Saturday, October 01, 2005

Someone Needs to Get Married I Think

Once again I was accused of being dishonest over the issue of whether God and Mary had sex.

First, I don't really care, one way or the other. Honestly, God can do no wrong, and since I believe Jesus was His only begotten son in the Flesh, the mechanics are irrelevant to me.

OK, that being said, the Church does not have an official position on the mechanics. Here is what Elder Harold B. Lee said in 1969. He was the 2nd most senior apostle after President McKay and President Smith. We have a very clear statement speaking directly upon this subject:

Teachers should not speculate on the manner of Christ's birth. We are very much
concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of
teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.
You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary's] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more. (1/2/69)

Seems pretty clear. One would think Harold B. Lee would know the official position of the LDS Church. He is clear in saying more specific statements than this are personal speculation on the part of the authors.

Talmage teaches thus:

That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the 'Son of the Highest.' We Believe That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof;
...Miracles are commonly regarded as occurrences in opposition to the laws of nature. Such a conception is plainly erroneous, for the laws of nature are
inviolable. However, as human understanding of these laws is at best but imperfect, events strictly in accordance with natural law may appear contrary thereto...
...True, the event was unprecedented; true also it has never been paralleled; but that the virgin birth would be unique was as truly essential to the fulfillment
of prophecy as that it should occur at all. That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the "Son of the Highest." ... (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern, p.77.)

So you have Talmage calling the birth of Jesus a "Miracle" and "unprecedented", and beyond human understanding, and still I hear people say Talmage is saying God had sex with Mary. Please, there is nothing unprecedented, miraculous or unknown about how a child comes forth from sex. Moreover, he called her "Mary the Virgin" (page 87).

A brief study of the word "conceive". We find it in Luke 1:31: "to become pregnant; conceive." Mary is said to be conceiving in her womb. That is the normal place. Is there any implication of sex?

Last point: I have pointed this out previously. The Seer, published by Orson Pratt, was thoroughly denounced by the LDS leadership and Church, including Orson Pratt, as a work which should never be considered LDS. Here is what it says:
"But the Seer, the Great First Cause, the article in the Millennial Star, of Oct. 15, and Nov. 1, 1850 contains doctrine which we cannot sanction and which we have felt to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works or parts of works are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed." Signed the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, INCLUDING Orson Pratt, its author. Deseret News on the 23rd of August, 1865.
Only a person of extreme ill-will toward the LDS Church could attempt to use anything out of the Seer. And without co-publishing the Church's denunciation with it, one is left to wonder about the ethics of such a person or group thus involved.

Sixteen years after Harold B. Lee's comments, Bruce R. McConkie published his final book. He wrote the following in explaining the Virgin Birth:
"The mortal Jesus, as a man among men, had both a father and a mother. God was his Father, and Mary was his mother. He was begotten by a Holy Man, by that God whose name is Man of Holiness; and he was conceived in the womb of a mortal woman. Mary, a virgin of Nazareth in Galilee, was "the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh." (1 Nephi 11:18.) She was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost; "she was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Nephi 11:19); she conceived "by the power of the Holy Ghost," and she brought forth a son, "even the Son of God" (Alma 7:10). That Son, who is called Christ, is the Only Begotten, the only offspring of the Father born into mortality. As a man, as God's only Son, his only mortal Son, he overcame the world." Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 1985, Deseret Book, Chapter 9, pg 74:

While Br. McConkie's explanation could still be interpreted as implying sex, it clearly does not REQUIRE that meaning. And frankly, Elder Harold B. Lee's statement still would be controlling, since he is limiting his statement to official doctrine, whereas Br. McConkie was publishing his opinion. General Authorities are allowed to have opinions, they just are not allowed to say they are official doctrine. Reading the inside cover of Elder McConkie's book will indicate what his writing was.

Enough for now. The LDS Church is true. I love these cute little diversions. Don't discuss the big things. Look at the churches who cannot decide if we are all predestined robots, if baptism is essential, if good works really matter, or if the doctrine of the Trinity could be any more flawed, but we spend time discussing the method of impregnating Mary. What a waste of time. The sad thing is that the person most concerned about this will argue regardless of what the official position of the Church is. This is the best he can do to show his perception of inconsistency, because he doesn't allow the LDS Church to define itself. He has a standard he has created, and since the Church does not conform to his criteria, he keeps chasing his tail. Let me issue this challenge: The official Church website at Find the doctrine that God had sex with Mary. You can find the Church's views on baptism, salvation, priesthood. If this is such a big deal, find it there. Then drop me a line. Otherwise, try and tackle something which is real next time.


The Death

In discussing Paul, the question of what did Paul mean when he said in Acts 22:4 he had persecuted Christians to "the death". One opinion offered said it meant cutting off heads with swords or similar implements.

While that sounds good(?), not really accurate. According to BDAG, the 2000 3rd edition of "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament", commonly called BDAG, the Greek word is thanatos, and means "The termination of physical life, death", and then in citing the passage says of the phrase: "persecute even to death" (italics in the original).

So here are some other sources:

Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament
And I (oß). I who, literally. This Way (tauthn thn odon). The very term used for Christianity by Luke concerning Paul's persecution (Acts 9:2), which see. Here it "avoids any irritating name for the Christian body" (Furneaux) by using this Jewish terminology. Unto the death (acri qanatou). Unto death, actual death of many as Acts 26:10 shows. Both men and women (andraß te kai gunaikaß). Paul felt ashamed of this fact and it was undoubtedly in his mind when he pictured his former state as "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious (1 Timothy 1:13), the first of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). But it showed the lengths to which Paul went in his zeal for Judaism.

This is what Acts 26:10 says: "This I actually did in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had received authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them."
So he did not actually, physically kill them, but consented to their death.

I checked two other lexicons I have at home, and 3 online commentaries and the lexicon as well. Nobody seems to know about the word meaning anything except death. It is common English usage to say for example "they fought to the death".

I hope this clears this up.