Blake Ostler and Jesus

1)  “The relationship of the subjects to God is seen more as a continuum than a dichotomy.  It is a hierarchy of beings, some of whom are closer to God and some farther from him.  The gods are literally what God is in kind because they share in his holiness and act pursuant to his authority in divine prerogatives, such as governing, atoning, creating, and bearing the divine name. . . . God is at the top of the hierarchy and is incomparably great in the sense that no one else can occupy this supreme position or receive the honor that he does” (p. 92).

2)  “In the first century, neither Jews nor Christians believed in creation out of nothing” (p. 93).

3) “The text of the Ascension of Isaiah is essential in grasping early Christian views of the Godhead and relation between the Father and the Son. . . .  The highest God is a being of glory, quite distinct from the Son (and Lord); both are distinct in glory and person from the Holy Spirit, who is also an angel” (p. 102-103).

4)  Justin Martyr believed that Jesus was a distinct God  . . . . a subordinate God . . . a second place God . . .  to the Most High God (p. 114-116).

5)  “The notion suggested by Richard Bauckham that allusions to Psalm 110 envision Christ on the very throne of God misrepresents Christ’s status. . . . Christ is the Davidic king, and the Davidic king is the Son of God who has been deified as a God to be God’s vizier and ruler on earth” (128).

6)  “That Paul does not intend to simply equate the Father and the Son with the ‘one God’ is made clear by the fact that they are joined by [Greek word] (kai, ‘and’), meaning essentially ‘in addition to’ ” (144).

7)  “Once again, there is no thought that Christ is somehow identical to or ‘included with the unique identity of’ God” (151). . . . “God fills believers with a fulness of God just as Christ is filled with a fulness of deity in Colossians” (152).

8 ) “[Hebrews 1:9] refers to two Gods:  God who is seen as Jesus, and ‘your God,’ who is God the Father who anoints Jesus as the Messiah or Christos” (154).

9) “Christ does not claim to be identical or equal to Yahweh; rather, he is the agent of the one true God” (185).

10) “First, the New Testament clearly identifies ‘the one true God’ with the Father alone and not with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. . . . The designator ‘one God’ is always and specifically reserved for the Father alone in the New Testament” (200).

11) “The Father has the property of being the ‘only true God,’ but the Son does not” (211).

–Taken from Exploring Mormon Thought:  Of God and Gods (Greg Kofford Books, 2008).

What am I suppose to say?  What is Blake trying to do to the status of my Savior, my Lord, and my God?

 

81 comments

  1. “Justin Martyr believed that Jesus was a distinct God . . . . a subordinate God . . . a second place God . . . to the Most High God”

    No, he doesn’t. He compares the relationship between the Father and the Son to one flame being passed from one torch to another. Like all Christians and Jews before him, Justin was a monotheist.

  2. It seems that by passing a flame from one torch to another you are believing in two distinct torches. The flame (or power and authority) is the same, but the torch (or person holding said power) is very separate.

  3. Shem, I express my sincere sorrow over what Blake is declaring here in the LDS Corridor. Blake is not talking about an incarnational subordination or a functional surbordination; in his interpretation of kingship monotheism, he is reducing the Christos to a second rate God. I cry out that Jesus is Most High with the Father.

    What Blake proposes is not new. It has been a theological battle for decades, for centuries, for the last two millennium.

    I have been reading the commentary of an old Lutheran lately – R. C. H. Lenski as I have been studying I Corinthians 1.

    The third verse in the opening of I Corinthians states:

    “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Lenski disagreed with those like Blake in his day by saying, “As long as this one preposition coordinates our Father and our Lord and makes them one fountain of saving grace and peace, no ingenuity of men will be able to sever them and introduce a subordination.”

    What does it mean to call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord?

    On verse 2, Lenski writes, “But why did Paul vary the designations for the Corinthians and for those other Christians? When we are bidden to look at ourselves we can be asked to look into our own hearts (holiness); but when we are bidden to look at others we cannot and really dare not judge their hearts, we must attend to the confession which they make in calling on the Lord. An unacceptable distinction is made at this point when this Anrufung Christi or calling on the Lord is regarded as only a relative Anbetung or a relative worship of Christ, an adoration ‘beneath’ that accorded to God. This is done in support of subordinationism, the doctrine that Christ is God in a secondary or lower sense. Exegetically there is no ground here or anywhere else in the Scriptures for such a lowering of Christ, the true Son of God. The very contrary is true. To call on the Lord Jesus Christ means the same as to call on God, i.e., to worship him as God.”

  4. Fr Greg,

    I would have thought that you would have jumped on “In the first century, neither Jews nor Christians believed in creation out of nothing”

    “but hear the words which I am going to speak to you. God, who dwells in the heavens, and made out of nothing the things that exist, and multiplied and increased them on account of His holy Church is angry with you for having sinned against me.”

    I am disappointed, your not supposed to have Presbyterians quoting Hermas. We didn’t know that there was a Church prior to 1517.

  5. Gundek: LOL. Okay, so it is not supposed to happen, but thanks for doing it 😉

    Shem: the “fire” is the Divine Essence. The torches themselves do not play into Justin’s analogy.

  6. Quite Honestly, I have never read anything from Justin. It just seemed to fit so nicely that I couldn’t resist saying.
    If you want to claim the torches don’t enter into it, I cannot dispute this. However, I would ask for a copy (or book title or web link) of the analogy so that I could judge for myself. Just simply telling me he didn’t mean this is not enough to convince me completely.

    TODD
    I do not agree with everything Blake is saying, but I do agree with a large portion of it. I do not think of Christ as subordinate God. However, I do admit that he can be considered one in that he is the Son, and God is the Father. He is not subordinate in knowledge, power, or glory, or even dominion. But he is the Son, and as such is under the Father in Authortiy.
    This really is just technicallities though. Since the Father and the Son are of one mind they will always agree as to what needs to be done, and so the one can act as if he had the authority of the other. In all practical ways they are perfectly equal.

  7. Shem: I can’t find the quote right now. Maybe Gundek can dig it up. The point, however, which Blake misses, is that all of this is in the context of an undeniable and indubitable Judeo-Christian monotheism. Therefore, if Christ is God, there must be an identity between Father and Son (and Holy Spirit) that does not violate the Divine unity. There can be no “second god.”

    This, of course, relates also to what you say to Todd about the relationship between Father and Son. It seems y’all are so intent on alleging an ontological identity between humanity and God that the real ontological identity, that of the three Divine Persons, is lost. There also seems to be a loss of emphasis on the ontological identity that exists between HUMAN persons (although, obviously, the fulness of that identity is obscured because human nature has become corrupt because of the fall). Christ, both God and human, is “consubstantial” (“homoousios” or ontologically identical) with both the Father and the Spirit as God and with us having become human. Thus, we say that the Eternal God, the Most Blessed Trinity, is the archetypal, eternal, consubstantial COMMUNITY. The traditional doctrine of the Trinity, then, is indeed a social doctrine, but a social doctrine that is grounded in the reality of ontological unity. Further, since humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, traditional Christian anthropology is also grounded in the ontological identity of humanity. There is but one humanity, many human persons. Certainly this latter unity and identity is compromised by the fall, but it is being recreated in the community of all who are in union with Christ. Thus, St. Paul writes that in Christ “we are members one of another” even as, he implies, the Three Divine Persons are “members one of another.” The traditional doctrine of the Trinity is the only possible way that all the data can be reconciled concerning the oneness of God and the plurality of the Divine Persons. Thus, the Holy Spirit inspired the fathers at Nicea and Constantinople to speak and to the truth of their inspired words the whole Church witnesses. And further, this doctrine also implies its own truthfulness by the fact that it forms the only possible basis for a truly Christian anthropology.

  8. Shem

    Justin is available at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library free online. This is a service of Calvin College. If you create a free account you can highlight and save notes. It is an excellent resource for understanding Christian thought by going to the source documents.

    The ANCF is available elsewhere on the web but CCEL has a pretty good search functions, linked notes, and Scripture references.

  9. Thank you Gundek

    GREG

    Then I would say that in order to prove this intended meaning you would need to show where Justin supports the idea of the Trinity.

    Personally, I do not see the idea of the trinity in the Bible, but then I am LDS so that is not really surprising. I do see where people get the idea, but to me it does not really fit the scriptures.

    However, we were talking more about early Christians than modern Christians.
    Out of Curiosity, did any of the early Christians deny the concept of the Trinity?

  10. Thank you.

    This reads a little differently than what I assumed from the description given of two torches. However, I would still say that by itself it could be seen as calling Christ subordinate to the Father, for the simple fact that he came out of the Father.

    I would have to do a lot more reading before making any actual determination however.

  11. Gundek. Precisely. And the context of all of these writers is Judeo-Christian monotheism: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one.”

    When I say that the Trinity is the only possible solution, here is the data: there is one God, yet, according to Scirpture (and, for example, “the rule of prayer”. The original doxology, “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…, for example, played a fairly big part in the debates over Arianism), the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit, called both “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” is God. How is this possible? The doctrine of the Trinity, in which God the Father eternally generates the Son and breathes forth the Holy Spirit, and that these are Three Divine Persons who are yet of one Divine Essence (an Essence which is inherently communitarian, such that each Person is “a member” of each of the others, is the only possible solution which does justice to all the data. Thus, again, those of us who embrace the entirety of the apostolic Tradition understand that the Holy Spirit indeed spoke at Nicea and Constantinople.

  12. GUNDECK

    I admitted this, didn’t I.

    GREG

    I have a different understanding of the term one, which also does full justice to all the data, but does not mandate a three-in-one essence.

  13. Shematwater,

    You did say that you needed to do more reading. My point is only that when looking at language that makes Christ “subordinate to the Father” you need to take into account the incarnation. For example:

    “Therefore these words testify explicitly that He is witnessed to by Him who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ. Moreover, that the word of God speaks to those who believe in Him as being one soul, and one synagogue, and one church, as to a daughter; that it thus addresses the church which has sprung from His name and partakes of His name (for we are all called Christians)…”

  14. Shematwater: Are not human persons one in essence? Is there not but one human” being?” The same is true for the Godhead, but infinitely more so, in that the oneness of humanity has been obscured by the fall and, in the first, place, God is the archetype, humanity being “in the image and likenes of God.”

    Besides, in order to posit an alternative understanding, one has to embrace the concept of the “Great Apostasy” which, as we have seen, in untenable.

  15. Shematwater: Are not human persons one in essence? Is there not but one human” being?” The same is true for the Godhead, but infinitely more so, in that the oneness of humanity has been obscured by the fall and, in the first, place, God is the archetype, humanity being “in the image and likeness of God.”

    Besides, in order to posit an alternative understanding, one has to embrace the concept of the “Great Apostasy” which, as we have seen, is untenable.

  16. GREG

    I find no scriptural support for all humanity being “one essence.” We are all very different individuals. All of the same race, the same type of element, but all the same essence.

    As to the Great Apostacy, I have seen no proof that it is untenable. To the contrary, I have seen substancial proof to its occurance.

  17. GUNDECK

    I understand your point, and I thought I had made the same point in what I said, as you quoted me.

    Personally, I have read some writing (not of Justin) but all that I read I find very confusing, and what I can understand seems to have no actual logic behind it, such as the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation.

  18. “I find no scriptural support for all humanity being “one essence.” We are all very different individuals. All of the same race, the same type of element, but all the same essence.”

    Our “individuality” speaks to personhood, or “hypostasis”. We say that we are one race is the same as saying that we of one “essence”. The terms are just different.

    Regarding the Great Apostacy: as I have discussed at length on other threads, if this occurred, then Jesus lied. He promised to be with the Church forever and that “the gates of hell” would never prevail against the Church.

  19. Shem,

    Reading and understanding Justin or any of the fathers is impossible outside of their historical context. For example Justin Martyr was an apologist, how is anyone going to understand what Justin is arguing for if you don’t also have a basic understanding of his interlocutors. I recommend starting with church history to understand the context before jumping into Justin.

  20. GREG

    I would disagree that race and essence mean the same. The idea of us being one essense brings to mind the idea that after this life we all just become one lump of “essence” instead of remaining as individuals, which is what I do not see in the Bible.
    If you are going to say race and essence are the same than the simple comparing of the “essense” of God to the “essense” of man would, in my mind, prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate Gods, just as we are all separate people.
    However, I think the quote you gave goes more to the idea of us all joining into one identiy after this.

    GUNDECK
    I agree that context is crusial, however, as I said I have not yet really read any of Justin. The little I have read is actually mainly from the official writings of the Catholic church in their attempts to explain their doctrine.
    I have yet to read any explanation of the concept of the trinity that makes any sense to me, though I have read a few that were better than most.

  21. But Shematwater, “separate Gods” is not an option. The basic datum of all the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is that there is but one God. Because of that, both Judaism and Islam stumble on the doctrine of the Trinity. The see it as teaching precisely that, “separate gods” and thus reject it as being polytheistic. With his teaching, Joseph Smith buys into this misunderstanding and embraces it. However, it is fundamentally wrong; however, the correct doctrine also helps us to understand what we are called to be since we “created in the image and likeness of God” both as distinct persons and as members of one, common humanity.

    We are distinct persons, yes, but we are all human, we are each manifestations, or “hypostates” of that one “essence”, one humanity. The fact that our essential interpersonal unity is not more manifest is a result of the fall. However, it is being restored to those of us who are “members of each other” because we are “members of Christ” and in the age to come will be fully experienced and manifested for precisely that reason: we are “members of Christ.”

  22. GREG

    I do not see the idea of one god being mandated by the Bible, and that is my point. I see it being mandated by men only. I see in the Bible great evidence of a plurality of gods, just as there is a plurality of men on Earth.

    Taking just the words of the Bible, without commentator or outside philosophy (not even Joseph Smith-to the best of my ability) the most logical interpretation I can see is multiple Gods.

  23. Shematwater: “The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE.”

    Further, it is impossible to interpret the Bible outside of some context and apart from one’s presuppositions. In this case, everything else aside, that context is the broad consensus of everyone, apart from Mormons, who trace their faith back to Abraham: there is but one God.

  24. The Lord our God is one God, and I will never deny it, but seeing how it is capitalized it seems more a proper noun, and thus a title. So, while God is one God, there are many gods, of which three comprise the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all being one God, in having the same title.

    I agree that it is impossible to interpret the Bible outside of some context, but that context does not have to be made by man.
    And something being the broad consensus does not mean it is true. After all the broad consensus among most people is that evelution is true. Does that mean I should except it. Following the group is not always the best idea.

  25. First, Shematwater, all the scientifc evidence points to evolution, so yes, you should accept it.

    Given the situation in which ALL three “Abrahamic” religions agree on ONE thing as the foundation of their faith, and this is that there is but One God, it is impossible for me to accept that ONLY one dude in the early 19th Century United States, who goes against this grain, got it right.

    “God” is not simply a title. The word is capitalized to indicate that it refers to the one true Deity, as opposed to the “gods” who are no gods at all, as St. Paul writes.

  26. GREG

    From what I read Paul is agreeing that there are truly many “gods” but only one God, which again indicates a title.
    As to scientific evidence, it is all very subjective and not really that convincing. Also, it is in direct opposition to what the Bible says. I prefer to believe the word of God than the science of men, no matter how many people disagree with me.

    As to all the religions agreeing on that one point, if the Bible is any indication I would argue that the ancient Hebrews did not believe in only one god, but in many, as did the early Christians. The idea of “one God” as held by modern religions is the greatest example to me that the Great Apostacy did occur, seeing how everyone was in error.

  27. A)And U read this where? If you and I are thinking of the same places, the “gods” St. Paul is referring to are either “nothing” or are “demons.”

    B)The scientific evidence for evolution is far from subjective, and what the Bible says about the matter is simply not scientific data. There are two creation stories in Genesis and they are given to convey theological, not scientific truths. (However, an Orthodox Jew, who is also a scientist, named Gerald Schroeder, has proposed a way of reconciling Genesis with science in a certain way. He may be at least partially right.) In any event, the data in Genesis that is important is theological, not scientific.

    C)The Old Testament seems to indicate a gradual revelation of the fact that there is but one God, properly so-called. However, by the time of Jesus, this was axiomatic of Judaism, and Jesus affirms it by quoting the Shema, so if you are going to argue that monotheism is an indication of the Great Apostasy, then you will also have argue that Jesus himself is apostate.

  28. I do not argue that monotheism is an indicaiton of the Great Apostacy. Monotheism is the worship of only one God, or the belief in only one deity. This I believe in, as does the LDS church, and is something that Christ taught very well.
    However, this does not mean that there is only one being who exists in the same manner as God. It means that there is only one of these beings, or gods, that hold the title of God and is thus a deity of worship.

    It is much like admitting that there are many people within the Royal Family, but still serving only one king.

    As to science, I think the Genesis account is very much scientific, or to be more accurate, literal. God created the Earth and placed life on it. Man did not evolve from other life, but was placed in the Garden already a man.
    I really don’t mind what you believe, but just because a mortal man claims something as true does not make it so, even if everyone else agrees.

    As to what Paul said, I thought I was refering to the same verse you were. 1 Corinthians 8: 5-6 “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
    Pauls states that there are many gods, but only one God, and many lords but only one Lord. Thus, there are many who are in the state of existance that qualifies one to be called a god, but out of them all there is only one who is qualified to be called God, and thus only one that we worship.

  29. Shematwater; but see what comes before there. vs. 4: “Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we that an idol has no real existence and that there is no God but one.” Further, apparently the KJV leaves out an important word in vs. 5 which is indeed translated in the RSV: “For although there may be SO-CALLED gods in heaven or on earth…”

    The whole context here, of course, is eating meat offered to idols, the “gods” and lord” of which Paul speaks here. Now compare this to I Cor. 10:19-20 in which he refers to these same entities as “demons”.

    Thus, these “gods” and “lords” are either “nothing,” having “no real existence” or are “demons”.

  30. Okay, in rereading what you wrote, Shematwater, I see that the word is translated: “called gods.” But that word is important. They are “called gods”. The context makes clear that the RSV translation is better: “so-called gods”.

  31. GREG

    I do not think the RSV translation is better. It seems more to me that a translator was hooked on the idea of this verse meaning one thing, and so he altered it to prevent any other interpretation.
    “Called gods” and “so-called gods” can have the same meaning, yes, but they do not have to have the same meaning. This is why I don’t use any other translation except the KJV.

    Now, as concerning verse 4 and the rest of the chapter; it seems to me that the people had thought that since there are many gods it did not matter that others worshiped idols, or that they ate of such sacrfices. After all, if there are many gods why not worship them. Paul is simply correcting this. Yes, there are many who are gods, but we do not worship them because they are of no concern to us while on this earth.

    In chapter ten he is addressing the fact that idol worship is the worship of devils, and thus we should have no dealings with it.
    Why does he make two different references to idols (one as gods and one as devils)? For the reason I gave. The first time he is explaining that all though there are many gods we are not to worship them. In the second reference he is explaining that, since we are not to worship other gods, idol worship can only be instututed by the devil and is thus truly devil worship.
    They had the idea of worshiping the other gods (an idea carried over from their Greek days) and Paul is warning them that doing is actual devil worship, because the gods know we are to worship the Father only.

  32. And thus, Shematwater, the “gods” in question are either non-existent or are “demons”. There is also a third consideration: the Roman Emperor held the title “kyrios” or “lord”. Therefore, the “Jesus is Lord” was seen as a direct challenge to the emperor’s authority. Paul, therefore, may have had this in mind as well in speaking of “many lords.”

    But, in a sense, all of this is a bit academic,no? We are attempting to understand Scripture apart from the only context in which it can be properly understood, and that is the Apostolic Tradition as a whole, passed down in the Church from Christ and the Apostles unbroken through each and every generation until this very moment. “Outside the Church there is no salvation” and outside the Church there is no full, complete, and entirely accurate understanding of Scripture.

  33. I agree that correct scriptural interpretation and salvation come through the church, I just diagree as which one is THE church.

    As to the unbroken line, I really do not see the evidence of it. I see more evidence for a very fractured line. This blog puts it very niceley.
    http://lrwhitney.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/after-the-party-is-over/

    As to the gods, why is it that they have to be non-existant or devils. I thought is was rather obvious that they were indeed gods, or beings who lived in the same state of existance as God the Father, having all his attributes, except his authority, which is why he is the one we worship.
    I am pretty sure that the dukes and archdukes of a kingdom would be rather anoid to be called non-existant just because they are not the king.

  34. Again, Shematwater, if there was a great apostasy, then Jesus was either mistaken (and therefore not God as He claims) or worse, he lied in that He promised to be with the Church forever and that “the gates of hell” would not prevail against it. If Jesus either was mistaken or he lied, then Christianity is false from the beginning, there is nothing to restore, and that makes Joseph Smith irrelevant at best as well.

    The words “nothing” and “demons” are St. Paul’s words with regard to these “gods” not mine.

  35. “The Christian life is no different – for it is not a set of ideas to be memorized – but a life to be lived. For this reason, Christ had disciples. For this reason the Church had a catechumenate that often lasted for three years. We learn the Christian life by doing it. We learn to pray by praying and praying along with those who know how to pray. We read Scripture with those who have read it before us and from them we learn how it is that a Christian reads Scripture. Those who have not been trained in such a manner are like children building a house with bricks. They may have the proper ingredients – but the result is likely to be a house that falls down.”

    http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/reading-tradition/

  36. GREG

    Now, why would Christ have to be a liar or mistaken? All he said was that if the church was built on the correct foundation it could not fall.
    I refer back to the parable of the wise and foolish men building their houses. The one on stone stood, but the one on sand fell. With all the bickering and contentions and descentions that characterized the Christian world for a few hundred years after the last of the Apostles were gone I would say their foundation was very sandy.
    Beyond this, I see many prophecies in the Bible (both OT and NT) concerning the Great Apostacy.

    As to Paul’s words, he did use them, but not in reference to the actual gods. He admitted that there are gods, but the gods of the gentiles, for which they have idols, are non-existant. He is describing two very different things in these verses.

  37. Shematwater: Jesus says, “… _I_ will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” This is not a question of you or I building the Church, but of Christ himself doing it. Jesus also says he will be with the Church forever. There is nothing about taking a break such that a complete apostacy could occur.

    The parable you mention is not about the Church per se, but about distinct persons in relation to Christ and the Church. Will _I_ build on a solid foundation or on sand?

    Off-hand, I can think of one prophecy concerning apostasy from St.Paul. It speaks of this occurring very near the return of Christ, but nowhere does it indicate that a remnant would not remain faithful. It it did, it would contradict Jesus’s words and the other things the New Testament says about the Church. Regarding the disagreements, etc. see I Corinthians 11:18-19. (As if there were never rifts and divisions in the LDS movement.)

    Finally, you are simply mistaken: in these passages, “so-called gods” = “idols” =”demons” or “nothing”, i.e., non-existent entities.

  38. GREG

    I guess God was mistaken when he told the Israelites he would establish them in the land of Canaan. They lasted a while, but look at the state to the Jews since.

    I know the reference you use, and as long as there was a church of Christ on the Earth nothing would prevail against it.
    However, the church will never exist among the wicked. The promise was made to place Israel in Canaan, but do to wickedness they were driven out. In like manner, the promise was made that as long as the Church was build on the foundation that Christ set it on (or was obedient to the gospel) it would stand. But they lost their foundation and fell.

    Here are a few scriptures I see pointing to a general apostacy.
    Isaiah 29: 9-10 (really the whole chapter, but this will do)
    Isaiah 60: 2
    Amos 8: 11-12
    2 Theselonians 2: 3
    There are many more in the New Testiment that show evidence of it beginning, but these seem to prophecy that a complete and total apostacy would occur (especially the OT references).

    As to Paul’s on gods, I am sorry to say that it is you who are mistaken. Idols=demons=non-existant gods; this is true, which is what he was arguing concernng idols. However, the existance of gods is not in this equation. We need to add a second equation of “called gods does not equal God.”

  39. Shematwater: Israel is the “shadow”. It is not the “ikon”. Israel paves the way for the Incarnation and the Church which flows from the Incarnation. This is what the book of Hebrews is all about. But actually, even with Israel, there was always a remnant as there has been, and will be, with the Church. However, the situation of the Church is fundamentally different vis-a-vis Israel in that Christ has come, and the promises made to Israel are fulfilled in Christ and the Church, which is, as St. Paul writes, the true “Israel of God.” Sin, death, and Satan are fundamentally defeated in creation by Christ. This was not the case prior to the coming of Christ. The Church, the mystical “Body of Christ”, the “fullness of [Christ] who fills all in all,” is continuous time and space from Christ and the Apostles even until now and on until the second coming and the age to come. These are the stakes. If this is not the case, then again, Christianity is false from the beginning and there is nothing to restore, so Joseph Smith is false in either case. (As if there were any connection, which there is not, between anything that Joseph Smith brought to the table and the faith and practice of the early Church.)

  40. GREG

    The Christian church did fall, and is thus false. This does not mean that Christ was not real or honest, or the son of God. It means that what he set up was destroyed by wickedness.

    There was always a remnant of Israel in the land of Canaan, yes. I will also agree that there remained those of true faith throughout all ages. However, as the church, or the organization had become corrupt the truly faithful were relying on false information. They had the true faith, yes, but not the proper knowledge, and thus were still in a state of apostacy.

    There has never been a time in the history of this Earth when there were not at least some truly faithful people living. But there was a time when there was no person on the Earth with correct knowledge of God.

    I would like to return to a previous argument if I may. You once said that since the vast majority of people agree as to the doctrine we should all accept it (at least this is how I understood your words). Then why did Elijah keep goind against Ahab when the majority of the people accepted that Baal was just as much a god as the God of Israel?

  41. Shem, I suggest you look up the term “apostasy” in the dictionary. It means much more than simply lacking correct knowledge. Etymologically, if refers to “defection, revolt” and concerns an intentional abandonment of one’s previous beliefs or religion. Thus, a group of people could not be both apostate and faithful at the same time, as you suggest. Now, however, it were the case that some people were faithful, but lacking correct knowledge of God, it would be clear that God had failed to be faithful to these people by allowing them to lose the correct knowledge of God. Would you wish to argue that?

    What I said earlier has nothing to with majorities of people, per se. However, it has do with unanimity of belief systems: first, regarding the so-called “Abrahamic religions.” Two of the three reject the Trinity, but all three agree that there is but one God. Since the inception of Islam (and before that, between Judaism and Christianity), there has been a great deal of “competition” between the three. Don’t you think that if one of them thought that the monotheism of the others was incorrect, it would have been noticed and made a subject of polemics? Of course it would have, and, in the case of Islam and Judaism vs. Trinitarian Christianity, that has clearly shown to be true. Islam and Judaism accuse Christianity of being “polytheistic” because of the Trinity. However, ALL of these would reject the polytheism of Joseph Smith, Junior.

    The other aspect of what you raise has to do with the four traditions of Christianity which trace their organizational founding directly back to Christ and the Apostles: the RCC, Byzantine Orthodoxy, the “Oriental Orthodox” Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East. Again, there is a certain amount of “competition” among them and each is quick to attempt to demonstrate how IT is more in line with the early Church than the other three. However, they agree with each other at least 90% of the time, and when any of them disagree with Protestantism (or Mormonism), they clearly all agree with each other.

    Here is what seems to have happened: Protestantism arose in reaction to some distortions of the Apostolic Faith which are unique to Roman Catholicism. However, in so doing, Protestantism also rejected aspect of Roman Catholicism which are NOT distortions and which the RCC shares with the other three iterations of the Apostolic Tradition. Thus, among Protestants, this notion of a “Great Apostasy” arose. This opened the space for Joseph Smith to do his thing. However, there was NO “great apostasy”, only some distortions within Roman Catholicism, distortions which do not lie at the core of the faith and which are rejected by the other three Apostolic communions.

  42. GREG

    I said that the truly faithful were in a STATE of apostacy, or existed in a world that was created by the act of apostacy. In other words, while the actual apostatizing was done several years earlier (sometimes centuries) the effect on future generations was that they had the wrong knowledge.
    No, this does not mean that God was unfaithful to them. He had already set up a system by which they could also receive the gospel and be redeemed. Peter tells us that Christ preached to the dead in his first epistle, and Paul uses the practice of Batism for the Dead to argue in favor of the resurrection (in 1 Corinthians: 15). Thus God was faithful and provided a means for them to receive the truth.

    As to unity instead of majority, it really carries the same thing. Ancient Israel was united in their worship of idols, so why did Elijah have to come in and correct them?
    Either way you look at it the simple fact that most people agree on something does not prove it to be true. There is only one truth, and it doesn’t matter how many people believe something else, that truth will not change.

  43. Re: apostacy. So then, at some point, there was intentional apostasy, correct? Well, when did this happen? Apostasy requires intention to abandon the faith, not simply a loss of knowledge. And again, Christ says that HE will preserve His Church. Therefore, if, since the Day of Pentecost, there has not been at least a faithful remnant community, structured correctly, worshipping correctly, believing correctly, etc., then Jesus has failed to keep his word.

    Christ preached to the dead who lived and died before his time. When he rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven, he took with him those dead who received him. But these dead were from before His time and not after. (See Matthew 27:52-53 and Ephesians 4:8-10)

    “Baptism for the dead.” This refers to people who convert to Christianity, receiving baptism, so that they would be reunited with Christian loved ones who had passed on before them.

    “Either way you look at it the simple fact that most people agree on something does not prove it to be true. There is only one truth, and it doesn’t matter how many people believe something else, that truth will not change.”

    St. Paul writes, “Hold fast to the traditions you have received…” What are “the traditions”? That which is “passed on,” or “handed over” from one generation to the next. Now, these traditions can be broken down into several “canons” or “rules”. One of these rules is the “canon of Scripture.” As far as the New Testament goes, the LDS accept the same canon as all other Christians. Why do they do this?

    The other canons are “the rule of faith” which is the Creed. Another is “rule of prayer”. The latter is the norm for Christian worship. It also is made up of certain beliefs regarding this worship. Now, how likely do you think it is that four different entities (and, in the case of Byzantine Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy, many different sub-entities), spread from India in the East to Spain and Britain in the West, with limited communication between them, are all going to err in the same way?

    Further, again, what did Joseph Smith bring to the table that had anything to do with the practice of the early Church? Here is one example (and that’s all I really need) where Joseph Smith bought into Protestantism instead of returning to the belief and practice of the early Church (as well as that of these four interations of the Apostolic Tradition).

    There is no question, from the New Testament and from the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin Martyr, and St. Ireneus of Lyons, all writing in the Second Century, that the early Church regarded the consecrated bread and WINE of the Lord’s Supper as “the body and blood of Christ” (In the NT, see John 6:35-59 and I Cor. 10:16 and 11:23-27) Did Joseph Smith teach this? No. Does the LDS Church currently teach this? No, it does not, as you well know. And Joseph Smith is restoring the original Church which had disappeared for all those centuries? No, not at all.

  44. As to apostacy, it does not always need to be intential. I will admit that it does for some, but as long as those few are in power they can lead the masses, which is what happened.
    As to when, let us look at a few verses of the New Testiment.
    1 Cor. 11: 18 “I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.”
    Gal. 1: 6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”
    2 Tim. 1: 15 “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.”
    There are more that speak directly to the apostacy of the early church. It had already begun very soon after Christ died. When it ended I really couldn’t say. The idea of the Apostacy is not that one day they were all faithful and the next they fell away. I would venture to say that the complete apostacy of all the world had not happened until well into the fifth or sixth centuries, but it began in the first.

    As to Christ promising to preserve the Church, as I said, he will not preserve the unrighteous. Once the people had left the faith he left the people. Just as he gave Israeil over to the earthly invaders, he gave the church over to philisophical invaders.

    As to the creeds and all that, again, just because it is a large consensus does not mean it is true. However, it also does not mean it is false.

    As to the blood and body of Christ, I know the references you give. However, I would say they are very much figurative of Christ’s blood and flesh, and not liturally them. When I take of the sacrement it is his Blood I am eating, but in a figurative sense, not a literal one. This is fully supported by what the Bible says

  45. Shem: obviously throughout history and even during New Testament times, SOME have fallen away, as the verses you cite illustrate. However, there has never been a time, never could be a time, according to the words of Jesus, when the Church of Jesus Christ, organized as Jesus wills, worshipping as Jesus wills, believing as Jesus wills, etc. has completely ceased to exist on this planet. Again, if it has happened, then Jesus either lied or made a mistake in what he promised and is incapable of fufilling his promises.

    The consensus that exists between the four iterations of the Apostolic Tradition is an extremely strong indication of a common origin in a single belief system and set of practices. If they had all erred and fallen into apostacy, it would be far more likely that each would have erred differently. Sort of like what happened with all the factions which emerged in the Protestant and post-Protestant worlds after the so-called “reformation”. They went off in all kinds of directions, as you know.

    Regarding the the Lord’s Supper and the LDS: first, water? Christ used “the fruit of the vine.” The Church (and Protestants) down to this day use, and have always used, “the fruit of the vine.” Some sect emerged during the first centuries of the Church which used water, but they came and went. The Apostles and those who followed them, however, used “the fruit of the vine” as the Church continues to do so. This represents something completely new on the part of the LDS. It does not represent a restoration, any more than the fact that the LDS Church has pretty much completely adopted one of the Protestant positions concerning the Lord’s Supper, a position that some have called “the real absence”.

    But again, the New Testament knows nothing of the consecrated bread and wine being “figurative” and neither do the Second Century Fathers. Jesus says, in John 6: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man drink His blood, you shall not have life.” Most of John 6 is concerned with Jesus explaining this.

    St. Ignatius of Antioch refers to the Eucharist as “the medicine of immortality” and “the body and blood of Christ” as do Justin and Ireneus. Justin, in fact, speaks of the bread and wine as becoming into the body and blood of Christ and draws an analogy between the Incarnation of the Logos of God as Christ and the bread and wine becoming His body and blood.

    Now, let me ask you this: Jesus says, “by their fruits you shall know them.” What has the LDS church produced? Guys like Mitt Romney, Leon Skousen, and Boyd Packer: men who manifest the righteousness of “the scribes and pharisees”. Respectable in their way, but nothing to write home about. Good solid businessmen. What do the Apostolic Churches produce? Mother Teresa. Dorothy Day. St. Teresa of Avila. St. Teresa the Little Flower. St. John of the Cross. St. John of San Francisco, aka “the Wonderworker.” St. Seraphim of Sarnov. St. Herman of Alaska. St. Isaac of Nineveh. St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Polycarp of Smyrna. St. Gregory of Nyssa. St. John Chrysostom. St. Basil “the fool for Christ”. St. Francis of Assisi. St. Padre Pio. Mother Maria of Paris. The list goes on and on and on. Personally, I aspire to be among the latter group rather than the former. How about you?

  46. GREG

    As explained, the words of Christ only apply when the church is faithful. Unless you are going to argue that people don’t have free will.

    There is a large concensus for one reason. They have the same root. That root is just not Christ.

    As to the Water that we use, Christ used the common drink of his time. We use the common drink of our time. It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it is done with appropriate authority and for the remembrance of Christ.
    Again, nothing in the New Testiment requires it to be literal either. Yes, he did use those words, but it can still be figurative. It just makes it a little more memorable to say it the way he does.

    As to the LDS church, do you really want to start comparing the fruit? It is all very petty, but if you insist.
    Just look at the welfare program of the church, first of all. The largest and best organized in the world, providing more free services to the needy than any other organization in this country, and one of the largest in the world.
    As to individuals, the LDS church as many people just as good as anyone you can name from any other religions. We jsut show it in different ways.
    Personally, I prefer to be with Boyd K. Paker than anyone you have listed. At least I know he’s going to the Celestial Kingdom.

  47. “As explained, the words of Christ only apply when the church is faithful. Unless you are going to argue that people don’t have free will.”

    “The Church” as such transcends the faithfulness of individuals or groups. Some people don’t remain faithful. Some people do. The structures which constitute the Church, however, remain from the Apostles, from the Day of Pentecost until now, even until Christ returns, and there always has been, and always will be, a community which remains faithful to these structures, structures which include a continuous, uninterrupted priesthood, passed on down by Christ through the Apostles to the most recently ordained priest, the most recently consecrated bishop, instituted by Christ and constituted and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

    “There is a large concensus for one reason. They have the same root. That root is just not Christ.”

    And when, pray tell, did this root cease being Christ? An answer commonly given these days by you LDS is the council of Nicea. In one of these threads I’ve discussed the Church of the East. The Church of the East was in the Persian Empire. As long as Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire, the Christians in the Persian Empire had little problem with the regime under which they lived. However, when Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire, the Christians in Persia became suspect of being Roman agents. In any case, from the beginning there was little contact between the Church of the East and the Church in the Roman Empire, and few or no bishops from this Church attended the Councils of Nicea (AD325) or Constantinople (AD 381). However, in the 420’s, this Church held two synods. At one of them, they declared themselves independent of the Church in the Roman Empire. At the other, they ratified the Nicene Creed which came out of the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople. Had this Church had any reason whatsoever to reject Nicea and Constantinople, they would have done so. It would have been politically expedient for them to do so, but they did not. They found in this “rule of the faith” the faith they themselves had received. This Church, under poltical pressure to be separate and distinct from the Church of the Roman Empire, affirmed the faith of the Church within the Roman Empire while at the same time declaring itself a separate entity when, had they had the slightest excuse to do otherwise, they had every reason to do so.

    “As to the Water that we use, Christ used the common drink of his time. We use the common drink of our time.”

    Wine and/or grape juice is uncommon today?

    “It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it is done with appropriate authority and for the remembrance of Christ.”

    What does it mean to remember Christ? How do you know? And where does the authority come from to make this change? Christ himself instituted the Lord’s Supper. U know, it is interesting. All this talk of apostacy implies that people, such as bishops, made changes over the years that they were not authorized to make. Yet, for all these years, 2,000 years, no bishop, no pope, no council of bishops, has dared, would DARE change the elements of the Lord’s Supper. Bread. Wine. Period. That being the case, do you really think that they would change anything else of real importance?

    “Again, nothing in the New Testiment requires it to be literal either. Yes, he did use those words, but it can still be figurative. It just makes it a little more memorable to say it the way he does.”

    If it is merely figurative, how can it be “the medicine of immortality?” If it is merely figurative, why, in John 6, when some of Jesus’ followers leave him when he discusses eating his flesh and drinking his blood, does he not say, “Hey wait a minute! I wasn’t being LITERAL. I’m just being figurative!” Why is that people can get sick and die, according to St. Paul, if they partake unworthily? Why is there perfect continuity between the plain, clear words of the New Testament and those of the early Fathers on this? Why is there no hint, NO HINT anywhere in the early writings of the Church that they held a position similar to what the LDS teach, if the LDS is really a restoration of the early Church?

    Well, Seth, you may choose Boyd Packer, et. al., as may your co-religionists. But I think that virtually all reasonable people who are not seduced by the teachings of the LDS would choose the other group. +++++++

  48. Greg

    ““The Church” as such transcends the faithfulness of individuals or groups. Some people don’t remain faithful. Some people do.”

    But if no person remains faithful to the true gospel the church no longer exists, and this is my point. As long as there are some who not only have faith, but have the knowledge and authority of the gospel, the church would exist. But once this knowledge and authority are lost, it does not matter how faithful the people are, they will still not have the true church.

    As I said before, there is no possible way to pin down a date when this occured. We do not know when, but we do know how. The evidence of its beginning is in the New Testiment. As to when the only answer that can be given is this: The root ceased being Christ when the people accepted a false understanding of him.

    “Wine and/or grape juice is uncommon today?”

    Water is healthier than wine, and regular grape juice was not as common in the 1800’s. As I said, what you use does not matter. If a ward wants to use grape juice that is just fine. We use water because it is less expensive and more convenient. I know in other parts of the world (where water is not healthy) they use other substances. During WWII the Germans were using potato peals instead of bread, because it was all they could afford. The substance used does not matter.

    As to Bishops and what no changing this idea that you have, since they already have changed it from the original meaning than yeah, I don’t think they would have tto much problem changing anything else. I speak, of course, to those men who lived in the first few centuries after Christ, not modern people.

    It is the Medicine of Immortality because of the power in the ordinance. Baptism is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection, but no one believes you actually die, are buried, and than raised again. However, as Christ says, “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
    The disciples left because he declared himself to be the Son of God. They said “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” This is why they left. They could not accpept the idea that he was the savior, the Son of God come from heaven. It had nothing to do with the ordinance of the Sacrement.
    As to Paul, please give a reference, but I would say he meant it more in a spiritual sense that a physical one, which I agree with.
    The writtings you speak of are all written by men who have a false understanding. Nowhere in the New Testiment itself does it necessitate this interpretation, and I have yet to see any writing written by an actual apostle that does. the later writers have already fallen into an apostacy (speaking mainly of the Apologists). And as the church has a history of destroying descenting opinions it is not surpring that few to none mentioning this would exist.

    As to joining Boyd K. Paker, I do feel sorry that so few have their eyes open to the truth and are willing to embrace it as he has done. But only those people insensable to the true Spirt of God, being deceived by the craftiness of Satan, would reject such pure light and truth as the LDS have to offer.

  49. Shem, have you read these guys?

    If you have actually read St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Justin Martyr, and St. Ireneus of Lyons and yet think that they are apostate, there is nothing more that I can say to you.

    +++May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty, Eternal Word and Son of the Almigthy, Eternal Father, open your eyes (and the eyes of all the LDS), free you from this satanically-inspired delusion and enlighten you as to the truth of the authentic and apostolic gospel. +++

  50. Greg

    +++May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty, Eternal Word and Son of the Almigthy, Eternal Father, open your eyes (and the eyes of all the non-LDS), free you from this satanically-inspired delusion and enlighten you as to the truth of the authentic and apostolic gospel. +++

  51. Matthew 12: 31-32.

    Given that the plain text of the New Testament, a collection of documents that we both, in theory anyway, accept as inspired, promise it, I will bet on historical continuity as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, not on the delusions of a man who raised a private army, got himself crowned “the King of the Kingdom of God”, and showed every intent of attempting a coup against a government functioning under a constitution that he himself had declared to be “inspired of God.”

  52. GREG

    I don’t know where you get your information, but I really don’t know who you are describing here.

    As tot he Matthew Quote, this makes no promise of enlightening anyone, only of saving them. Personally, I ahve no doubt that both of us will be welcomed into heaven and God’s kingdom, as neither of us is denying the Holy Ghost.

  53. Information regarding Joseph Smith. Most easily accessible: Wikipedia article. Sources it uses: a bio of JS called “No Man Knows My History”, Bushman’s bio, and other sources. Another source that I didn’t see cited in the Wikipedia article: a book called “Mormon America”. See also the Wikipedia article on the Nauvoo Legion.

    What are you questioning about what I said above concerning Joseph Smith? I don’t think the basic facts are in dispute. He raised a private army, the Nauvoo legion. He got himself crowned King of a “theodemocratic regime,” the “Kingdom of God”. He declared martial law. (BTW, informed by my faith, I oppose the death penalty in virtually all cases. He should not have been lynched, nor should he have been executed, even if he had been found guilty of treason, as charged.)

    It is not clear to me how we both can be right about where and how the Holy Spirit is acting. In your opinion and that of your community, my Faith, Tradition, and Church are “apostate.” In my opinion and that of my Church, Faith, and Tradition, you and all the LDS are, at best “deceived” and “believe a lie”. Since, as we both agree, truth is truth, I fail to see how we can both be somehow correct.

    That said, again as informed by my faith, I hope and pray that the desire of God be fulfilled, that “ALL be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (notice the linkage there). That, of course, includes all Mormons. However, if one wishes to get as quickly as possible from New York to Los Angeles, would one hitch-hike? I don’t think so. One would jump on the first available airline flight. It seems that y’all have chosen to take the long route, and I am concerned that, like the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness, many, if not most, of you will not get there at all.

  54. GREG

    First, Joseph Smith never raised a private Army. The Nauvoo legion was a legal military unit in the United States Military system. It was not a private army. He was made the leader of it not by his choice, but by the choice of the people.
    The same is true of his being a so-called “king” of the kingdom. He never claimed this, and no one in the church ever claimed it. He was elected the Mayor of the city and remained the Prophet, but he never made himself out to be anything else.
    (Though he did enjoy both of these jobs -Mayor and General)
    He never planned any coup against the government, unless you classify running for president a coup. He loved the United States, and did everything he could to work with the legal authorities.
    I will admit that the city charter he got for Nauvoo gave the city a lot of power, but can you really blame him after what happened in Missouri? Lord Baltimore did the same for the Catholics in England when he got the charter for the Maryland colony, which did make him the dictator of the area.

    The basic facts are not in dispute. It is only the rather negative interpretation of those facts that is in dispute.

    As to going to heaven, I still think that we will both be there. I do not think you are correct in you belief, but that is okay. You will still be heaven because you have not denied the Holy Ghost.
    Personally, I will hike the whole way, just to be sure I am ready when I get there. I wouldn’t want to arrive and realize I had forgotten something important. But I do fear for many others who may loose patients with the trip and not make it.

  55. Of course you would find nothing wrong with what Joseph Smith did. (And I’ve stayed away from the whole issue of polygyny.) Yes, the Nauvoo legion was nominally legal but that was about it. It was, for all practical purposes, Smith’s private army. As to his being forced into the role of “King,” he could have refused. He was the “prophet”. His word was “the word of the Lord”. I do not for one minute believe he did not set it up to be drafted to be made king. He said he loved the United States, that what he was doing he was doing because he feared that the U.S. government was about to be overthrown. However, there was no credible threat of this happening at that time.

    Everywhere the LDS folks went, they got run off. Not to blame the victim here, but why was that? The Amish, for example, lead a very distinct way of life and yes, they are sometimes resented by their neighbors for various reasons, but I have never heard of an Amish community having to leave an area for its own safety.

    You write: “Personally, I will hike the whole way, just to be sure I am ready when I get there. I wouldn’t want to arrive and realize I had forgotten something important. But I do fear for many others who may loose patients with the trip and not make it.”

    I hear the thing about taking the time to be ready, but again, with the Children of Israel, had they not rebelled, they would have gotten to the Promised Land much faster and more directly and yes, they would have been ready when they arrived. As it happens, we have recieved from the Lord certain practices, beliefs, and structures to facilitate our relationship and communion with Him. None of them has been abrogated.

    To reject them, to replace them with others, is, at best, to make it much more difficult to attain to the communion with God for which we were created. Since you have never been validly baptized and confirmed/chrismated, since you have never received the true body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, since you have never prayed the ancient prayers of the Church, it would be hard for you to understand what I am talking about.

    Maybe the following will help, maybe not: when I was first exposed to Eastern Orthodoxy, 20 some years ago, I was attending a service of Vespers/Evening Prayer, at a little Orthodox mission. At a specific point in all such services, a certain hymn, dating to the Second Century, “O Gracious Light” is sung. As this hymn was being sung to a melody almost as old, I suddenly felt as if I were in the presence of everyone who had ever attended an Orthodox service of Vespers, had ever heard or sung this hymn, going all the back to the very beginnings of the Church. I was with Russians and Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, the ancient Christian peoples of Western Europe. I felt as if I were both inside time and out of it. Because I am a member of Christ and because they are members of Christ, we are indeed members one of another, and that evening, I EXPERIENCED that unity, and I will never forget this experience.

    The point of all this, of course, is dying and rising with Christ and being transformed and changed into his image. Each of us, while sharing a common humanity, is also a unique person. Thus, as each rises with Christ, he or she reflects a unique aspect of what it means to be “a member of Christ”.

    But I don’t see that in LDS land. Where are your “fools for Christ” like St. Francis of Assisi? Or St. Basil of Moscow? Those who come closet are guys like the man who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart and he is certainly no role model for anyone. Where are the women such as Mother Maria of Paris or St. Catherine of Siena or St. Teresa of Avila? Maybe one can become a Saint (in the Orthodox-Catholic sense) as a businessman or politician or whatever, but it certainly isn’t the only way nor, I think, is it the typical calling that leads to such sainthood.

    This is another issue in general that concerns me: LDS culture is so boringly whitebread, and what happens when LDS missionaries prosyletize throughout the world? They bring this non-culture with them, right down to the suits, shirts and ties, the pianos and the American hymns and even, perhaps, the green jello! (How do you say “ignernt” or “Oh my heck” in Japanese?) OTOH, the Apostolic Church inculturates itself into the societies where it evangelizes. Thus, culturally, Russian Orthodoxy is very different from Orthodoxy in India, for example.

  56. Greg

    You can believe what you want about Joseph Smith, but calling opinions facts is not a very good way of arguing. You cannot prove that Joseph Smith set it up to be made “king” and all evidence as to his character is in opposition to the idea.
    Yes he could have refused it, but so could George Washington when he was asked to be president. If you are going to accuse him on these grounds you will have to accuse anyone who accepted an office that was offered to them.

    As to the saints being constantly driven from where they were, let us look at the persecution of the Early Christians. They weren’t driven, they were massecred. So, if this is proof that something was wrong with the LDS, surely it is proof of something wrong in the early church. Or would it be more appropriate to say that it is evidence of something right, and that Satan is fighting as hard as he can to destroy it, just like he did with the early church.

    As to ancient Israel, yes they would have been ready if they were faithful. We would also be ready for heaven if we were faithful. But as we are not we need to take a little longer to get there, to prepare, just as ancient Israel did.
    “As it happens, we have recieved from the Lord certain practices, beliefs, and structures to facilitate our relationship and communion with Him. To reject them, to replace them with others, is, at best, to make it much more difficult to attain to the communion with God for which we were created. Since you have never been validly baptized and confirmed, since you have never received the true body and blood of Christ, it would be hard for you to understand what I am talking about.”

    I have song hymns in the LDS church that make me feal that I am not just in the presence of the ancient saints, but that I am in the midst of heaven with the angels singing with me. I have felt the presence of God in the meetings I have attended, and felt his spirit on me when I stood to give a talk, or bear my testimony, or teach a lesson. I feel connected not only to the faithful at the time of Christ, but to all the faithful, back to our father Adam. This is the communion I experience in church.
    I hope it gives you some idea of what I mean.

    And no, the LDS culture is not the same in all nations, nor do we use the same hymns. We use some of the same, but not all. There is a very good reason for this. No matter where we go we know that the church is the same. There is no varying of ritual or practice. There is no need to learn anything new to be at home in any congregation world wide (except language of course). They have their cultures and do thinks vastly differently outside the church body, but in it we are all one, no matter what part of the world we are in.
    Which is another reason I love this church.

  57. “Yes he could have refused it, but so could George Washington when he was asked to be president. If you are going to accuse him on these grounds you will have to accuse anyone who accepted an office that was offered to them.”

    Actually, George Washington refused to be made king, the office that was first offered him, and there were clearly several centers of influence among the founding fathers, all of which came together to make this offer. This was not at all the case at Nauvoo. Smith held all power since he allegedly spoke for God. Washington obviously never made that claim.

    “As to the saints being constantly driven from where they were, let us look at the persecution of the Early Christians. They weren’t driven, they were massecred. So, if this is proof that something was wrong with the LDS, surely it is proof of something wrong in the early church. Or would it be more appropriate to say that it is evidence of something right, and that Satan is fighting as hard as he can to destroy it, just like he did with the early church.”

    Actually, massacred is too strong a word. Some were killed and that for a very specific reason: they refused to offer sacrifice to the Roman Emperor as a god. (And that includes, BTW, people you have previously told me were “apostate”.) It looks like to me what the early LDS movement from the begining had political ambitions which were eventually realized in Utah (and Southern Idaho). The result, of course, is a virtual one party state run by and for businessmen (who also run the LDS Church) where being connected with the LDS Church in some way is almost a requirement for any kind of economic success and, to me most disturbing, where labor unions are almost non-existent as a result of state law.

    “And no, the LDS culture is not the same in all nations, nor do we use the same hymns. We use some of the same, but not all. There is a very good reason for this. No matter where we go we know that the church is the same. There is no varying of ritual or practice. There is no need to learn anything new to be at home in any congregation world wide (except language of course). They have their cultures and do thinks vastly differently outside the church body, but in it we are all one, no matter what part of the world we are in”

    You know, it is interesting. Those who don’t “get” the Apostolic doctrine of the Trinity also err in dealing with human culture, etc., in one of two ways: they either expect and accept cultural anarchy and belief systems (Unitarians, for example) or they expect and demand complete uniformity. Like Islam, the LDS obviously falls into the latter camp by its baptizing and taking as normativel an interation of white American culture, even as Islam does with a form of Arabic culture. Which is so sad, since this American culture is, at best, so completely shallow in a “Leave it to Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet” kind of way.

    However, this is not only sad; it also betrays the cross of Christ. Humanly speaking, the Lord is crucified by a confluence of societal forces, as symbolized by the three languages of the placard which hung above his head on the cross. Latin represents the state and government. Greek represents culture in general (including its economic aspects, including socioeconomic stratification and patriarchy). Hebrew represents revealed religion.

    God allowed all of thse forces to come into existence after the fall in order to stop humanity from destroying itself. However, they are not capable of ultimately SAVING humanity and, when made the be-all and end-all (turned into idols), are capable of actually destroying humanity themselves even as they executed God-the-Son-made- human. Thus, all culture, all goverment, all religion is relativized by the cross of Christ. This means that no form of goverment, no specific culture, and no religious formulations (beyond a certain point) can claim to be ultimate. Thus, throughout history,on the religion front, for example, there is both a foundational unity, which is Christ and that which He put into place by way of the Apostles, and there is also cultural diversity. The latter is seen most clearly in the various rites, or ways of worshipping. In the West, the two most accesible of these are the Latin Rite, found in most Roman Catholic Churches and the Byzantine Rite, used in some RC Churches and in most (chalcedonian) Orthodox Churches.

    Which only makes sense. “A rope of several strands is stronger than a single line.”

    Interesting that you did not address my comments about “fools for Christ”, etc.

  58. George Washington is very similar to Joseph Smith in this analogy. He was not a religious leader, but he held all power in the military. He did refuse to be king, and I have no doubt Joseph Smith would have refused such himself. But, like George Washington, he excepted the post that was offered him by the vote of the people.

    The comparrison between the early Christians and the LDS church is also very valid. The Early Christians were killed for not accepting the dominant religious theories of their day, the LDS were driven for not excepting the dominant religious theories of their day.
    In truth they had no political ambitions, except on a small scale, such as a town within the already formed government. They did not form any desires to anything more until after the persecution of Missouri, and then they had a very clear and reasonable motivation for doing so.

    Now, all you say about the languages of the Cross and the need for a lack of unity is one reason I cannot accept what you say. Truth is truth, and no matter what you do or say it will not change. I never said we hold the same culture. In fact I denied this. What I said is that the church meeting are all the same world wide. There are vast differences in culture, but not in religion. To have such differences in religion is to contradict the idea of being one in body, and is thus against the Bible.

  59. “George Washington is very similar to Joseph Smith in this analogy. He was not a religious leader, but he held all power in the military. He did refuse to be king, and I have no doubt Joseph Smith would have refused such himself. But, like George Washington, he excepted the post that was offered him by the vote of the people.”

    First, the military of the colonies was dispersed and, as military commander, Washington was under the authority of the Continental Congress. Second, there is a gap of several years between when Washington relinquished his military power and when he became President. He had gone back to Mount Vernon. He returned to public life briefly for the Constitutional Convention, but then again went back to Mount Vernon. Third, Joseph Smith was God’s putative prophet in a small community confined to a small space. He initiated everything of importance that was done, and I have no doubt that he instigated this as well.

    “The comparrison between the early Christians and the LDS church is also very valid. The Early Christians were killed for not accepting the dominant religious theories of their day, the LDS were driven for not excepting the dominant religious theories of their day.”

    The early Christians, including, again, some you’ve already told me were apostates: Ignatius, Justin, Polycarp, and Ireneus, were martyred for their faith because they refused to sacrifice to the Emperor as a god. To them, this refusal was an act of religious loyalty. To the Romans, it was an act of political treason. The early Christians never had political ambitions because they understood that for Christians, the only permanent city is the one which is to come. (see Hebrews 13:14)

    So let’s talk about the Amish vs. the LDS, shall we? Would you argue that the Amish don’t live according to Christian values and thus are exempt from persecution? Americans in general, both 150 years ago and now, are pretty much live-and-let-live when it comes to religion. For the most part, they only get violent with people of other religions when they feel threatened for some reason. So why did the people of upstate New York, northern Ohio, NW Missouri, and finally, western Illinios ALL feel threatened by the early LDS community? Don’t answer this one now, okay? Go research it from both Mormon and non-Mormon sources. Take your time.

    “Now, all you say about the languages of the Cross and the need for a lack of unity is one reason I cannot accept what you say. Truth is truth, and no matter what you do or say it will not change. I never said we hold the same culture. In fact I denied this. What I said is that the church meeting are all the same world wide. There are vast differences in culture, but not in religion. To have such differences in religion is to contradict the idea of being one in body, and is thus against the Bible.”

    So the Bible requires uniformity? Unity is not uniformity. It seems y’all have mistaken the two. One finds unity, but not uniformity, throughout the Bible. There are differences in emphases, even throughout the New Testament, but an underlying unity. St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, and. St. James would not disagree when it comes to the basics, but their various writings are by no means uniform! Sometimes, they say the same thing in different ways. At other times, they are speaking to different issues than the others.

    U speak of unity in religion, diversity in culture. What you mean, apparently, is uniformity in religion. Y’all fail to recognize a)there is no expression of religion that is separate from a cultural context and b)what y’all have done is to take one cultural context and make it inseparable from your religion.

    Another example of problemmatic uniformity: your general conferences. They look and act like legislative assemblies in nations such as China, Cuba or North Korea. Everything has already been decided beforehand. So why even have them? They are a sham. I refer you to Acts 15, especially verse 7a: “And after there had been much debate…”

    The Church here in Acts 15 eventually unites and comes to agreement, but not before “much debate.” Again, back to I Cor. 11:19. Division and debate is a normal and natural part of human organizational life including within the Church. Where it is absent, something is amiss.

  60. GREG

    You really don’t understand.
    First, it doesn’t matter what you believe about Joseph Smith. What matters is what the facts support. And they support the idea that he would never have thought of overthrowing the American government, nor a desire to be a king. It is not in his personality. Just as it was not in George Washingtons. George Washington was ask at the end of the war, before the army disband, by the soldiers he commanded, to be their king. If he had excepted all he needed to do was march the army to Philidelphia, kick the congress out and we would have had a monarchy. This is what Nepolean did. It is what Ceasar did. George Washington was chosen to lead the army because they new he would not do this. And Joseph Smith was chosen by the people to be the mayor because they new he would not try over reach his authority.

    I find it funny that have all these ideas about Joseph Smith but never question Moses. After all, you basic attack on Joseph is that he was the prophet and that all things were started by him (which they weren’t in all truth). This can be said of Moses, as he was the prophet and all things we have on record were started by him. He even went directly against the government in his day.
    (Actually, Brigham Young has been called the American Moses for leading the saints west, as Moses lead Israel out of Egypt.)
    Of course, you accept Moses without question because he is in the Bible. What is your basis for the accusation against Joseph Smith that cannot be rightly applied to Moses as well.

    Again, if you really want to look at history you will see that there was no threat to anybody in New York or Ohio except on a religious basis. In Missouri it was also mainly religious, fueled by the fear that the LDS might try to outlaw slavery if they got to populous. In Illunois there was never a fear of military uprising. It was a fear that the population will grow large enough that they would gain political power through the legal process of voting. There was never a time when the saints threatened anyone with anything. It was their numbers and their beliefs that caused the people around to persecute them.
    The Amish have never had the numbers concentrated in one area to become a political threat in the voting process.

  61. Well, Shem, I think that most unbiased people (i.e., non-LDS) would say that the facts support me here and do not support the LDS version of events. But again, I challenge you to research how non-Mormon historians view the Mormon experience in the various places they lived prior to moving to Utah.

    Why would I question Moses? He WAS a prophet. There is no doubt. Joseh Smith? Not so much. Further, Christianity is not simply Israel recapitulated. Israel was brought into being, first and foremost, to set the stage for the Incarnation. The Church, however, is not a single nation, a single people, but comprised of those “called out” from all nations, all peoples. To it is given no land, but it remains a community of aliens and pilgrims, sojourners who seek, again, only that city “which is to come”. To think, as Joseph Smith apparently did, that what needed to happen was to recreate Israel as a nation-state, is to move backwards. It is, indeed, this kind of thinking that the book of Hebrews speaks against.

    You mention the issue of slavery in Missouri. It is interesting, is it not, that Joseh Smith reversed himself on slavery and the status of black people before the LDS left Missouri and embraced the whole “mark of Cain” thing? Sure looks like opportunism to me, even as the reversal of this in the 1970’s equally smacks of opportunism (not to mention the end of open polygyny in the late 19th Century).

  62. GREG

    I have yet to find anybody who is truly unbiased in regards to the LDS. In general the truly unbiased people leave the subject alone because they know all the bickering is just silly.
    The truth is that Joseph Smith never sought power. Those who new him most intimately have witnessed to this. It is only those who were once close, but turned to be violently against him that tell anything else, and these people are hardly an unbiased sorce for knowing his character. Most people who persecuted the saints and called for Joseph Smith’s death altered their stand once they got to know him and many turned to support him. This should tell you something.
    As to Slavery, Joseph Smith never once changed his opinion on Slavery. He always held the practice, in general, to be supported by the Bible, and wrote a very persuassive essay on this. He did not think the practice as it was in the United States a very good one, and wished very much for it to be ended. But he also agreed with Abraham Lincoln that it would take a change in the Constitution to abolish it. He actually proposed a solution that would have abolished it without altering the constitution, and that would have avoided the war. he was very constant on his opinion in regards to slavery. I think you are miss understanding the Curse of Cain.

    As to Moses, why is there no doubt that he is Prophet? I have seen no evidence that does not also apply to Joseph Smith. As such, if you can excuse Moses as a prophet, than you can understand why, as a Prophet, I see nothing wrong in the power Joseph Smith held.

  63. Shem, I see no comparison between Joseph Smith and Moses (or the other Hebrew prophets, for that matter). In any event, since the coming of Jesus Christ changed everything, why would God send another prophet like Moses, Isaiah, or whomever? They all point to Christ who is THE Prophet. (I note that this same criticism would also apply to Mohammed.)

  64. GREG

    Why wouldn’t God send another prophet? It seems that since his Church always had a prophet to lead it on the Earth that it would have one today just as it did before.
    Also, if he does not have a prophet then he will do nothing that is not stated in the Bible (Amos 3: 7). As such, from the time of the Atonement to the Second Coming God has done nothing.

    As to the apostacy of the CJCLDS, I think I would agree that it was on the race issue. But what does that prove?

    Similarities between Joseph Smith and Moses:
    1. Both were called to be prophets through visions of God (Burning Bush and First Vision).

    2. Both were given a kind of second in command to assist them in their work (Aaron and Oliver Cowdry).

    3. Both were called to gather God’s chosen to the promised land (Israel in Canaan, and the Saints in America).

    4. Both called counsils to operate under their leadership (12 heads of the tribes and the seventy elders for Moses; Twelve Apostles and Quorum and the Seventy for Joseph).

    5. Both performed miracles to herald their calling.

    6. Both delivered the Laws of God to the People they were called to serve (Law of Moses, and the Doctrine and Covenants).

    7. Both brought ancient-or older scripture tot he people (Genesis-Book of Mormon).

    And the list can continue.

  65. “As to the apostacy of the CJCLDS, I think I would agree that it was on the race issue. But what does that prove?”

    Okay, so how is it that the Mormon community can “apostacize” on something but that is not the end of the story? Y’all claim that since all the other forms of Christianity became apostate, the only thing left to do was to start over from scratch. Isn’t that a double standard?

    Regarding Moses vs. Joseph. I of course believe nothing about Joseph that cannot be verified by normal historical methods. (I assume that you accept Moses as a prophet as do I.) But here’s the HUGE difference: Moses, in the end, is vindicated by the coming of Christ. Once that has happened, another prophet “like unto Moses” is simply reinventing the wheel because everything that comes before Christ points to Christ. (Islam falls on precisely this same point.) This is yet another reason why the Church must remain forever. The coming of Christ has changed everything, and the Church, the mystical body of Christ, is but the extension of the Christ’s incarnation.

  66. GREG

    The “Mormon community” didn’t apostacize, only a small group did. This wasn’t the first time this occured, nor was it the last. The difference is that the main body remained faithful to the truth.

    As regarding Joseph Smith, you are applying the double standard. You are excepting everything in regards to Moses without proof, and yet demanding it for acceptance of Joseph Smith. I accept both as prophets, for the same reason, and with just as much evidence for either.
    Moses was vindicated, as you say, by Christ. However, if you are only going to accept a prophet after his word is fulfilled you are going to wind up like ancient Israel, being cursed by God.
    Joseph Smith will be vindicated, and by Christ; he will simply be vindicated at the second coming instead of the first.

  67. Can’t block and copy right now. I do not understand your first paragraph at all. From I’ve read, Joseph Smith arguably denounced slavery and allowed African-Americans to receive the priesthood. Brigham Young, however, revoked the priesthood from African-Americans, a situation that prevailed from his time until the late 1970’s. So it would seem that the Brighamites indeed erred on this matter from Young until the 1970’s. For you, to err is to “apostasize,” no? Therefore, I am totally confused by your first paragraph above.

    Regarding the rest, you are betting that Joseph Smith will be vindicated by Christ’s second coming. Okay, well, I see absolutely no reason to make that bet, and many, many, many reasons not to, as I have spelled out at length, both in discussions on this blog and elsewhere. IMHO, Smith was, at best deluded and mentally ill, and at worst a demon-possessed charlatan. As I have said previously, he was probably somewhere in the middle (although to the extent that any of his experiences were genuine, and not hallucinations and delusions, it is pretty clear to me that demons were involved).

    The bet that I am making is that the original Church and its Apostolic Tradition will be vindicated. I am no gambler.

  68. GREG

    That is fine. I will bet in favor of Joseph Smith, and you can bet against him. We will just have to wait to see who wins the bet.

    As to the first part, I think we are misunderstanding a few things. It was Joseph Smith who first taught that the African Race could not hold the priesthood. Yes he was anti-slavery, and yes he did appoint some of African descent to the Priesthood. However, after doing so he was commanded not to appoint anymore, for the reasons that Brigham Young was more vocal in giving. But it was started by Joseph Smith.

    I will see if I can find the actual reference for this.

  69. Okay, that’s what I thought originally. Weird thing is, why would God change his mind on this, especially in such a short span of time?

    And where exactly is the “apostasy? among the LDS here?

  70. When did God ever “change his mind.” This is a common misconception about this doctrine. God never changed his mind. It was simply the time in which this was supposed to end. It has long been known, from the time of Joseph Smith, that this restriction would be lifted. Consider this:
    “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood; but the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.” History of Wilford Woodruff, p.351
    And:
    “He (Cain) deprived his brother of the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by multiplying upon the earth; and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God.” J.D. 2:142-143

    It was not a change in doctrine, but in practice, much like ending the sacrifices from the Old Testiment. And it was not over a short period of time, but after several thousand years had passed (from the time of Cain).

    Now, what is this question about the apostacy?

  71. Shemat: Okay, but you agreed that somebody connected with the LDS did “apostacize” in this regard at some point. What did you mean?

    But more significantly: assuming that sub-saharan Africans are in fact descendants of Cain, holding them responsible for Cain’s actions is exactly what Augustine and Calvin do with regard to the classic Western doctrine of Original Sin and the actions of Adam and Eve. This doctrine, of course, is rejected by both Eastern Christians and the LDS.

  72. GREG

    My mistake on the apostacy issue. I was thinking of William McCary. However, it was not that he apostacized because of this issue. It is that some historians say this was made an issue by his apostacy.

    So for the confusian. I was misreading the link you gave me previously.

    As to the punishment of the children for the actions of Cain, that is not what is actually happening here. It is a misunderstood concept in general.
    They are not responsible for Cain’s actions, but the curse of Cain was that his descendents would be the last to receive the gospel blessings in this life. It does not mean that his descendants could not receive salvation and exaltation, only that certain blessings in this life were, for a time, denied them.
    There are many reasons given for this, but there is no direct teaching as to the reasons why God did this. I personally like this explanation (but I do not claim it is church doctrine): During the war in heaven there were those who chose to remain on the side of the Father, and were thus not cast out with Satan. But among those who chose the right side there were some who did not fight as valiently in that war as they could have. As such they come to this world with some restrictions as to what they can enjoy in it.
    Paul speaks of the Election of Grace to the Romans. This is what I think he is speaking about. The great spirits, who faught valiently in that war, are given greater reward in this life. They are born to the covenant line (Israel) and at times when they can enjoy the greatest blessings, and do the greatest work. But those who were not as valient are born into a line that is restricted in what they can enjoy.

    This is a parallel to the Kingdoms of Glory. The righteous in this life receive a greater glory in the next. We are judged only on this life to determine what our final reward in the eternifies will be. However, our reward in this life, or the glory we can attain to in this life, is conditioned on our actions in the previous life.

    As I say, it is only an idea, but it does explain things rather well. I cannot say it is church doctrine, but I do believe this to be fairly close to the truth.

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