Monday, August 03, 2015

Manti 2015 Part 1

Funny thing this year.  My good friend wanted to go down to Manti with me to just watch the conversations I got into.  Since our wives are also good friends, we all rode down together, along with his son who had recently returned from his mission.

We wound up speaking to five different individuals or groups of individuals, and my friend and his son filmed it for the heck of it.

The first guy we encountered was a former member of the LDS Church who basically took the view that the Trinity was true, he knew it, so anything LDS was wrong and Joseph Smith was a deceiver.  He particularly didn't like the concept that people could become like God, and that there was a Mother in Heaven.  As it happened, I had the book by William Dever with me, "Did God Have a Wife", and pointed out to this fellow that Dever, as one of the foremost Biblical archaeologists in the world, concluded the answer to the question was "Yes".  Dever himself discovered an ancient artifact with the inscription "To Jehovah and his Asherah", and he walks people through the wealth of evidence that not only did the Hebrews believe God had a wife, but that they had children who were also gods.  While I felt the gentleman was a very nice guy and well read about his personal belief system, he acknowledged openly he had no interest and never had read anything about the early beliefs held by the Hebrews or Christians.

He raised what I think is a common misunderstanding by most people about other people's beliefs.  We discussed the passage in Acts 17:18 where the understanding of the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens is stated, in the King James Bible, as:  "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he (Paul)preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection."

The key element here is the word selected by Luke (author of Acts) and probably used by the Philosophers:  Daimonian.  The word has reference to intermediate gods acting between the real Gods and humanity.  Elsewhere in the NT they are always used for evil spirits, but the Greek usage was they were a lesser divinity as well.

The use of the word Daimonian by the philosophers is quite instructive.  After being told by Paul about Jesus and the resurrection, they conclude Jesus is a god of lower rank or power than God the Father.  In other words, the passage not only doesn't teach anything approaching the concept of the Trinity, but on its own it contradicts it, teaching instead that there are multiple real gods, and Jesus is subordinate to God.

The man I was speaking with replied, "I wouldn't base my faith on that verse."  I replied that I never said I did.  But I was not making the point clearly enough.  I see all these verses as bread crumbs and evidence leading to truth.  The guy seemed irritated that he did not have a good response to the obvious conclusion the verse leads one to.  Which is why he wouldn't base his faith on it, since it challenges what he currently believes.  But the bigger point is that we assume when someone makes a point which we find challenging, we figure we can evade the point by rejecting it as anomalous, and likewise denigrate the opinion of the challenger by asserting it is in fact him who is uninformed about the "big picture".  This fellow said several times "No one can know everything."  That was his reason for not caring that he was uninformed about the Biblical issues he was preaching against, or for that matter Mormon issues, even as an ex-Mormon.

That conversation ended quite amicably, and I have spoken with him in years past.  I just don't see him caring enough to do any research about the topics we discussed because it really would threaten his core concepts about Biblically based doctrines.

I next spoke with a nice kid who was an ex-Mormon from California.  He was clearly a very studious kid.  However, he had bought into the Evangelical position that baptism can be anything, but especially in the NT it probably ISN'T in water.  That is just garbage.  I gave him one of my brochures on baptism, and pointed out the examples of early Church Fathers and writers describing in explicit detail that to be "born again" was to be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit.  We also discussed the root of the Greek word "baptizo", which is "bapto", and means to dip something into a liquid.  Think Jesus dipping his bread into the sop at the last supper (John 13:26), or the rich man asking Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and help his unbearable thirst (Luke 16:24).  Revelation 19:13 is similarly interesting because a garment is dipped or dyed in blood.  Note in these root examples, the liquid is identified.

Baptizo is a little different.  By default it means to dip in water.  We see it used of Jewish ordinances in Mark 7:4 or Luke 11:38.  Which means it is highly unlikely that Mark and Luke would just get a wild hare to make it mean anything they want.  But chain the touch points together.  In Mark 1:5 John the baptizer calls people to repent and be baptized, and then in Mark 1:8 he makes it explicit that he is baptizing with water.  But he does so to affirm the default meaning is with water, and Jesus will baptize with the Holy Ghost.  But the line in the sand is baptism is in water.  We see John 1:25-28 produce the parallel account of John baptizing with water.  While there are passages where baptism refers to an immersion in an experience (Mark 10:38) or to baptism of the Holy Ghost (Mk 1:8; Jn 1:33, Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16, etc.). But note the difference:  When they baptize in something other than water, they mention the different type of baptismal experience, and even contrast water with Spirit or the something else.

As some of you may have heard me previously mention, the best Greek-English Biblical Lexicon is "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testamant and Other Early Christian Literature", 3rd Edition, published in 2000 and abbreviate as BDAG for the initials of the various others involved.

BDAG notes on page 164-165 under the entry for Baptizo the following:  "2.  to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship with God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize."
It then lists all of the John the baptizer verses, about 2 dozen, and then lists Jesus' baptismal activities and the use of water baptism as the method of joining the Church after Jesus' death.  They include Acts 2:38 and 2:41 and another 2-dozen or so passages.

So we discussed the fact that baptism in Acts 2:38 meant water baptism.  Not in his mind.  He felt it was just a conversion experience, and no water involved.  He had no interest in authoritative sources.

As we were wrapping up, Matt Slick of CARM came over to get into the conversation.  I have spoken with Matt in the past, but he either did not remember or chose to ignore the memory.  So I posed the question to him as well:  Does Acts 2:38 teach baptism provides forgiveness of sins?  Without going down all the side paths he tried to go, I kept bringing it back to this question:  Do the words mean what is written.  For anyone who has forgotten, the context is that after Peter preaches to the Jews at the day of Pentecost, they as Peter and the Apostles this famous question:  "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"  Peter replies: "Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Pretty clear passage.  So first he tried to explain the passage away as lacking full context.  It was incomplete because it did not address if Faith were needed.  But the passage does address all those areas of concern, if you read down to verse 46.  So I asked him again, does the passage teach baptism can forgive sins.  Again, he said no, tried to deflect to later chapters in Acts.  He then tried to pull a piece of very poor scholarship out.  It is called the "causal eis", because the word "eis" in Greek is translated as the word "for".  He asserted it should be translated "because".  In modern times this argument has its source in Julius Mantey's Greek grammar.  His arguments were thoroughly devasted by Dr. Ralph Marcus, to the point where in his later life, Mantey likewise concluded that the best translation for the passage was "for the remission of sins", leaving exactly nobody who believed the "causal eis".  Yet here was Matt Slick trying to pull out this false teaching to support his view.  When I noted Mantey himself had recanted such an opinion, I asked him yet again if the passage taught that baptism can lead to the forgiveness of sins.  He again said no.  At that point I shook his hand, and said "Matt, it's been nice to meet you."  I started to leave, he wanted to argue some point, and I just said "I'm good."  He retorted "Romans 5:1, why would you not believe God's word?  What are you running for?"  I said, "I'm not running, its a waste of time."  He said, "Yes you are, Romans 5:1, I'm going to prove you wrong, what are you running for?"

I leave it to those who were there to decide if I ran.  For my part, I just didn't feel it was leading anywhere.  Mr. Slick, for what I think are obvious reasons, refused to provide a cogent justification of his view of Acts 2:38, and had even used a source in his defense which he most certainly must have known was not valid to try and justify his false interpretation of the passage.  Maybe he didn't know, I can't know for sure, but he knew exactly who Mantey was, and therefore he should have known of his retraction in regards to this passage.  In my opinion this made him a less than honest party in the conversation.  You can hear on the video as I walk away him saying to the kid I had started speaking with "That guy's a bully.  He's a bully."  For the life of me, I don't know how I can be a bully by simply defending my faith, not attacking theirs.  And he seems to have forgotten he walked over and engaged me, not the other way around.  Unless he feels like it is unfair for me to debate scripture with him because he can't keep up, I am at a loss to know what would constitute me being the bully.  Truly, I am sorry if he feels that way.
I will discuss the other conversations in Part 2.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brochures Anyone

I have been so busy with work, I have not checked in here for many, many months.  Did everyone get brochures that wanted them?  I have several different brochures on various topics.  Salvation, issues at Manti argued by anti-Mormons there, a really good one on baptism as a requirement for salvation, the nature of God in Mormonism compared to non-LDS.  I just completed one addressing the so-called "Impossible Gospel of Mormonism", which reviews not only the abuse of Moroni 10:32 and the passages from "The Miracle of Forgiveness", but shows how the LDS perspective is both Biblical and built on the foundation of Grace and personal responsibility.

Anyway, as always shoot me a note and I will send them to your email addresses.  As you may have noticed, I never post questions or comments which contain people's email addresses to make sure their privacy is protected.

Thanks again for reading.  I will hopefully get posts out shortly on Manti 2015, Lee Baker's distorted ministry against LDS beliefs, and one built on responding to The Impossible Gospel of Mormonism by the professional anti-Mormons who promote that error.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Christians Feeling The Spirit in Face of Atheism

I have been actively engaging a few friends of mine who are repeatedly yelling about the lack of proof for the existence of God.

What has been fun is to see all those Christians who attack Mormons as irrational because they base their testimony upon spiritual experiences, now have to use their own version of spiritual experiences as their ultimate proof.

Let's face it, all Christians remain Christians because they feel better being a Christian.  They leave because they don't feel the Spirit.  This is true of Mormons and non-Mormon Christians.

But when non-LDS Christians try to engage Mormons, they attack the "burning in the bosom" as self-delusional wishful thinking by Mormons.  Something Mormons "hide behind".

I have gone to Christian book stores for many years, and you could always find books on receiving answers to prayer, spiritual experiences, personal revelation and the like.  But critics of LDS beliefs conveniently ignore those members of their own faith traditions.  Instead, they try to substitute historical or scholarly information, as if you could study your way into knowing Christianity was the only true faith.

That is an exercise in self-authentication.

Only through experiencing the Holy Spirit can you realize that ultimate truth is not a set of hypotheses which you can ever completely test.  It is not something which can be studied and arrived at without divine assistance.  Jesus is truth, because God alone can know all things, and therefore can know all truth.  He can confirm our faith.

I have been blessed with a few spiritual experiences which have provided actual proof to me of the life after this life.  I was informed of the passing of a relative in a dream, told my family of the message, and then got the phone call 20-minutes later that it had happened.  The message was delivered by three of my deceased relatives, and a voice spoke to me, audibly but in my mind while sleeping.

I don't know the truth of all things.  But I know their is a God who knows the past, present and future, and there is a life after this life.  That is enough to know that atheism is false.

I was accused of suffering from cognitive dissonance the other day because I accept science yet have faith.  But the basic premise of cognitive dissonance is that you have two philosophies which take you in opposing directions, and therefore require you to irrationally avoid information which conflicts with one of the beliefs, and you eventually become so uncomfortable with the dissonance, you eventually reject the view which makes you uncomfortable.

I can tell you I am perfectly at ease with faith/supernatural existence of God, and science.  I don't believe there is a God or a life after this one, I know there is.  So my discomfort, were I to have one, would actually be striving to get the theoretical world of science more in line with ultimate truth, that there is a God.

Because I know God cannot be found in a telescope or a Petri dish, the lack of scientific proof for God is about as important to me as calculus is to a dog.  Because the world cannot understand it does not make it untrue.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Update on Gay Marriage

This is just a quick FYI to my post that I thought the "gay marriage" issue is a relatively small social issue, so long as something is done to deal with children rights to have access to biological parents.  The main points of update are as follows:
Today the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released their annual nationwide survey, and for the first time they survey sexual orientation.  What they found was 1.6% of the population identify as being homosexual, 0.6% identify as bisexual, 1% refused to identify or said they were "something else" (interesting!), and 96.6% said they are heterosexual.  This is considered a gold standard survey due to the large sample size (over 33,000 people) and their surveying method of face to face interviews with telephone follow-ups.  Aside from the headline issues, the rest of the survey is worth reading.

2.  A recent extremely small survey in Australia (315 parents, 500 children) is being touted as "the Largest Survey of Gay Parents" and the like, and concludes the kids are better off.  Well, not so fast.  The survey is not one which actually measures anything.  It simply asked the parents how their kids are doing.  It is also worth noting the author of the study is raising two children with his own homosexual partner, which is not an insignificant issue given the overall weakness of the supposed data, and the vastness of their claims.  Instead, I have cited an actual quantitative study of a U. of Texas researcher, which demonstrated entirely different results, and concluded children raised by same sex parents are not better off.  Here is a good summary article to review addressing both studies.  Because the U of Texas authors results were so politically incorrect, his results were challenged as doctored by his critics, who even made a formal complaint to the University.  Well, be careful what you ask for as a critic, because the U of T did a thorough review of his data and evidence, and said there is no evidence of doctoring or fraud.  As is usual of touching such a political third rail as rejecting politically correct views, the U of T announcement did note that his study could still be seriously flawed, there is just no evidence of fraud or data doctoring.  Way to back your guy, U of T.
Here is a blogger's analysis of the controversy.  The results are still attacked by critics for the small sample size they studied.  But the problem is that if you apply a scientific standard to comparing apples to apples, as I noted, it is nearly impossible to find any families in the USA where two same-sex involved domestic couples have been together for 18 years or more raising children together.  This is not hard to find among heterosexuals, though the pool is sadly getting smaller.  But instability of relationships in same-sex couples that you will not find "thousands" of such relationships for a survey.  The actual Family Structures survey is here.  I could not find the U of Texas study in full, so here is a very lengthy presentation of its content by the Family Research Council.

As anyone knows, these are very touchy issues.  As I have stated, I think the impact of allowing gay marriage is almost zero, though I would prefer the name 'civil union' or something similar, as I think marriage has the traditional understanding of being between a man and a woman.  However, I think the current research, combined with basic common sense, tells us children have better outcomes with both genders of parents active in their lives.  Homosexuals feel attacked as bad people or a social pariah if their parenting is seen as being less than perfect for raising children.  But it is actually no different than the myriad of studies which show children of divorce or other single parent families or step families tend to have more issues as adults or children than kids from intact two parent families. There is a range of real outcomes in those groups, including great adults from abusive divorced parents and horrible adults from seemingly solid two parent families.  But we don't try to put the worst of one group against the best of another.  Kids deserve to have access to their two biological parents, because they need role models.  If those parents are unfit,then we protect the kids.  But kids are not pets, and are not an accessory.  If a person chooses to live in a downtown apartment, they can't complain they don't have a lot of private yard space.  It is politically incorrect to acknowledge the biological differences of people, and to note the different roles men and women play in life.  I think much more study on this subject needs to be done before we assert as a fact there is no impact on children raised in same sex couples as compared to other relationship models.  It would be refreshing if we could have a study of all same sex couples with children who have been together for 18 years or more, and we end up with data both sides can agree upon.  Typically liberals want to run with the most conservative approach to environmental issues or personal care issues.  Think about the ideas around giving money to too many people including people who are living off the system, as opposed to too few people, and seeing some folks suffering.  Think of environmental issues which are always erring on the side of preservation of habitat or species, or dealing with cutting down on carbon emissions to try to head off a possible problem with global warming.  Yet we ignore both studies which are considered "controversial" because they buck Politically Correct views and our vast academic data of unstable homes negative impact on children, simply because the unscientific views on this issue are not popular.  My experience with homosexuals is they are absolutely like most anyone else in terms of interacting with me.  That is the same with divorced people, single moms or married couples.  But I know statistically single families and step-families are not as good for children.  In a perfect world, kids should have a right to their bio parents.  That right should not be excised from a child simply because homosexual couples want kids.  Maybe the best way to keep both parents involved is to require people wanting to donate a child to their friends to have some financial obligation for that child, regardless of the financial position of the same-sex parents.  It is true that where your treasure is, there you will find your heart. Children deserve the hearts of their biological parents, so barring that, they deserve their parents treasure.  For most people, the love of a child they are involved with will eventually melt the heart of even those who think children are gifts, like a bottle of wine, they can give away to show how much they like their friends.  Kids in same sex parent homes have a much higher probability of being on welfare or other social services due to the fact same sex families tend to separate at much higher rates than heterosexual families.  So putting money aside for those children is not a bad idea.  That is, if you care about the children.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Manti Mess(ages)

I sneaked  down to Manti on Thursday and Friday to visit with the annual pageant Anti-Mormon outreach.  Thursday was spent speaking the whole three hours to about 5 different people in what I think was productive.  Productive is a loose term, but I feel good when people I have made feel sort of misinformed about pretty much everything they believe about Mormonism still like me and shake my hand when we are done.
I have a brochure I created for Manti this year which focuses on several non-LDS scholars' statements around the reality of the Hebrew belief in real plural gods.  It also discusses the mis-translation of John 1:1, which should say "and the Word was a god"(or words to the effect that the Word had the same nature as The God, but is a different member of that class of beings)and how the way most Christians interpret it actually make the verse a modalist or Sabellean heresy.  Finally, it also provides extensive statements by early Christians that people can become gods, with a list of references to the concept in the Bible.  If you would like a copy, send me your email as a comment.  I won't post your address, I will just email you the brochure.  No minimum donation required :-)

Friday night I had several very positive conversations with folks, and I circulated more.  I was speaking with one gentleman from England when some guy name Jason walked up, listened for about 10 minutes or so, then started asking questions but not waiting for answers.
"Didn't Joseph Smith order Gov Boggs killed?"  "Weren't the Mormons stealing land in Missouri, so they were not really victims?"  "Didn't having a standing militia violate federal law?"  "Didn't Joseph print his own money and steal the real currency?"  "Isn't that illegal?"

These questions, and potential exchange, looks easy on the surface.  You think, he is asking a question, he wants an answer.

Truth is, Jason was giving his answer in the form of a question, and did not care to hear my answer or response at all.  He wanted me to answer yes or no, and if I disagreed with his conclusions, he called me deceptive.  He eventually started in with personal insults ("You're a mile wide and an inch deep, aren't you?"), so I said to him I would not talk with ignorant insulting people, and turn away from him.  What was helpful was he did this in front of two other gentlemen whom I had previously had excellent exchanges with, and they were embarrassed by their "Christian Brother's" behavior.  I then apologized for calling the guy stupid, and then gave them the answers to the assertions:
1.  Joseph did not order the Boggs assassination attempt.  No evidence of it.
2.  Porter Rockwell was a suspect, but he calmly stated that if he had wanted him dead, he'd be dead.  A grand jury agreed, and Rockwell was never indicted.  It is commonly believed the would-be assassin was a political rival, though he was never found.
3.  I explained that the LDS had organized a protective force, consistent with the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, under their right to keep and bear arms for self defense.  However, the US Government refused to intervene, with President Martin Van Buren famously saying to Joseph Smith, to the effect, "Your cause is just, but I cannot help you."  As we know, Joseph prophesied their government would be destroyed, and within 20 years the Whig party was, in fact, completely destroyed.  The Republicans emerged, and the Whigs are now just an historical footnote.
4.  Related to three, the 10th amendment to the US Constitution was the reason Van Buren could not intervene at the time.  After the Civil War the Constitution was amended to allow far more Federal involvement in state issues.  Keeping the peace and administering the domestic affairs of the states were seen as exclusively a state's rights issue at the time, and so Van Buren felt he could not take action.  Having a standing militia, if in a state of insurrection, would have been a violation of federal law.  Arming your people to defend against criminals is not.  There was no violation of federal law, and they did not steal land from anyone.
5.  The great depression of the late 1830's, which was brought on largely because the Gold Standard limited the amount of money which could be printed, thus limiting the velocity or circulation of money to create new capital, brought hundreds of communities around the country to create their own banking societies.  As I mentioned to the guys in Manti, if you have ever seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", there is a scene where there is a run on the bank.  Jimmy Stewart has people demanding their money.  He explains that he cannot give it because it is in someone's home, or another person's business, etc.  This is the concept of cash reserve ratios.  If a bank takes in $100, but lends out $95, then if everyone comes in asking for their money, it is not in the bank, it is in assets and out in the community circulating.  In Kirtland, they created a banking society.  They basically issued IOU's to people, which everyone agreed to accept, in exchange for some cash deposits so they could meet the "hard currency" requirements they all would have.  It worked great, until hard currency reserves disappeared.  In 1837, the year the Kirtland Bank failed, the US entered a 5 year depression where nearly half of all banks failed, and many other similar banking societies as Kirtland also failed.  The crazy land price increases collapsed, so the assets underlying the notes disappeared.  Not good for anyone.  Joseph left, but I have seen research which shows eventually all were repaid.  Joseph left Kirtland with his 6-month pregnant wife the first week of January 1838.  It took two months, two winter months, with nearly no money, to get to Missouri.  Far from living a rich life, Joseph and Emma suffered too.
6.  Finally, was it illegal.  Yes, it was.  Joseph paid a $1,000 fine for setting it up.  But it was also common, as the lack of currency was a problem everywhere on the frontier.  It also failed because of the lack of trust and cooperation between members of the Kirtland Safety Society, and under captitalization.

History is not simple, and it is not black and white.  If we believe that all Presidents of the LDS Church are always inspired, then we will always be disappointed.  They were looking for solutions.  At times they felt inspired.  Other times they just did their best.  At all times they were human.  Don't trust humans with your salvation, trust God.  But you still have to work with humans for everything else.

Final point.  I was walking to leave on the road from the food court to the pageant area.  I saw a girl about 10 years old passing out brochures, so I stopped and handed her one of mine.  She looked like she was being baited by a child molester.  I didn't get it at first, and I laughingly said "If you are going to pass out brochures to the Mormons, why don't you take them too?"  She backed away, and a pretty dark haired little girl, also about 10, very nervously said "We have been told not to talk to you."  I said, "What? Why is that, because I can answer your questions?"  She said no, her daddy had said I was not nice to Christians, and they should not speak with me.  She was nervously shaking as she said that, so I said "who is your daddy?"  She replied "Keith Walker."  I said he was with some ministry, and by now three young men in their twenties had walked over, and they said "Evidence Ministries".  I said I would love to talk with her daddy, that it is not true that I am mean to other Christians, and I had even done a short video about her daddy because he had some things wrong about the Mormons.  She said she knew I knew him.  I jokingly said to one of the Christians I had spoken with earlier in the week who was walking by, "Am I mean to Christians?"  Which she just laughed about.  The little girl walked away.

Funny thing is, I literally bumped into Keith Walker earlier in the evening while passing through the crowd.  If I had known he was telling people to be afraid of me, I would had asked him about it.  Next year I will have a friend take a camera, and we will have a conversation.  People can then determine if I am mean to even those anti-Mormons who disparage me personally.  Not that I care what people judge about me.  God knows my heart.  But when one's living is based on attacking other people's faith, maybe telling a story about me is better than getting caught on video.  Maybe I can help change that for Keith.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Classic Endings to Hubris

OK, the recent exchange with the "anonymous" writer I suspect is over.  We just received the following two responses:

 Anonymous said...
There is an old saying in the south that we say when someone just doesn't get things. That saying is "bless your heart". Bob, bless your heart. Let me ask you a question. Do you want me to bow down to you because of your intelligence and because you will be a "god" someday? Do you want me to tell you how smart you are and that I wish I could be like you? Despite your education, you are a very foolish man when it comes to your knowledge in the Bible and faith.
I could care less how much greek you speak. I could care less about your mormon text that was inspired by a man that has no knowledge of Spiritual matters. What you speak about is of this world and not based on anything Spiritual. You are not knowledgeable in the Bible and I certainly trust what Ryrie says over your blasphemous beliefs because he is grounded in the Spirit. You my friend Bob, are just like the Pharisees Jesus is referring to in the Bible. Read Matthew 23:13-39. Woe unto you Bob.
You are prideful. You will not admit your wrongdoings. You keep mentioning the things I won't answer and I told you that if you were of the Spirit you would understand these things. But you are not, therefore you won't. Why won't you answer me about Galatians 1:8-9. Why won't you answer me about whether or not you sin. Bob, you are a sinner. There is NOTHING you can ever do to save yourself. You are an awful sinner. Works don't save. Not only are you a sinner, but I am too. I am just man enough to admit it because I believe I need Jesus and that He is Lord and that He saved me from my sins. He is all I need because I can't save myself.
You are a man with a hard heart Bob. Despite your claims of being smart, you are nothing but a fool to me. Your education will never impress me. The only thing you can do that will make me respect you is to put aside your heretical mormon texts, the ridiculous and unfulfilled doctrine and covenants, the so-called translated papryi of the book of Abraham, and read the New Testament to teach you about the real Jesus.
You are NOT a Christian. We need to make that clear. I have mentioned there is only one heaven and one hell and the only way to heaven is by accepting the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, believing that He was raised from the dead, and working out this salvation. You must accept Grace, God's unmerited favor.
Face it Bob, your education is just like the Pharisees. You are to prideful to recognize who Jesus really is and because you have not received His Spirit, you are not able to discern these Spiritual matters. It is really sad. I feel sorry for you. But, I have not stopped praying for you.
I can't help but think that in a couple of weekends, I will be going to Eldorado, TX to visit some family. If you recall, there was a mormon temple built in Eldorado where these men practiced polygamy and married young women. These men were so-called prophets and said they received a "call" from your god. Explain to me, BOB, how these men are not a part of your false faith. Explain to me how they are not following "true mormon texts". Polygamy is in your doctrine and covenants and this is an outright heretical teaching. Warren Jeffs was a prophet, wasn't he? Don't you agree with what he believes because it is ALL in your mormon text?
Because of your educational background, it sounds like you like proof. Your ridiculous explanation regarding how the American Indians did not have any Jewish DNA was just laughable. Get over it Bob. Your religion is a farce and your founding father was a man that needed serious mental help.
You need Jesus. I will continue to pray for you and your hard heart. I really feel sorry for how out of touch with reality you are but anything is possible with God. Remember, the truth hurts, but the truth also sets you free.
6/12/2014 8:09 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...
And by the way, there are NO modern day prophets. Your prophet within the mormon faith is a phony.
If you need someone else to start up another modern day religion, maybe you can become a pretend prophet yourself and profit from your propheting.
So, it starts off insulting.  Somehow I am a bad person because I refuse to submit to his obvious superior spiritual endowments.  So the obviously denigrating comment that he should "bow down because of [my] intelligence."  Well, if that is what he normally does when he meets people who out work him to understand the Bible, OK, but keep it modest.  I blush easily.

So let's recall that his original charges included that Mormons in general and me in particular don't understand the scriptures, and he cited several which he said supported his position.  He was wrong, and as you can see for yourself, I was able to systematically dismember his position using only the finest academic sources, none of which are LDS.
This has resulted in another insult and illogical appeal to his own authority as the source for religious truth:  "I could care less how much greek (sic) you speak... you are nothing but a fool to me."

So he asks why I won't admit I sin.  I have, many times, including in these posts and responses.  He asserts I claim that we can work our way into heaven.  Sorry to let him know, but I have written extensively on that story line that it is impossible to save ourselves.  We are saved through grace.  It is impossible to be saved without grace from God.  But, we have an obligation to be obedient.  That is the obligation we have as recipients of Christ's grace.  I quoted the definition of grace, (Greek Xaris) as found in the foremost Bible Lexicon, BDAG 3rd edition, and as I put into a response to his statements on May 31, 2014:
 "Almost a technical term in the reciprocity-oriented world dominated by Hellenic influence as well as by the Semitic sense of social obligation expressed in the Hebrew term (checed, Strongs H2617). In the active sense, that which one grants to another, the action of one who volunteers to do something not otherwise obligatory. Especially of the beneficent intention of God. Compare secular writings of xaris to denote beneficent dispensations of the emperor: and of Christ who give (undeserved)to people; (from BDAG, page 1079, entry Xaris, 2 and 2a. These definitions include Eph 1:6ff, Rom 3:24, etc. In other words the commonly used passages to describe the Evangelical understanding of "grace".)
 So the LDS concept of grace coupled with obedience and repentance is the most Biblical approach compared to the practice of other faiths.

Now he asked why I would not respond to Galatians 1:8-9.  I have before, but what the hey, let's do it again. 
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before ,  so say I now again,  If  any  man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received , let him be accursed. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Trinity Troubles

Kind of a mini-theme at the moment, but discussing the Trinity is highly illustrative of the sheer avoidance followers of the Trinity display.

First, they will attempt to resort to the "historical" reality of the Trinity, and more broadly with the concept of monotheism in the Bible.  Except this approach is logically and factually flawed on at least three levels:

1. Monotheism is not the historic understanding of the Bible or the New Testament in particular.  As Trinitarian Michael Heiser wrote:
Monotheism as it is currently understood means that no other gods exist. This term is
inadequate for describing Israelite religion, but suggesting it be done away with would no doubt cause considerable consternation among certain parts of the academic community, not to mention the interested laity. Henotheism and monolatry, while perhaps better, are inadequate because they do not say enough about what the canonical writer believed. Israel was certainly monolatrous, but that term comments only on what Israel believed about the proper object of worship, not what it believed about Yahweh’s nature and attributes with respect to the other gods.
Likewise, as we have demonstrated in the previous post and abundantly elsewhere, the existence of many real gods is taken as a given.  Jesus and God the Father are immediate examples.  But 1 Cor 8:5-6 or Acts 17:18 ("strange gods", Gk daimonion, a technical term used by the Greeks, here by philosophers to describe the relationship of Jesus to salvation and the resurrection, indicating their perception of Jesus as a second god as described by Paul), or Romans 8:16 make it clear that real, divine beings, plural, do exist and more will exist as mankind is saved.  Jesus himself quotes Ps 82:6 in his preaching in John 10:30-38, referencing the OT teaching that men can become gods.  His argument is only valid if they really do become gods like God, or else he is in fact guilty of blasphemy in his equating of himself with God.

2.  No single scripture or passage can be used to explain the relationship of the heavenly beings ("host of heaven", a phrase firmly built upon the Ugaritic terminology defining the Council of Gods, wherein Elohim presides) or relationship of Jesus and God the Father as being of one substance.  By contrast, passages such as John 17 or Philippians 2:5-9, or especially John 1:1 are all clearly written to explain the relationship of Jesus and God, and from these passages there is no hint of some kind of sharing of essence.

3.  It is impossible to maintain "monotheism" when the early Christian writers explicitly teach the salvation we seek is to become divine ourselves.  Nearly without exception 2 Peter 1:4 is used by every early Christian writer, including the Father of the Trinity Athanasius, to state that men will become gods, just as Jesus was god and became man.

Secondly, the number of scriptures teaching the real existence of multiple real gods are so many as to be overwhelming.  I looked up in a searchable online Strongs Concordance the following: "host/s of heaven"(20+), "Lord of hosts"(285), gods, in a real sense, not idols, (about 10), angel of the Lord, which was often a divine being (64), angel of God (10 times).  Don't forget that Jesus himself is called an angel in Rev 10.
Of course, there is Deut 32:8, 43 where the text was plainly altered to attempt to conceal the fact there are the 70 sons of God, just as in the Ugaritic texts, given authority over the various areas of the Earth, and Jehovah is given Israel as his portion by the Most high God.

The proof of the lack of proof is the insertion of the bogus text of 1 John 5:7-8, which attempts to describe the workings of the Godhead in Trinitarian terms.  Problem is it was added to the Latin text 250 years after John penned the words, and 1500 years later in the Greek.

So I would invite people to throw down their best two or three Trinitarian proof-text verses, and I will interact with them.  But I will require they explain Deut 32:8-9, Ps 82/John 10:30-38 and John 1:1.   No outside commentaries or sources, other than grammatical or lexical sources to accurately explain the text.  I am sick to death of hearing the ignorant phrase "the passage must be examined in the broader context of the entire Bible."  No, not so much.  There was no compiled Bible until the 4th Century.  The OT was much more fluid than it is today as well.  And if we want to go to the "broader context", then Trinitarians can make this really short, because nearly all scholars of all beliefs, Christian, Catholoic, Jewish, Evangelical, atheist or Mormon, acknowledge the context of the Bible is for a form of henotheism, meaning many real gods, but only one to be worshiped, which is monolatry.  Scholars such as Michael Heiser may argue about the nature of those gods in terms of how they came into existence, but there is no doubt the Hebrews and early Christians believed in a plurality of divine, meaning godly, beings.  And we haven't even touched on the fact the Hebrews fully believed that God had a wife.

So send me some passages and be willing to interact a little bit.  It will only hurt your Trinitarian pride.