Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mormonism in Mark 16:16, Faith and Ordinances= Salvation

I posed the question months ago to two folks, who never answered, so let's make it a headline:

Please answer directly, according to Mark 16:16 what does Jesus say it takes to be saved?

16he who hath believed, and hath been baptized, shall be saved; and he who hath not believed, shall be condemned. (Young's Literal Tranlsation, 1898)

This is Jesus talking. It predates all of Paul's writings. Many scholars believe Mark used the source material quoted in the Gospels much more literally than any other of the Evangelists.

The passage is remarkable for several reasons. First, grammatically it weighs faith and baptism equally for salvation.

Most non-LDS try to grab the second half of the verse for justification to ignore the parts they don't like in the first half. Jesus says, "he who hath not believed, shall be condemned."

I am not really interested in what it takes to be condemned. Anyone can be condemned. Just ignore Jesus. What I am concerned about is what does Jesus expect of me to be saved?

Believe and be baptized. In equal force. Belief is the intellectual part, so to speak, the motivational force. Baptism is the physical obedience. The requirement to not just think about salvation, but do something as well.

The letter to the Hebrews clearly recognized this:

"Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered. 9 And by being perfected in this way, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Heb. 5:8-9, NET Bible).

So it is a simple request I make: Tell me why I should ignore Jesus' direct statement about what it takes to be saved, instead trying to parse from what it takes to not be saved to ignore the command to be baptized?

If I truly believe LDS doctrine is Biblical doctrine, and I do, this passage stands like a lighthouse in the darkness of false doctrines about salvation. On the other hand, for those who profess "sola scriptura", it will be interesting to hear why such a direct, clear and unqualified statement by Jesus, the author of eternal salvation, should be ignored.

128 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am former LDS now born again Christian.

Mark 16:16 says that if someone has believed in Christ and been baptized they will be saved. If they don't believe they're condemed.

I think that it is a big stretch to say that that proves that faith + ordinances = salvation. The verse does not define baptism as an ordinance that must be performed by an authority nor does it mention any other "ordinance." (Your title was plural.)

Romans 10:9 (King James Version)

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Christ was speaking to people who had the opportunity to be baptized which is the best way (because of it's deep symbolism of the death, burial, and resurection) for a believer to "confess with thy mouth" their claim to saving faith.

Have you read C. S. Lewis's book Mere Christianity? I'd love to read your review on that book. It defines the beliefs that all faiths who claim Christianity must have in common.

Walker said...

Quick observation on Rom. 10:9:

Romans 10 opens with quotations from Deut. 30, which is a chapter of covenant renewal based on covenantal love (i.e. obedience to commandments). This is a very simplified approach to a much more complex scenario, but ignoring Paul's usage of Deut. 30 and its context distorts the meaning entirely. Paul's language is largely covenantal. See N.T. Wright, Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision (IVP: 2009).

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Anonymous,
I think I will do a review of CS Lewis' Mere Christianity. Great book. (Oops, I gave away my feelings.)

However, Jesus, Peter and Paul all seem to be pretty adamant about the authority required to perform the requisite ordinances:

Jesus commands the apostles to go do the baptizing (Matt 28).
Paul notes that understanding the Gospel to make a confession can only be from authorized individuals sent forth to preach. Incidentally, it is "hearing" the word which creates the faith, not just reading it. In other words, you have to be taught. And, he notes in 10:16, that you must also be obedient, which he equates to belief. So for Paul, at least, obedience and faith are synonymous.

Paul also re-baptized those people he found who had been baptized unto John the baptist's baptism, because they did not know about the holy Spirit. John's baptism was to repent in preparation for Jesus who was to come. So showing that submission was not valid, if they could not give the holy Spirit. Which, according to Peter/Luke, was only given by the laying on of the Apostles' hands.

Still, it is clear from the passage, and I think you are acknowledging this, that faith-alone is not enough for salvation. I am not trying to put words in your mouth. But you seem to accept that something besides faith is being required by Jesus. If you believe that, then you are outside the bounds of that Evangelical element which says by faith only.

Thanks for the comment.

JediMormon said...

"16 He who hath believed, and hath been baptized, shall be saved; and he who hath not believed, shall be condemned. (Young's Literal Translation, 1898)"

There is a simple logic in that verse: "He who hath believed, and hath been baptized, shall be saved;" For some reason, most who don't believe in the absolute necessity of baptism give more weight to the second part of the verse, "and he who hath not believed, shall be condemned." The reason baptism is not mentioned in the second part is very logical. If a person did not believe in Jesus Christ, then naturally they would not be baptized. Thus, the reason for Paul not bringing it up again in the second part of the verse.

Aaron said...

I think it is ironic that Anonymous ask Mormons if they have read MERE CHRISTIANITY. It is in Deseret Bookstores and has even been quoted by General Authorities of the LDS Church. Kind of odd that someone C.S. Lewis's book is suppose to lead us out of the LDS Church when many of the saints love C.S. Lewis's works. It is especially ironic that Anonymous uses this book when we talk about faith and works because C.S. Lewis points out that both GRACE and WORKS are equally necessary just as both blades on scissors are equally necessary to cut paper.

Walker said...

Aaron -

Not to mention his views on theosis.

Aaron said...

Yes, I forgot that C.S. Lewis stated that the reason Christ came to earth was for the sole purpose that men could become gods. Thanks for bringing that up, Walker.

even_more_anonymous said...

Wow Bob, looks like the Antis don't have anything to say regarding this...does this mean they're calling "defeat"? I can understand why, the scripture is self-explanatory, and it goes against their feelings. Keep 'em coming Bob!

Walker said...

Bob -

I think you will find this interesting and appropriate for this particular post:

"[The Book of] Revelation evinces early Christian baptismal praxis wherein the initiate received a mark that was the bestowal of the Divine Name as a seal. Furthermore,...this reception of the Divine Name, washing, and clothing in a white garment was understood to be the foundational priestly preparation for early Christian mystical experience of the presence of God, especially in the Eucharist." (Charles A. Gieschen, "Baptismal Praxis and Mystical Experience in the Book of Revelation," Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism, ed. April D. DeConick, SBL: 2006)

Gieschen argues that baptismal rites are associated with the "sealing" that takes place in Revelation based on a variety of texts. In other words, baptism is presupposed by the audience of Revelation. You will also find plenty of familiar aspects of our temple rites mentioned in this essay.

I recommend this entire collection. 'Paradise Now' is fantastic.

nick said...

When the thief on the cross said in Luke 23:42 "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."(Luke 23:43) The thief obviously did not get baptized but yet he was saved.

Ephesians 2:8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast."

2 Nephi 25:23 pretty much contradicts Eph. 2:8,9 doesn't it.

Yes faith without works is dead. (James 2:17) Why? Because works is a natural outgrowth of a living faith. However works doesn't save you and the Bible doesn't teach it. It teaches you are saved by grace through faith. Period.

We all deserve eternal death yet God made a simple way for us to be saved. Such a marvelous testimony of God's love toward us.

Walker said...

"The thief obviously did not get baptized but yet he was saved."

This presupposes that 'paradise' in this context references heaven i.e. salvation in its fullest. This has been addressed elsewhere. 'Paradise' is recognized by many to be a reference to 'sheol'.

"2 Nephi 25:23 pretty much contradicts Eph. 2:8,9 doesn't it."

Both state that one is saved by grace, so no, not really.

"It teaches you are saved by grace through faith. Period."

You can see an explanation of 'grace' and 'faith' within the proper historical context here:

http://walkstar.blogspot.com/2009/12/faith-is-believing-what-you-know-aint_27.html

It seems you take the oversimplistic, "orthodox" view of "faith of the NT" vs. "the law of the OT." If this dichotomy was correct (which it is not), pointing to 2 Nephi as a contradiction would make no sense considering Nephi was under the law of Moses.

nick said...

Walker...

The point to Luke 23:42,43 is that all you have to do is believe. That thief on the cross was saved right on the spot. You can say what you want on what "paradise" means but if that is where Jesus resides than it's obvious that He is talking about heaven. Even in the mormons twisted idea of the afterlife (3 degrees of heaven) one would have to conclude that the thief went to the highest level considering he will be with Jesus. All this without having to be baptized or doing any "works".

It's true people can be saved at the last minute. This passage just proved that.

"Both state that one is saved by grace, so no, not really." You are kidding me right? You left out the most important phrase to 2 Nephi 25:23 which changes the whole context of that verse.

If faith and ordinances(works) saves you then what do these verses mean: John 3:16, John 20:31, Acts 16:31 and 1 John 5:13?

Bob said...

Nick and Walker,
Thanks for the comments.

Nick, I don't think you understand the context of Luke 23. When Jesus says "Today you will be with me in Paradise", everyone among the Early Christians and Jews knew exactly what he mean. This was written in Greek. And it spoke back directly to Genesis 2. The Garden of Eden was, in Greek, the Paradise of Eden. Paradise was the place of rest for the righteous, those made free from sin. It was NOT heaven, nor understood as heaven. John proves that, since three days after Christ's death that day, he had not been to heaven. As Mary crushingly hugs Jesus, he calls her off, saying he has not yet ascended to God.

Nick, where does God live? Where does one ascend to?

The answer is obvious: Heaven.

Moreover, as stated in Ephesians 4 or 1 Peter 3, Jesus descends, goes to the Spirit world, during the period of his death.

So while the "faith only" crowd likes to cite Luke 23 as if Paradise is equivalent to Heaven or salvation, it is Biblically indefensible.

Furthermore, you overstate what Mormons believe about the role of ordinances. Faith is necessary to salvation. But Faith without ordinances and deeds is in fact useless. Says who? Says James. Says Paul. Says Jesus.

John 3:16 is not written in a vacuum. You ignore the fact that Jesus IMMEDIATELY goes to Judea and there baptizes people, because there was much water there (John 3:22-4:2), and then he teaches:

John 4:14 "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

Wait, we have to "drink" the water given us by Jesus. What is the act of drinking referenced by Jesus?

Here is some insight:

John 8:51 ¶ Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

John 8:55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

John 14:15 ¶ If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

Think about it. Those who love Jesus are saved by him. But we only can "show" we love him by keeping the commandments. So, like Mark 16:16 faith and ordinances/works are required. Paul is explicit in teaching that obedience is how you are saved, after the application of grace:

Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

This really clarifies his later statement in Romans 10 about the heart and confession. See Romans 10:16 for his re-statement of obedience and belief being equivalent. Or Heb 5:8-9.

Thanks again, hope this helps.
Bob

Aaron said...

Without leaving insult to injury, here are some things to consider concerning Nick's arguments from PROTESTANT Christians and not from Mormons considering paradise and Ephesians 2:8-9.

When interviewed by TIME Magazine, N.T. Wright (Bishop of Durham, Church of England) had this to say concerning Luke:23:
"here is Luke 23, where Jesus says to the good thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." But in Luke, we know first of all that Christ himself will not be resurrected for three days, so "paradise" cannot be a resurrection. It has to be an intermediate state. And chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, where there is a vision of worship in heaven that people imagine describes our worship at the end of time. In fact it's describing the worship that's going on right now."
I included the part about Revelations because many Evangelicals use those verses to prove that the sole purpose of salvation (and the meaning of life) is to worship God forever.

Here is a quote from Mark Mattison concerning the New Perspective on Paul and Ephesians 2:8-9:
"Ephesians 2:8,9 is unquestionably one of the most popular proof-texts to demonstrate that legalism was a concern in the early church. Whereas it is true that the text emphasizes the divine source of salvation (“not of yourselves,” NASV), it should be asked whether verse 9 (“not the result of works, so that no one may boast” in said works) is really about meritorious deeds — the individual quest to pull oneself up by one’s own moral bootstraps — or whether the Judaizing issue isn’t still in view.

In light of what we have seen so far, it is highly likely that this text is indeed framed in the context of the Judaizing controversy. The “works” by which the people of God are not saved in verse 9 is shorthand for “the works of the law.” As such these works are not the “good works” to which God’s people have been called in verse 10. That the Jew/Gentile issue is still in view is clear from what follows in 2:11-3:13. “So then,” states verse 11, explicitly connecting the thought with verses 8-10, “remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’….” The problem of “works” is not the problem of human achievement or divine sovereignty but the problem of discrimination."

So, in conclusion, Paradise is an intermediate stage between death and the resurection and Ephesians 2:8-9 is dealing with the discrimination of the Gentiles by the Jews (which was quite common in the early church). So, Nick, you are not really helping yourself too much by relying on Evangelical tradition and not historical context of the text itself. Ironically, historical context of the Bible hasn't been damaging to the beliefs of the LDS Church. That is what I call a true restoration.

Walker said...

"The point to Luke 23:42,43 is that all you have to do is believe."

This also presupposes the thief's background, which we have no record of besides that he was convicted as a thief.

"That thief on the cross was saved right on the spot."

I find this nowhere in the text.

"obvious that He is talking about heaven."

I think the following quote is appropriate based on your response:

"Perhaps the most important result of...biblical studies in general, is that the early Christians were regularly not anything at all in the modern sense but inhabited a world view and cultural context fundamentally different from ours. It is an unsettling result...in particular for Protestants who traditionally emphasize that anyone at all can read and interpret the Bible. The truth of the matter is that, for those readers without knowledge of ancient languages, ancient cultures, and other subjects, the meaning of the Bible is at times not at all clear, while at other times it can seem to clearly mean things that it is unlikely to have meant in its original context." (James F. McGrath, The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, University of Illinois Press: 2009)

"Even in the mormons twisted idea of the afterlife..."

Spare me.

"This passage just proved that."

No, it really didn't. And more assertions of the so-called obvious is not sound evidence.

"You are kidding me right?"

As the clever Q consistently said, "I never joke about my work, 007."

"which changes the whole context of that verse."

Actually, conditions exist in both verses (this is actually debatable in 2 Nephi). One says "all you can do," the other says "faith." Both state that "grace" is what brings about salvation.

If "all you can do" is in fact conditional (I think Stephen E. Robinson makes an interesting case that it isn't; it also doesn't have to be read as a theological treatise, but more of an exhortation), it is similar to the following midrash:

"Return, O Israel unto the Lord thy God. (Hosea 14:2) A king's son was at a distance of a hundred days' journey from his father. Said his friends to him, "Return to your father." He said to them, "I cannot." His father sent to him and said, "Go as far as you are able, and I shall come the rest of the way to you." Thus, the Holy One, blessed be he, said to Israel: (Malachi 3:7) Return unto me, and I will return unto you." (Pesikta Rabbati, Shuvah Israel)

"If faith and ordinances(works) saves you..."

And you demonstrate that you did not read the link I provided. Until this is done, I see no reason to entertain the dichotomy you've created that does not exist in scripture.

Walker said...

"John 3:16, John 20:31, Acts 16:31 and 1 John 5:13?"

I'll wait for you to explain why each of these scriptures support your position. I'm really not down with assuming another's presuppositions, even if I'm positive as to what they are. I once again strongly encourage reading the link I provided. It addresses the cultural use of 'pistis' in the Greco-Roman world.

nick said...

Aaron

As i have done some research on the word "paradise", I have come to the conclusion that it is not heaven but Abrahams Bosom. A good reference for this would be the story of the rich man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-26) It was a "holding tank" until Christ's resurrection, whereby all the Old Testament saints went to heaven.

My point in all this is that the thief on the cross went from paradise to heaven after Christ's resurrection. All this without being baptized.


If I accept Christ into my heart today and die tonight without being baptized, I go to heaven to be with the Lord. Yes its that "cut and dry."

You are saved by the grace of God alone. If it were works based that how would a person know if he or she did enough? I don't know how the mormons live day after day wondering if they did enough. What a horrible thing to have to deal with. The Jesus of the Bible(no other scripture necessary) is the only one that can save.


I have a question for you... suppose a mormon missionary comes to my door and I accept the mormon teaching as gospel and want to become a mormon. However, that night I die in a car accident and am not baptized into the mormon church. What happens to my spirit?

Bob said...

Nick,
Where do you read that those in Abraham's bosom or in Paradise or any other intermediate waiting place of spirits go to heaven at Christ's resurrection?

Doesn't it say that "many" of the saints were raised and showed themselves at Christ's resurrection? (Matt 27:52, 53) Note verse 52 says "many", meaning not all. And these are the "holy ones", the hagios(in Greek), the Saints. Not just the generic dead or the wicked who might be across the divide of Abraham's bosom, but these are those made righteous and pure. It is the same word used of Jesus in Revelation 4:8: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."

So where do you read that prior to final Judgment ALL the righteous, including the thief on the cross who you now acknowledge went to a holding location, actually NOW go straight to heaven?

Unless, you are taking Paul's statement that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? I don't want to anticipate too much, but that statement says nothing about the doctrine of where spirits go when they die, only about Paul's perception of what he says will happen to him.

Anyway, good thoughts, but not really Biblically grounded, as I see them.
Bob

Anonymous said...

That's referring to being baptized by the Holy spirit friend.
It's Him that "seals you unto the day of redemption".
Water can't do that homie :-pth!!

nick said...

Bob...

If all the righteous did not go to heaven then where did they go?

" We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8 He goes on to say in verse 10 about all of us appearing before the judgement seat of Christ.. It's obvious he is talking about what happens when we die.

That's only Paul's perception?? The Bible is God-breathed so I think I am going to take what Paul said as gospel. I know what he is saying does not fit in your false doctrine(mormonism) but this is coming from God himself.

You know, whenever I bring up passages from the Bible that goes against mormon doctrine its always shot down as not reliable. Why don't the mormons just disassociate themselves with the Bible and keep everything else. I don't understand why they have it as one of their standard works of scripture when many times they disagree with it.

Look, bottom line is salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Besides having faith and being baptized is not all you have to do to be saved in the mormon church. You have to abide by the word of wisdom, tithe, good works, and do temple work(endowments). Let me know if I am missing anything here.

My main concern about life itself is to know who God is and who Jesus is. God is not an exalted man. John 4:24 says God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou [art] God." Psalms 90:2 So by these two verses we can come to the conclusion that God was always a spirit and He has always been God.

So Jesus in mormonism is Father God and Mother God's first spirit child who exalted to godhood and was chosen by the "council of the god's" over lucifer to save this earth. This is Christianity? Hardly! Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit through the virgin Mary.(Matt. 1:18-20) It had nothing to do with a Mother God giving birth to a spirt.

In John 1, John explains that Jesus is God(verses 1 and 14) Not a god but God in human flesh. Also, in John 8:58 "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." He was exclaiming that He is God.

If Jesus is a separate god from God the Father then how do you explain John 1:3"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Where does a spirit child of Heavenly Father get the power to be, in essence, God. Because if Jesus made all things then what role did Heavenly Father have? Was he just a spirit baby maker? Mormonism is so unbelievably not Christian.

Bob said...

Nick,
Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think your assumption that we are immediately judged after death, appearing before Jesus, is contradicted by the fact the New Testament teaches (11 times!) that there is a future "day of judgment"; The Saints will Judge the World (1 Cor 6:2), future tense, which would mean that Judgment is not occurring piecemeal, or the grammar would be present tense; Rev 20 describes the Judgment of all men as yet future, at a time when the sea gives up the dead, a time after Christ has reigned for 1,000 years (vs. 7).

There is, however, a temporary "heaven" which exists now, which is not the permanent heaven. This 'heaven' will pass away (2 Pet 3:10), and be replaced by a new heaven (Rev 21:1).

Which doesn't address the issue of do we all go to the Intermediate heaven if we are Christians? According to Paul, he himself was present with the Corinthians "I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present," (1 Cor 5:3). That Judgment takes place after the Resurrection is strongly implied in Acts 17:30-32, since the Day of Judgment is mentioned in context with "the resurrection of the dead", which in its construction appears to be about all of the dead, not just Jesus. Even if not, it must, MUST, be at a time after ALL death is destroyed, which means it must be after the Millenium (Rev 21, especially vs. 4).

Since "Paradise" is a place where Jesus is, but the Father/God is not.
John 20:17,
17 "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

So despite assuring the Thief on the cross he would be with Jesus in Paradise, he is clearly NOT in heaven, since Jesus had not been to God, and God clearly lives in heaven even at this time: "1 Kg 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place..." (see vs 27 to see it is "God" he is addressing, same as Jesus said he was going to in John 20:17).

The irony is that Jesus is pretty clear in the Sermon on the Mount about the criteria for salvation into the Kingdom of God:

Matt 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

I find confession insufficient, based on the Bible, as a passport to heaven. I likewise find the historical data I previously described concerning the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament and the material covered here a far more logical and consistent explanation for the process of salvation.

Thanks again,
Bob

Walker said...

"God is not an exalted man"

Yet, we are literally in His image:

"[T]he Hebrews...pictured the God whom they worshipped as having a body and mind like our own, though transcending humanity in the splendour of his appearance, in his power, his wisdom, and the constancy of his care for his creatures...But this biblical view...was radically modified by Philo of Alexandria...[who] presents him as the metaphysical first principle of the universe, without bodily form or human passions, indeed without any sensible qualities...Christian writers developed a broadly similar view, partly because they were influenced by the same philosophical authorities, partly through direct imitation of Philo himself. To this they added their doctrine of Trinity." (Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, Cambridge: 1994)

"John 4:24...God was always a spirit..."

John 4:24 describes God as "spirit." It does not declare him "a spirit." The Greek is a qualitative predicate nominative, similar to other Johannine phrases such as "God is light" or "God is love." Born again, embodied humans are described as "spirit" in John 3:6.

"So Jesus in mormonism is Father God and Mother God's first spirit child who exalted to godhood and was chosen by the "council of the god's" over lucifer to save this earth. This is Christianity? Hardly!"

Try the following:

Mark S. Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (Oxford: 2001)

Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God (Westminster John Knox Press: 1992)

Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess (Cambridge: 2000)

Walker said...

"If Jesus is a separate god from God the Father..."

Considering that "the Word was God" lacks the Greek 'ho' (which is present in "the Word was with God" i.e. "with the God"), a better translation would be "the Word was divine" or "what God was, the Word was." The Word is distinct from the God. See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan: 1996).

"You know, whenever I bring up passages from the Bible that goes against mormon doctrine its always shot down as not reliable."

I tire of being talked down to by people who still think John 4:24 proves God is a spirit. Tell me, which version of Deut. 32:8-9 is reliable: The MT which reads "sons of Israel," the LXX which reads "angels of God," or the Qumran version which reads "sons of God" i.e. gods? The first appears to base the dividing on the number of humans, the second the number of angels, the third the number of gods.

Or how about Deut. 32:43: The MT reads, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants...". However, the LXX reads "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him and let all the angels of God worship him. Rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him. For he will avenge the blood of his sons…". Fragment 4Qdeut(q) similarly says (as does the NRSV), "Praise, O heavens, his people, worship him, all you gods! For he will avenge the blood of his children…".

The Qumran versions are the oldest and they depict a multiplicity of divine beings. Not to mention vs. 43's similarity to Akkadian suilla prayers:

May the heavens rejoice in you, may the earth be jubilant in you.
May the whole pantheon bless you.
May the great gods make your heart content. (Shamash Suilla prayer, BMS 6:129-132)

Considering scholars have acknowledged Deuteronomist reforms in Israel's history that began to wipe out Israel's monolatrous background, I fail to see how believing in a divine counci and separate, distinct deities is ridiculous.

M said...

"Nick, I don't think you understand the context of Luke 23. When Jesus says "Today you will be with me in Paradise", everyone among the Early Christians and Jews knew exactly what he mean. This was written in Greek. And it spoke back directly to Genesis 2. The Garden of Eden was, in Greek, the Paradise of Eden ... So while the "faith only" crowd likes to cite Luke 23 as if Paradise is equivalent to Heaven or salvation, it is Biblically indefensible."

To traditional Christians, the thief on the cross was saved by his belief. Walker is right about what Jesus meant by 'paradise'. It is referring to Sheol. Jesus calls it Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22). It was the place where righteous souls went before Christ sacrificed himself on the cross. After he died, he then went to collect all the souls that he would take with him as he ascended to God and to heaven. In that number was included the thief on the cross. We believe that this is what Jesus meant. We call it the atonement because through his sacrifice, we become 'At One' with God again (At One -> atone). William Tyndale coined the word in the 16th century because before that, the English language didn't have a word that represented the Hebrew concept of Kippur.



Here is where Christ talks about a righteous soul who goes to Abraham's bosom:

Luke 16:19-24
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.



Here is where Christ mentions about the righteous souls (Abraham, Isaac, etc.) who will rise up to God with him after the atonement ('once the master of the house is risen up'):

Luke 13:23-28
23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

M said...

"The irony is that Jesus is pretty clear in the Sermon on the Mount about the criteria for salvation into the Kingdom of God:

Matt 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

What is it to do the will of the Father?

John 6:28-29
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Bob said...

M,
I think you are guilty of mixing your contexts to try to make your case. Find me in Matthew what it meant to do the "will" of the Father. Do we have any hints? Obedience maybe? How about in John 9:31? Not enough to be a worshipper of God, but to get things heard you must also do his will. In other words, doing God's will by believing is not about an intellectual, non-physical demonstration, but doing the will of god an believing in Jesus means to DO the things Jesus commanded us to do.

John 14:31
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 15:14
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Maybe this is the defining statement:


John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

The ever present problem for the "faith only" crowd is, well, the scriptures. They just don't support the "faith only" world view. Remember, that's how this thread started:


Mark 16:16
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Belief and baptism lead to salvation. Not belief alone, though belief in a certain philosophical sense may precede works, since forming a thought precedes action. But simply having the thought, without action, is useless.

Faith alone is dead.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Not to be Johnny Raincloud or anything, but the premise of this article is misleading from the beginning. Mark originally ends at 16:8. The last 12 verses were not even added until later (and if memory serves me correct, there were three different endings). So, Jesus probably never says this (or that we can handle snakes or drink poison). This is especially a big problem for Mormonism when 3 Nephi 11:33-34 quotes this verse. Why is this verse even in the Book of Mormon is it truly is an ancient record?

M said...

Hey Bob! I'm not really trying to argue a case, just trying to explain what we believe and why we believe it. There are many topics about which I don't agree with my LDS friends but I see their point about what they call the "faith only" thing.

Christians believe that your faith is what saves you and by having true faith, the works naturally follow. My LDS friends always say, "Well, what if they say they believe and then go out and do whatever they want and sin." And I always say, "Then they didn't really have true faith to begin with." Like James says, "Faith without works is dead ... I will show you my faith by my works." Faith = love = good works = Christ. But it is still about faith, just doing good works or being baptized doesn't save you.

Mark 16:16 provides a good guideline for those to whom the eleven were to go preach - believe and be baptized. But salvation, we believe, is by faith through grace only and this is why the thief on the cross is important. He was saved by his faith only. This is what was important to Jesus. Jesus knew that nobody but Him could be 100 percent perfect and this is why faith in Him, we believe, is the key to salvation. What was important to Jesus is what is in your heart. You notice in the scriptures, He talks about the heart quite a bit. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. And the purification of the heart starts with faith in Him and by inviting Him to "abide" inside you. And when you die, God will look into your heart and He will look to see if His Spirit is there.

I put together a little cluster of scriptures that I call the Heart Scriptures. I will post them, if that's OK.

M said...

Heart Scriptures cont...

Why does Jesus talk about the heart so much? Why is it so important to Him? What is He trying to tell us? Does it have to do with our salvation? What does salvation mean to you? Does it mean to be able to see God again?


Matthew 5:8 (Beatitudes in Sermon on the Mount)
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.


How do we purify our hearts?


John 15:3-5
3 Now ye are clean through the word, which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

For without me ye can do nothing.

Ephesians 3:16-19
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Romans 10:9-10
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Hebrews 10:22
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

John 14:1-3
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:26-27
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Romans 5:1-5
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Philippians 4:7
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:15-16
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

M said...

Heart Scriptures

Matthew 22:37
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Matthew 13:15
15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Luke 6:45
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Matthew 12:34-35
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Mark 7:14-23
14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Matthew 15:11-20
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Matthew 5:27-28
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 18:34-35
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Luke 21:34
34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

JD said...

What does it mean? Very simply, it is a reference to the prophet Ezekiel. And if you remember, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a teacher. He is a teacher of the Jews. In fact, in verse 1, it says, he's a ruler of the Jews. That would put him in a very preeminent place. In fact, I believe the definite article is there, "the" ruler of the Jews. And those who ruled over the Jews were in religious authority, not political or military authority. And so, how would Nicodemus have understood it? Would he have understood it as Christian baptism? No. Would he have understood it as the physical birth and the water breaking? No. How would he have understood it? Well, the answer goes back to Ezekiel.

There was a very famous passage in Ezekiel that every teacher in Israel knew, because it was the promise of the new covenant. In Ezekiel 36:25, God made this promise to Israel about a new covenant. He said, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all you idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances or my commandments.”

Now what Ezekiel is writing there is, that the day is going to come when the Lord will wash your heart, he’ll wash your life; he’ll wash your inner man. He’ll put a new heart in you and he’ll put his Spirit in you.

So when Jesus talks to Nicodemus and says, "you must be born of the water and the Spirit," Nicodemus knows immediately that he is saying, "I am come to bring the fulfillment of the promised new covenant, promised to and through Ezekiel." Okay? See his is a Jewish Old Testament context, and so it would be actually what the apostle Paul calls, “The washing of regeneration.” The washing, the internal washing of regeneration, and the renewing that comes by the Holy Spirit, that’s Titus 3:5 where you have both the water and the Spirit.

JD said...

These are the words of Jesus. You must be born again:

John 3:2-8
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.


Through the years there have been a number of different suggestions. In America, just before a woman has a baby, there is an expression that we use, we say, “A woman’s water breaks.” And I, when I was very young, used to hear people preach and say that "what it means is you have to be born twice." You have to be born of water. That is, you’re in that sac of fluid in your mother's womb, and that water breaks, which means you have to be physically born. So that Jesus was saying to Nicodemus, you have to be physically born first, and then spiritually born. The problem with that interpretation is twofold: one, why would he tell a grown man he needed to be physically born. It was obvious he already past that test. Secondly, the Jews didn’t call that "water." They didn’t have that colloquial expression for that fluid [that] we have, calling it "water." So you can’t read some kind of "Americanism" back into that. Others have said, it does refer to being baptized, but you have to remember that Christian baptism isn’t even instituted until Acts, chapter 2.

JD said...

Titus 3:5

5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

JD said...

Salvation is about being born again. It is about receiving a new heart after confessing faith in Christ. It is about becoming one with God again through Christ.

Romans 10:9-10
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Ezekiel 36:26
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Ephesians 3:17
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Romans 5:1-2
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

It is by his grace that we are saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If you say it is a gift but then you have to do all of these things to be saved, then it is no longer a gift because then it becomes conditional.

Being born again happens internally - it happens inside you. There is nothing externally that you can do that will cleanse your soul other than believing in God's Son and having his spirit dwell inside you. Baptism is an outward expression of belief in him but it is not what saves you. Your faith does.

The problem with thinking that works will save you is that when you think this way and you perform good works, you are not doing them for the other person's sake. You are doing them because you believe this will save you. You are doing them for a selfish reason and this is a far cry from the pure love of Christ.

Legalism and "following the rules" to be saved ends up creating the very thing that Christ hated - arrogance, pride and elitism. "I follow the commandments and they do not so I am better than them." This is the attitude I find in a few LDS on this blog - their contempt for the "faith only" people. This pride, arrogance, contempt and judging others - this is the very thing that Christ hated and it is what God will hate when you are at the judgment table.

Jake said...

The scriptures support the Christian view of salvation by grace through faith only very well:

Romans 11:6
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Below describes what we believe of the Mormons - that they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge, "going about to establish their own righteousness" - notice also it talks of salvation through faith:

Romans 10:1-10
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Bob said...

Anonymous,
You may be correct that the last 12 verses of the KJV Mark are not in the Bible, but two things to keep in mind:

1. This is a far bigger problem for Bible Inerrantists. There is literally no way of determining, for sure, what the correct ending is for Mark. The long form ending found in the KJV is not found on any manuscript until the 5th century. However, it is found in the writings of Irenaeus in the 2nd Century, possibly in Justin Martyr in the mid-2nd Century. So while not in the absolute earliest manuscripts, it is attested to VERY early, and is in the majority of manuscripts. Meaning? Meaning it might be there, it might not be, how do you choose?

2. Because the manuscripts lack the verse does not mean it was not there, or was not considered inspired. We see this in the case of Jesus being strengthened by an angel in the Garden. Not in the earliest manuscripts, but quoted by Justin in the mid-2nd Century, showing it probably was there, since the "earliest" manuscripts date from the 4th Century, probably around 320 AD, vs. the 5th Century, sometime after 400 AD. Note that 320 AD is still at least 285 years after the events it is recording, and perhaps 260 years after the original was written. As was discovered in the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the presence or absence of any particular set of verses or words has no correlation to the supposed integrity of the text.

Remember, King James Only advocates don't accept those "earliest" manuscripts for a hole series of reasons.

Additionally, inspiration is sometimes a "team" sport. That means that even though Deuteronomy is supposedly written by Moses, since it includes his death, it is hard to make the case that someone did not add an important, inspired, text to the end of the book. That "inspired scribe" is not known to history.

Likewise, Isaiah is firmly believed to have been written by two or three writers by most believers and critics alike. No names attached.

So the lack of the text in the older manuscripts has no impact for the LDS. Especially noting the correct, original nature of the angel appearing and strengthening Jesus not found in the earliest manuscript, but pre-dating those manuscripts in the writings of Justin, we can safely believe the writings of 3rd Nephi. Besides, it is hard to get past the appearances of Moroni and Nephi in the Restoration not proving the preference of the Book of Mormon text to the happenstance collection of non-original copies of copies of copies we now try to pretend are 100% inerrant in preserving the original writings of the Biblical writers.
Thanks,
Bob

Bob said...

JD,
No article.

Nikodemous onoma auto, archon ton Ioudaion

Niodemous name his, (a)leader of the Jews.

Because Greek does not have an indefinite article as we do in English, but they do have definite articles, so the absence of the article implies one of two likely things:
1. It is indefinite, which is probably correct here.
2. Less likely, but it could be qualitative, describing an attribute of his character, like we would say a teacher or a leader, not as a designated role, but as something they do. This is unlikely in this context. He probably was a designated leader of the Jews, not just one who by his nature leads.

So Nicodemus is probably "a" leader, not "the" leader of the Jews.

Thanks,
Bob

David said...

You cannot earn faith or worthiness by your works. Without faith in Christ, it is impossible to please God:

Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Jesus is the Word:

John 1:1-3, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

We are made clean by Him:

John 15:3-5
Now ye are clean through the Word, which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 3:17
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 4:14
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

John 14:16
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

It is by faith alone that we are saved. Saving faith in Christ is the sole means of salvation and is not meritorious. We do not earn it. Faith, worthiness and salvation do not come by your own righteousness.

Acts 13: 38-39
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the claw of Moses.

Galatians 2:16
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

David said...

"Because the manuscripts lack the verse does not mean it was not there"

Considering that baptism isn’t even instituted until Acts, chapter 2, I would imagine that it wasn't there and that Christ did not say it.

M said...

“I tire of being talked down to by people who still think John 4:24 proves God is a spirit.”

But Walker, even the Book of Mormon calls God a spirit, the Great Spirit:

Alma 18:26-28
26 And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?
27 And he said, Yea.
28 And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?

Alma 22:8-11
8 And now when Aaron heard this, his heart began to rejoice, and he said: Behold, assuredly as thou livest, O king, there is a God.
9 And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?
10 And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this?
11 And he said: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words.

Alma 31:15
15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.

And the problem is that you can’t go back to the original language to discuss what it really said because the manuscript isn’t there.

Even the D&C mentioned it before the text was changed:
“...The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness…”— Doctrine and Covenants, 1935 edition, Lectures Fifth of Faith, Section V, p. 52-53 (Note: In 1921, The Lectures of Faith section was removed from Doctrine and Covenants)

David said...

"Where do you read that those in Abraham's bosom or in Paradise or any other intermediate waiting place of spirits go to heaven at Christ's resurrection?
Doesn't it say that "many" of the saints were raised and showed themselves at Christ's resurrection? (Matt 27:52, 53) Note verse 52 says "many", meaning not all. And these are the "holy ones", the hagios(in Greek), the Saints. Not just the generic dead or the wicked who might be across the divide of Abraham's bosom, but these are those made righteous and pure. It is the same word used of Jesus in Revelation 4:8: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
So where do you read that prior to final Judgment ALL the righteous, including the thief on the cross who you now acknowledge went to a holding location, actually NOW go straight to heaven?
Unless, you are taking Paul's statement that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord? I don't want to anticipate too much, but that statement says nothing about the doctrine of where spirits go when they die, only about Paul's perception of what he says will happen to him.
Anyway, good thoughts, but not really Biblically grounded, as I see them."


I think M answered that one, so it is Biblically grounded:

Here is where Christ talks about a righteous soul who goes to Abraham's bosom:

Luke 16:19-24
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Here is where Christ mentions about the righteous souls (Abraham, Isaac, etc.) who will rise up to God with him after the atonement ('once the master of the house is risen up'):

Luke 13:23-28
23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

Walker said...

"But Walker, even the Book of Mormon calls God a spirit"

This is irrelevant to whether or not John 4:24 does.

Nonetheless, the Great Spirit was "the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father." (Alma 18:5) When Ammon asked Lamoni "Believest thou that there is a God?", Lamoni answered, "I do not know what that meaneth." (vs. 24-25)

This is just an example of using terms the king was familiar with. It is not a philosophical or theological treatise on the metaphysical nature of God.

Then again, it seems that the Lamanites had an anthropomorphic concept of God, considering Lamoni asked Ammon (a man), "Art thou that Great Spirit, who knows all things?" (vs. 18)

Though I doubt the Lamanites maintained the specific knowledge of Yahweh, it should be remembered how Yahweh revealed Himself to the brother of Jared:

"Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my SPIRIT; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh." (Ether 3:16) King Lamoni was about 90 years prior to Yahweh's incarnation.

As for the Lectures on Faith, you are absolutely right. It does say a personage of spirit in regards to the Father. However, the main purpose of the lecture was to establish that the Father and Son were distinct personages. The anthropomorphic and visible nature of God was established early on (this was offensive to many Christians). A revelation close to a decade later made clear that the Father (like the Son) was in fact embodied. That is what continuing revelation is for.

Walker said...

I suggest the following articles:

David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives," BYU Studies 35:4 (1995-96)

Carl W. Griffin and David L. Paulsen, "Augustine and the Corporeality of God," Harvard Theological Review 95/1 (2002)

Shamma Friedman, "Anthropomorphism and Its Eradication," Iconoclasm and Iconoclash: Struggle for Religious Identity (BRILL: 2007)

Walker said...

Also, Alma 31:15 is part of the prayer of the apostate Zoramites:

"Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure...Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods." (vs. 19, 24)

Walker said...

Another excellent article on Jewish anthropomorphism:

Meir Bar-Ilan, "The Hand of God: A Chapter in Rabbinic Anthropomorphism," Rashi 1040-1990: Hommage a Ephraim E. Urbach, Congres europeen des Etudes juives, ed. G. Sed-Rajna (CERF: 1993)

Bar-Ilan makes clear "that Jews in the Talmudic period, just as their Biblical predecessors, did believe in an anthropomorphic God. Not only that, but this belief stayed with Jews that were not influenced by philosophic rationalism. In other words although Jewish philosophers condemned an anthropomorphic God, those Jews who were not living in a 'philosophic' atmosphere continued with their ancestors' belief in an anthropomorphic God. The evidence for the persistence of an anthropomorphic God among Jews is found in a letter of Bishop Agobard of Lyons stating that Jews in his time, the ninth century, believed in an anthropomorphic God."

Friedman's aforementioned article shows that anthropomorphism wasn't eradicated from Judaism until the 12-13th century.

David said...

The God of the Bible is not an exalted man. The God of the Bible is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. The Bible says He is the only God and there are no other Gods. He had no beginning or end and he is a spirit being and never was a man.

Note the clear teaching of the Bible as to who the real God is:

Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

Psalms 102:26-27, "They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."

Isaiah 43:10-11, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour."

Isaiah 44:6, "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

Isaiah 44:8, "Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."

Isaiah 45:21-22, "Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."

Jeremiah 23:24, "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD."

Malachi 3:6, "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

John 1:16-18, "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

John 4:24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Romans 1:22, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."

Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"

1 Timothy 1:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

1 Timothy 6:16, "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen."

Clearly, Mormonism's god is not the God of Christianity who is the God revealed to us in the Bible. The Mormon god is a god formed from the imaginations of Joseph Smith, and in truth is a false, non-existent god or idol.

David said...

Brigham Young, said, "When the Virgin Mary conceived the Child Jesus ... He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is His father? He is the first of the human family" (Journal of Discourses, pages 50-51).

Compare this with the Word of God, "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" (Luke 1:35).

Mormons teach that Jesus Christ suffered for sin in the Garden of Gethsemane when He sweat "as it were" great drops of blood. Mormons totally avoid the Biblical teaching of Christ's atonement for sin which was accomplished on the Cross.

Note the following quote from, "What Mormons Think of Christ" (LDS publication, pages 32-34):

"Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much is believed and taught on this subject, however, it is utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one's salvation."

It goes further to say that salvation is "conditional on faith, and repentance, and baptism and keeping the commands of God."

I would like to add, yes, it is very true that Christians do speak much of the blood of Christ. Note the emphasis the Bible places on the blood of Christ:

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrew 9:14).

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Revelations 1:5).

The ejection of this Biblical truth by the LDS church shows it is not a Christian church.

David said...

In the following verses the Bible says salvation, which is forgiveness of sin and receiving of eternal life, is a gift of God, and it is not obtained by "works":

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5).

Walker said...

"The Bible says..."

This presupposes that the Bible is univocal: a presupposition I reject.

It would be good of you to note that the term "one God" in the New Testament did not mean "one God in existence," but was a term of incomparability. Judaism recognized a number of divine mediators or second gods (Logos, Wisdom, Metatron, Yahoel, Jacob, Melchizedek, etc.). The language found in the Book of Revelation regarding Christ and God the Father fits this Jewish agency tradition (i.e. God placing His titles and authority upon a separate agent).

"It is certainly true that the earliest Christians were not trinitarians in the modern sense. But neither were they monotheists in the modern sense. Perhaps the most important result of...biblical studies in general, is that the early Christians were regularly not anything at all in the modern sense but inhabited a world view and cultural context fundamentally different from ours. It is an unsettling result...in particular for Protestants who traditionally emphasize that anyone at all can read and interpret the Bible. The truth of the matter is that, for those readers without knowledge of ancient languages, ancient cultures, and other subjects, the meaning of the Bible is at times not at all clear, while at other times it can seem to clearly mean things that it is unlikely to have meant in its original context." (James F. McGrath, The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, University of Illinois Press: 2009)

Walker said...

As for your Old Testament references, the Old Testament teaching of the divine council has been addressed a number of times in these discussions. I've given several sources to read regarding the monolatrous background of Israel. I find it odd that you appeal to Deutero-Isaiah when scholars recognize that this book opens with a reference to the divine council (due to the plural imperatives and council terminology). Isaiah's "denial statements" are statements of incomparability. This should be obvious considering Babylon makes the same claim using the same language.

And you continue to draw a dichotomy between works and faith. You have not looked at the link provided or if you did, you have failed to address it.

You have demonstrated over and over again that your assertions are based solely on traditional presuppositions. It becomes clearer with every one of your posts that you have little exposure to actual biblical scholarship. You apparently have no desire to expand your knowledge or learning. You are too worried about burping up "Mormons aren't Christians!" in whatever way possible.

Your fundamentalism is intellectually unattractive.

David said...

"As for the Lectures on Faith, you are absolutely right. It does say a personage of spirit in regards to the Father. However, the main purpose of the lecture was to establish that the Father and Son were distinct personages. The anthropomorphic and visible nature of God was established early on (this was offensive to many Christians). A revelation close to a decade later made clear that the Father (like the Son) was in fact embodied. That is what continuing revelation is for."

The problem for Mormon theology is that there is no continuing revelation from God. It ended with John of Patmos.

Revelation 22:18
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

Of course Mormons have probably found a way to rationalize this away too within their Twistianity.

Walker said...

"Revelation 22:18"

I also tire of being talked down to by people who still think "this book" refers to the Bible as we have it today. The books of the New Testament circulated independently prior to being compiled. It is illogical to see Revelation as referencing the Bible as a whole or a declaration of ceased revelation. The Greek indicates specifically the book in which the phrase is written, namely the Book of Revelation. It uses similar language to that in Deuteronomy. By your logic, we should disregard everything past Deut. 4:2.

Even Bill McKeever realizes that this is only referencing the Book of Revelation.

"Of course Mormons have probably found a way to rationalize this away too within their Twistianity."

Would you rather have us be irrational and follow your lead of childish name-calling (i.e. "Twistianity")?

Nick said...

"This presupposes that the Bible is univocal: a presupposition I reject."

Poor man. Yes, Walker, you don't have to tell us. We already know that Mormons don't think too much of the Bible (to their detriment). If they did, they would never accept the false gospel of Joseph Smith.

So, you finally realize that you cannot best David in his knowledge of Biblical scripture and all you can come back with is that his defense of Biblical Christianity is "intellectually unattractive."

Pitiful.

Also, Walker, not sure what kind of "scholarly" things you have been studying, but Judaism has always been generally considered monotheistic. The beings that you mention were never recognized as gods by the Israelites. Just so you know ...

Josh said...

Joseph fabricated the First Vision (along with everything else that he said). "The Book of Commandments" (now called "Doctrine and Covenants") was published in 1835 and it included lectures given in the School of the Prophets. Lecture 5 says God is a Spirit, and the Son only has the body of flesh and bones. (The lectures have later been removed from the "D&C" but they are available as a separate small book.) There is now an added footnote to this lecture 5, which says that Joseph received further light and knowledge in 1843 and THEN knew that God the Father also had a body of flesh and bones. That statement alone tells that there was no vision of the Father and the Son in 1820. Had there been a vision, he wouldn't have needed this "further light and knowledge" about the Father having a body of flesh and bones. It was not until 1844, that Joseph started to preach about a god who was once a man and progressed into godhood, and how men can also become gods. (See "Teachings by Prophet Joseph Smith" pp. 345-347). Thus, there is absolutely no evidence for the first vision as it appears in the Pearl of Great Price, or that the vision was known to Mormons or non-Mormons prior to 1842 or thereabouts. It was not until the 1880's that this story was accepted by the Church. Prior to that time, we were able only to read denials about it. For example, in "Journal of Discourses," vol. 2, p. 171, in 1855, Brigham Young preached a sermon in which he said:

"LORD DID NOT COME TO JOSEPH SMITH, BUT SENT HIS ANGEL TO INFORM HIM THAT HE SHOULD NOT JOIN ANY RELIGIOUS SECT OF THE DAY, FOR THEY WERE ALL WRONG..."

John Taylor later said the same thing, see J. of D. vol. 20, page 167, on March 2, 1879. Heber C. Kimball in vol. 6, page 29, said:

"DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT GOD IN PERSON CALLED UPON JOSEPH SMITH, OUR PROPHET? GOD CALLED UPON HIM, BUT DID NOT COME HIMSELF..."

Walker said...

"We already know that Mormons don't think too much of the Bible (to their detriment)."

A caricature at best. A complete lie at worst.

"So, you finally realize that you cannot best David in his knowledge of Biblical scripture"

I haven't realized anything of the sort. I don't respond to long lists of scriptures that automatically assume a certain interpretation as if that is an argument. David would need to go through each scripture and explain why it supports his position. Until he does that, I see no reason to assume his assumptions, presuppose his presuppositions, or generalize his overgeneralizations.

"and all you can come back with is that his defense of Biblical Christianity is "intellectually unattractive.""

What is intellectually unattractive is the fact that he assumes throwing out Bible verses with no commentary or explanation qualifies as an argument.

"Pitiful."

What is pitiful is this rather useless comment that doesn't help advance David's arguments, as are the infantile quotations you put around the word 'scholarly'. Grow up.

"not sure what kind of "scholarly" things you have been studying"

I actually listed three books in this particular discussion to get people started on the subject. Perhaps you should browse my comments again. I also gave an analysis of the different readings of Deut. 32.

"but Judaism has always been generally considered monotheistic"

The scholarly consensus changed with the discovery of the Ugaritic texts in the late 1920s. The consensus today is that they were in fact monolatrous. Ancient Israel believed in a divine council of deities.

"The beings that you mention were never recognized as gods by the Israelites. Just so you know..."

You would be dead wrong, just so you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Walker said...

"all you can come back with is that his defense of Biblical Christianity is "intellectually unattractive.""

This is just intellectually dishonest. That was not all I came back with. I made mention of a variety of divine mediators in 1st century Judaism. I also pointed out that Deutero-Isaiah (40-66) begins with divine council language, thus David's Isaiah references must be read within the context of the divine council. On top of this, Babylon is attributed similar language in the same book.

And it was his fundamentalism I found intellectually unattractive, just as I find your dishonesty rather unattractive.

"The beings that you mention were never recognized as gods by the Israelites"

The list of divine mediators? They most certainly were seen as divine. Metatron was the deified Enoch, also known as the "little Yahweh." His presence sparked the Two Powers in Heaven controversy. Yahoel is similar agent in the Apocalypse of Abraham. In 11Q13, Melchizedek is seen as the God in Ps. 82 that stands in the congregation and judges the other gods (in this case, Belial and the other rebellious spirits). And so on. The Logos was seen as the "angel of Yahweh" in Aramaic targums; the divine agent and mediator of creation, which gave birth to John's usage in John 1:1.

"[T]he seventy sons of God, originally denoting the gods of the pantheon under El, with whom Yahweh became identified, now became demoted to the status of angels, the seventy guardian angels of the nations attest in 1 Enoch." (John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, Continuum International Publishing Group: 2002)

Or is John Day (Professor of Old Testament Studies, Oxford) not "scholarly" enough?

David said...

“I also tire of being talked down to by people who still think "this book" refers to the Bible as we have it today.”

And yet you keep responding, don’t you? Here is another time you were soooo tired of someone telling something and yet you kept responding:

“I tire of being talked down to by people who still think John 4:24 proves God is a spirit.”

You know, Walker, maybe people wouldn’t talk down to you if you didn’t talk down to them with your “scholarly” stuck-up, know-it-all attitude. Add this with the fact that you believe in this Mormon nonsense, and it becomes the fool who thinks that he is wise. Deut. is not the Book of Revelation. There is a reason that the Book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible. There is a reason John the Revelator warned us to not add to it. It was a book meant to inform Christians at the time of what was to come. Christ’s death completed the last covenant with God. Anything added as revelation, considered to be scripture, is adding to this book. They knew that there would come false prophets (Mark Ch 13) who would claim divine revelation (as Joseph Smith did) and speak of new covenants (the new, new everlasting covenant in DC 132) and who would try to undo what the True Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches and what He for us did 2000 years ago. This is exactly what Joseph Smith’s Gospel does. It puts the Temple veil (that had been rent in two) back up and resurrects, not only the need for Temples but also the ordinances (“which were against us” Col. Ch 2), the prophets and the Law. Do you ever wonder why Joseph Smith came to a sticky end? Here is the answer:

Deut. 18:20
20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Nick said...

"I also tire of being talked down to by people who ..."

Are you offended Walker? Good because the gospel that you believe in and what it does to true Christianity by claiming, not just to be Christian, but to actually be the one True Gospel of Jesus Christ offends me. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Nick said...

“Joseph fabricated the First Vision (along with everything else that he said).”

Yep, he sure did. Here is some more proof for you. Has anyone read the JST (the Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Bible)? I would be surprised if any of the LDS have, being that there are so many embarrassing errors found in it. This is why the Mormon Church has shelved it, just like they shelved the Journal of Discourses.

Anyhow, if you read, in the KJV, Luke 10:22, it says, “No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” In the JST it reads, “No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.” It wasn’t until later on, in 1837-1838 that he changed the First Vision story to tell of two separate gods of flesh and bone.

If you study the historical documents, you find that his theology began to change around that time and completely veer off the path from the Evangelical Protestantism of the time.

Nick said...

Another interesting fact, according to journals written by his scribes and by the people who were close to him (i.e. Martin Harris, Emma Smith and her father, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Joseph Knight Sr.) and by court documents, is that when Joseph Smith was “translating” the Book of Mormon, he used a seer stone in a hat and looked into the hat to read and dictate what was there (the same stone he used for treasure hunting and was convicted of fraud for). No one saw the plates. If they were there, they were either in a box or wrapped in linens. He also was frequently behind a sheet or a curtain, or upstairs, or in another room so they couldn’t see him. During this time he could have easily used other notes, books, and written sources for dictation. Although none of the church members at the time wrote down that he used other sources, scholars such as David P. Wright and Stan Larson have determined that he consulted an open Bible, specifically the King James translation dating from 1769 or later, including its errors.

Peter Ingersoll, who was a neighbor of Emma’s father, in 1827 overheard a conversation between Emma’s father and Joseph when Joseph and Emma came back to get her belongings after having been married. He wrote:

“His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph in a flood of tears: ‘You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money – pretend to see in a stone and thus try to deceive people.’ Joseph wept and acknowledged that he could not see in a stone now, now never could; He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.”

After having promised this, he went on to “translate” the Book of Mormon and eventually left the Hale home.

Nick said...

"I find it odd that you appeal to Deutero-Isaiah when scholars recognize that this book opens with a reference to the divine council (due to the plural imperatives and council terminology)."

Unbelievable! It's unbelievable where you place your faith. You know, Mormons are the only ones who hold this view, erroneous as it is. They’re the only ones who would and keep a straight face. Any divine council mentioned in OT is speaking of God and his heavenly host of angels. When it speaks of "sons of God", it is talking about his angels. This has long been known. Only Mormons could read into that as being anything else.

Here's another fact for you Walker, the phrase “I am the Lord your God” can also be written, “I am YHWH your Elohim.” YHWH was the name that God gave to Moses. It is His proper name meaning I AM. Before Moses, he told Israel (Jacob), “You must not ask,” when he Jacob asked for His name. YHWH in the Bible is not just the proper name for Jesus, it is the proper name for God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Elohim is a common noun. It can mean "gods", "goddesses", "godly", "judges", "angels", "great", "very great", "mighty", or "exceeding." Elohim in the Bible is not the proper name for God or a multiplicity of gods, like the Mormons believe. It is a noun.

In the OT, Jews recognized that there were people who worshipped other so called 'gods' (elohim) but they never acknowledged that these gods actually existed. They considered them idols, or false gods who did not exist.

Walker said...

"maybe people wouldn’t talk down to you if you didn’t talk down to them with your “scholarly” stuck-up, know-it-all attitude."

No, you would act the way you do no matter what because I "believe in this Mormon nonsense." Don't blame your bigotry on the fact that I don't put up with your crap. And the addition of quotations doesn't make your dismissive attitude anymore convincing. It justs makes it all the more childish.

"There is a reason that the Book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible."

Probably because it was canonized that way (after being debated on whether it should be included at all), though the New Testament isn't in chronological order.

"There is a reason John the Revelator warned us to not add to it."

"The very real danger that texts could be modified at will, by scribes who did not approve of their wording, is evident in other ways as well...That explains why authors would sometimes call curses down on any copyists who modified their texts without permission. We find this kind of imprecation already in one early Christian writing that made it unto the New Testament, the book of Revelation, whose author, near the end of his text, utters a dire warning: [Rev. 22:18-19]." (Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, HarperCollins: 2005)

The reason was because copyists were changing NT texts, kind of like Joseph Smith said.

Once again, you don't address a single argument. Just more "Mormons aren't Christian" nonsense and baseless assertions.

Walker said...

"Are you offended Walker?"

Annoyed.

Walker said...

"Unbelievable! It's unbelievable where you place your faith."

My faith can beat up your faith.

"You know, Mormons are the only ones who hold this view, erroneous as it is."

Not really. Frank Moore Cross, Jr. pointed this out in his Journal of Near Eastern Studies article entitled "The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah" over 50 years ago. It has been the consensus ever since.

"This has long been known."

So you tell me.

"Comparison of the Hebrew Bible with other ancient religious texts reveals overlaps between the divine councils of the surrounding nations and Israel's version of the heavenly bureaucracy. The parade example is the literature from Ras Shamra (Ugarit). Translated shortly after their discovery in the 1930s, these tablets contain several phrases describing a council of gods that are conceptually and linguistically parallel to the Hebrew Bible. The Ugaritic council was led by El, the same proper name used in the Hebrew Bible for the God of Israel..The 'dt' ilm ("assembly of El/the gods") of Ugaritic texts represents the most precise parallel to the data of the Hebrew Bible." (Michael Heiser, "Divine Council," Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, & Writings, IVP: 2008)

Nick said...

President Ezra Taft Benson stated: "Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation" ("The Keystone of Our Religion", The Ensign, January 1992, page 5).

An official and widely read LDS publication reads: "Men can get nearer to the Lord, can have more of the spirit of conversion and conformity in their hearts...can gain a better understanding of the doctrines of salvation through the Book of Mormon than they can through the Bible...there will be more people saved in the kingdom of God - ten thousand times over - because of the Book of Mormon than there will be because of the Bible" (The Ensign, November 1984, p. 7).

A letter from the First Presidency (Presidents Benson, Hinckley, and Monson) to all members of the Church states: "The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations". (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, letter dated May 22, 1992).

Nick said...

“"We already know that Mormons don't think too much of the Bible (to their detriment)."

A caricature at best. A complete lie at worst.”


Is that right? It is interesting that you call me a liar when you are the one who is consistently distorting the truth. You think I am lying? You might want to read some of these quotes by the leaders (and their publications) of your church:

Joseph Smith stated: "it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.10); "I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).

When: "the book [Bible] proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew...it contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record" (1 Nephi 13:24), but afterwards "thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church...after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles" (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:26,28). See also Doctrines of Salvation, vol.3, p.190-191.

"many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible...Wherefore because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:3,10).

When his "revelation" about Adam being God was disputed, Brigham Young stated: "You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe...I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child" (Journal of Discourses, vol.2, p.6).

Orson Pratt's lack of confidence in the Bible is obvious: "...and who, in his right mind, could for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 28).

Apostle Bruce McConkie: "Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors, many plain and precious things were deleted, in consequence of which error and falsehood poured into the churches. One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 82,83).

McConkie continues: The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity - manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas. Deletions were common, and, as it now stands, many plain and precious portions and many covenants of the Lord have been lost. As a consequence, those who rely upon it [the Bible] alone stumble and are confused... (The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).

Mormon Apostle Mark E. Petersen accused manuscript copyists of deliberately tampering with the Bible: "Many insertions were made, some of them slanted for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fabrications were perpetrated" (As Translated Correctly, p.4).

Walker said...

"Elohim is a common noun. It can mean "gods", "goddesses", "godly", "judges", "angels", "great", "very great", "mighty", or "exceeding.""

Actually, 'elohim' is a concretized abstract plural according to the latest research (similar to words like 'adonim - "lordship" or 'abot - "fatherhood"). A literal translation would be "deity" or "divinity". It could apply to a multiplicity of or specific god. See Joel S. Burnett, "A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim," SBL Dissertation Series (SBL: 2001).

It does not mean "judges". This English translation was due to rabbinic writings like Targum Onkelos. It is a faulty translation. Cyrus Gordon addressed this back in the 1930s, with David Wright recently addressing it last year. It is in line with Assyro-Babylonian law proceedings to bring them "before the God/the gods".

The LDS use of Elohim as a name is mainly for convenience, though El is recognized by many scholars to have been a separate deity from Yahweh early on.


Thanks for clearing all that up for me...

Nick said...

“I don't respond to long lists of scriptures that automatically assume a certain interpretation as if that is an argument. David would need to go through each scripture and explain why it supports his position.”


Actually, no he wouldn’t. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the scriptures that he listed. They speak for themselves.

For example:

Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

I don’t know about you but this is pretty clear to me – God is not a man.

Also:

Isaiah 44:6, "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

Again, very clear – He is the only god.

John 4:24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

And he is a Spirit.

Here’s another:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5).

We are saved by grace.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure this out.

Nick said...

"What is intellectually unattractive is the fact that he assumes throwing out Bible verses with no commentary or explanation qualifies as an argument."

There was commentary or did you not read it? Maybe you should read the whole thing before you make comments like that.

Nick said...

""Pitiful."

What is pitiful is this rather useless comment that doesn't help advance David's arguments, as are the infantile quotations you put around the word 'scholarly'. Grow up."

Well, sorry, but your comeback still was pretty pitiful.

Walker said...

"Are you offended Walker? Good..."

You're obviously more worried about offending than actually researching as your previous post of extreme ignorance demonstrated.

Spare me your naive rhetoric.

Walker said...

In all this talk of the BoM translation process, I wonder if any of you are aware of Royal Skousen's work and his publication of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Yale University Press: 2009). Considering he is the leading expert on the BoM manuscripts, I would suggest reading him.

As for the First Vision, Bob has addressed this elsewhere on his blog in response to similar claims by Shawn McCraney (and therefore, the Tanners, since that is where McCraney gets his info).

Nick said...

“"but Judaism has always been generally considered monotheistic"

The scholarly consensus changed with the discovery of the Ugaritic texts in the late 1920s. The consensus today is that they were in fact monolatrous. Ancient Israel believed in a divine council of deities.”


This is wrong. The Ugaritic texts refer to the Canaanites. The ancient Israelites of the Bible were never monolatrous. They recognized that other people worshipped gods like Baal or but they considered them false gods or idols. They called it idolatry. The believed in only one true and living God. They were monotheistic and this is still the general consensus on it. I’m sure there will always be pseudo scholars (like FARMS and FAIR), or fringe scientists. who will try to argue a case, like yours, for their own ends, but overall, they are not taken seriously.

If you want to know about Judaism, try reading up on these sources:
Dever, William G.; (2003). Who Were the Early Israelites?, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI.
Silberman, Neil A.; and colleagues, Simon and Schuster; (2001) The Bible Unearthed New York.
Whitelam, Keith; (1997). The Invention of Ancient Israel, Routledge, New York.
Hans Köchler, The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity. Vienna: Braumüller, 1982. ISBN 3-7003-0339-4 (Google Print)
Ilya Leibowitz,Monotheism in Judaism as a Harbinger of Science,Eretz Acheret Magazine
Boyarin, Daniel 1994 A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity Berkeley: University of California Press
Ancient Judaism, Max Weber, Free Press, 1967, ISBN 0-02-934130-2
Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition and Practice Wayne Dosick.
Conservative Judaism: The New Century, Neil Gillman, Behrman House.
American Jewish Orthodoxy in Historical Perspective Jeffrey S. Gurock, 1996, Ktav.
Philosophies of Judaism Julius Guttmann, trans. by David Silverman, JPS. 1964
Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts Ed. Barry W. Holtz, Summit Books
A History of the Jews Paul Johnson, HarperCollins, 1988
A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America, Jack Wertheimer. Brandeis Univ. Press, 1997.
Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter Publishing, CD-ROM edition, 1997
The American Jewish Identity Survey, article by Egon Mayer, Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar; a sub-set of The American Religious Identity Survey, City University of New York Graduate Center. An article on this survey is printed in The New York Jewish Week, November 2, 2001.
Lewis, Bernard (1984). The Jews of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8
Lewis, Bernard (1999). Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-31839-7
Stillman, Norman (1979). The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0198-0
Day, John. Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. Chippenham: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Dever, William G. Did God Have a Wife?. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005.
Walsh, J.P.M. The Mighty From Their Thrones. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1987.
Finkelstein, Israel (1996). Ethinicity and Origin of the Iron I Settlers in the Highlands of Canaan: Can the Real Israel Please Stand Up? The Biblical Archaeologist, 59(4).

Nick said...

“"The beings that you mention were never recognized as gods by the Israelites. Just so you know..."

You would be dead wrong, just so you know. And knowing is half the battle.”


Sorry Walker, but I beg to differ. This is not dead wrong. It is absolutely correct. The Israelites of the Bible considered the beings you mentioned either to be angels or priests or early patriarchs. They were never considered to be gods, that is, as God is. Again, try reading the sources I gave you.

Nick said...

“"all you can come back with is that his defense of Biblical Christianity is "intellectually unattractive.""

This is just intellectually dishonest.”


It’s interesting you keep calling me dishonest and yet you are the one who keeps distorting the truth. His defense of Biblical Christianity was right on and yet you talk down to him, to everyone actually, as if they are so inferior to you. Try reading some of the source I gave you and come back and tell me again that I am lying.

Nick said...

“That was not all I came back with. I made mention of a variety of divine mediators in 1st century Judaism. I also pointed out that Deutero-Isaiah (40-66) begins with divine council language, thus David's Isaiah references must be read within the context of the divine council. On top of this, Babylon is attributed similar language in the same book.”

I hate repeating myself so I won’t. I’ll re-post what I wrote regarding this:

“Any divine council mentioned in OT is speaking of God and his heavenly host of angels. When it speaks of "sons of God", it is talking about his angels. This has long been known. Only Mormons could read into that as being anything else.

Here's another fact for you Walker, the phrase “I am the Lord your God” can also be written, “I am YHWH your Elohim.” YHWH was the name that God gave to Moses. It is His proper name meaning I AM. Before Moses, he told Israel (Jacob), “You must not ask,” when he Jacob asked for His name. YHWH in the Bible is not just the proper name for Jesus, it is the proper name for God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Elohim is a common noun. It can mean "gods", "goddesses", "godly", "judges", "angels", "great", "very great", "mighty", or "exceeding." Elohim in the Bible is not the proper name for God or a multiplicity of gods, like the Mormons believe. It is a noun.

In the OT, Jews recognized that there were people who worshipped other so called 'gods' (elohim) but they never acknowledged that these gods actually existed. They considered them idols, or false gods who did not exist.”

Nick said...

"The list of divine mediators? They most certainly were seen as divine. Metatron was the deified Enoch, also known as the "little Yahweh." His presence sparked the Two Powers in Heaven controversy. Yahoel is similar agent in the Apocalypse of Abraham. In 11Q13, Melchizedek is seen as the God in Ps. 82 that stands in the congregation and judges the other gods (in this case, Belial and the other rebellious spirits). And so on. The Logos was seen as the "angel of Yahweh" in Aramaic targums; the divine agent and mediator of creation, which gave birth to John's usage in John 1:1."

And my point was that they were never considered to be gods ... any other god besides YHWH was considered to be an idol, hence, idolatry.



"And it was his fundamentalism I found intellectually unattractive, just as I find your dishonesty rather unattractive."

You know, I grow really tired of hypocrites. I tire of those who twist truth and facts (like for example speaking of all ancient Canaanites as being the Israelites of the Bible). I also tire of those who read a paper or two about some fringe topic and then present it as the "general consensus" of the world. Walker, you need to read more of a general selection of scholarship other than that which supports your particular, and faulty, worldview.

elder connors said...

Bob, I know this is off topic but I want to thank you for keeping the fire of my testimony strong and very much burning. I'm leaving on a mission in July and have recently come across a lot of anti-LDS debates/arguments (Satan no doubt being the perpetrator). I was really feeling down, believing that the anti-Mormons had all the cards. When I stumbled upon your blog, and a video of you on youtube debating with an Evangelist named Aaron. I know it was arrogant of me to feel down because of anti-mormons, but unfortunately Satan's plan worked. I just want to say how blessed I am to have come across your blog, and I will continue to follow it before, and after my mission in New Mexico. Thanks so much from Logan, UT.

Sincerely, Elder Connors.

Bob said...

Nick,
I would be more convinced by your continued insistence of the correctness of a strict monotheistic belief around Yahweh IF you would acknowledge the historical reality which nearly all scholars now acknowledge, that the Hebrews were originally not monotheistic, and that they acknowledged the existence of many other REAL gods. For example, Ps 97:7,9 commands the other gods to worship Jehovah. Unless things have changed since Isaiah, idols have no knowledge or being, therefore it is impossible for them to worship anything. So a command to other "gods" to worship Jehovah means they believe there are other real gods, though they are inferior to Jehovah.

But when we look at the Ugaritic texts, we see El is the father of 70 sons, and these are the sons of God mentioned in Deut 32:8-9, who, like Jehovah, are given a stewardship for specific nations, Jehovah receiving Israel for his portion. This is obviously not just "a Canaanite thing", but it is part of the original foundational beliefs of the Hebrews. The reality of the orthodox devotion to the belief that El/Elohim/Jehovah had a wife named Astarte/Asherah is likewise clearly taught in the Ugaritic texts, and everywhere present in the OT.

It is simply false to say that a heavenly host referred to angels of God and not other gods. Ps 82 demonstrates this is not true. There may have been angels as well, but the historic reality of the earliest Biblical texts, the historic background of the OT cultures, and archaeology all profoundly establish that the original Hebrew beliefs were based on a henotheism or monolatry, meaning they worshipped one god but believed many existed.

By the way, Genesis 35:7 is mistranslated in the KJV, as the Hebrew text states that it was at Bethel that the "gods appeared" to Jacob, with both "gods" (elohim) being plural, but, more significantly, so is "appeared" (heb. 'galah', Strongs #1540, BDB pg 162). The word means to "discover or shew oneself" in the context of verse 7, but the word is explicit in meaning to "uncover oneself (one's nakedness)", meaning the appearance of gods was bodily and plural.

Also, note that when Elijah beat the priests of Baal (450) and of the Grove (400), (1 Kings 18:19) he only ordered the priests of Baal put to death (1 kg 18:40). He doesn't kill the prophet/priests of Asherah/the Grove. Since Asherah was believed to be the wife and consort of God, as opposed to Baal as a false and competing god, later revisions of the Biblical text attempt to make the existence of additional real gods not apparent, but they are still present and visible, even if at times obscured, in the Biblical text.

If you cannot acknowledge the historical reality of Israel's documented history, and explain way the change from their original beliefs is not significant, then all your posturing is simply rhetoric and not a thoughtful, Bible-based explanation. By contrast, the LDS position not only fits well with the historical record, but it accounts for the changes and provides a restoration, which are also accommodated by the Biblical text.

Thanks for the notes.
Bob

David said...

""The very real danger that texts could be modified at will, by scribes who did not approve of their wording, is evident in other ways as well...That explains why authors would sometimes call curses down on any copyists who modified their texts without permission. We find this kind of imprecation already in one early Christian writing that made it unto the New Testament, the book of Revelation, whose author, near the end of his text, utters a dire warning: [Rev. 22:18-19]." (Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, HarperCollins: 2005)

The reason was because copyists were changing NT texts, kind of like Joseph Smith said."


This is totally wrong. This is a lie that the Mormon church has been propagating since its founding. This also proves what Nick said, that Mormons don't think too much of the Bible. The Bible is the only text in their scriptures that you can verify through ancient documents. You can't do that for the BoM, or the DC or the PoGP. The only other text that has an ancient document associated with it is the BoA and Egyptologists have shown that Joseph's "translation" is false. So it doesn't look too good for Mormons.

In short, Mormons believe:

The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.

Christians believe:

The Bible is the word of God.
The Book of Mormon is like the word of God as far as it is plagiarized correctly.

David said...

"You know, I grow really tired of hypocrites. I tire of those who twist truth and facts. I also tire of those who read a paper or two about some fringe topic and then present it as the "general consensus" of the world. Walker, you need to read more of a general selection of scholarship other than that which supports your particular, and faulty, worldview."


Exactly! Right on. It's about time someone told him that. His knowledge of scholarship is very narrow and selective, relying heavily on "scholars" belonging to his own religious institution. I am tired of hypocrites too and that is exactly what he is if he is calling you a liar.

David said...

"In all this talk of the BoM translation process, I wonder if any of you are aware of Royal Skousen's work and his publication of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Yale University Press: 2009). Considering he is the leading expert on the BoM manuscripts, I would suggest reading him."

Royal Skousen? A spin doctor. Right.


"As for the First Vision, Bob has addressed this elsewhere on his blog in response to similar claims by Shawn McCraney (and therefore, the Tanners, since that is where McCraney gets his info)."

He obviously didn't do a very good job of refuting those claims.

David said...

"Actually, 'elohim' is a concretized abstract plural according to the latest research (similar to words like 'adonim - "lordship" or 'abot - "fatherhood"). A literal translation would be "deity" or "divinity". It could apply to a multiplicity of or specific god. See Joel S. Burnett, "A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim," SBL Dissertation Series (SBL: 2001)."


Ooh, a lot of big words there Walker. I'm so impressed. You realize though that you are repeating exactly what Nick said, right? What a waste of time! "In the Bible Elohim is a common noun ..." (See the excerpt below)

"'A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim,' vol. 183, by Joel Burnett.

Burnett undertakes what he believes is a necessary reassessment of the biblical term "Elohim" in the light of contemporary scholarship. He divides his observations equally between ancient Near Eastern and biblical sources. His most notable initial conclusion is that the term Elohim is best understood as a "concretized abstract plural" and not as a "plural of majesty," "plural of intensity," or "plural of excellence," as it has been variously defined in the past. As such, the term might be translated "deity" or "divinity" in noun form, or as "divine" in adjectival form, and it may be attributed to God, gods, or human beings. Burnett evaluates Late Bronze Age and Iron Age texts in Akkadian, Phoenician, Punic, and Aramaic. Among others, he considers the Karatepe, Bar-Rakib, and Deir 'Alla inscriptions, as well as the Ahiqar narrative and excerpts from Egyptian papyri, to observe the usage of words such as ilanu, [sup ⊃]lm, dinger.mesh, and dinger.dinger. He concludes that a "concretized abstract plural" for "god" developed first among Canaanites and subsequently spread to Mesopotamia, and it is manifest as Elohim in the Israelite tradition.

In the Bible Elohim is a common noun with a flexible range of meaning, which can be a generic reference to God, gods, or the divine, and it can be a substitute for a particular divine name, such as Yahweh. It denotes the unique status of the national deity of the northern state of Israel, or a deity who stands in special relationship to individuals, groups, territories, or nations, and especially, the personal deity of the patriarchal ancestors. Burnett suggests that biblical spokespersons, including those of the Elohist tradition in the Pentateuch, the Elijah cycle, and Hosea used Elohim to denote Yahweh and were intent upon leading their audience to make the connection that the historical Elohim whom they worshipped was Yahweh and none other. If so, then the use of this term by these traditions indicates a first step in the development of monotheism in the pre-exilic era."


Again this shows that the Israelites of the Bible were monotheistic not monolatrous.

David said...

"The LDS use of Elohim as a name is mainly for convenience, though El is recognized by many scholars to have been a separate deity from Yahweh early on."


This is Walker twisting the truth again. Correction: Mormons believe that God the Father is Elohim and Jesus Christ is Jehovah:

"When one speaks of God, it is generally the Father who is referred to; that is, Elohim. All mankind are his children. The personage known as Jehovah in Old Testament times, and who is usually identified in the Old Testament as LORD (in capital letters), is the Son, known as Jesus Christ, and who is also a God. Jesus works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with him. Many of the things that the scripture says were done "by God" were actually done by the LORD (Jesus)."

Bible Dictionary: God, The Official Scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2006 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/g/43

David said...

"Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

I don’t know about you but this is pretty clear to me – God is not a man."


Haha! Exactly! How many more interpretations of that can you get?

David said...

"So a command to other "gods" to worship Jehovah means they believe there are other real gods, though they are inferior to Jehovah."

Ps 79, 7-9
7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.
8 Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O Lord.
9 For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.


No Bob, that's not what it means. This is the view that Mormons hold and it is erroneous. The Israelites worshipped YHWH precisely because they did not believe the other gods were real. They believed they were false. Notice it says "idols". They were considered idols, false gods.

David said...

"Probably because it was canonized that way (after being debated on whether it should be included at all), though the New Testament isn't in chronological order."

... and there is a reason it was canonized that way. Chronological order - it depends on what you mean by that. There is the chronological order of when the books were written, which is debated among scholars. Then there is the chronological order of the events that the stories describe. You need to be more specific.

David said...

"By contrast, the LDS position not only fits well with the historical record, but it accounts for the changes and provides a restoration, which are also accommodated by the Biblical text."

No, it doesn't because what the LDS position is trying to do is to restore idolatry and paganism. This is why it is heretical. Sorry! The Israelites followed the path of the true God and trying to bring back the idolatry of the Cannanites is heresy. Nick is correct in his view of Judaism. You should read the sources he gave you.

Walker said...

"It is interesting that you call me a liar when you are the one who is consistently distorting the truth."

When?

"You might want to read some of these quotes by the leaders (and their publications) of your church"

Saying error has crept in is not the same as saying we don't think much of it. If we didn't think much of it, it wouldn't be in our canon. Do not conflate the two.

"Actually, no he wouldn't."

Yes, he would.

"You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the scriptures that he listed. They speak for themselves."

He shouldn't have a problem making his case then.

"And he is a Spirit."

This is one I've already addressed in some detail, yet you continue to spout this off.

"It’s interesting you keep calling me dishonest"

I called you intellectually dishonest in this instance. There is a bit of a difference.

You are suggesting William Dever's 'Did God Have A Wife?' and John Day's 'Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan' to prove strict monotheism? I quoted from John Day earlier.

"There was commentary or did you not read it?"

Not for the verses. All he said was the equivalent of "See! That proves it!"

"The Ugaritic texts refer to the Canaanites."

See my quote from the IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament.

"more of a general selection of scholarship"

Considering I've read some of the list you gave me, I'm wondering as to how those supported your position. I'm wondering if you've actually read those books.

I also have three friends who are immersed in this scholarship:

One who just finished up his Masters in Jewish Studies at Oxford.

One who is finishing up his PhD in Hebrew Bible at Brandeis.

One who is finishing up his PhD in Biblical Studies at St. Andrews.

They are quite aware of what the consensus is. Sorry, it isn't strict monotheism. This isn't some fringe theory.

And no one has even touched Deut. 32.

Walker said...

John Day makes it quite clear that post-exilic Israel was monotheistic, but pre-exilic Israel was not.

Walker said...

What does 'Judaism in Contemporary America' or 'The American Jewish Identity Survey' have to do with pre-exilic Israelite beliefs?

M said...

Bob, Walker, I see what you are saying about how historically, if you are looking at it from a non-religious, scholarly perspective, monotheism grew out of polytheism in the days of the ancient Canaanites. I don’t know about any of the latest scholarship, as this is not my field of study in my career, but this is probably correct. Regarding this, I’m sure you are telling the truth. But from this view, we know that by the time Jesus walked the earth, his religious background, which was Jewish, was very much monotheistic. He spoke of God the Father, not Gods the Fathers, right? From what I have studied of the Mormon religion, it claims to restore the “true Gospel of Jesus Christ.” It does not claim to restore the belief system of the ancient Canaanites. I suppose you could say that these two things are one in the same but only if you are looking at it from a religious perspective. If you are looking at it from a purely scholarly perspective, or a historical perspective, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the belief system of the ancient Canaanites are completely different. Does this make sense?

Nick said...

"As for the First Vision, Bob has addressed this elsewhere on his blog in response to similar claims by Shawn McCraney (and therefore, the Tanners, since that is where McCraney gets his info)."


Shawn McCraney? Tanners? Those were none of my sources. My information comes directly from church sources. They are listed below. You may want to check them out. I could list more but I think you get the point. Most of the problems with the Mormon religion come from the church itself and its historical documents. To refute them is to refute the church’s own history. To call them anti-Mormon is to call the church’s own history anti-Mormon. That’s a very risky thing to do.

B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon.
1833 Book of Commandments
The JST: Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible
The D&C: The Doctrine and Covenants
The BoM: The Book of Mormon
Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, “Joseph Smith: The Gift of Seeing.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Summer 1982).
Michael Morse, interview by William W. Blair, in Letter to the Editor, Saints Herald, June 15, 1879.
Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints Herald, Oct. 1 1879.
Deseret Evening News, June 11 1881.
Saints Herald, p. 198, July 1 1881.
Latter Day Saints Millennial Star, p. 423, July 4 1881.
Martin Harris, interview by John A. Clark in Early Mormon Documents, 3+ vols., Salt Lake City Signature Books, 1996.
Joseph Smith Sr., interview by Fayette Lapham, 1830, in Early Mormon Documents, 1:464.
Affidavit of Peter Ingersoll, Dec 2 1833, Early Mormon Documents, 2:42-43.
Godhead alterations: Book of Mormon, 1982. Wilford C Wood, Joseph Smith Begins his Work: Book of Mormon 1830 First Edition, 2 vols., Salt Lake City.
Joseph Smith’s June 27 1839 discourse in Joseph Smith et al, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., B.H Roberts, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1978 printing.
Martin Harris, interview by John A. Clark in Early Mormon Documents, 2:268.
David P. Wright, “Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon,” Dialogue 31, 1998; Stan Larson, “The History of the Matthean Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi,” in New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1993.
Dean C Jesse, The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings, 2+ vols., Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1989.
Joseph Smith’s handwritten account of his first vision, holograph, LDS Church Archives.
Marvin S. Hill, “The First Vision Controversy: a Critique and Reconciliation”, Dialogue 15 (Summer 1982).
Westley P. Walters, “New Light on Mormon Origins from the Palmyra NY Revival,” Dialogue 4 (Spring 1969).

Nick said...

"By contrast, the LDS position not only fits well with the historical record, but it accounts for the changes and provides a restoration, which are also accommodated by the Biblical text."


Bob, your argument falls back on itself. What you are trying to establish is that the “cutting-edge scholarship” supports the religious claims of the Mormon Church. However, those same scholars, or historians, that you and Walker are referencing, would also tell you that Christ’s ministry during His life on earth and its subsequent following, and the pagan beliefs of the ancient Canaanites are two totally different religions. One is monotheistic. The other is not. This puts you in a tight spot considering that the gospel of the Mormon Church is supposed to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ restored on the earth. Therefore, scholarship doesn’t support the LDS position at all.

In addition, the fact remains that the ancient Israelites of the Bible never recognized any other god as an existent or uncreated being. They were idols, or false gods, nonexistent. Or they were created (i.e. His angels). Worshipping them instead of God was considered idolatry. There are many examples of idolatry in the Bible. For example, Moses and the golden calf in Exodus. Here are some others:

Ex 20:3-4 (NIV) "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below."

2 Ki 17:15 (NIV) They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, "Do not do as they do," and they did the things the Lord had forbidden them to do.

2 Ki 17:40-41 (NIV) They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

1 Cor 10:7 (NIV) Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry."


The proper Jewish definition of idolatry is to do an act of worship toward any created thing, to believe that a particular created thing is an independent power, or to make something a mediator between ourselves and the Almighty. These laws are codified in the Mishneh Torah, mainly in the section called Hilkhot Avodat Kokhavim (Avodah Zarah) - The Laws of Strange Worship (Idolatry). It is considered a great insult to God to worship one of His creations instead of Him or together with Him. According to the Noahide Laws, the 7 laws which Jews believe to be binding on the non-Jewish world, the non-Israelite nations are also Forbidden to worship anything other than the Absolute Creator. One can find this in Hilkhot Melakhim u'Milhhamotehem (Laws of Kings and their Wars) chapter 9 in the Mishneh Torah. Judaism holds that any beliefs or practices which significantly interferes with a Jew's relationship with God may, at some point, be deemed idolatry.

Bob said...

Nick,
I have read your list of sources. I guess I am missing your point, or maybe you should restate it. This is the danger of not citing what one is responding to in one's response. So please clarify what you are asserting.

Nick,
Pre-Exilic Israel in numerous places in scripture acknowledge the presence of real divine beings. Deut 32, Ps 97, etc, all show this. Job 1:6 is very specific. You try to pretend, it seems to me, that the context of the statements of scripture don't matter, only your theology matters. This is in my opinion bordering on self-delusion. The context of how a listener/reader would understand the content of a statement IS the issue. In the OT, the discussion of the "divine council" has a concrete, societal understanding. The "host of Heaven", "the sons of God", "Jehovah and his Asherah" all had a demonstrably henotheistic, monaltrous context for Hebrews. They understood God to be standing among real "gods" in Ps 82. There is not a single reputable scholar who would argue otherwise today. The dance they do, instead, is that which we see Heiser take, is to define "Jehovah" as being superior to the other gods, (since they are commanded to worship Jehovah and also take orders from him), and he on the basis of that states they are therefore "ontologically different" from the one true god. However, this is a simple equivocation on his part. If the 70 sons of El, found in the Ugaritic texts and echoed in the Old Testament, were members of the divine council, as, again, nearly every scholar acknowledges was the case, then by BIRTH they came from God, and though inferior in position, they nevertheless were gods. Which is the destiny, says Ps 8, of man and the son of man. We know this pertains to exaltation because Hebrews 2:6-18 quotes Ps 8 to show that God was talking about the vesting he did to his Son, and that in turn his son suffered to deliver all the rest of the children of God to that same glory, as he calls those he redeemed "brethren", meaning "he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one".

Unless you are going to rewrite what it means that "are all of one", then the plain meaning and context of Hebrews 2, referring back to Ps 8, is that have the same Father, ontologically the same. Thus the Church Father universally taught that the destiny of the saved is to be made divine, "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4), "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17), destined to glorified.

Mormonism acknowledges that history and science are imperfect lenses to hang our hat to "prove" our religion. But...history is now much more plausibly on the LDS side of belief.

As for the question of the Jewish apostasy, Jesus consistently taught (by John)men would become gods (John 1:12, John 17, 1John 3:2, Rev 3:21, Rev 21:7).

It seems to me the rhetoric of just repeating the mantra of "monotheism was the belief of ancient Israel" is about as effective as effective in proving your case as me referring to the First Vision to prove you are wrong. I realize it is because you can't point to modern scholarship to support your opinion which is why you don't, but I want to be sure you understand that your assertions are not cutting any mustard intellectually except with folks who have already decided they don't really care about the context of the Bible in history, or the evolution of the Hebrew beliefs.

Thanks,
Bob

Nick said...

Bob, I think your view of the Bible and what it means is distorted beyond help. All of this is spin. Furthermore, history has never been on the side of the LDS position and it never will be.

David said...

"Mormonism acknowledges that history and science are imperfect lenses to hang our hat to "prove" our religion. But...history is now much more plausibly on the LDS side of belief."


Nick, don't you know that something is only valid if supports LDS faith claims?

Lol, right! What nonsense!

You notice Bob's circular logic - that the Mormon position must be correct because scholarship supports it ... but scholarship is only valid if it supports the Mormon position.

I guess we poor, self-deluded souls won't understand until we can rationalize with the same kind of circular logic that they do.

David said...

"As for the question of the Jewish apostasy, Jesus consistently taught (by John)men would become gods (John 1:12, John 17, 1John 3:2, Rev 3:21, Rev 21:7)."

Bob, you seem to keep spouting off the same nonsense. What you call the Jewish apostasy, Christians call the Israelites' worship of the one and only true and living God. What the Canaanites practiced back in the ancient world is called paganism and the worship of false idols. Nick is right about this. Also, your interpretations of the Bible passages listed is completely wrong according to the true Christian faith.

John 1:12 means that if we believe on His name, we become children of God, not gods ourselves.

John 17? Not specific enough. Which verse shows that Christ talked about us becoming gods?

1John 3:2 - again 'sons of God' or children of God, not gods ourselves.

Rev 3:21 - to sit with Him on His throne, not our throne. We will be with Him in His glory, not ours.

Rev 21:7 - we will inherit all things and be His children (son), not gods ourselves.

David said...

"I have read your list of sources. I guess I am missing your point, or maybe you should restate it."


I think this was his point, you just have to keep reading:

"Most of the problems with the Mormon religion come from the church itself and its historical documents. To refute them is to refute the church’s own history. To call them anti-Mormon is to call the church’s own history anti-Mormon. That’s a very risky thing to do."

Nick said...

"In short, Mormons believe:

The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.

Christians believe:

The Bible is the word of God.
The Book of Mormon is like the word of God as far as it is plagiarized correctly."


Lol, I just saw this David. Good one!

David said...

"I realize it is because you can't point to modern scholarship to support your opinion which is why you don't ..."


He did Bob. Did you miss it? Maybe you should go back and read it again.

Walker said...

"This is totally wrong."

And this isn't an argument. It is an assertion that has no support.

"This is a lie that the Mormon church has been propagating since its founding."

Ehrman is not a Mormon.

"A spin doctor."

An internationally respected lingist. You have got to be one of the most bigoted and immature people I think I've ever read.

"Ooh, a lot of big words there Walker."

Expand your vocabulary then.

"You realize though that you are repeating exactly what Nick said, right?"

Not really.

"Again this shows that the Israelites of the Bible were monotheistic not monolatrous."

Considering I've actually read the dissertation, he expresses that Israel was polytheistic. The development of monotheism attributed to the development of 'elohim' specifically referencing Yahweh.

"This is Walker twisting the truth again."

God the Father is referred to as Elohim. I don't see anything dishonest that I've written.

"How many more interpretations of that can you get?"

Considering the context speaks of how man lies and God does not. He isn't a man. He is a god. This speaks nothing of whether or not God is anthropomorphic.

"The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name." (Ex. 15:3)

I think I'm done for a while. Responses that are nothing more than "nu uh," "spin doctors," "You're wrong!", etc. from our lovely critics is not an argument, debate, or even discussion. It is just the continual vomit of "Mormons are wrong!" without any kind of explanation or reason.

M said...

"I realize it is because you can't point to modern scholarship to support your opinion which is why you don't,"

I think he did though, Bob. He listed sources for you. He also mentioned that today a scholar will tell you that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with the polytheism of the ancient Canaanites. In other words, if you were to call up any biblical scholar (maybe one of the ones you listed) and ask her, or him, if the gospel that Christ taught while He was alive was monotheistic, that scholar will most certainly tell you yes. This is how scholarship supports the Christian view. From what I see, Nick did point to this fact. His other point was that those scholars will also tell you that Judaism is considered monotheistic. And as far as I know, this is true. This is why Christ's gospel was monotheistic, because he was a Jew. I just wanted to clear that up.

But I want to thank you too. I learned something new about modern scholarship by reading this comment stream. I'm also glad that you and Walker list your sources too so that I can go research them.

V/R,
M

Nick said...

"Mormonism acknowledges that history and science are imperfect lenses to hang our hat to "prove" our religion. But...history is now much more plausibly on the LDS side of belief."


This is a circular argument, Bob. First you use scholarship as a means by which to measure the truthfulness of your faith and now that you see that that doesn't work, you use your faith as a means by which to measure the validity of scholarship. This is called a fallacy. Unfortunately, you are not alone in your faulty thinking as many other Mormons do the same thing and not just with scholarship. They do it with science as well (i.e. FARMS and FAIR).

It would be wise, I think, for the leaders of the Mormon Church, and the rest of Mormondom was well, to listen to the church historians such as Todd Compton, Grant Palmer, D. Michael Quinn, and others, that is, to move away from Joseph Smith and the lies he told and start to focus more on Christ, becoming more of a Christ centered church. As of now, on the local levels, it is not. The wards focus on so many other things besides Christ and most of the time, He is in the background somewhere - they may mention His name occasionally. With this advice, these church historians are trying to help the church from shooting itself in the foot. The longer the church leaders carry on the ridiculous farce of Joseph Smith, the worse off they are going to be.

Nick said...

"Considering the context speaks of how man lies and God does not. He isn't a man. He is a god. This speaks nothing of whether or not God is anthropomorphic.

"The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name." (Ex. 15:3)"

Actually it does mean that He is not man - that He doesn't have man's characteristics or faults. On the contrary, the LDS will have you believe that God was once a man who once had faults and 'worked' His way to godhood.

"As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." - Lorenzo Snow (originally was a teaching of Joseph Smith)

Take a look at the NIV wording of both these passages:

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Exodus 15:3
The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.

Notice the wording changed from "The LORD is a man of war" to "The LORD is a warrior." This is a passage describing the Israelites praising God for delivering them out of Egypt. A 'warrior' who fought for their freedom, casting the Pharoah's chariots into the sea ... and so forth.


"God the Father is referred to as Elohim. I don't see anything dishonest that I've written."

It is dishonest because the church teaches that his proper name is Elohim which is wrong. You even said that it is wrong yourself:

"The development of monotheism attributed to the development of 'elohim' specifically referencing Yahweh."

According to official LDS teaching, Elohim is God and Yahweh (YHWH or Jehovah), is Jesus. I think David posted the passage above from the lds.org:

"When one speaks of God, it is generally the Father who is referred to; that is, Elohim. All mankind are his children. The personage known as Jehovah in Old Testament times, and who is usually identified in the Old Testament as LORD (in capital letters), is the Son, known as Jesus Christ, and who is also a God. Jesus works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with him. Many of the things that the scripture says were done "by God" were actually done by the LORD (Jesus)."

Bible Dictionary: God, The Official Scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2006 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/g/43

David said...

I think I'm done for a while."

Giving up are you? That's probably the best thing for you to do seeing as how you lost the argument. I think Nick demonstrated very well that your 'scholarship' does not support the LDS views. Nice try though.

"Responses that are nothing more than "nu uh," "spin doctors," "You're wrong!", etc. from our lovely critics is not an argument, debate, or even discussion. It is just the continual vomit of "Mormons are wrong!" without any kind of explanation or reason."

Walker, if you claim that we gave no explanations or reasons for our position then you really need to go back and read it again.

Bob said...

Truly, I am tiring of the critical responses who supposedly want to claim scholarship is on their side, but, as Walker has so correctly pointed out, the vast majority of their responses are "Nuh, uh".

I truly say I don't believe David or Nick knows what a circular argument is. Here is the definition:

a use of reason in which the premises depends on or is equivalent to the conclusion, a method of false logic by which "this is used to prove that, and that is used to prove this"; also called circular logic

So, let's look at my statement about scholarship and Mormonism:

I wrote: "Mormonism acknowledges that history and science are imperfect lenses to hang our hat to "prove" our religion. But...history is now much more plausibly on the LDS side of belief."

I am not sure what twisted prism is being used by my critics, but compare what I wrote to what David wrote about that statement: "You notice Bob's circular logic - that the Mormon position must be correct because scholarship supports it ... but scholarship is only valid if it supports the Mormon position."

Neither part of the statement by David accurately presents what I wrote. I specifically note that science is imperfect at reviewing and explaining history. This should be read as saying no science support explicitly supporting Mormonism will be found because it is not possible to reconstruct such certainty from historical records.

My point was that the Mormon philosophical contention that Israel was a henotheistic system of beliefs originally, and moved away from this original position means the Mormon view of the nature of the structure of heaven is far more compatible with history than the now scientifically discredited position espoused by critics of Mormonism. To that end both Walker and I have provided numerous specific scholarly references, from non-LDS experts in the field, and have likewise acknowledged that not every scholar agrees with the LDS position.

The response I have seen is mostly bereft of facts. Nick and David repeatedly state that polytheism was idolatry to the monotheistic Jews, and therefore the Jews did not believe it.

That, my friends, IS circular reasoning.

Finally, the fact is that the Jewish faith at the time of Jesus was in a state of apostasy. Jews did not recognize Christ, and following his death they cast the Christians out of their synagogues, just as they frequently cast Jesus out of their synagogues. For false doctrine, by the way, since Jesus was asserting his Messiahship, which the Jews reject. That makes them apostate if they are rejecting the Messiah. Or am I wrong on that point, and you in fact fellowship on Saturdays with the Jews, and they come to your Sunday meetings as well?

Here is the thing with me as scholarship goes. I don't think it proves, or for that matter disproves anything. Scholarship is an ever changing target. The changes in understanding about the Old and New Testament in the past 150 years, when compared to what was supposedly "known" prior to that is incredible. I own 18 of the 24 items Nick lists, and hundreds more. I find Nicks list silly, candidly, because he doesn't tie any of his assertions to specific citations. And, furthermore, I think it shows that he is unfamiliar with the content of the items he cites. I own the two volume set of documents by Dean Jesse, the Autobiographical Writings. There are two volumes, not "2+ vol." as he lists. But the next item he lists is the Joseph Smith first vision holograph from the Church archives. If he actually had opened Jesse's book, he would know that holograph, including a black and white photo, is in Vol. 1. So he may have read it, but it is like saying I read the Greek Bible in NA27 and in USB 4th Edition. Their text is from the same source and is identical. Why cite it, unless you are trying to bluff your way.

Bob said...

(Continued)
I never responded to Nick's list of Jewish sources. I own the first two on his list, and the other book by Dever, "Did God Have a Wife?" Since Nick is trying to dazzle us with his scholarly sources to support his position that the Jews were never Monolatrous, like Walker I am baffled at comparing the works I own to this assertion. Dever ABSOLUTELY asserts the Hebrew faith was Henotheistic, Monolatrous, and recognized the existence of many real gods. He personally discovered one of two artifacts which note the marriage of "Jehovah and his Asherah".

So when I say scholarly, I am trying to use the sense I got from college course work. I don't mean to be snobby, or maybe I do, but the lack of tying an assertion to specific author and pages will generally introduce doubt about the reality of someone having actually read a source. The fact I know that Dever says God had a wife who was in fact a goddess, and he cites and evaluates ("Did God Have a Wife", pp 204-206) multiple similarly minded authors' works, makes me think you have not actually read the book at all. Dever, btw, heaps his highest praise on a compilation of essays entitled "Only One God" (Bob Becking, et al., editors) which goes through the Ugaritic material to specifically demonstrate its direct relevance to Israelite belief, QUOTING SPECIFIC BIBLICAL PASSAGES which had their origin in the Ugaritic works, among other evidences. Becking notes in his conclusion that "unreflective talk about monotheism will slowly disappear", as monotheism is a naive theological position in light of the historic realities now being disclosed through archaeological research into the Hebrew tradition (page 201). BTW, I own the book, so if you want to borrow my copy, let me know, but you will need to forgive that it is highlighted from my multiple readings of the copy.

Let me finish with a statement by Bob Becking, and those who ignorantly continue to propose Israel was purely monotheistic:

"Undoubtedly , a side-effect of this reconsideration will be the disappearance of conceited notions about polytheism. The condescending talk about 'other deities who are but a nothing' will be recognized as aggravating to others, I hope. That would be a welcome outcome of the discussion on 'YHWH and his Asherah'."

You can't criticize the Mormons on scholarly grounds and not expect that sword will not eventually cut back severely against such demonstrably uninformed rhetoric.

Josh said...

David and Nick,

I appreciate what you are doing on this blog but I sort of think you may be beating your heads against a wall. These guys really don't know when to admit they've lost an argument. Bob seems to still think that his logic isn't circular but Nick is right, that's exactly what it is. This the first thing he said about scholarship:

"By contrast, the LDS position not only fits well with the historical record, but it accounts for the changes and provides a restoration, which are also accommodated by the Biblical text."

Thus what Nick said about Bob claiming that scholarship supports the LDS position is correct. That is what Bob was saying. As Nick said, he was using scholarship as a means by which to measure the truthfulness of his faith. Then Nick said:

"those same scholars, or historians, that you and Walker are referencing, would also tell you that Christ’s ministry during His life on earth and its subsequent following, and the pagan beliefs of the ancient Canaanites are two totally different religions. One is monotheistic. The other is not. This puts you in a tight spot considering that the gospel of the Mormon Church is supposed to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ restored on the earth. Therefore, scholarship doesn’t support the LDS position at all."

And then Bob responded:

"Mormonism acknowledges that history and science are imperfect lenses to hang our hat to "prove" our religion. But...history is now much more plausibly on the LDS side of belief."

In other words, since scholarship doesn't support the LDS position in this regard (Nick's response), then it is imperfect. Thus Bob is using his faith as a means by which to measure the validity of scholarship, just as Nick said.

That is exactly what circular logic is, as stated in Bob's definition:

"a use of reason in which the premises depends on or is equivalent to the conclusion, a method of false logic by which "this is used to prove that, and that is used to prove this"; also called circular logic"

Give it up Bob. You lost.

Bob said...

Speed round:
Josh: I don't doubt your sincerity, but I can doubt your ability to reason through an argument. Circular reasoning means the premise depends upon the conclusion. It is claiming the Jews did not practice polytheism because they were monotheists. This could be a true summary, but it is not an argument or evidence. I would be happy to provide a detailed logic tree for you concerning my position, but let's examine it:

I assert: "Mormonism acknowledges that history and science are imperfect lenses to hang our hat to "prove" our religion."

So my assertion is that science cannot prove Mormonism, as it cannot provide that degree of historical resolution.

I then note that by comparison to other religions, the LDS view best accounts for the known evidence.

Where in that statement is a dependency upon the conclusion for the assertion?

Hmm, me thinks you fail to study logic or argumenatation.

Next, David, taunting Walker will not be tolerated. One strike rule. I happen to agree with Walker that considering the complete lack of actual referencing sources to link to your arguments, I just don't bother answering most of your posts because they are lacking substance. The proper place of rhetoric is in arguing theories concerning facts, not as a replacement for evidence.

Lastly,
I think Nick has finally become a Mormon. At least, I think he is now arguing in favor of the 8th article of Faith:

#8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

So since the KJV renders the Hebrew in a way which implies God is anthropomorphic in nature, let's change translations? Tell me how that isn't identical to the LDS position? Or are you now going to argue the translation offered by Walker doesn't skewer your position?

But let's not let translation games mar the understanding of the text. The meaning of the passage that "God is not a man" . The complete passage is:
" God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Num 23:19)

Scholars note this has no context to the physical nature of God, but is talking about his attitude.

Matthew Henry:
"v. 19. Men change their minds, and therefore break their words; they lie, because they repent. But God does neither. He never changes his mind, and therefore never recalls his promise. ... such is the imperfection of man, and such the perfection of God. It is impossible for God to lie, Heb. 6:18. And, when in scripture he is said to repent, it is not meant of any change of his mind (for he is in one mind, and who can turn him? ) but only of the change of his way. This is a great truth, that with God there is no variableness nor shadow of turning."

Bob said...

Continued from above:

John Gill, who, btw, notes God is ascribed with human body parts in the Bible, which he disagrees with, but notes this verse is about his emotional nature:

"God is not a man, that he should lie
Man is a creature consisting of a body of flesh and blood, and of a soul, a created and finite spirit; but God, though he has the parts of an human body ascribed to him in a figurative sense, yet is not to be conceived of in a corporeal manner; and though he is a Spirit, yet eternal, immense, and infinite; and much less is as a sinful man, who goes astray from the womb speaking lies; no, let God be true, and every man a liar: he is God, that cannot lie;"


Wesley's Explanatory Notes:
"23:19 That he should lie - Break his promises made to his people for their preservation and benediction. Repent - Change his counsels or purposes; unless he see iniquity in Jacob."

Geneva Study Bible:
"God's enemies are compelled to confess that his government is just, constant, and without change or repentance."

The verse is ALL ABOUT the fact that God is true to his word, man is not. It has nothing to do with anatomy. Moreover, if you would read my posts, I pointed out that Genesis 35:7 uses a word for "appeared" which actually is pretty explicit in meaning to show his body, which is why he names the place "El Beth-el", "the God of the house of God". Remember all that wrastlin' in 32:24 where Jacob wrestled "a man" (Heb "iysh"), which is not a translation issue of implying or interpreted to mean a man, as in Jehovah is a man of war, which could be warrior. No, here it is really the word "a man". And to make it clear, in verses 28-30 he notes the man he wrestled with identifies himself as God, and so he names the place "Peniel", the face of God, because he saw God's face. You can't have a face if you don't have a face. Oh wait, now that is circular logic. But the logical statement is God has a body and a face, and Jacob names the place "the face of God". Doesn't seem all that "spirit-like" to me. How about you?

Good enough. Enjoy.
Bob

Adrian said...

"The longer the church leaders carry on the ridiculous farce of Joseph Smith, the worse off they are going to be."

I agree with this. By not coming out and admitting the real origins of the Book of Mormon and continuing to insist that it is a historical document, the church is making itself look very foolish in the eyes of the world.

Nick said...

Bob, your method of reasoning out these issues is entertaining. It's interesting how you will take a cat and try to show everybody that it is actually a dog. I don't think anyone is really fooled though.

elder connors said...

Adrian said...
"The longer the church leaders carry on the ridiculous farce of Joseph Smith, the worse off they are going to be."

"I agree with this. By not coming out and admitting the real origins of the Book of Mormon and continuing to insist that it is a historical document, the church is making itself look very foolish in the eyes of the world."

I believe if this were the truth, we wouldn't be such a steadily growing church, and wouldn't leave such a Christ-like imprint on millions of people's mind, LDS and Non-LDS alike. It's quite arrogant to assert that your opinion is accepted by everyone.

BDR said...

"I believe if this were the truth, we wouldn't be such a steadily growing church"

Your church is not growing, unlike what some may claim. It is actually shrinking:


This is from a Salt Lake Tribune article Sep. 1st, 2005 quoting Merrill Bateman, a Mormon Seventy

“…He agreed the LDS Church's worldwide membership, reported at 12 million, includes many who no longer consider themselves Mormon, but he disagreed with researchers who estimated active Mormons equal only 4 million.

Bateman said that number doesn't count those in undeveloped countries who find it difficult to attend sacrament meetings. ‘So you might have in the neighborhood of . . . 4 [million] and 5 million members attending church at any given time, but those who are active would be more than that.’ " end quote

That number of individuals who are unable to attend meetings is by no means 7-8 million people. There are not that many members in undeveloped countries. (5+7=12 million) This is finally an official acknowledgment that the Mormon church is, and has been, dishonest in claiming 12 million members.

This is from an article Sep. 1st, 2005. Source: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2991263


In the United States, Mormons are departing from the faith as fast as or faster than converts are joining. Converts rarely remain active in the Mormon Church.

This is from an article July 8th, 2005. Source: http://news.yahoo.com

Excerpt: ‘The problem originates in the faith's tradition of rapid conversion of investigators to the church according to David Stewart, a church member and researcher who has studied the problem of member retention in the church.

Stewart, who has studied the question for over 14 years, said that such quick conversions are a "recipe for inactivity."

"I'm encouraged that there is a little bit of awareness of the problem," he said.

The American Religious Identification Survey of 2001 the Graduate Center of City University of New York said in a report that the same number of people had left the Mormon church in the United States as had joined it.’


Keeping members a challenge for LDS church
Mormon myth: The belief that the church is the fastest-growing faith in the world doesn't hold up

This is from the Salt Lake Tribune http://www.sltrib.com July 26, 2005

Excerpt: The claim that Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in the world has been repeated so routinely by sociologists, anthropologists, journalists and proud Latter-day Saints as to be perceived as unassailable fact. The trouble is, it isn't true…


But since 1990, other faiths - Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God and Pentecostal groups - have grown much faster and in more places around the globe…


…the Seventh-day Adventist Church reports it has added more than 900,000 adult converts each year since 2000 [compared to the Mormon Church’s conversion of only 241,239 in 2004] (an average growth of about 5 percent), bringing the total membership to 14.3 million. The Assemblies of God now claims more than 50 million members worldwide, adding 10,000 new members every day.’

Adrian said...

"I believe if this were the truth, we wouldn't be such a steadily growing church, and wouldn't leave such a Christ-like imprint on millions of people's mind, LDS and Non-LDS alike."

Right, try telling that to the gay community and the descendents of the people from Arkansas who were slaughtered at Mountain Meadows by Mormons dressed as Indians. Try telling that to the families of all the people who were slaughtered by Brigham Young and the Danites. Try telling that to all the families the church has torn apart because of its policies towards non-members and former members. Try telling that to the September Six who were excommunicated back in 1993 for very unjust reasons and to all the black people in the world and to all the other people that the church has discriminated against. The church has never taken responsibility for the wrongs it has done to people and it has never apologized for them. And it doesn't appear to be changing either. Does that sound Christ-like to you? Now who is arrogant?

M said...

"I'm leaving on a mission in July and have recently come across a lot of anti-LDS debates/arguments (Satan no doubt being the perpetrator). I was really feeling down, believing that the anti-Mormons had all the cards ... I know it was arrogant of me to feel down because of anti-mormons, but unfortunately Satan's plan worked."

Elder Connors, I believe that that isn't Satan working in your life but it is Jesus trying to show you the real way to Him. You may not be aware of it but there are some real problems with Joseph Smith and his story and the history of the Mormon Church. Fortunately, Jesus can heal all wounds and solve all problems. There is a really good book I recommend for all Latter-day Saints. It's called "The Incomparable Jesus" by Grant Palmer. Grant Palmer is a faithful church-going Latter-day Saint, a retired CES instructor and a church historian. He is one Latter-day Saint for whom I have a great deal of respect. Unlike some of my Christian friends who post on this blog, I believe that a person can be both a Christian and a Mormon at the same time but they need to understand what it really means to be a follower of Christ. Grant Palmer's book outlines this so well. It is a really great book. I think you will like it if you read it. In fact, it has gotten favorable reviews by other Latter-day Saints. It discusses Christ and His life and ministry while He was alive. It talks about who He was and is and why He died for us. In the book, he discusses how we can know Jesus and how we can truly be followers of Christ. As a Christian, I personally don't agree with all Grant Palmer’s doctrinal beliefs as they reflect the Mormon way of thinking but the main teaching of the book, which is Christ, I totally agree with. Anyhow, it is a really good book. I hope you read it someday.

Best of luck on your mission.

~M

Walker said...

"That's probably the best thing for you to do seeing as how you lost the argument. I think Nick demonstrated very well that your 'scholarship' does not support the LDS views."

Though he did no such thing, he certainly did more than you blips of snide remarks, insults, and Nick suck-ups.

By the way, I just read a couple fascinating articles you might enjoy:

Jan Joosten, "A Note on the Text of Deuteronomy xxxii 8," Vetus Testamentum 57:4 (2007)

Joosten presents a plausible theory regarding the textual modification of "sons of El" to "sons of Israel" in Deut. 32:8-9: the original reading was "sons of Bull El". Joosten states, "The difference between them amounts to a dittography of the yod and a regrouping of the words, two phenomena that find ample analogy in the textual history of the bible. The MT would indeed be the result of an accident, but of a very common type. In an independent development, the word "bull" might be omitted for theological reasons. This omission would result in a text close to that of 4QDeutJ...The cognate expression tr il is very frequent in Ugaritic texts...Strikingly, the title is used to designate other gods as sons and daughters of El." Bull El is seen as the High God, while Yahweh is seen as one of his sons.

The second article is Samuel Shaviv, "The Polytheistic Origins of the Biblical Flood Narrative," Vetus Testamentum 54:4 (2004).

He concludes that in the Genesis flood story "there are acting here two different gods, one is called Yahweh and the other—Elohim." He recognizes that "Yahweh is the main starter of the flood and Elohim is the main rescuer."

But, of course, I'm just a stupid Mormon. What do I know?

M said...

Bob, are you not posting people's comments anymore?

M said...

"But, of course, I'm just a stupid Mormon. What do I know?"

Walker, you aren't stupid! Far from it actually. What some fail to realize is that you believe differently than them. In a way, you are more brave to put your faith in something that is "easy to challenge and hard to believe". I put quotes on that because that is something Hinckley said in a conference talk once. I think Hinckley is right though. For that reason, I would have a hard time being a believing Mormon.

Bob said...

M,
I received several comments directed at Elder Conners' statement about the Church and its growth, his spiritual experiences, etc, and I was, frankly, waiting for folks to respond to my comments before I posted the fairly pointed attacks at Elder Connors.

For what it is worth, I agree that growth of the Church is not a measure of the truthfulness or falsity of a religion. But I sort of draw the line at attacking the personal spiritual experiences of people. Mind you, I am fine discussing whether spiritual gifts are active in a faith, or how they are received, and specifically in discussing how they are interpreted. But I really don't believe it is appropriate to tell someone their specific experiences, which commentators have no direct contact with, are in error. So that particular posting will not see the light of day on this blog. But I will get around to posting the other comments, I just don't have the time to respond to their assertions, and so I am holding up on them as well. BDR has a love for very long posts with citations which deserve a thoughtful response. So those will get posted, but I just want to have a response prepared, and that could be a little while.

Sorry if this offends anyone, but this blog is about responding to arguments of critics, and it doesn't do any good for me to just publish the arguments and not the responses. I think my history shows I am very willing to engage in the give and take, but in starting a business, I don't have the time to be a full-time moderator and respondent as I was in the past.

Thanks for your patience.

Bob

Nick said...

"But I really don't believe it is appropriate to tell someone their specific experiences, which commentators have no direct contact with, are in error. So that particular posting will not see the light of day on this blog."


Sorry, Bob, but I think that that is dishonest. If M has something to share, then it should be posted, well, unless it is so horrible or vulgar that it is not appropriate to post. I can't imagine M posting something that horrible. Out of most of the commenters on this blog, M has shown the most kindness and respect to everyone. To tell someone that he or she is wrong, that doesn't sound like M to me. What it sounds like to me is that M wrote something that you don't want Elder Connors to read. Why not? What are you so afraid of?

Are you going to start censoring my comments now?

Furthermore, telling someone that they, or their beliefs, are in error - isn't that what you and Walker and others do all the time on this blog to people, mostly Christians, who post comments? What you told M just now, I believe, is hypocritical.

One more thing, if there are other comments that you haven't posted just because you haven't had time to respond, that is not fair either since you seem to post Elder Connor's and Walker's comments immediately. It is unjust. If you do that, people will stop reading and responding to your blog.

M said...

Hello again Bob. I don't think that there was anything in that comment that I submitted that was not appropriate or not fitting to this blog and I certainly didn't tell Elder Connors that he was wrong. I told him what I believe. That is different.

I just got an email from Nick about it and I agree with him. I think if you block people's comments, they will stop reading your blog.

elder connors said...

Well i might have said that wrong and I apologize if I seemed big headed with my comment about the Church's growth. I just am glad to see it isn't a big rise like a fad, but at the same time we aren't losing members more than gaining members. What I was trying to say is the modern Christian don't see the LDS in such a bad light as they used to in past decades. Just wanted to clear that up.

Walker said...

"if the gospel that Christ taught while He was alive was monotheistic, that scholar will most certainly tell you yes."

An excellent book on the subject of Christian monotheism is James F. McGrath's 'The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context' (University of Illinois Press: 2009). I quoted it earlier. He explains, "It is certainly true that the earliest Christians were not trinitarians in the modern sense. But neither were they monotheists in the modern sense. Perhaps the most important result of...biblical studies in general, is that the early Christians were regularly not anything at all in the modern sense but inhabited a world view and cultural context fundamentally different from ours. It is an unsettling result...in particular for Protestants who traditionally emphasize that anyone at all can read and interpret the Bible. The truth of the matter is that, for those readers without knowledge of ancient languages, ancient cultures, and other subjects, the meaning of the Bible is at times not at all clear, while at other times it can seem to clearly mean things that it is unlikely to have meant in its original context."

The book explains that the term "one God" in the New Testament did not mean "one God in existence," but was a term of incomparability. Judaism(s) recognized a number of divine mediators or second gods (Logos, Wisdom, Metatron, Yahoel, Jacob, Melchizedek, etc.) in the 1st century. The language found in the Book of Revelation regarding Christ and God the Father fits this Jewish agency tradition (i.e. God placing His titles and authority upon a separate agent). Jesus comfortably fit within the context of divine mediators.

"If prior to the rabbinic intervention a Jew could believe comfortably in the Logos, Wisdom, Metatron, Yahoel, or the supernal Jacob as a hypostasized second God, once the denial of such beliefs had been named "Judaism" by Christians in order to set themselves off theologically from Jews, the countermove for rabbinic Jews resisting Christianity was an obvious one. Two Powers in Heaven became the primary heresy for the Rabbis, and Modalism, the Christian heresy par excellence, became the only "orthodox" theology allowed to Jews." (Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity, University of Pennsylvania Press: 2006)

Walker said...

Also, Margaret Barker's research has everything to do with connecting First Temple Israel to early Christianity. Her book 'The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God' (Westminster John Knox Press: 1992) displays Jesus as the incarnate Yahweh, the son of El Elyon. This was a restoration in a sense of the early Israelite religion. She sums her views up quite nicely in her article "The Second Person," The Way 43/1 (Jan. 2004), which is available online.

Walker said...

I apologize. I left one article off regarding the early anthropomorphism in Christianity:

David L. Paulsen, "Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity: Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses," Harvard Theological Review 83:2 (1990)

It would be best to read that, then his 2002 article, then the one from BYU Studies.

Tony said...

Love to see how Nick and David were thoroughly whomped when it came to actually providing any scholarship to back up their claims. The attempts at actual logical argumentation and the subsequent failing were also hilarious. Perhaps they should actually read the books that they so adamantly cut and paste on threads before they try to pretend they know something about their contents. Just more Christian love to go around, it would seem. But I'm sure they'll just respond with a "nu'uh, you bigot!". So be it. Anyone who actually reads through the posts will see that the self-proclaimed victors have shown themselves to be otherwise.

Also, someone should probably let JD know that actually, John the Baptist (emphasis on baptist) was baptizing long before Acts 2, as were Christ and His Apostles, if we are to believe the Biblical account. The Jews that came to John the Baptist sure seemed to realize what he was doing and were familiar with it, as they had a similar understanding with the Mikveh, if I'm not mistaken.