Month: February 2009

Eternal Matter

“But by the almighty power of God it is not only possible that something should be made of nothing (the God of nature is not subject to the laws of nature), but in the creation it is impossible it should be otherwise, for nothing is more injurious to the honour of the Eternal Mind than the supposition of eternal matter.  Thus the excellency of the power is of God and all the glory is to him.”

-Matthew Henry (1706)

I don’t think Joseph Smith liked what Matthew Henry wrote 300 hundred years ago about God.

My 3rd post on this: Read The Prodigal God!

On the last page of World magazine (February 28, 2009), Marvin Olasky wrote a one page article, “Prodigal sons:  Part of the evangelical problem is knowing which brother we are“.

Read this.  And then pick up the book, The Prodigal God (Dutton, 2008) by Tim Keller.

It is the true gospel that must deliver me every day from older brotherism.

May I pigeonhole my readers?

Older brothers:  LDS

Younger brothers:  Post-LDS

You can see it all over the place here in the I-15 Corridor.

Read the book.

desperately needing God’s gospel,


Greek apologists and creation out of nothing

I need to think about this.  Culver makes an interesting observation:

“Very early, Christian theologians had to deal with the views of the origin of the world held by pagan authors and schools as well as heretical views among Christian teachers who were affected by the pagans.  The Greek ‘Apologists’ of the second century and other early writers felt particularly obliged to clarify and to defend the absolute beginning of the world by an uncreated eternal divine being who brought the world into being by speaking it into existence.  Of these Christian scholars (Marcianus, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus), and others shortly after them (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian), Jaroslav Pelikan says:

Apologists . . . recognized that the coeternity of God and matter was inconsistent with the sovereignty and freedom of God.  In spite of the difficulties raised by the doctrine of creation ex nihilo for any attempt to cope with the problem of evil, the alternatives to this doctrine appeared to be a pantheism . . . or a dualism.

“Theophilus of Antioch found explicit Christian creationism in direct conflict with six philosophical theories among the Greeks.

“These theories Thomas Oden has parsed out as: (1) there is no God; (2) God cares for none but himself; (3) the world is uncreated and nature is eternal; (4) God exists only in each person’s conscience; (5) God is a spirit which pervades all things; and (6) both God and matter are uncreated, i.e. coeval.  Oden’s grasp of both theology and modern philosophy led to this comment:

All these views were late to appear and grow into major challenges to the Christian teaching of Creation and remain as modern challenges in the voices of 1) Nietzsche, 2) Freud, 3) Hume, 4) Kant, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, 5) Wieman and 6) Schelling.

Exploring Mormon Thought: Of God and Gods by Blake Ostler (part 1)

Blake kindly sent me his third book in his Exploring Mormon Thought series.  I have the first two books on my shelf. 

So far, I have read the preface and the first chapter of this third book.

Blake opens up with a clear, succinct ambition in his preface (dated February 9, 2008):

My project has been a rescue operation to save the heart of God’s revelation to the Hebrews from the Greek mind (ix).

He critiques “the tradition”.  And what is it?

The tradition is defined by the commitment that there is only one possible being who is God because God created everything that is not God out of nothing (2).

Did the founding LDS prophet, Joseph Smith, accept “the tradition”?

Joseph Smith expressly rejected both the view of creation out of nothing in which this web of metaphysical commitments is grounded and the logical conclusion that follows that there can be at most one God who creates everything else.  Thus, Joseph Smith rejected the tradition’s most foundational claim or what I shall refer to as “metaphysical monotheism” (2).

Joseph Smith clearly declared a number of propositions near the end of his life.  Explained by Blake, here is the first religious claim:  “The creation occurred by organizing the world not “from nothing” but from preexisting matter.” 

In the first major section in chapter 1, “Creation by Organization of Matter”,  Blake shares an excerpt from the preaching of Joseph in the King Follett Discourse:

The word ‘create’ came from the word BARA; it does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize, the same as a man would organize materials to build a ship.  Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos–chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. . . .

And in building groundwork or fortifying this audacious claim, Blake utilizes at least a dozen sources:  (1) James Atwell – “An Egyptian Source for Genesis 1“, (2) E. A. Speiser and the Enuma elish, (3) Rashi, (4) Luis Stadelmann and his book The Hebrew Conception of the World, (5) Umberto Cassuto, (6) Harper’s Bible Commentary, (7) Bernhard Anderson, (8) Ronald Simkins, (9) Robert B. Coote and David Robert Ord and their book, In the Beginning: Creation and the Priestly History, (10)  evangelical Paul Seely (and to think that Blake has on the same page an illustration from the book, God, Reason, and the Evangelicals: The Case Against Evangelical Rationalism by the famed University of Idaho philosophy professor Nicholas F. Gier),  (11)  Jon Levenson, and (12) ANE creation accounts.

Read Paul Copan.

Read FAIR.

Read Lehi’s Library. (To both FAIR and Lehi – Isn’t it James E. Atwell?)

Read James Patrick Holding of Teckton.

And read The Yellow Dart with his ongoing series.


Imprecatory Prayers – Butcher the wicked!

Lord, you know my heart.  Search me.  Purify me.  I hunger for Your justice.  Take the wicked and lead them like lambs to the slaughterhouse.”

Hmm . . . I hear that there is a stir among conservative Christians about the possibilities of limiting Christian content on radio and Internet.

Spoken in public, I wonder what control media would do with prayers like this.  Don’t worry.  You won’t find a prayer like this on “positive and encouraging” Christian radio.

Why are we interested in creation?

James Orr postulates a heart question.

The interest of religion in the doctrine of creation is that this doctrine is our guarantee for the dependence of all things on God–the ground of our assurance that everything in nature and Providence is at His disposal.  “My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.”  Suppose there was anything in the universe that was not created by God–that existed independently of Him–how could we be sure that the element might not thwart, defeat, destroy the fulfillment of God’s purposes?”

For the trusting Christian, it just can’t happen.