Monday, September 08, 2008

State of the Art Anti-Mormonism

I thought this would be a good time to review the 5 "best" anti-Mormon arguments against the LDS Church.

5. DNA and the Book of Mormon. This one started with such promise for the Anti-Mormons. Then LDS scientists pointed out how incapable this line of attack was in actually proving anything, pro-or-anti-, relative to Mormonism. While such one-trick-pony-advocates as Simon Southerton screamed that their position was being ignored or the LDS position was shifting, in the end (and it has in fact reached the end!) the glaring flaws in their argumentation have caused them to once again argue things other than DNA to attempt to support any relevance of their DNA arguments.

4. Monotheism in the Bible. The idea is that the Bible clearly teaches their is only one God, and not a plurality of true, divine beings. This argument continues to come up, despite the fact that the universe of people who have studied Biblical beliefs of God in their historic and linguistic contexts has reduced to specialized argumentation those who seriously advocate this. By that I mean you have to be a conservative Christian who either a.) simply ignores the archaeological and linguistic evidence harvested in droves in the past 100 years, or b.) you argue it is just a matter of heretic liberals smearing the "true doctrine of monotheism" with unjustified interpretation of evidence. The reality is that the work by Patai, Barker, Dever, Mark Smith, Michael Heiser or Jason BeDuhn and virtually all Greek language grammarians make belief in the concept of exclusive and strict monotheism in the Bible as the orthodox belief of Hebrews and Christians impossible to maintain. Not to mention more than a dozen EXPLICIT statements acknowledging the existence of muliple REAL gods, as well as it being the aim of salvation of mankind.

3. Satan and Jesus are not spirit brothers. This is an interesting position because it requires denial of specific scriptures for anti-Mormons to maintain it. In Job 1:6 we have all the sons of God appearing before God, "and satan was among them." We have Hebrews 12:9 telling us the Father is the father of spirits. Since Jesus had a spirit and satan and his devils are also called spirits in scripture, we are left to equate why all spirits are created by the Father but are not really brothers and sisters when it comes to Satan and Jesus. Mormons of course feel this is thrown out simply as a distraction, since at least some early Christians taught and believed this to be the case as well, and it has no bearing on how Good Christ is or how Evil Satan is.

2. Joseph Smith was human. This isn't exactly how they say it. They say things like "how could a prophet do...X?" My current favorite response is to agree, and say if prophets express opinions which are demonstrably false, and contend it is true or a revelation, then we probably have a case of a false prophet before us, according to their standards. Then we read Titus 1:12-13 by Paul: "The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies [i.e. lazy gluttons]. This witness is true." If you do believe all people from Crete are lying, evil, lazy gluttons, then this may in fact represent truth to you. For the rest of us, this is obviously Paul's opinion, and a flawed one at that. So now we must decide if should throw out the 13 or 14 letters attributed to Paul (cutting the New Testament in half. That should increase readership!) because of Paul's poor judgment in this area, or if we acknowledge all of the surviving writing attibuted to inspiration by God is filtered through flawed humans. The Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God, so far as it is translated correctly. It doesn't specify the translation is from copyist to copyist, but rather is broader, allowing people to use some common sense.

1. Finally, the #1 Anti-Mormon attack is that Mormons don't honor the role of Jesus. I have heard anti-Mormons say they have sat through entire sacrament meetings on Fast Sunday, and never heard mention of Jesus in the testimonies being born. I will say it here: I think these people are liars. As a convert of over 30 years, I have sat through hundreds of such meetings, and never once had such an experience. If anti's were honest, they would acknowledge that they don't believe in the same God as the Jews or the Muslims, a claim they often make. Neither the Jews or the Muslims believe in a Trinitarian deity. In fact, theologians of both groups denounce Christians as apostate from the doctrines of the Old Testament. Mormons love Jesus. We just don't believe that his theological value is visible to man as the result of unrevealed intellectual reflection to try to harmonize the false concept of monotheism with the dilema of the New Testament witness of a plurality of Divine beings (John 1:1-2).

There you have it, as I see it. What do you think?


Seth R. said...

I should probably point out that the NIV renders Job 1:6 as "angels" instead of "sons of God."

I ran the verse through the gauntlet over at though and found that the most usual translation was "sons of God" with "angels" being used a lot too. Even "heavenly court" got used once.

For whatever that's worth.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Thanks for pointing that out Seth. It actually is worth a lot. Here is why. The concept of the "sons of god" being simply "angels" is a theological position for what should be obvious reasons. In Hebrew tradition, a "son of" something has the same characteristics as its father. Thus expressions like "son of perdition", "son of the bondwoman", "son of the freewoman", "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17), etc., all describe the nature of these people, and their attributes. So the "son of David" means symbolically the heir of David's throne and heritage. So a "son of god", as Jesus persuasively argues in John 10, is a god, even if subordinate to God. Which is why John 1:12 and Roman 8:14 clearly called the saved "sons of God", just like Jesus was the "son of God". What is a son like?

BTW, the underlying word in Job 1:6, translated as "sons" is "bene", which the Netbible explains is here an idiom identifying the supernatural nature of these beings, which it says are "angels", but which it acknowledges that in the context of "sons of God" in the Ugarit (the pre-cursor Semetic language of Hebrew) has the meaning of lessor gods in the pantheon of divine beings. See note . The idea of these being less divine angels is an anachronistic reading of the Bible by modern translators who deny the obvious meaning, and historical context, of these phrases.

Tony said...

In regards to Anti Mormon attack #1 That you pointed out. I totally agree with you.

We just had a sacrament meeting today with all the talks being on the atonement of Jesus Christ!
It was quite possibly one of the most powerful meetings I had ever had. The Spirit was so strong, and one sister I talked to was clearly affected. It was just another beautiful reminder of what the Church is founded on: the Lord Jesus Christ.

John said...

You need to trash #2. Titus 1:12 says (One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, "The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.)
Obviously, Paul was quoting someone, not giving his opinion.
Read the whole chapter.