Thursday, October 28, 2004

Genesis 1:26-27 and God's Body (Morg) has in its FAQ a fairly standard Trinitarian response to Genesis 1:26-27. It is, however, like all Trinitarian responses to this verse, false.

As noted before, Morg does not like to quote verses, apparently because they usually contradict their sophistry promulgated around the scriptures. So let's start with the verses:

Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [2] and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV)

The typical tripe written of this verse is man was created in the moral image of God. Scripture directly contradicts that:
Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Morality is the understanding of good and evil: "
of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior" (Merriam Webster online).

Notice "now man has become". He was not created that way, he became it. So whatever the image and likeness of God means, it is not about morality.

So what is it.? It is the physical appearance of mankind. We know this from both the use of the words in Hebrew, but from clear parrallels in the same book of scripture:
Genesis 5:1 This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man. " 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

Seth looks just like Adam. We have already seen the words "image" and "likeness" do not mean morality, and they would not make sense here anyway. But whatever image and likeness meant of the relationship between God and Adam, they mean the same thing as the relationship between Adam and Seth.

Morg gets so many things wrong in his opening paragraph, it is hard to know where to start.
Morg twists the LDS position by saying "So for LDS, technically God is in man's image." What is the point of saying something this dumb? No really. The word image means "1: a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person" or "2b: a likeness of an object produced on a photographic material", "3a: exact likeness : semblance" (Incidentally, 3a is cited as the definition for Gen 1:27 by Webster), or "4 a : a tangible or visible representation" (Webster online). Image is the reflection of the original. God in LDS thought is the original. Men are the reflection or image of God.

So technically, Morg is apparently lying about the LDS position. It is not a lie if Morq is ignorant and fails to understand the LDS position. However, since Morg cannot cite a single source among anyone Mormon who would agree with his "technical" definition, it is his position, not the LDS position. It is a deliberate mis-statement of LDS thought, if in fact Morg actually is an expert on LDS theology.

Morg asserts the LDS people are so simple and narcissistic, we just looked at our hands and face and said "Yup, that be what God looks like." Forget the fact the LDS position is more Biblical. Forget the fact the Hebrew words support the LDS interpretation. Forget the fact the Trinitarian position contradicts direct statements of scripture by saying God is immaterial.

We know god has a body, based on numerous passages in Genesis: 32:30 "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." See 32:24-30 to note the context of the passage is speaking about Jacob physically wrestling with a "man", who it turns out is God, leading to the statement in quotes above. See also Gen. 17:1; 26:24; 35:7; 35:9; 18:1-3 "AND the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And [Abraham] said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:"

Morg makes a common, unscriptural statement: "
God can appear any way He wants..."
ere does that come from? A chapter and verse would be nice, even if you don't bother to quote it. Oh wait, there is no such reference. A trinitarian is not beholden to things scriptural, but if they feel the need to attack Mormons as unBiblical, it would be nice if they were. Since the doctrine of an uncorporeal God dates from the 3rd and 4th century, please don't palm it off as an anachronism on the Bible.

So then Morg launches into a completely unfounded description of the word "invisible". On the one hand, a being could by nature not be visible, such as people observing the wind. But it is not "impossible" to see molecules in motion, which is what the wind is, and so it is simply a perspective. God is invisible, that is not seen, by people. Phil 2:6 is in fact emphatic in stating God has a visible form: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: The form is explained by no less a conservative evangelical linguistic authority than A.T. Robertson as:
Being (uparcwn). Rather, "existing," present active participle of uparcw. In the form of God (en morph qeou). Morph means the essential attributes as shown in the form. In his preincarnate state Christ possessed the attributes of God and so appeared to those in heaven who saw him. Here is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ." Word Pictures of the New Testament."

Notice "and so appeared to those in heaven who saw him". Christ in his nature looks like God, which has a visible nature since Christ was, by definition, visible to those who saw him in heaven. While this also is a wonderful proof text contradicting the Trinitarian doctrine of one God in 3 persons sharing a single substance, since Christ and God, not the Father, are what look alike, it is likewise an absolute statement that God and Christ are in fact visible beings. God is called the invisible God because he is in heaven, away from mankind. The word in Greek is aoratos, and means "pertaining to not being subject to being seen, unseen, invisible, of God" BDAG, 3rd edition, pages 94-95. Romans 1:20, which uses the word invisible says this of those invisible things:
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

So by nature, the word does not mean impossible to see, it simply means out of sight. Specific examples include: Col 1:15-16:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

We have already looked at what it means that Christ is the visible form or outward appearance of God. Here Paul says he is also the eikon or image. In Greek, this word means it is a tangible copy of the original. Look at Matthew 22:20 for example: Whose is this image and superscription? Christ asks of the Pharisees whose picture or image, eikon, is on the tribute coin. Whose picture is on a nickle or dime or penney? There can be no confusion, Christ is asking whose image appears on the coin. Paul uses the same word to describe who Christ looks like. He looks like the God they have never seen. Thus when the apostles ask Christ to show them the Father, he answers (John 14:7-12) that those who have seen Christ have seen the Father. The Father is in Christ, and Christ has the physical appearance of the Father. Clearly the Father did not make an appearance, or Philip would not have asked the question. The nature of the question is pleading "start showing us the Father, and that will be enough." Christ does not say he is the Father, even the Trinitarians don't believe that. He states that because of his relationship to the Father, seeing him is like seeing the Father. In the context of Paul's teachings and the Old Testament, this is literally fulfilled in the physical appearance of Christ.

The abuse of the scriptures about "
God is too big for the heavens and the earth, let alone a body (1 Kings 8:27)" deserves special derision. Morg uses this and several other verses, all ripped from context. Let's do what Morg hates, and actually read the verse:
27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!"

Well, the word 'contain' does not mean there are more jelly beans being poured out of a bag than the jar can contain. It means he cannot be restrained or kept in any certain place. So instead of being an observation that God cannot fit into the existence he has created, it is an invitation to come visit the temple.
1 Kings 8:28-29 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.
May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.

We know this from the text: Turns out he is in heaven, which according to Morg cannot contain him, is where he actually "dwells", as Solomon relates in the very next verse:
1King 8:30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

Seven more times in 1Kings 8 Solomon notes that Heaven is God's dwelling place: verses 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49. If Solomon meant what Morg spews forth, it is not discernible from the text. The Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, translates the word 'contain' as arkeo, meaning "be enough, sufficient, adequate", and cites 2 Cor 12:9, Mt 25:9, John 6:7 and John 14:8. Look these verses up. Also look up 1 Kings 8:64. The word "receive" is the same Hebrew word kuwl. See Brown, Driver, Briggs or even Strongs Hebrew Dictionary. It means to restrain or hold in. This gives a great deal of insight into the text. Use that as an alternate translation. The Temple cannot "hold in" or "restrain" God, since even the heavens cannot hold him in or restrain him. The idea of God being transcendently too vast to be contained in heaven or the Temple, or a body, is not anywhere in the text.

Since Morg phrases his assertion as
" if the Bible affirms that God is too big for the heavens and the earth, let alone a body (1 Kings 8:27)", we have now presented clear evidence to discard the assertion, at least based on this 'evidence'. It is false. I am assuming this was his best shot, since it is the only one he lists. It fails upon review. Very poor scholarship with a single point: Refute the Mormon position. Who cares if it is valid. Again, this is why most Mormons ignore anti-Mormons. They either don't know spit about the Mormons, or they don't know spit about the scriptures.

The big finish for Morg is "God is not a man by nature". Well, true. But then again, man is not immortal by nature, but he can become that. (Phil. 3:21; Romans 8:11; 1Cor 15:21-22, 42-44, 52; 2 Cor 4:14; Col 2:12; Heb 9:27). Man is not necessarily good by nature (Romans 3). We can be changed (1 Cor 15:1; 2Cor 5:17). Even a trinitarian looking at the fact Christ took a body unto himself must acknowledge that for a time he took upon him a human nature. If not, he could not have died. Yet the changing between natures did not force him to cease being divine, and his godhood did not prevent him from becoming man. Man's spirit has its existence from God (Genesis 2:7). Man's existence had its source with God, so there is a part of man, according to the Bible, which is eternal. Early Christians believed that through Christ, man's nature would be changed. Irenaeus :
"but through His love and His power, He shall overcome the substance of created nature" (Against Heresies, book IV, 38:4). In the footnote, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, page 522, notes "That is, that man's human nature should not prevent him from becoming a partaker of the divine." Irenaeus wrote this around 188 A.D., or more than 125 years before the Nicene Council. This of course dovetails perfectly with 2 Peter 1:4, and Irenaeus like many others, believed we were to become like God, becoming gods ourselves (Against Heresies, IV, 38:3-4: "For we cast blame upon Him, because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods").

The idea that we cannot become like God because of our natures is in fact a late development, long after the scriptures were written or the early Christians lived. To think that philosophers living 500 years after Christ were smarter than the Apostles or the people taught by those first generation Christians is pure fallacy.

Morg uses an analogy that man is to God, as a dog is to man. This is really pretty inane. While our state of advancement is like an amoeba to mankind, God created only man on the 7th day. We are the only species to be created in his image and likeness.

Ps 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all [things] under his feet:

I don't really feel much like a dog. I have never designated any of my pets as joint heirs with my son. As a non-LDS Catholic priest once noted, the question is not why do Mormons believe man has a potential to be like God, but why do evangelicals and others not. It was the doctrine of Christianity up until the dark ages. Look what has emerged from the other end of the dark ages. Sad, but true.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

If you pass along a lie you are a...

Maybe it is just me. I really like the internet, but remember any idiot or grudge bearing goof ball can write whatever they like, without any need to present facts. This is especially true of people attacking the LDS Church, since they can say just about anything they want about people now dead, and they can distort the teachings of the LDS Church by quoting any person who has ever been a mormon or an LDS Church leader commenting any time in history, and then assert this is somehow LDS doctrine.

Let me illustrate. (hereafter 'Morg') puts out a brochure called SEVEN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MORMONISM AND CHRISTIANITY by R. M. Sivulka. First of all, while many of the LDS points are relatively accurate, Rob does not really seem to notice he is speaking for a "Christianity" which did not exist for over 300 years after Christ died, at a minimum, and 1600 years in some cases. The Apostles and prophets never believed in the Trinity, faith only salvation, or a "Church" being an undisciplined group of believers having nothing in common but a common belief about neo-Platonic meta-physics centered on an unknowable god.

On the webpage, Morg makes it clear they do not want to deal with issues from the scriptures. They never quote them. OK, not really 'never'. In their entire web site, I did find them quote two verses in their entirety. WOW. But that is typical of anti-Mormons. Lots of assertion, no scriptures.

Another example of storytelling at Morg is their FAQ section. Here you will find the two verses of scripture on their webpage which they actually fully quote. Let's drill down on one particular topic. Stephen seeing God and Christ. Here they decidedly mis-state the issue of Acts 7:55-56. They quote part of verse 55, where it says Stephen sees the Glory of God, but they ignore the rest of verse 55 and all of verse 56, where Stephen says he actually sees God, and the Son of man to his right. For giggles, here are the scriptures which they avoid quoting:

Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

OK, so we have two explicit statements of Christ standing next to God. I know some people struggle with deductive reasonsing, so in the spirit of logic 101, here is what we must conclude from these verses: God and Christ are separate and distinct beings. Not the Father and the Son. The Phrase Father is never used. Luke uses the phrase "father" 16 times elsewhere of God the Father, so he clearly is making a theological choice. Christ is next to God, not just the Father. So if words mean anything, I can safely conclude the following:
1. God is separate from Christ
2. God has location to his being, since whatever that being is, Christ is standing to its right.

It is funny they are so messed up about scripture argumentation that they do not dare actually quote them. For example, Morg asserts no one can see God. That is a good joke, just completely false:

Genesis 32:30 "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."

Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, and many others saw God. Face to Face. But explaining this truth out of scripture contradicts the False Gospel preached by Morg. God does also say no man can see his face and live, but apparently it is more of a suggestion than a rule.

He similarly asserts that "[Exodus 33] Verse 11 is figurative in much the same way that the "wings" and "feathers" of the Lord are in Psalms 91:4."

Really. Let's read the two passages, and discover this great truth:

Exodus 33:10-11, 20-23
10And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. 11And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. 20And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD , "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (NIV)

OK, poetry is not my strongest subject, but does anyone reading these two passages need to have a special lesson in simile and metaphor or allegory? Who is actually living in the physical shelter of the Most high? How is it possible for me to be captured by a bird trap? Is God really a shield and rampart, physically? It is probably this passage which serves as background to Christ saying in Matt 23:37

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!"

Wasn't Moses' experience a PHYSICAL, real experience? He was going to be shown God's back parts. So, God has back parts? The Bible reports Moses was placed in a location, and God did pass by him. Or is this also part of an intimate experience, as Morg asserts? Can anyone looking sincerely, with an open mind as the Bereans (Acts 17:11), help but be astounded at this horribly self serving interpretation? It is funny that Morg has the nerve to attack the LDS position on the loss of plain and precious things out of the Bible, since this type of interpretation is exactly that. And there is no one to stop them, the Internet being free.

That God had a face, physically speaking, is obvious from the passages in the OT. Gen 1:26-27; Gen. 18:1; Gen 32:30; Ex. 33:11; Num 14:14; Dt. 5:4; Dt. 32:10; Dt. 34:5; Judges 6:22; Job 19:26; Ez. 20:35. Did Morg miss the part of seeing the face of God and not living? I think Stephen died immediately after seeing God, though by the pummelling of the mob. But he did not live, and so he could have seen God's face, based on the pertinent Bible passages.

There are many places where "face" is not literal, but it requires reading the passages in context to know. See Ps 27:8,9 for example. But Morg is inserting a huge anachronism into this verse by suggesting:

The Lord speaking to "Moses face to face" is symbolic language for the intimacy that they shared together, since the verse goes on to say, "[A]s a man speaketh unto his friend."[End of paragraph 2, FAQ 7]

People in Moses' day that spoke face to face as a man speaks to a friend actually had faces, and actually spoke. Morg needs to stop thinking that Moses had a web page where he had virtual friends with just images of themselves.

Morg goes on to say there are different meanings for the word "see" in Greek. Morg then inserts their neo-platonic greek Trinitarianism, without any scriptural support, of course, since there is none. God really cannot be seen, so Morg says, so these words must mean something else. Again, the analysis falls apart upon actually reading the scriptures. Once more, for effect:

Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

So in the passage, do we have metaphorical language, or someone reporting what they see? "Looked up" is the greek word atenizo, which according to the foremost N.T. Greek lexicon in the world (BDAG, 3rd edition, page 148) means "to look intently at, stare at something or someone", and cites Acts 7:55. The word is also used in Acts 1:10 and 2Cor 3:7, 13. Let's exam their usage in those passages:

Acts 1:9-10
9 And when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

2Cor 3:7, 13:
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. (NIV)

Nothing metaphorical here. Staring, steadily gazing, looking steadfastly. Not a chance that it is figurative.

Neo-Platonism is then spewed forth, again with no scriptural support of course, to argue that despite all the times God appears or is said to be visible, it must be a mis-understanding. The authors meant to say something else, which Morg magically knows what that something else is. How is that possible? Morg does not believe god is capable of speaking clearly to people in a manner impossible to be misunderstood, so there must be something else. It cannot come from the scriptures, since they don't use them. What does that leave? Answer: Creeds and dogma, post-biblically developed, of course. They would have you think God jumps in and out of bodies more often than snakes stuck with perpetual molting disorder. There is no statement anywhere in scripture saying that is what God does, but we all should applaud how clever an idea it is. History shows they did not think of it first, but it sure makes the other non-Biblical doctrines go down easier with their other contradictions out of the scriptures.

I "see" what Morg means, it just is so unscriptural it does not deserve anything other than a passing laugh.

Briefly, the word 'see' used in Acts 7:56 is theoreo, and means "to observe something with sustained attention, be a spectator, look at, observe, perceive, see (with physical eyes)" BDAG, pg 454. Does this look "iffy"? BDAG actually add the words "with physical eyes" so that nobody will attempt to privately interpret this word. There is nothing, absolutely nothing in the passage to turn its meaning into figurative imagery. Oh, well there is if your theology cannot stand the thought that the Mormons are correctly interpreting a passage you must butcher.

Anybody see the value yet of actually reading the verses? Have I now proven adequately that at Morg citations are very untrustworthy if they do not actually quote them?

Morg puts a brief statement of Rob Sivulka's educational resume in his biography page. He attended a theological college. I know from personal discussions with Rob that he has studied Greek in some form. So exactly what should we think about his final paragraph in this FAQ?

"LDS want to interpret this literally, but only to a point. They too must treat this figuratively in some sense otherwise Jesus would actually be standing on the Father's right hand, and then we'd wonder if Jesus left stretch marks on the Father's hand by doing this. Instead, this "right hand" language is typical in Scripture of talk that is similar to Cheney being Bush's "right hand man". This is talk of a position of favor or power."

Hard to imagine more things wrong in four sentences. The second sentence is a pure strawman argument to try making the totally non-scriptural twist appear plausible because the Mormon's argument is silly. But his scripture twisting is not the LDS argument, so he is in fact grossly misrepresenting LDS thought. The next sentence is either a knowingly false statement, or Morg truly has some of the dumbest PhD candidates anywhere in the world.

" Jesus would actually be standing on the Father's right hand". Please. The Greek word here, which Rob knows because he and I have discussed this in the past, is dexion, and means in context "right", as in direction. To the right side. The word for hand, which Luke uses in Luke 6:6 with the word dexion, is Xeir or Cheir. Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, uses the word dexion 13 times, but uses it in the context of a physical hand only once as noted above, with the word for hand, cheir. But he uses the word cheir 46 times, including in Acts 7:50. He also uses cheir in a compound word in vs. 48. Verses 55-56 are not even remotely speaking of an anatomical right hand. He does not mean right hand. It is the King James English meaning of 'to the right hand side'. He means "at the right hand" or "right side", which is how nearly every translation since the KJV does it(see NIV, NRSV, RSV, CEV, Darby, REB, ESV, NCV, TEV, etc.)

Luke uses the preposition ek, translated "to", which in Greek grammar answers the question in this case "where is something?" (BDAG, page 296, #2). In this case, where is Christ? To the right, directionally, of God. Sadly, Rob knows this, but apparently is making a choice to be disingenuous about the nature of the passage. It is not about being "the right hand man" of God. It is speaking of a physical direction. Any attempt to suggest a different meaning does violence to the passage, and therefore one should exam the motivation for the violence. It appears to me to be the need to be right about theology, and let the scriptures be hanged.

Morg wraps up by pulling a completely non-contextual verse from the Old Testament, Isaiah 41:10. For a person to say there is contextual similarity between Isaiah saying he is upheld by God's right hand, and Stephen looking into Heaven and seeing Jesus standing to the right of God is simply outrageous. It is also a perfect example of the quality of scholarship among anti-Mormons. They will say practically anything, no matter how unscholarly or unscriptural, to steal the faith of a Latter-day Saint.

In future issues, I will continue to go through Morg's web page. Frankly, it is frustrating to review such hypocritical work. Morg stands outside Temple square and yells to people they are going to hell if they are Mormons, but the Bible was pretty explicit about Morg's behavior:

[They] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:25) The creature is their neo-Platonic Trinity, unBiblical, without historical basis.

¶ But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (Colossians 3:8-9)

As I always say about self-righteous anti-Mormons, if the truth is so devastating to the LDS position, why lie or distort what you say about the Mormons and their doctrine? It is funny that Morg accuses the LDS Church of not being scripturally sound, yet we see that when forced to actually analyze the scriptures, Morg is dead. As I read elsewhere once, if your theology is not based on the scriptures, whence came the theology? Still a good question.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

News From the Front--October 2004 GC

Conference for me was a pleasure. Great talks, including the calling of two new apostles. Perfect weather. Almost no anti-Mormons.

OK, there were anti-Mormons. Perhaps 20 or more. But finally some folks realized they could exercise their right to protest and reach out to Mormons by politely engaging them. And since they used their constitutional right to get most of the protest zones between Temple Square and the Conference Center, most of the insult slinging, slurry mouthed folks lacking Christian values were forced to 'head south', causing far less disruption to the sacred spirit for those who attended Conference for religious purposes.

Over 150,000 Mormons attended conference. Four of them were clowns who excercised their right to behave like the hate-spewing protestors by mocking the protestors. And you should have heard the protestors whine! Wahhhh! That people would make fun of them, shout them down with 'shusshingg' sounds; mocking their mocking of things LDS.

The thing is, the anti-Mormons don't understand that they have brought this on. I have gone to every conference for the past 12 years. About 2001 the Street Preachers showed up. Up to that time, there wasn't any effort to mock or respond in a loud, obnoxious way to the anti's. People took their little pamplets, and threw them away or whatever, and that was it. So there was basically 154 years of toleration if not bored recognition of the anti's, and so things went.

That all changed when the Street Preachers showed up. Contrary to some of the lies out there on web sites trying to defend the street belchers, they were hostile, aggressive and rude to the LDS community. Many non-LDS saw their insensitivity and realized they are non-Christian, and tried to encourage them to moderate their attacks. No such luck. Then one day a television news crew happened to be downtown when these savages ruined a wedding by calling the women in the wedding "whores", and refusing to move aside so they could take family wedding photos. It was all caught on film, then broadcast on TV. Even the non-believing, former ALCU mayor of Salt Lake City realized this was a disaster, and had the potential for violence under a legal theory called the "fighting words" doctrine. Just as freedom of speech is limited by its threat to public safety, such as crying "fire" in a crowded movie theater, so speech which is designed to provoke and incite a reasonable person to violence is not legal.

The street belchers said they would continue to insult the Mormons, and so the Main Street Plaza sale was executed. In 2003 two assaults on the street belchers by members of the Church attending conference led the mayor to implement the court upheld protest zones to put a buffer between the street belchers and the conference goers. There is no excuse for the assaults, but it proved what the mayor had said about the fighting words doctrine.

Still the street belchers continue to call the LDS faith such Christ-like names as "whores", "perverts", and bark insults about them going to hell at a high volume. The Christian ministries (the ones who really believe in Christ I mean) have continued to condemn the street belchers methods and in response have recruited people to lovingly demonstrate their beliefs by politely standing and greeting the LDS Conference goers. It is the way they have decided to exercise their right to free speech. To listen to the street belchers tell it, they are Judas sell outs to the LDS Church.

But still the anti's scream their venom, even from the south side of Temple Square. And now the 4 clowns have started attending to mock them as they mock the LDS beliefs. I don't really know if this is a case of 'do unto others', but the street belchers are sure thin skinned about being treated the way they treat the Mormons.

I for one love the street belchers. LDS baptisms go up, way up, for the non-members who attend conference and see the stark difference between the LDS Christians and the non-practicing Christian street belchers. And I personally love to use the falsehoods the anti's spew as a launch point to teach those who are sincere among the protestors about the LDS Church. Some of them will join the LDS Church. More of them will never return with the Anti's. And it is always the most telling when the street belchers warn each other that I am around, and am just a waste of time to talk with. I thrive on those comments, somewhat like the anti's love to be able to describe what persecuted servants they are for standing up for their faith. Please. Attacking LDS people is not presenting the Gospel. But it is black and white for the non-members attending Conference. As Luke wrote of the Bereans, they had an open mind and a willingness to study the scriptures. That is all the Mormons ask of their friends.

In the markeplace of ideas, Mormonism almost always wins when presented to open-minded people. Keep up the good work those who feel their job is to insult the Mormon faithful, as we love the fruits of your labor. Literally 500 or more people join the Church after seeing the difference. Work harder. I bet we can get that number over 1,000 if you belchers would just scream a little louder. And by all means, don't talk to Mormons like me who know LDS history and doctrine. Let me answer the questions of those people who realize the stark differences between what goes on inside the gates of Temple Square, and you standing outside like barking, angry dogs (Rev. 22:15).