Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Solving the Christian Puzzle

If you missed it, there's a good laugh and some valuable insights to be had by reading Solving the Christian Puzzle by John Tvedtnes, who shows how modern anti-Mormon scare tactics could have been applied against Christian in the 1st century.

Almost as entertaining is the rebuttal of Tvedtnes' work on a non-LDS Christian site.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The rebuttal is quite entertaining. It's amazing that, by showing that how the Christians behaved really IS biblical, its author doesn't even realize that he is merely reinforcing Tvedtnes' whole point.

Anonymous said...

Seeing that Holding's Website is mentioned, Jeff, have you read Benjamin McGuire's paper that reviews Holding's argument about Wisdom Christology? It is accessible at www.kevingraham.org/jp2.pdf

It is an interesting read, to say the least.

Robert Boylan

Ryan said...

The rebuttal is quite entertaining.
++

I don't think he realized who the "discovery" was poking fun at...

Bro. Tvedtnes has hit on a great idea -- recycle all modern anti into "1st century rabbinical writings" and let the friendly fire begin as the other side picks it apart for him.

I wonder how many they'd be willing to "solve" before they noticed what was going on?

Anonymous said...

Not too relevant, but can someone explain the proper pronunciation of "Tvedtnes"?

Anonymous said...

"Tvedtnes" is pronounced "T-we [as in the "we" sound of "wet"]-nes." It is Ukranian (John's parents are originally from Ukraine, though he was born in Mandan, North Dakota). It should be rather obvious that I am a huge fan of his writings...:P

Robert Boylan

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I guess I have to disagree with this post - Mormonism is not a Christian religion, nor is Islam. Not a slam; just noticing 'respected' differences. If Mormonism is Christian, why would there be such a fervent need to evangelize other Christians? See, as a Catholic, I can study other religions and determine (by definition of Christian) hey, they are or are not Christian. I'm not 'determining' salvation, or 'hierarchy' in beliefs - just that when categorizing religions, that's what one does. Thus, dialogue is done Ecumenically (between Christians; who have the same core beliefs and go from there) or Interrelgiously (between Christians & non-Christians; who find 'common ground')

What 'bothers' me are those religions who think they are Christian, but in fact, are not. No big deal - just shows some kind of hidden agenda. Here's what I found online:

"One must ask what it means to be Christian if one rejects the two thousand year history of what in fact is Christianity. Christianity is inescapably doctrinal but it is more than doctrines. Were it only a set of doctrines, Christianity would have become another school of philosophy, much like other philosophical schools of the Greco-Roman world. Christianity is the past and present reality of the society composed of the Christian people. As is said in the Nicene Creed, "We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." [note: catholic=universal; not THE Roman Catholic church)] That reality encompasses doctrine, ministry, liturgy, and a rule of life. Christians disagree about precisely where that Church is to be located historically and at present, but almost all agree that it is to be identified with the Great Tradition defined by the apostolic era through at least the first four ecumenical councils, and continuing in diverse forms to the present day. That is the Christianity that LDS teaching rejects and condemns as an abomination and fraud."

I would be interested in how much 'Christian Church' reading most LDS folks have done; e.g. early church 'fathers,' (Augustine, Justin, etc.)? Or, is The Book of Mormon (and other writings of Joseph Smith/Brigham Young) 'It'? (outside of The Bible)

Mormanity said...

Anti-Mormon link was deleted in the anonymous comment above.

Mormonism is not a Christian religion, nor is Islam. Not a slam; just noticing 'respected' differences. If Mormonism is Christian, why would there be such a fervent need to evangelize other Christians?

Of course it's a slam. A slam and a groundless insult. Many Evangelicals witness to and "evangelize" non-evangelical Christians - does this make Evangelicals non-Christian? When Catholics preach to and convert Protestants or vice-versa, who are the non-Christians?

I think you'll find LDS apologists read a lot more early Christian writings than our typical critics, largely because there is such a treasure trove of pro-LDS material there. It was in the early days of the Apostolic Fathers - before all the Councils called by pagan emperors and dominated by those trained in pagan Greek philosophy - that we find remarkable parallels to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed through Joseph Smith. Reading the Apostolic Fathers, one does not find the concept of a bodiless Godhead of one immaterial substance with three person in one Being. One does not find many of the much later doctrines that are used by our critics to exclude our status as Christians. One finds beliefs and systems and teachings that often sound a lot like an LDS General Conference. See Barry Bickmores works on Mormonism and Early Christianity - the insights are tremendous, and we really enjoy reading those primary materials.

Why not start with the Didache, with its references to living prophets, and then the Pastor of Hermas, where you'll encounter proxy baptism for the dead, and then continue with Clement and numerous other early Christians with teachings that would get them condemned today by our critics.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't surprised about your rebuttal about my comment about Mormonism not being Christian - I was surprised to see the 'removed' link to be referred to as 'anti-Mormon' though! I read the entire article, and at first thought it was written by a Mormon, it sounded so pro-Mormon. It didn't come across as anti-Mormom, in my humble opinion. However, I am Christian; believing that Jesus is the ONLY son of God, period, amen. I will never be Jesus, nor will you, nor any other person (human). That's what Christians believe. Do you still consider Mormons Christians based on that last sentence?

Also, being Christian, I would rather be martyred than become a Mormon...or for that matter, Islam or other non-Christian religion. I am also a woman, and since Christianity (albiet, ya'll believe we are really not Christians, rather we are an abomination of 'Christians') has given me freedom of salvation through Jesus Christ - and Him alone - I would never want to choose to believe I'd have to have salvation through a mortal man (remember...mortal men never become God/gods)! Christianity doesn't bind us based on what sex, or color we are - how freeing. I guess since the pic on the blog is of a white male, you wouldn't even think of what I am saying is credible. (But, this is Christianity...Western, Eastern, catholic.... - but from what I've read about Mormonism; that faith has problems with other 'Christians.' Why is it that Catholics do not have any 'problems' with other Christians....meaning: we do not believe only Catholics are saved - or get to Heaven. Did you know that? And that yes, we do preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ - but that is for every ear to hear (Christian/non-Christian)...not to have converts...but that is every Christian's 'mission.' (and if you must, use words;-)

I have another question too; if Joseph Smith was THE Prophet, how could any follower of his NOT believe in his revelation about celestial marriages? Is it something similar to the Bible and it's interpretations; e.g. John chapter 6: Catholics believe in Jesus literal words of 'This is MY Body...' and other Christians believe it's just symbolic. I just figured what Joseph Smith wrote could not be interpreted any other way... Can you help me understand?

Again, I hope you don't think I am anti-Mormon (or anti-Islam)...it's just not for me (just as Catholicism isn't for you)! If you want to believe that, go ahead! (as for Islam, I could not stop believing in a loving Father - and since they choose not to believe Jesus as the Son of God (Blasphemy!) - they know God only as something intangible...vs. personal)

Anonymous said...

I guess since the pic on the blog is of a white male, you wouldn't even think of what I am saying is credible.

What bigotry, ma'am!

Anonymous said...

I apologize if that was offensive, I hope your comment was 'in jest' - you do have a sense of humor, don't you? In any case...I am not a bigot, and you should know one thing about Catholicism (which isn't Catholic bashing): we have a male oriented structure - there is no way I'll ever become a priest, bishop, cardinal, pope - is that bigotry? I think not. So, I will refrain from name calling, if others will so too! I will not be offended if others say the Catholic church is a patriarchal religion. It is! I will not be offended if others say that the Catholic church has priests who have molested children - it does! These are facts - not bigotry, nor hatred. I guess what I've learned in almost a half a century is that it is much better to call a spade a spade, than to hem-haw or disguise it. Were the crusades an embarrassment to our past? Think so, but we 'own' it and have apologized for it..and hopefully this will never happen again. My husband and I have always invited our Mormon visitors (those on bikes or walk into our neighborhood) into our homes. We have always shared, and listened. I would never try to convert them to my religion, I just like to share. I just assume they are not trying to convert either...it's always been a very nice exchange.

So, my bluntness is not hatred or bigotry...it's just that the internet/e-mail is very hard to use in expressing oneselves (unless you're really good with words..I'm not)!

Thanks for sharing!

Mormanity said...

The link you gave was from a leading anti-Mormon site. But since you don't think it's a "slam" to pass on the anti-Mormon allegation that we're not even Christian, in spite of Christ being the center of our faith, I can see how you wouldn't recognize anti-Mormon material in the first place. But let me assure you that authors who actively deceive people about our core beliefs by saying we don't believe in Christ are not friendly people just trying to share empirical facts. They are most dishonest.

You claim to have talked with Mormons. Did you not recognize that the name of our Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Did you not notice that our religion is centered on Jesus Christ, that we believe in the Bible and in a second witness of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon? Had you glanced through the book, you would find it to be heavily centered on Christ. If you attended LDS services, you would see that every prayer is in the name of Jesus, that every sermon is in the name of Jesus, and the the highlight of our services is the sacrament in which we remember the body and blood of Jesus Christ, renewing the covenants we make at baptism to follow Jesus Christ.

I'm so puzzled about your statements. How could you not recognize that it is offensive to call us a non-Christian religion? How could you believe this and be so smug about it?

OK, I'll bite. What unusual definition of "Christian" are you using?

Anonymous said...

Instead of what definition of Christianity...there are several. The thought of any new 'Christian' religion that could claim that new revelations can correct, supplement, or complete the Christian faith, is worthy of a new religion that would be 'better than' what Jesus has already established here on earth...is just not the nature of God. He (God) has a DNA too; and any new revelation that has come after His Son, Jesus has said the same thing. Reminding us all to LIVE differently...not begin a new religion! Somehow, I can understand someone coming up with a really new revelation - other than Christianity - to start their own church. I believe that there are too many Christian sects that began because someone's feelings were hurt, or they couldn't really believe in having an authority figure/structure hovering over them...but, those are not the ones my spirit is cautioned against. The denominations who say, 'we are Christian' but also believe, 1) they are God's chosen and other Christian religions are poor representations of what God intended or 2) that other Christians will 'enjoy' middle heaven - they will not be in the top heaven where devout 'specific religion/perhaps Mormons' will be. These are not Christian beliefs....now, Islam - they do believe that, but they don't claim to be Christian.

Also, the Bible contains many books. These books were 'approved' by a church body, not just a few men. We all believe that the Holy Spirit guided the writers of these books, and it had been passed down for the centuries orally, then written...and then scrutinized by many to determined which books should be included in the Bible, right? Why would there have to be another revelation to supplement (and drastically change) what had already been written? (e.g.Book of Mormon, Discourse, etc.) And not just more books - but an altogether NEW Christian religion? How were the revelations of Joseph Smith scrutinized? (in our religion, we too have private revelations - however, if they are not 'tested' by a spiritual advisor ...or 2 or 3 - things could get a little weird.)

In the 13th century, there was a revolution (among several over the centuries) within the church. A new religion wasn't started. A new 'bible' wasn't introduced. What revolutionized Christianity was the life of a young man; Francis of Assisi. He 'knew' how to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which the church didn't, at that time). He didn't go off by himself to start somethine new: he was under authority (1st: God, then the church). He was first rejected by his local bishop, but after that bishop had a dream, he listened to Francis. Francis was granted 'permission' (under the church's authority, which of course is from Jesus, handed down to Peter (in the Catholic/Christian faith)). He didn't change a thing God SAID. However, his LIFE spoke of what God had said. Can you say the same for Joseph Smith? If you can, then okay. But I think Joseph Smith came up with celestial marriage to accommodate his sexuality. (and marriage to me is not saying 'God says we should get married' but the woman is asked and she has FREE will to say no (without thinking she'll be banished from the top heaven).

Jesus: all Christians believe His birth was not God having physical, sexual relations with the Virgin Mary (Jesus' birth was not conceived by the Father, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit). Christ is not an inferior god - and has existed from all eternity. Also, Christians do not believe that God was created by his heavenly parents. Do Mormons believe that Christ's divinity is equal to that of His Father's because He merely joins the end of a long line of gods who have preceded him...an infinite 'regression' of divine beings? (if so, this isn't Christian doctrine) Do Mormons believe in a plurality of gods; each one ruling his own creation? Christians do not believe that we will become gods. (Joseph Smith's King Follett Discourse)

Question for you: I've told you my faith: Catholic - do you, as a Mormon believe that Catholics are Christian (as Mormons are Christian)? If so, would you still come to my house and hope that I would be converted to Mormonism? Is my salvation in Jesus Christ - or let me state it this way: If I am an upright Catholic, do you think that I will enjoy the top heaven too?

On the lighter side, when I discuss my faith with others I like to ask, 'so, what are ya'll still protesting? (Protestants) Interesting question, don't you think? Like you and me, we are works in progress. Don't make judgements yet, the Artist is not yet finished! Blessings....

Mormanity said...

If I understand you correctly, your definition of "Christian" requires that there be no new revelation (at least not after Christ) and no new scripture. You might wish to revise this definition for the various problems it presents.

This was the standard that was used to condemn Christianity in the first place. Why was a new religion needed? Why was new revelation needed? They already had the Law of Moses and the Old Testament. But along came Christ with His new Gospel (actually a fulfilment of the Law, but still new and apostate in the eyes of Jewish leaders), and along came the early Christians - AFTER Christ - who added new writings like the New Testament.

In fact, the Bible teaches that Christians had prophets among them and ongoing revelation. Paul had a vision, Peter had visions and revelations, John had visions and prophecies, and as these men wrote and shared these revelations, new scripture was added over time.

Early Christians did not believe the canon of scripture was closed or that revelation was finished. That did not occur until the Montanist controversy, resulting in a decree near the beginning of the 3rd century that new revelations would not be accepted. But it wasn't until the 3rd century that Christians began to teach that revelation was over. Sadly, that teaching itself was a result of apostasy and contradicts the record of the Bible, which foretells of revelations and prophets in the last days (end of Joel 2, Revelation 11, see also Eph. 4:11-14 to understand that prophets were a part of the original Church, etc.).

The problem with your definition of "Christian" is that would exclude Christ and the earliest Christians. Do you see what I mean? When people create a special definition of "Christian" to say that Mormons aren't Christian, that definition usually backfires in this way. Ironic, in my opinion. I hope you can see my point.

It's OK to disagree with whether our teachings are valid or not, and to argue whether or not scripture is closed, but disagreeing on those points does not change the fact that we believe in Jesus Christ, worship Christ, and look to Christ for salvation. Even if we are wrong on all sorts of issues, can't you accept that we at least believe in Christ and are Christian? Or must you insist that we are non-Christian because you disagree with some of our views?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain - I do appreciate it!

I agree with you about Paul, Peter, etc. However, are ya'll waiting for the Book of Mormon to be added to the Bible collection? Yes, there are a multitudes of added 'revelations' at Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc - even our Catechism of the Catholic Church. (which is a teaching of the Nicene Creed/Our Father, our faith). However, nothing has been ADDED. Jesus Christ, period. Even those who have witnessed the apparition of Mary, (I'm not one) have volumes of books stating the same thing of her message: listen to my Son (Jesus). Pray. Repent.(stop sinning)

I'm very wary of Jews who say that they think Jesus was a good prophet. They can say that all day long....but the Jewish faith must have believed He was a blasphemer - the reason He was sent to Pilate/Herod. To those Jews I will state: gee, how could you say He's a good prophet on one hand...and a blasphemer on another? See what I am saying? It's double talk. Maybe political correctness has gone overboard. I'm not calling those Jews 'liars' or being 'mean' - just asking them to say what they really believe! If He was such a good prophet, why didn't they adopt his message (God as His/their Father, Him as the Messiah; their Savior!)??? Does that make sense to you?

There are several 'Catholics' out there (I used to be one) who claim to be 'Catholic' - like Nancy Pelosi, Arnold Swartzennager (sp?), John Kerry - and they are not. Usually, when asked what religion one is, we reply with what we were raised in. Not necessarily the faith that we practice. Am I being hateful by saying that these folks are not Catholic? I don't think so. If someone is what they claim to be - their life will show it (as will their voting record). I cannot vote for a pro-abortion candidate AND call myself a Catholic, but many folks do. Mitt Romney - a Mormon - but really? How could he have his clerks of MA (when he was gov) issue marriage licenses to same sex couples...and then claim to believe in the tennants of Mormonism?? (& be on the conservative ticket?!) (another topic/another forum!)

So, since you think we are all Christians (those of us who claim to be), why the need to send the Elders to Christian houses to evangelize? I don't think Christians evangelize other Christians, do you?

Pope Benedict XVI (and previous popes) proclaim Jesus to the world - but not to get converts to Catholicism! It is because the Gospel (of Jesus Christ) compels him. It is their souls - not church affiliation - he's concerned with.

I'll be exploring more of your faith. For now, I'll just agree to disagree, which I respect your right to do also. And look forward to more sharing on your site. Enjoy the journey....