you are using your Evangelical interpretation of the New Testament to beat Mormons with and tell them they do not seek, have not found, and do not believe in Jesus Christ.

    2. No other earthly human authority need stand between those who have become true sons and daughters on this earth and Almighty God.

    This is true in terms of people developing faith in Jesus Christ through their study of the scriptures and personal prayer and righteousness but it is false doctrine in terms of the ecclesiastical arrangements that were instituted by Jesus Christ himself and his first Apostles, as abundantly demonstrated in the plain text of the New Testament. Central to this issue is the question of priesthood authority which Jesus Christ also plainly delegated in the pages of the New Testament, and commanded those to whom he had delegated the authority to preach his Gospel and baptize people with this authority. By Jesus’ own command, baptism by those holding the only valid priesthood authority (which has been conveyed by the laying on of hands by those who already hold this authority) is necessary for salvation as the convert’s outward manifestation of belief in the Gospel and acceptance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus took pains to teach that the authority that he delegated to perform this and other ordinances was so important because by it that which is sealed on earth by this authority is sealed in heaven.

    3. After death, there is an uncrossable chasm between hell and heaven.

    This assertion denies the Bible’s words, as found in Luke, that all things are possible to God, even an immaculate conception. It sounds like you are limiting God with this maxim. According to the Bible — and in the Latter-day Saint view — God is powerful enough to cross that chasm and has made it possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ for people who did not know about Jesus and therefore did not choose him, or accept him, or get baptized to choose him after death. It is wonderful to believe that God is this powerful.

    4. [i] Personal depravity condemns oneself as spiritually bankrupt and hopelessly destitute of individual merit, signifying the whole redemptive activity a marvelous intervention of God by grace alone. [ii] We do not come to this earth to merit righteousness for our personal exaltation.

    [i] Personal depravity condemns oneself as spiritually bankrupt and hopelessly destitute of individual merit, signifying the whole redemptive activity a marvelous intervention of God by grace alone.

    The wonderful thing about being a Latter-day Saint and in holding to scriptural truths removed from the lens of Greek or medieval philosophies is that we believe that God views us, as his creations, as noble creatures. It is true that we live in a fallen world and that the natural man is an enemy to God (because he/she chooses to disobey God’s commandments which are instituted to train us up in the ways of holiness). It is also true that it is only by the grace of Christ that anyone can be exalted to live with God in the Celestial Kingdom (or be resurrected, whether good or evil in life). But the Bible teaches us that we are children of God and that he loves us as his children. We are pure in him when we are children and we are taught that through belief in Jesus and through his Atonement we become again pure, like little children, and thereby are able to endure the presence of God and will be able to live with him, having been transformed by the Atonement into people who can endure God’s presence and, indeed, inherit all that he has together with Jesus.

    [ii] We do not come to this earth to merit righteousness for our personal exaltation.

    This statement again flatly contradicts notions of predestination to salvation. Those who are predestined to salvation do indeed come to this earth to merit righteousness for their exaltation. That is the point of predestination doctrine. God chose them before they were born to believe in Jesus on earth, and therefore they do believe in Jesus on earth, and their belief in Jesus causes them to lead lives of righteousness. Thus, they were predestined to come to this earth to merit righteousness for their exaltation.

    If you do not believe in the predestination to salvation, please explain how you do not believe in it based on the Bible but your Evangelical Calvinist co-religionists do believe in it based on the Bible. Also, if you argue that the Evangelical Calvinist belief in it is heretical, is it heretical enough to cause the professing Evangelical Calvinist to burn in the eternal hell that you laud YHVH as the author of? Or does profession of “one substance” outweigh profession of predestination to salvation (and the resulting necessary implications for free will and God’s authorship of evil and predestination to hell)?

    —————-

    This comment has now gone far too long for anyone to give any real attention and therefore I have defeated my own purpose in defending my faith against the un-Biblical assertions against it contained in the above treatise. The nature of my work, however, is such that if I had not written this all down now (and these are only isolated points in response to more-or-less randomly selected items from the treatise) while I actually have a moment, I would likely never be able to make any kind of substantive statement in response to this list.

  40. John as I pause here before bed, let me share a few things:

    1. I enjoy thoroughly being with LDS people. I was born in an LDS hospital on the Snake River. I came into this world from my momma’s womb, assisted by a kind LDS doctor. LDS have patted me on the shoulders as a boy, made meals for me, given clothes to me, shared jokes with me, played basketball with me, laughed with me, cried with me, bossed over me, taken care of freely the cavities in my teeth, rescued me when strandded on highways . . . I could go on and on, John.

    God has created us all in his image. Though the image is marred since the fall, yet the God created conscious within us all is there. And the God imprint within us all promotes kindness, care, mercy, family togetherness.

    I enjoy seeing moms and dads and tons of little kids. I love seeing scores of church steeples pointing to God in the heavens. I fly high in spirit when listening to the historical hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Even the new Idaho Falls development called Taylor’s Crossing down by the river and only a mile from my house, sounds out hymns from the bell tower. On the way home from the office, today, I had to just pull in a circular by a beautiful water feature and listen to the music, “Be Still My Soul”.

    Why would I not want others to enjoy such traditional, worshipful, cultural aspects that make me so happy?

    2. But then as you know, from time to time, I experience these paroxysms. I realize that for me and my LDS friends, we are using the same language, the very same words, but oftentimes infused with very different, radically different meanings. Friends are often puzzled in trying to figure out what in the world I am talking about.

    Though we care for each other, though we use the same terminology, there is an invisible barrier that keeps our hearts from connecting solidly, from experiencing the deepest sense of brotherly love and understanding truth and worshipping fully, jointly our Creator. Yes, John, I do long to smash, not you or others, but those barriers that seem to impede true love to one another and most of all, love to one great God of all. And the one I lean upon to do any “smashing” does not involve political kings, presidents, and powers. It is the Spirit . . . the Spirit convicting, overturning, and regenerating with the spoken words of God. What can I smash? Well, maybe a potato or two (especially if they are soft).

    Yes, I get provoked with jealousy. Provoked to jealousy that there should be more Baptists in Idaho Falls? (Laughing) No, not at all. I am provoked by the thought that Mormonism is using the same terms I use, but for the promoting that we are of the same kind as God Almighty. I would be in agony if my wife had another man in view for potentially being alongside my place. How much more paroxysm of soul when I see God’s very word used against God to break up the utter uniqueness of God’s glory by this human development of other beings of the same kind.

    It’s getting late here, John, so I will just close with the words of another man, who lived in Joseph Smith’s day, as he burst forth in worship . . .

    The Unity of God

    – Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)

    One God! one Majesty!
    There is no God but Thee!
    Unbounded, unextended Unity!

    Awful in unity,
    O God! we worship Thee,
    More simply one, because supremely Three!

    Dread, unbeginning One!
    Single, yet not alone,
    Creation hath not set Thee on a higher throne.

    Unfathomable Sea!
    All life is out of Thee,
    And Thy life is Thy blissful Unity.

    All things that from Thee run,
    All works that Thou hast done,
    Thou didst in honour of Thy being One.

    And by Thy being One,
    Ever by that alone,
    Couldst Thou do, and doest, what Thou hast done.

    We from Thy oneness come,
    Beyond it cannot roam,
    And in Thy oneness find our one eternal home.

    Blest by Thy Unity!
    All joys are one to me,—
    The joy that there can be no other God than Thee!

  41. Back again tonight, briefly, John. My wife and I are headed to North Carolina in the morning. I have been scheduled to preach three messages for a missions conference back East.

    So looking at #1 in your comment, I am not quite for sure how you would think this contradicts “predestination to salvation”. Explain it to me again.

  42. Under predestination to salvation faith is not chosen. God chooses you to have faith, in fact he chose you to have faith and be saved before you were even born. This means that anyone heading for hell is going there because God chose them to go to hell before they were born. Thus, having “one substance” as the object of faith — and thus having a correct and saving faith, in your worldview — rather than merely a sincere faith and devotion to God is something determined from the outside.

    In a sense, I suppose that this is actually entirely consistent with predetermination to salvation. It doesn’t matter about the sincerity of the faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ that a person has developed through study and prayer, etc. because what matters is whether God chose you before you were born to believe in “one substance”.

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