Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ex-Bishop Telling Ex-Truth

There is a former LDS bishop and his wife who left the LDS Church about seven years ago who have a radio program dedicated to attacking Mormonism.  I met them last summer in the streets of Manti, and his hubris and lack of knowledge about what he proclaimed himself to be an expert was striking to me.  He dressed as a bishop, white shirt and tie, dark suit and an (un-bishop-like) name tag.  We spoke for several minutes, and he had several strawmen arguments which focused on trying to create a false dilemma between Church leaders and a false "everybody knows" type of understanding.

He said Joseph Smith lied about his plural wives and John Taylor lied about LDS doctrine while serving in England.  He asked if I would find it proper to remain in a Church which condoned lying?  Because I didn't agree with the premise, And would not have time to define terms, I said "Maybe."  He feigned shock, and asked how could that be?  I told him him that since the Bible showed that God could lie about some things, I wasn't going to judge his servants.  He then said a couple of times and in a couple of ways, "If you can show me where God lies to someone or causes someone to lie to them at His direction, I will leave Manti and never return." (BTW, I have it all on tape.  We'll see if he keeps his word.)

Well, let me say that I don't have the entire Bible memorized, so it took me about 4-minutes or so to find the verse I had in mind.  But I did remember.  It is the story related by the prophet Michiah of God sitting in council with the hosts of heaven to find a way to punish Ahab.  A spirit steps forward and says he would put a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets Ahab consulted, and kill Ahab.  God agrees and then orders the lying spirit to deceive Ahab.  And it did.  Here is the critical passage:  "Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee."  (1 Kings 22:23)

I slapped him on the back, and said it had been nice seeing him, we would miss him.  It was quite late, so I started to leave.  He asked if I would want to come on his radio program, and I said he probably wouldn't let me talk, because that is his nature.  But we exchanged emails, and he sent me an invite.  I had no real interest in being on his program, but that may change.

So this past Saturday, November 21, 2015, as I was driving home from a grandchild's birthday party, I heard him and his wife on their radio program stating that their 10 phone lines are always open because Mormons cannot respond to their well documented attacks on the Church.  I had called two weeks earlier to try and discuss Mormon concepts of the Bible's value, since the New Testament is my favorite of all books in the world, and he had diverted it to a discussion about the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 17:11, where the JST describes circumcision as symbolic of children's accountability at the age of 8 years.  Baker, the anti-Mormon's last name, had asserted the JST changed the date of circumcision from 8 days to 8-years.  In fact, it does no such thing, as verse 17 clearly states male children are to be circumcised on the 8th day.  Here is a link to the Joseph Smith Papers where a photo copy of the original JST manuscript can be seen, and you can read for yourself.

So I called in, got put on hold for 12 minutes or so as the guy blathered on about the Book of Abraham, and they put me on.  I think it is about at the 32 minute mark in their online archive.  They asked me my question, so I said I had called in two weeks earlier, and we had got cut off when he threw out the passage about circumcision being changed, and I asked if he had ever read the JST, not just the excerpts from the LDS scriptures.  He danced around a little, but acknowledged he had the version printed by the Reorganized LDS Church.  So I pointed out that verse 11 was not teaching circumcision on the 8 year old birthday, but in fact was talking about accountability, and that verse 17 clearly taught it was still to be done on the 8th day.  I said this made his entire argument false and fall apart.  They immediately went to commercial and dropped me (the last time they carried me through the commercial to continue discussing), and since they had no other callers, clearly this was just to get me off the air.  He then got on air and said I was irrational and that it didn't matter what I had said, because the part about 8-days in verse 17 was an unchanged part of the Bible, and it was done years later.

Literally everything he said was wrong and false.  I would have happily engaged on the Book of Abraham had they allowed me to stay, but I wasn't given the chance or asked.  In any case, as I always say, if the truth about Mormonism is so bad, why do people need to lie about it.  The fact he has before mentioned going to the Joseph Smith Papers website and that he has a copy of the RLDS JST means he is either stupid and has been duped, or he is a deceptive liar.  He really has taken any third option off of the table by claiming to have read from these original documents.

I will try to circle back and get the link for their webcast where they put me on air both weeks.  But you can always know that when someone's main credential is they were a Mormon for "x" number of years and held some high position, that they are probably lacking in the facts department.  Reminds me of Shawn McCraney.  I would love to have a conversation of substance.  I started from a position that maybe he and his wife are just confused.  I will let you decide if that holds up to the light of continuing Truth.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Refusing Calvinism

I mentioned a while back about running into Matt Slick at the Manti Pageant, and his refusal to honestly answer what Acts 2:38 was teaching.  I have been listening to a lot of online debates between various individuals over the past several weeks, and came upon a debate between Matt Slick and a fellow named Lou Rugg.  I have never heard of Lou Rugg before, but he was arguing the Free Will position in opposition to Mr. Slick's Calvinistic based predestination.

Towards the end of the debate, Mr. Rugg cited a passage from Proverbs 1:23-29 which I personally find the most devastating response to Calvinism's Irresistible Grace I have ever heard.

To catch everyone up, Irresistible Grace is the doctrine that God will save those he choses for salvation, no matter what their state is emotionally or otherwise.  In other words, if God wants you saved, he will regenerate you so that you will then unfailingly exercise faith and confession and persevere in the faith to salvation, and no one or no thing can get in the way, including yourself.  In Calvinism, there is no free will.

So Mr. Rugg cites Proverbs 1:24.  It reads
24But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,

The whole passage is about God, through Wisdom, calling us to accept Him and be saved.

But man refuses.  Remember, God called.  Remember Romans 8:30?
30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Mr. Rugg cited a few more verses, but the damage is obvious.  So then he asks Mr.Slick the critical question at the 59 minute mark of their debate:
"I’m going to ask you to put the word refuse in a logical sentence where the person refusing isn’t able..."

Mr. Slick replied he did not think that he could put it in a sentence without thinking about it for a while first.  Mr. Rugg then clearly explained the problem, and essentially taunted Mr. Slick to answer:

"I asked you to put the word refuse in a sentence where the person refusing isn’t able. It should be easy for you. I mean, Matt, even for us to continue? This is showing ability. They refused. They could’ve. In other words, Matt, I’m sitting in my chair right now. I refuse to stand up. That means I can stand up. I’m able to stand up, but I am refusing to stand up. If I have no legs I can’t refuse to stand up, I’m unable to stand up. Because I have called and you refused, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. First of all the word choose implies ability. The word refuse, implies ability."

Mr Slick responded by saying he needed time to respond, and he would publish an answer later. Here is what he wrote: 
 "I, an atheist, refuse to believe in the Biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will even though the Bible tells me to believe in him." There, he cannot do what he is commanded to do by God. Now, if you say that God then enables him, then you admit he can’t do what is commanded to do on his own. He has to be enabled.
This, of course, is a complete waste of electronic type.  The challenge issued by Mr. Rugg was to use the word "refused" in a logical manner, consistent with the passage in Proverbs 1:24.  The verse in 1:24 states clearly that the people "refused" to respond.  People can only refuse to do something if there is a possibility or ability to do the thing they are refusing to do.

Instead, Mr. Slick plays this game of redefining terms into his own circular reasoning to reach the result through fiat of terms.  Mr. Slick's approach is akin to someone unable to vote because they are too young saying:
"I, an under-age minor, refuse to vote in the election, even though my civics teacher says everyone should vote."

The minor could not vote. If you define believing in God as God irresistibly calling you, then there is no logical or possible way for an atheist or anyone else to believe in God unless God gives you that ability.  Only a Calvinist would think that if God enables you to believe, you must believe.  Yet the Bible teaches we have agency.  We have a will which, in matters of our personal salvation, is honored by God, and we are allowed to harden our hearts, despite God trying to save us.  Consider this passage from Ephesians 4:17-24:
17So I say this, and insist in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. 19Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20But you did not learn about Christ like this, 21if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, 23to be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.
This passage drips with choice, learning and the ability to reject God's gracious gifts.

In other words, Matt Slick proves again that not only are his Calvinistic arguments illogical, but when he says something totally stupid, he will beat his chest and claim victory.

I refuse to applaud such silliness.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Manti 2015 Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brochures Anyone

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

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

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