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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Paul: Preaching Christ Means Teaching Repentance and Doing Works Meet for Repentance

In Acts 26, Paul stands before King Agrippa and relates his own First Vision account, an account of meeting the glorified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. As an aside, in Paul's three accounts of this vision (Acts 9, 22, and 26), there are some differences and even arguably contradictions (e.g., compare Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9). However, his accounts, like the differing accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision, can be integrated and understood to be different perspectives on a real experience.

In Paul's last account, as in Joseph Smith's later First Vision accounts, the emphasis is no longer on his status before the Lord, but on the big picture of his mission in taking the Gospel to the world. In Acts 26, verses 16-18 reveal that the Lord told Paul he had a mission as a witness to take the Gospel to many, including the nations of the Gentiles, that many might be turned to God and gain forgiveness. These words to Paul from the Lord represent important information that was not presented before. With that mission in mind, Paul speaks boldly to King Agrippa:
19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Paul was focused on preaching nothing but Christ, the Messiah prophesied by the ancient prophets and witnessed by living apostles and disciples in Paul's day. And this message of Paul about the grace of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was this: that men should "repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (v. 20). That has been the message of God's prophets throughout history. It was a key message of Christ, it was a key message of Paul, and it is a key message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Neither Paul nor we LDS folks mean that these "works meet for repentance" save you or earn your salvation, but they are part of what we need to do to really follow Jesus Christ and fully develop our faith in Him. It's the kind of message that can get you branded as non-Christian in some quarters, but it's core to true Christianity.

So let's all strive to exercise faith in Christ by repenting of our sins, calling upon His forgiveness, and more earnestly following Him. He gives us power to do that if we will believe Him and trust Him.

135 comments:

NM said...

I am always astounded by the fact that my standing with God has never depended upon what I have done, but on what Jesus has done - through perfect obedience, propitiated God's wrath so that through faith, I can be counted as righteous =)

So, when God looks at me, He actually sees His Son...

Good post Jeff, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Are we really saved by Grace?

Russell said...

Yes.

Bookslinger said...

"...so that through faith, I can be counted as righteous =)"

How do you exercise or manifest that faith ?

Kathleen said...

"Neither Paul nor we LDS folks mean that these "works meet for repentance" save you or earn your salvation, but they are part of what we need to do to really follow Jesus Christ and fully develop our faith in Him."

I agree 100%.

NM said...

Yes Anonymous. Grace is the most absurd news I have EVER heard =)

A 'free gift' simply means: you cannot pay for it and 'grace' is a work of God meaning you cannot earn it.

Our part (if at all) is simply to believe, (or to have faith). Notice, and as Kathleen pointed out to me in her blog, that it is God who even gives us this faith. He is involved in every step of salvation =)

Faith is that weird substance of nothingness. It is what enables a baby, not to jump out of his mother's arm, who might then go and prepare a meal or go and mow the lawn. Faith enables the baby to just nestle and coo.. because he knows that he does not have to work to gain his mother's love =)

Grace means there is nothing more that we can do for God to love us more, neither we do anything for God to love us less =)

God loves us just the way we are, and how can we respond to that?!? We cannot. We can but praise Him =)

NM said...

Oh, and I guess all the 'good works' follows afterwards; not that our good works have any bearing on our salvation. Remember, 'grace' means we cannot earn it. Everything that we do after humbly receiving this 'free gift' is IN RESPONSE to it. Therefore 'work' on our part, is easy to accomplish because they are done with thanks-giving =)

JayFlow22 said...

To put grace and works at opposite sides of each other is to create an endless problem to argue. Grace vs. Works becomes a chicken vs. egg argument...you'll do the works if your saved, but the works don't save you...around and around we go.
Grace must work together with works to change our natures to that of Jesus Christ. Our works are necessary for salvation, but far from sufficient for it.
As Nephi tells us, after all that we could possible ever DO...it is by grace that we are saved.

Tymoleus said...

"God loves us just the way we are, and how can we respond to that?!? We cannot. We can but praise Him =)"

Uh, where does that come from? God is actually quite unhappy with where we fallen mortals are. If we love him, we certainly can respond by doing what the scriptures teach: exercise faith in Christ, repent of our sins, and follow him. And yes, that means striving to keep the commandments. It requires exertion of our agency to choose to obey the Gospel and to diligently avoid sin. That's how we exercise and grow our faith in Christ. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" - the words of Christ in Matthew 19.

NM said...

JayFlow,

Please know that what I say to you is done with the utmost respect and my intention is not to be-little you. Please accept my apology if it comes across this way.

I urge you to rethink about your ideas of 'grace'. The way that we 'think' affects the way that we live and vice versa, right?

What you have proposed above is this equation: grace + works = salvation. JayFlow, this is exactly what Paul is warning the Galatians about. Grace + Works is the false gospel...

The people of the church in Galatia were being enticed by false prophets who had sneaked their way in by the back door, and their message was this, "Accept Jesus - yes. But please notice all the other traditions we Israelites have; surely we need to adhere to these too?!"

What is Paul's answer? A resounding NO.

Go back into the Old Testament when God, through Moses, gave the Ten Commandments to Israel. What were the peoples of Israel's response? "Yes God, we will do it!"

...as if the ten commandments was something to be worked for?! Instead of looking to God and saying, "God, we cannot do this, we need You!", they looked to themselves. They then WORKED to make sure they did this - knowing fully well that they fail! And again, instead of looking to God, they turned to legalism.

The Ten Commandments, as we have seen countless times throughout history is that man WILL FAIL. And it serves also to show God's perfection! And that God's standard IS perfection! God is basically saying, "To make it, you need to do ALL of what I have commanded to you"...

What's even worse, was that Jesus added the pressure in saying that it wasn't about outwardly doing the ten commandments, but to make sure we keep the commandments inwardly! Do you remember what he said? Even if you think lustfully about a woman, you've commited adultery! Yipes! Pressure to perform even more? You bet.

The thing is though: we can't do it.

Upon many occassions, notice that while Jesus lived on earth, He rebuked the Pharisees more so than anyone else! Why? Because Jesus saw their self-righteous actions. The Pharisees were the epitome of WORK - their motivation was not to please God, but to seek the approval of men. And JayFlow, I think that if we were to be truly honest with ourselves, we are driven more by the motivation to please men (our elders, our parents, our peers, certainly to please those who aren't doing well) than anything else =/

JayFlow, we are all guilty of the sin of idolatry - we are all guilty of the sin of not loving God more than anything else in our lives. With God out of the picture, our default idol is actually ourselves. The subject for Adam and Eve's fall in believing the serpent's lie about eating the fruit is that we might be like God. The fruit had no supernatural properties. The tree was put there to show our proper place - that is, to be under the Sovereign rule of our Creator =)

So, by choosing to eat the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve effectively said, "God thank you very much, but from now on - I will be my own God".

I have digressed.

It takes Divinity incarnate to absorb the punishment for eternity past and eternity future. Jesus, praise His name, is the one who has done all the work.

So, for us to work on top of what Jesus has already done, actually brings insult to God. Who has ever done anything for God that we should repay Him? No-one! =D

Acknowledge that you are bankrupt and that you have nothing to give. JayFlow, simply receive - and continue to receive until you pass away in this life, if you do this, you will be one of the most radical Christian Mormons the world has ever seen =)

NM said...

Sorry, it should have been:

Who has ever done any work for God that He should repay us?!

A little lapse in concentration there.

*ahem*

NM said...

Tymoleus,

BTW, thank you for taking up a handle =)

I've seen this, "To enter into enternal life, keep my commandments" arguement by even my closest friends =) And you know what? I agree! Tymoleus, I whole-heartedly agree with you! We DO NEED TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS =D

All I ask is that you just need to keep a check on your motivation whilst trying to accomplish this ;)

Time and time again, I hear (even from ministers) Christianity introduced as doing something contrary to what you want to do =(

And if we take this line of thinking, Christianity is just about gritting your teeth whilst you witness or whilst you read your Bible etc. You don't want to do it, but you do it anyway, because you know it's good for you - or something like that.

THIS IS NOT CHRISTIANITY.

Christianity is actually about doing what you want to do! (?!?!?) Err..what?! But, I hear you say, this sounds more like hedonism that christianity!

Here it is: Christianity is a transformation. And this transformation is God's doing. It is about acknowledging that we are bankrupt and that all we can do is receive. This supernatural transformation is what enables us to do whatever we want to do. Because what we want to do is what God wants to do!

Without this transformation, we just end up 'working FOR our salvation' instead of 'working IN RESPONSE to our salvation'. =)

To know that God has done ALL THE WORK makes it easy to fulfill the first and greatest commandment; and that is to love God with all our heart! =D Don't you find that just absolutely amazing?!

So, when Jesus said, To enter into eternal life, keep my commandments, we need to also to consider what is the greatest commandment. Because as long as we keep the greatest of these commandments, every other commandement WILL fall into its place. =)

Nat

Alan said...

Sounds like NM is creating a huge theology in order to read "Keep my commandments" to be something other than what he said.

It is Christ's role to be the Savior and to judge if we are worthy to be called his disciples.

It is our job to follow the commandments and be the best disciples or followers of Christ that we can be.

The exact nature of the atonement can be argued all day long, but the scriptures are painstakingly clear about the need for us to do certain things and live a certain way.

Alan said...

My comment was written while NM was making his last comment, so I'll try again.

Now it sounds like he agrees with the original post: "He gives us power to do that (faith, repentance, etc) if we will believe Him and trust Him."

There are lots of other points in the comments to discuss (which probably would just recover ground these discussions have covered 1000's of times), but I did want to acknowledge that comment.

Ryan said...

NM,

Here are a couple of honest questions for you. Hopefully they come across as respectfully as I mean them, because I would really like to know what your thoughts are:

1. Why did we come to earth? I ask because I believe that we existed -- and God loved us unconditionally -- before we ever came here. At the simplest extreme (which I doubt you believe), if our only purpose in life was to lose God's love through sin and (hopefully) receive it back through grace, it seems like this life would serve only to risk the souls God cares so much about.

2. What will "saved" people spend the eternities doing, and being, after this life? Why does God want to save them? Again, if it is simply a matter of receiving His love, we had that before we ever came to earth.

I would be more than happy to give you my answers to these two questions in return, if you would like them.

Kathleen said...

Quick, someone, define "salvation".

NM said...

Hi Alan,

Thank you for your response. I sincerely hope that I haven't gone off the wall with this kind of theology =) Although most of my peers, even my wife - tell me to 'come back down to earth'.

Can I just add though, that this 'Sovereign Grace' theology is nothing new. People like Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, AW Pink, the puritans etc. have been commenting on just how absurd, yet wonderful it all is =)

Again, I must agree with you on all counts. Jesus - through the gospel writers, Paul, the apostles and other writers did give the saints commands for which to live by =)

Ryan,

Thank you for these two points. I really appreciate your honesty.

Hmm, I will of course need time to mull over these two questions, but I think that my first observation would be to say that: we seem to understand the Bible in two different paradigms.

(I think) you approach a different perspective to what I view the Bible. How can this be? I hear you ask. Dave D made a wise observation when he said that we are guilty of coming to the Bible with differing pre-conceptions. And (I think) we discussed) how difficult this is to manage. To stay 'true' to the text, we need to understand the Bible in its entirety - not just little bits here and there which also seem to happily correlate with our pre-conceived ideas of who God is and who we are etc.

It might also be useful for me to state this: that God, irrespective of how we feel about Him, about how we think about Him and how we think we might want to respond/not respond to Him, exists. He simply is.

So, I guess our part is to try and understand who He is as revealed in His word. =)

I think that from reading even the first of your two questions is that you have presupposed that we have eternally existed before time.

It might come as a surprise to you that nowhere in the bible does it say that human-beings have ever existed before time. I think the Bible seems to show that human beings had a beginning... and that it is only God who has existed from eternity to eternity...

Ryan, could you point me to where it says that we as humans have eternally existed? My guess is that you have found this 'paradigm' in the Book of Mormon.

So, I must take issue that we are already engaging in two separate paradigms and anything that I might say to answer your two questions will result in either a false-positive or mis-communication =)

Please know - I don't really know my Bible that well either (let alone the Book of Mormon!). And if you could point to something in Scripture that implies that we have existed before time, then I could hopefully learn more from you... =)

I think your two questions have led to other questions to be openned. And if Jeff might be kind enough to open a new topic to look at the validity of the Book of Mormon and it's relation to the Bible with regard to man's eternal existence, I'd be VERY grateful =)


And yes, someone define 'salvation'?!

NM said...

Oh, and Ryan,

I'd love to hear the answer to your two questions =)

richdurrant said...

Num 16:22, Eccl 12:7, Jer 1:5, Acts 17:28, are a few to get started with and let us know what you think. there are of coarse several in the other scriptures we use, including the Book of Mormon, but to get started there are references in the Bible.

Just to put in my two cents on the work thing. Whether you call it working out your salvation or not, there are certain things that must be done for our salvation. Baptism comes to mind as well as keeping commandments. So don't call it working out your salvation but call it the fruits of belief, you still must "do" them for salvation. In the end we will be judged according to our works, whether they be good or bad, and it is biblically taught.

tatabug said...

Here is a link to the definition of salvation according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. I will attempt to summarize my understanding, but I think the Enclyclopedia of Mormonism offers a more concise definition.

In Mormonism, it is a somewhat complicated topic because there are different degrees and kinds of salvation. There is physical salvation, wherein we are freed from death, since we will each receive resurrected bodies regardless of whether we accept Christ or not. That is a free gift. Then there is salvation which refers to our inheritance in Heaven. This will vary according to our faithfullness, and everyone, except for the sons of perdition (which will be comparatively few), will receive a degree of glory, even the vilest of sinners. I think this is where a lot of the confusion lies. True, we don't have to do anything to be saved, because it is through the grace of Christ that we are saved, and we will each receive a measure of salvation regardless, but our devotion to Christ through our actions will determine the degree of salvation we are worthy to receive.

dave d said...

NM,

Some Bible passages relating to our pre-earth existence:

Ecclesiastes 12:7 – “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Can we return to somewhere we have never before been?

Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” It is not “when you were in the belly” but “before”. And I believe that an ordination, as it was understood, required an actual person to ordain and not just knowledge of some future person.

John 9:2 – “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Obviously, someone could not sin before they even existed. It requires that this man had an existence before his birth in order to sin before his birth. The Lord’s response is that he didn’t sin, not that he couldn’t have sinned because he didn’t exist yet.

Acts 17:28 – “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Maybe this just means that He created us here, but I take this a bit more literally….

Romans 8:29 – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [foreordain] to be conformed to the image of his Son…” He knew us beforehand – before this life.

Ephesians 1:4 – “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” Before the foundation of the world is obviously before any of us were here. Yet He knew us then to choose us.

tatabug said...

I suppose I should have also mentioned that when the LDS talk about salvation, it is generally the highest degree of salvation/exaltation attainable. This degree of salvation is the highest degree of the Celestial kingdom, and that's the one that takes all the work and effort to achieve, hence the emphasis on works.

Jon said...

In these types of discussions it always seems to me that Mormons and mainstream Christians talk past each other imagining that there is some huge difference between the systems of belief, when in reality the two describe the exact same process and result but reverse the order and scramble the terms.

For instance, both Mormanity and NM (correct me if I misspeak) can agree that the Christian who keeps the commandments will be saved, but while Mormanity (and myself) sees salvation as a the end result of grace after all we can do, NM sees salvation as something that happens as a precursor resulting in the keeping of commandments. But in both cases the same thing happens: someone believes, keeps commandments, and gains eternal life.

So what's the big deal?

The only reason Mormons are so vehemently opposed to the "sovereign grace" idea is that we fear it robs the Good News of all meaning if it gives license to so-called Christians to act in whatever manner they please having been absolved of any responsibility whatsoever to the moral and doctrinal teachings of Christ (after all, if we don't have to do anything, why even bother us about it? Why even have a Bible?). There is clearly no reason for this fear, if I understand NM correctly.

On the other hand, some mainstream Christians are so horrified by Mormonism's emphasis on works because they think it lessens the all-importance of Jesus Christ's Sacrifice, which, as Mormanity has clearly explained, it doesn't. Some fear that we will do works for the wrong reasons, i.e. out of some greediness for eternal reward a la Simon Magus. Nevertheless, this fear is also groundless, as demonstrated by both Book of Mormon and D&C teachings establishing the futility of such a practice (c.f. Moroni 7, D&C 64:34).

My hypothesis is that when NM and those that share his beliefs speak of "salvation," what they are really talking about is "conversion" if we were to translate it into Mormonspeak. For example, look at what the people of King Benjamin say in Mosiah 5:2-5:

" 2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

4 And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.
5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days"

Doesn't that sound like the process which NM describes? The only difference is that we call it "conversion" and not "salvation", because for us, "salvation" describes the actual attainment of eternal life. We assign it this end position, because we allow for the possibility of falling from the initial grace which we receive (Gal. 5:4; D&C 20:32).

Anyway, in conclusion, I think that the differences in Mormon and mainstream Christian doctrine, while different, aren't as major as they are made out to be.

NM said...

Tatabug,

First of all, thank you for the link. I'll read it as soon as I can.

It seems from what you have just shared that Mormonism seems to be more about what you can do after you have received this 'grace'. So, let me get this straight: in Mormonism, there are different degrees of salvation? And that according to measure of devotion we place on doing things for Christ is what we will get back?

This is just an observation of course, but it seems like Mormonism has put God as your debtor, i.e. what you put is what you get out. Is that right? For example - the kind of relationship that an employer has with his employee? So, if I work a 9-5 day, I'll get my due worth and all that. Is that right?

It also seems that this 'grace' that I have spoken so highly of - in Mormonism has been minimised (and I'm sure that in your eyes it has not, but please just know that from my perspective - it has), i.e. that 'grace' is, if you like, the LS version in cars and if you want the Deluxe version, one must need to work for it etc. Is that right?

Tatubug, I'm sure that all you have said has been said with reverence, and I really want to show respect to what you have written.

NM said...

Jon!

Hey, thank you for that. It just didn't occur to me that when I said the word salvation, in Mormonism, it might mean 'conversion'...!?

How wide the divide!

I think I might need to go and learn some Mormon lingo... =)

Jon said...

NM,

Indeed. Or at least, how wide the *perceived* divide. My point is that even though you say "salvation" and I say "conversion", we're really both describing that all-important moment in which our hearts are changed and our desires become spiritual and we are a "new man" in Jesus Christ. The linguistic divide sometimes deceives us into overestimating the doctrinal divide.

NM said...

Dave D,

Excellent passages in Scripture. For a few of those items of Scripture, can I point you to Mr. Piper? There are two sermons of which he speaks of, the one is called 'Unconditional Election' and the other, 'The Fatal Disobedience of Adam and the Triumphant Obedience of Christ'. These two talks give an account of God's Sovereignty and God's choosing of us - before the foundation of the world! =D

Again, I understand that none of us have much time. We are all pushed for time, but if you find some time - then listen to see what Mr. Piper thinks. =) As ever, click the above username 'nm'. Oh, and a few days ago, I posted a film made by LVHM to show the effect of this 'grace' had on a church that merely believed that salvation was through works...

And, please, I understand that Mormon doctrine DOES pay attention to grace - whereas the church that the documentary focused upon hated the notion of 'grace'...and for exactly the same reasons that most here have expressed - that it leads to licentious living =/

NM said...

jon,

Agreed.

I really do need to learn Mormon lingo...

Bookslinger said...

NM, I still think you're conflating "works of the (Mosaic) law" which are bad, with "good works" which are good.

Paul preached against the former, but he often preached FOR the latter, such as 2 Cor. 9:8, and Ephesians 2:10.

If you read Ephesians 2:10 along with Ephesians 2:8-9, then it's obvious (to me at least) that Paul is talking about two very different kinds of "works."

Every time Jeff mentions the latter type of (good) works, you bring up the former "works of the (Mosaic) Law" thing.

You're lumping all kinds of "works" into one big category, and it's plain (to me at least) that Paul isn't doing that in his epsitles.

Tymoleus also is catching on to the non-biblical "trueisms" that you're inserting into discussions without quoting a source. Such as the
"God loves us just the way we are, and how can we respond to that?!? We cannot. We can but praise Him" line.

JayFlow22 said...

I'm sure Heavenly Father is as saddened at the doctrine that "since we aren't capable of being perfect then nothing is expected of us" as I am.
I liken this problem to a child that has broken a window in the house. So the Father requires the child to do chores around the house for which he pays the child money. That child is indeed working to repay the debt, but who's actually doing the repaying?? It is the Father all along.
It was King Benjamin who told us that we could labor all our days with all the strength of our being and still be unprofitable servants. None of that means the Father does not require "chores" on our part.

tatabug said...

NM,

I'm afraid you are misunderstanding the LDS definition of grace also. Grace is not something we work for or earn. Grace is something that is freely given. It is a divine means of help or strength given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

Nor do we really "earn" salvation. Nothing we can do would be sufficient to make us worthy of salvation. It is grace which makes it possible for our efforts to mean anything at all. If it weren't for the atonement of Christ, our efforts would be meaningless.

Like I said earlier, it is a complicated subject, and if we understood each other better, we might find that we really share many similar beliefs on this subject.

Anyway, I think John has defined things quite well. But while you are checking out "salvation" in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, you might check out "grace" and "justice and mercy" as well in your efforts to understand Mormon lingo.

NM said...

Thanks tatabug. And thank you jayflow for that picture of 'grace' through chores...

Hi BookSlinger,

Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm getting everything a little muddled up =/

Maybe I just need to think a little bit more about what people here are saying to me.

Ryan said...

Hi again, NM

I hope you don't feel too picked on, because I for one really enjoy our discussions -- your thought-provoking comments help me formulate my own thoughts better.

Anyway, to answer my own two questions (but that doesn't let you off the hook -- I'd still love to hear your thoughts):

1. Why did we come to earth? Because God (our Father) wants us to "grow up" to become the absolute best that is divinely possible, and for several reasons this required us to "leave home" and experience mortality away from God's direct and immediate influence. Of course, leaving us to make our own decisions is a terrible risk, but it opens up the potential for us to grow in ways that are otherwise impossible. Will we do all things whatsoever the Lord will command us, even in a fallen world, with a mortal perspective and imperfect knowledge? To quote C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity (available here, end of chapter 8): When He said, "Be perfect," He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder--in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

Which leads into...

2. What does a "saved" person become?". Quite simply, the best thing we allow God to make us. His work and glory are to bring immortality and eternal life to the children He loves so dearly. Can we somehow bring about any of this growth on our own? Not a chance. So, He sent His Son to open up the way, show us the path, give us the strength to follow that path, and forgive us and pick us up when we (repeatedly) fall short. All he leaves for us to do is actually want what he offers and take the steps He gives us life and strength to take. This does imply expended calories, but nobody who sees that path for what it is could possibly think they're doing it on their own. Back to Mere Christianity (end of ch. 9):
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were "gods" and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him-for we can prevent Him, if we choose-He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.

Please note that this is a statement, not an "argument" in the sense of presenting evidence. If it resonates with you, you'll have no difficulty recognizing supporting scripture. If it doesn't, my arguing won't change that (but very well might frustrate you). But, at least you know the background I (and I think a lot of other Mormons) approach the Grace/Works/Faith issue from.

NM said...

Ryan,

Thank you for explaining to me what it means to be a Mormon. I appreciate it.

Hmm, it seems that Mormonism and mainstream Christianity have two separate starting points. And I can see how everything that I say about who God is (that He alone has existed eternally, in complete fellowship with the Godhead) must seem quite frustrating to hear from your perspective. Correct me if I'm getting all this wrong but it seems that your God (who was once a man) conceived us humans a looooong time ago. Is that right? And for some reason, for us to grow and reach some sort of divinity (I don't know what I'm saying here but I think from the little bits that I pick up - I'm trying to piece they system together) God let us go as fathers do to his children...

So, from a Mormon perspective, our status (before taking on human bodies or whatever) were that of gods? Is that right? So, I guess that must mean that the serpent who appeared before Adam and Eve must have been telling the truth? That to eat the fruit, we might know who we really are? That we are equal to God? Am I on the right track with understanding who we are from a Mormon perspective here? Or have I completely missed the mark? So, does that also mean then that Jesus is actually our brother? Literally? So, who is the Holy Spirit?

I too, have read Mere Christianity. But I must admit, it was probably 10 years ago since I last read it. I think I need to re-read it to get the old cogs moving. Do Mormons generally like CS Lewis' books? It's just that when I hover to read Mormon blogs, it seems that one of the top three books include 'Mere Christianity' =)

Coming back to the idea that we are literally God's begotten children, and that we have existed as spirit-children (or whatever), I take it that all of the heart-ache that we experience of human-life on earth are all trials? These are things that God, our literal Heavenly Father knew that we might experience. Is that right?

So, if we are truly gods, how is it that we need to be forgiven? What do we need to be forgiven of? If we truly are gods (because we once were and someday we will take that status again or whatever) then why does God get offended by things like human-pride? I don't see what all the fuss is about (if we truly are gods); why do we such death, disease, destruction in the world? Why do we see children (who were once gods) living in third world countries suffer unneccesarily? For what end? For Adam and Eve who actually did the right thing by eating the fruit because we are gods? I see (and I'm sure you have too) so much and when I say much I mean MUCH suffering of children in this country. I see so many broken relationships; I see wives who have been abused by their husbands, mothers and fathers sexually abuse their sons and daughters - and this is just a small pocket of where I work!

Why all the suffering from an act that Adam and Eve did - which was actually the right thing to do, because it revealed who we really were?

Do I have a point here? Or have I COMPLETELY MISSED the mark (yet again).

Please feel free to correct me =)

NM said...

Please see beyond my seeming crassness. I appreciate what you have written Ryan. And I do truly see the warmth behind what you have written =)

Maybe I have a mild form of autism here, but I just need to see the Mormon theology as a whole; that way I'll be able to understand better and therefore communicate with you guys better =)

Anonymous said...

We were not Gods. We are not Gods yet. Was Jesus Christ a God? No disrespect but I get the impression that you are posing questions that have all ready been asked and answered.

We, Gods sons and daughters are growing to become like our Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ His son learned grace upon grace, line upon line and suffered. The answer to your question about suffering is that it is universal for all and it does not much matter where or how we suffer. It is necessary for all and but a moment that will soon be forgotten after this life.

It is hard to explain much clear. Or may be you can put our answers in your own terms to better help understand them. No disrespect.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure about all this talk about Gods is. As a convert, this is about the least talked about or emphised in the Mormon faith. Just try talking to them about the word of wisdom if you want a ear full. Besides, it isn't to become a god but to become like out Father in Heaven. From father to Father. This the only way I can get my mind around it unless I go off into quantum physics.

tatabug said...

NM,

Even with the prospect that we may become gods (note the lowercase g), that in no way makes us equal with God (uppercase). He will always be the "supreme" God. Our doctrine on this subject is very limited, and is not something we focus on much if at all. We just don't know much about what it really means. It is something that isn't easy for us to comprehend, let alone someone who doesn't understand our theology. Just know that we approach the subject with great humility, rather than pride, as some might expect, because we in no way wish to usurp God's power and authority or even be equal to Him. We just love Him and are grateful that He has designed such a wonderful plan for us, His children, and we only wish we could understand it even better.

NM said...

Anonymous,

We are not Gods yet? So, in our pre-earth existence, we weren't gods then? What, were we some sort of spiritual entities (just not yet gods) or something? Or is it that when we are sent to earth, we discard our god-hood status, take on human status - to then return to god status. Is that right?

So, in what way then are we not like Father in heaven? What are we to experience in order to be like our Heavenly Father? Was the Heavenly Father's intention for us to rebel or something? If so, what part did the serpent play in the Garden of Eden? Was the serpent's role to tell us the truth of ourselves - that we really are gods? Errm, were we meant to celebrate the news? Are we meant to celebrate the news now? If it was the truth, then why did it have such devastating effects on human history? Why did our knowing of our god-status cause such disasters to happen? Why did our knowing this truth, bring sickness, death, disease, famine, poverty etc.? Why do we need to have a Saviour (in Jesus) to rescue us from knowing that we are gods? Do you see the dilemma that I have here?

If knowing who we truly are (as gods), what is the point of Jesus? What 'sin' did Adam and Eve commit at the Garden of Eden? Was your Heavenly Father wanting to conceal that information from us? Is that what it is? If so, and we did disobey, then that effectively means that our Heavenly Father was the liar; because He told us not to eat lest we what? DIE. Do you see the kinds of implications this is having on my simple mind?!!? Please someone explain the Mormon Pre-existent Theology to me!

Anonymous (who likes Quantum Physics),

NO!! I don't want to know ANYTHING about quantum physics and how it relates to our god-status. My head might just implode! =)

Tatabug,
Thank you for your response too. In fact I really appreciate everything that everyone is saying to me. My questions, on the one hand might be received, in one sense as an attack, but please know that they are done so with sincerity. I just need to get everything in my head sorted - a pragmatist through and through =)

I feel the level of warmth when you said that as Mormons, you approach the notion of our god-hood status with humility AND NOT pride =) I appreciate that. But, I think that if heard this news - I'd be jumping with joy! Me? A god? And one day I might rule my own universe or whatever?! Great! =D It certainly shifts my whole way of thinking about myself. If it really was the case of finding out that I am a god, then I still don't see the need for Jesus to save me. I don't get why He would need to save me from anything.

I think the over-riding question I have in my head is to do with the Garden of Eden. And Ryan, if you're reading this, I'd love for you to chip in. Please!

So, just to summarise:

If we are gods then the serpent was telling the truth.

If the serpent was telling the truth, effectively, the serpent implied that God was a liar.

So, it wouldn't really matter whether or not we disobeyed God by eating the fruit when He'd told us not to - because if we did we'd die, because we find out that God, our Heavenly Father actually lied to us: that we wouldn't die.

What is the point of Jesus dying on the cross? What exactly do I need saving from?



Errm, I think that's pretty much it for now. I'm sure I'll think some more up later on, but for now I'm just interested if someone could explain what happened in the Garden of Eden to me, from a Mormon perspective =)

Again, thank you for this MORE THAN INTERESTING discussion. Lovin' it!

teranno4x4 said...

Dear All,

Wow - this thread has become twisted up from the original post.

NM - thank you for being brave enough to ask some questions that I was thinking myself, proving that you are not even remotely 'mildly autistic'.

I would like to simplify / summarise your comments further if you allow me to please ?

Events in the Garden of Eden - sinless sacrifice at Calvary - our choice of eternal life (only through Jesus) or eternal death (the second death).

Then please do read these verses that I have mentioned before :

Luke 20
36 Neither can they die any more: for they ARE EQUAL UNTO THE ANGELS; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. [children of God, but equal to the angels - not 'gods' - hmmm how does this work then?]

Matt 22
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but ARE AS THE ANGELS of God in heaven. - [not 'gods']

and Matt 18:
10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven THEIR angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. [lost from the time of the Garden of Eden]

How does one analyse their relationship with Jesus? Servant or friend, brother or Master, Saviour or just another man .....?

The outcome of this last question goes much deeper than can be discussed here in this thread and will be personal to all - atheists, non Christians and Christians alike - and you know what ..? It doesn't change one iota about His heavenly status being King of Kings and Lord of Lords right here, right now....

Satan will have one more push by force against God's eternal throne. Jesus who has already overcome death, triumphed over the deceit of the lord over death and won this supernatural battle will soon eradicate all evil from existence and re-create the Garden of Eden pt II to be restored for all eternity.

Who wants to live in this harmony ? - I do....!

Teranno4x4

tatabug said...

NM,

Once again, as anonymous has already stated, WE ARE NOT GODS. WE WERE NOT GODS in the pre-existence. Ours is the POTENTIAL to become "gods"--SOMEDAY.

In the garden of Eden, the serpent said, "ye shall be AS gods, knowing good and evil." (emphasis mine) The serpent didn't say they would become gods, only that they would be AS gods, in the sense that they would be able to discern between good and evil, just as gods have that ability. In their present state in the garden of Eden, they didn't have that knowledge.

Now you wanted to understand the Mormon perspective on the Garden of Eden, so I will tell you, but you will need to understand the plan of salvation for it to make sense, so I will try to lay it out as clearly and briefly as possible, and I will borrow heavily from Jeffrey R. Holland's book "Christ and the New Covenant," so forgive me if I plagiarize a bit without attribution.

The whole objective behind this great eternal plan of salvation, was the quest for godhood. In order for us to become like God, we needed to obtain both a physical body and temporal experience in a setting where both good and evil were present. But for this to be possible, we would have to be given moral agency, or rather the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and make choices based on that knowledge.

For choice and agency to have any meaning, there must be alternatives presented. Righteousness has no meaning without the possibility of wickedness. Good would have no moral meaning if nothing could be considered bad. Even life would have no meaning if we knew nothing of the nature and limitations of death.

The risks of sorrow and death were facts that Adam and Eve were willing to make in order that "men might be." God could not force them out of the Garden of Eden and still be a just God, so they had to "fall" into the consequences of mortality. They knew and understood the plan.

Many people ask, "If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the world?" Well, we live in a fallen world full of opposites. God is the most powerful influence, but He is not the only influence. Satan is at work in the world and we knew before we came here that he would bring grief and misery with him. Adam and Eve--and we--knowingly and lovingly absolved God of the responsibility of the "thorns and thistles" of a fallen world that was chosen by us and not imposed by Him.

As spiritual sons and daughters of God, all mortal men and women are divine in origin and in their potential destiny. But as a result of the fall we are in a natual state where some elements of our nature need discipline, restraint, and refinement. We need to become submissive to the Holy Spirit and the will of the Lord.

Adam and Eve were in a state of immortality in the Garden of Eden. The truth is that they would have lived forever in the Garden of Eden had they not partaken of the forbidden fruit. So God told them the truth. If they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (as He calls it in Moses 3:17), they would die, and that is exactly what happened. They died, both spiritually and physically. In a spiritual sense, they died, because they were cast out of God's presence, and became less responsive to the things of righteousness. In a physical sense, their bodies became subject to mortality and hence, death. God's justice demanded that death accompany their violation. But in his mercy, he delayed the penalty and allowed them a probationary period before they actually suffered physical death. This probationary period was for them to repent abd receieve a remission of their sins through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We are all, in essence, Adam and Eve. This probation, or this time of testing and proving is our time to demonstrate our good behavior.

You asked what was the point of Jesus dying on the cross, and what did you need saving from. Jesus not only died on the cross for us, but in Gethsemane suffered for our sins, thus paying the penalty to be able to ransom us from our sins. He died so that we may live. The atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is crucial to the eternal plan of salvation. Without that pivotal act, whereby we are made free from the spiritual bondage of sin and the physical chains of death, there would be no meaning to the plan of life. The literal meaning of the word atonement is the act of unifying or bringing together what has been separated or estranged. The atonement of Christ was necessary because of the separating transgression, or fall of Adam which brought death into the world. Our sins separate us from God. Christ is our mediator with the Father. It is through Him that we gain access to the Father. Our repentance and our obedience are essential in being able to access that mediation. After all that Christ has done for us, we owe Him that much at least.

Anyway, I hope I got it right, and I hope you can understand things a bit better.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Tatabug,

"Ours is the POTENTIAL to become "gods"--SOMEDAY."

This idea / concept / doctrine is not Biblical.

The "saints" (from Revelation) Jesus says will be 'equal unto the angels'. This status is not a 'god' status. The status will be immortal, it will be eternal, it will be celestial and we will inherit the character of Jesus, but the nature of redeemed man will not be Divine. This is the key difference between man's inheritance through Jesus and the very nature and authority of the Godhead.

This is what lucifer challenged in the beginning, what he will challenge again with his army of followers as satan at evil's end. For him it is all about dominion and power for his own authority (view the world today - the evidence is all around). For God it is all about love for His created beings (His evidence is there to see too). Can you see the difference?

Teranno4x4

NM said...

Hi Tatbug,

Thank you for your response. I resonated with probably most of what Jeffrey R. Holland said from what you quoted =)

Ok, so let me get this straight:

We were never gods to begin with.

But we have existed since eternity with God? Is that right?


Also, you said, "The serpent didn't say they would become gods, only that they would be AS gods, in the sense that they would be able to discern between good and evil, just as gods have that ability. In their present state in the garden of Eden, they didn't have that knowledge."

So, is it that Adam & Eve didn't have the ability to know good and evil at this time, OR did you mean that Adam & Eve didn't know that they existed in eternity at that time?

Also, it seems that what you are saying about the nature of what it means to be God is this: that to exercise God-like qualities is to have a knowledge of unrighteousness, but not to act on it. Is that right? So, God's intention for us as his literal spiritual children was to send us, bring trials our way etc. in order for us to know and to experience what it means to be unrighteous. Is that right?

So, because we have failed (i.e. we succumbed to unrighteousness), we needed Jesus (who is our older brother?) who lived a sinless life, in order to pay for our unrighteousness - in order to come back to God. Is that right?

Just a few things, I guess as stabilisers (for my own benefit): I'm pretty sure that the Judaic understanding of us to potentially become 'gods' has never been common currency. At least I don't think so anyway. Plus, I guess before J.Smith he came along, the idea of us becoming 'gods' has never been common currency within mainstream Christianity either. Is that right? I want to avoid saying that us becoming 'gods' is unbiblical, because I'm interested to see (from a Mormon perspective) where it clearly states that we ARE gods.

Also, tatabug (and I know you'd agree that the 'fall' started in the Garden of Eden), what exactly did Adam and Eve do to sin against God? You've probably already said it, but can I ask you what it was exactly? Be as explicit as you can. Why did their knowing that they could potentially be 'gods' result in God driving them out of the garden, then for sin, death, destruction, disease to have free reign over His perfect creation?

I have another question that I recently thought of: did God also go through these same things we are going through too? i.e. did He also live in human form? If so, then does that also open up the posibility of other Gods? You know, Gods who are probably greater than He is etc.? I can appreciate that it might not be spoken of in day-to-day conversation in the LDS community, but these questions (for me) do beg.

So, before God, were there other Gods?

Ryan said...

Hi again, NM:

Warning: this answers all the questions in one shot, so it's rather long.

God has existed eternally. No argument there. And, yes, God created us humans a "looooong time ago." However, our status was definitely *not* "godhood." We were an awful lot like we are now, but without bodies to clothe our spirits. Getting a body (like God has) is a fundamental reason we came to earth. And, yes, we believe Christ is our older brother. To be honest, our theology doesn't have an awful lot to say about who, exactly the Holy Ghost is, though we have a fair amount on what His purpose is. All we know is that he is a perfect being who acts as the third member of the Godhead, in complete unity with God and Christ.

The serpent was, in fact, mixing some truth in with the lies -- twisted half truths are ever so much more effective than flat out fabrications. To truly know the difference between good and evil is a godly attribute; the serpent just conveniently neglected to point out that the even more important attribute is to choose good over evil!

Moving on to the Fall, yes, the fall was necessary. Mormon theology labels Adam and Eve's choice a transgression -- they broke a law (eating the fruit) and suffered the consequences (becoming mortal). No more, no less. That is why God grants immortality ("fixing" the Fall) to everyone, even those who cannot be saved. Why was the Fall necessary? Another fundamental thing we lacked before we came to earth was the experience of using properly the amazing gift of agency God had given us. We had to go somewhere where we were left to our own devices, by and large, as a test to see whether we would use our agency to choose good, or abuse it. To quote Lehi in the Book of Mormon, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one [good] or the other [evil] (read the whole chapter here).

Why all the suffering (=evil)? It is part of the terrible risk of mortality. In order to grow more like our Father, we must truly learn to use our agency properly, as He does. Unfortunately, we must be allowed to abuse it and destroy ourselves if we so choose, or we really haven't truly been allowed to act for ourselves. And, like little children, we don't always understand the impact of our choices, even when we mean no (or not much) harm. That, too must be allowed, even if it harms those around us, and chance additionally delivers difficult situations that don't depend on anyone's evil choices (wouldn't be very just to require that someone sin!).

Now, we finally come back to Grace. God knew we were not perfect. We *would* make mistakes, some of them grievous. We would suffer from our own actions, those of others, and random chance. God's eternal Justice demands that any who break the law (knowingly or otherwise) suffer the consequences, which are eternal. Further, the pain we suffered, often through no fault of our own, would leave terrible and eternal scars we could never overcome. What a dreadful dilemma! We couldn't grow without learning to act, and acting would lead to potentially fatal mistakes and afflictions every instant of every day. The probability of *anyone* being able to learn what they needed to without a single mistake, ever, was exactly ZERO, but was "technically" possible. That is where Christ enters the scene. He navigated the impossible path, never making any mistake to bring Justice down on His head. Then, though His atonement, he paid the demands of Justice for every mistake we ever might make. He absorbed the pain of every experience we suffer, regardless of the source. He heals those we have harmed and cannot heal ourselves. He gives us the strength to do what we were sent here to do (since we really don't "have it in us" to perfect ourselves).

So, Grace is the way God can make us into the kind of beings who are worthy of His love, even though we have no chance of ever achieving it on our own. No one who reaches perfection will have any illusions about how whether their own efforts would have ever sufficed.

Finally, the "degree" of salvation one receives exactly reflects how much of this process we allow God to put us through -- how willing we are to follow the commandments He has given to guide our use of agency. Those who choose to submit themselves completely to His will will become what He wants them to be, and will discover the kind of joy and perfection a loving God and Father wants them to have. Others will only make it part way and, being just, God can only give them what they will accept; He will not take away their agency by forcing them to accept more.

Ryan said...

Hmm.. I spent too long writing, and several people answered the same questions in the meantime.

From the looks of it, now you have a couple other versions of my answers.

tatabug said...

NM,

I don't think it was actually for us to experience what it was like to be unrighteous. I think it had to do with us experiencing opposites, and learning the joy that comes from choosing good over evil. Can we ever truly appreciate anything good if we've never experienced anything bad? In our lives of convenience, we take many things for granted because they are commonplace for us. Unless we lived lives of true poverty, we could never truly appreciate our wealth, even though we probably spend a lot of time bemoaning our seeming lack of money and things. I think this same concept applies to almost anything which has an opposite.

I believe that the state that Adam and Eve were in prevented them from understanding the difference between good and evil. In the Garden, there was only good; no opposition. I believe, though I am not sure, that even though they literally lived in the presence of God in the Garden, they still had the "veil" over them so that the didn't remember their pre-mortal existence, but they were tutored by God in the Garden, and among those things taught them was the plan of salvation. They probably had a great deal of understanding, but there were likely limitations to that understanding. I don't know what they knew of their eternal existence.

It was never in the plan for us to choose unrighteousness, but it was known that we would at some point make wrong choices. I believe that making wrong choices and learning from them through consequences provides opportunities for learning and growth, but I don't know if it is essentially necessary for us to make wrong choices to learn and progress. It is just the nature of our mortality. Some of us need more growth than others, so naturally, some people will make more mistakes than others. But you have to consider that there are opposites in this life that don't constitute sin, but that we experience nonetheless, which allow us to grow. Jesus came to this world and lived a sinless life, yet he experienced many opposites.

You said:

So, because we have failed (i.e. we succumbed to unrighteousness), we needed Jesus (who is our older brother?) who lived a sinless life, in order to pay for our unrighteousness - in order to come back to God. Is that right?

Yes.

It's likely that you've already seen these scripture references before in regard to the topic of gods, especially since Jeff has covered this topic at length (which I recommend you check out if you are truly interested in this subject), but here they are anyway: Psalms 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High, John 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?, Psalms 136:2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever., 1 Cor. 8:5-6 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. There may be more, but these are the few that I was able to find quickly that I thought provided the best example.

So far as I know, the only thing Adam and Eve did wrong in the Garden of Eden was to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I have heard of this "fruit" being a metaphor, but I am not aware of that being doctrinal. In my understanding, it wasn't metaphorical at all, though I don't eliminate the possibility that it was, but if it were, I would have no idea what it would have stood for, because my current understanding of the "metaphor" doesn't seem plausible to me.

It sounds almost as though you assume that disease, death, sin, and destruction, was somehow contrary to the Father's plan, because it ruined His perfect creation. So we would then have to assume that Satan thwarted God's plan in convincing Adam and Eve to transgress because it would have been His plan for Adam and Eve to live forever in the Garden. Do you really think God laid out this perfect plan, and then no sooner than Adam and Eve step onto the stage, here comes Satan and messes it all up? Do you really think God had such limited foresight? I think that God and Satan both knew that the fall was necessary for either of them to be able to accomplish their designs. We couldn't become gods and Satan's influence over us would have been limited or non-existent. Remember, God only gave them two commandments. I think Adam and Eve knew enough to know that it was an essential choice to make.

As far as God going through mortality, that is something that we know little about. I believe that a couple of prophets or Church leaders have intimated that He did, but as to its actual doctrinal status, it isn't official. We just don't know enough. But if He did, that would certainly open the door for the possibility of other and greater Gods.

Ryan said...

Terano:

Let's not confuse the perfection of God with the authority of God. God wants us to be perfect and glorified, as He is. Our being perfect and glorified in no way detracts from His authority, but in fact magnifies it. Anything good we become only reflects back that much more on His greatness, because He made it possible.

NM:

"Other Gods?" Terano might be right about us drifting off topic here (I apologize!) Maybe Jeff will start a thread about that some time and we could have fun twisting up our poor finite brains discussing it ;) However, Mormon theology says virtually nothing on the topic, other than the implications you've noticed.

tatabug said...

Teranno4x4,

The scripture you are referring to (didn't find a similar reference in Revelation, if that's what you meant), has to do with the status of those who enter the Celestial Kingdom, but are not married. See Luke 20:35-36. Our theology teaches that those who are not sealed in marriage but live worthy to attain to the celestial kingdom will be assigned angel status. Not a shabby assignment at all.

I would also challenge your assertion that we will not inherit a divine nature. 2 Peter 1:3-4 says, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

I fully agree that all of God's creations are about His love for us. He loves us so much that He wants us to experience the same joy He has. We can only experience the same joy as He if we are able to share some of His same experiences. We can only do that by inheriting a portion of His divinity. He didn't create us for His own selfish purposes and for no other reason than to sing His praises for eternity after this life. Don't you think that would be rather boring for Him after a while, and don't you think there will be some other meaning and purpose to our existence after this life? What do you imagine is our purpose beyond this life? I mean no disrespect to you or to God, and I have no problem worshipping Him throughout eternity, but I like the idea of knowing that I will be contributing something, somewhere, somehow.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question that stems from my own experience that Mormon Doctrine seems to heavily contradict much of what St. Paul says. For example, how does the LDS faith reconcile Paul's teachings in Corinthian's in which Paul actually counsels against getting married, but instead remaining single so as not to distract our selves from serving Christ. My understanding of mormon doctrine is that it counsels that marriage is essential. The two don't seem to reconcile themselves. So I'd be interested in an answer.

I'd also be interested in an answer regarding contradictions in the various gifts and callings Paul says that we are called to. For example, some of us are called to marry, some are not. Some are called to evangelize, some are not. Some will serve the church, some will not. Mormon doctrine seems to ignore and contradict with Paul's teachings on a great many levels. Yet from what I can see, mormons put a lot of stock in what Paul has to say.

For example, Ephesians is drawn upon by Mormons to support the restoration of the gospel in the fullness of times. And to account for men holding the priesthood and women not. Can anyone actually reconcile the contradictions with an argument that doesn't include Paul's letters aren't translated correctly?

Catholic Defender

Ryan said...

CatholicDefender

This is completely off topic, so I'll keep it really short.

My understanding of mormon doctrine is that it counsels that marriage is essential

... at the right time, in the right place, and to the right person.

NM said...

Tatbug,

You do know that the verse in Psalm 82:6 does not imply us being the gods, don't you? If you read the whole chapter, the psalmist actually ends up mocking these so called 'gods' and ends up, (in the last verse) praising God. =) I don't know, what do you think?

And I think that what Paul actually talks about in 1 Cor. 8 is all about food sacrificed to so-called gods (idols) and that he exhorts the Corinthian church to ensure that their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ do not stumble over things that they themselves might not find difficult etc.

The Psalm 136 though is an interesting one. The Psalmist seems over-awed by who God is and just wants to praise Him! =D I don't think that this single verse is enough to make the doctrine that we are 'gods' though =(

I know of one other place where 'gods' is mentioned, and that's in John 10. And d'you know who mentions it? Jesus! So, I'd probably be more interested in looking at that than anything else =)

So, yeah. Thank you for all that you and Ryan have written. I'll certainly be mulling over them for the next few days. Maybe Jeff could open a new post for this thread? And maybe, give us your two cents' worth? You know, something to whet the appetite?

NM said...

I love John 10 by the way. It's one of my many favourite chapters in the Bible =)

Alan said...

CatholicDefender:

It was after pondering and asking about those statements (not married or given in marriage in heaven) that led to the revelations concerning marriage.

This explanation relies on modern revelation, which you may not believe in, but is consistent with the bible.

Mormons believe that the sealing of people together (eternal marriage) can only be done here on Earth -- it cannot be performed in heaven. Those in heaven are not married or given in marriage, but they can retain their marital status when it was sealed here on Earth (power to bind things on Earth to be bound in heaven).

I'm sure others here can give a more rigorous response.

Kathleen said...

Whew. Mind-tangling thoughts. I'm glad we're discussing this though, as I've been wondering about this exact topic for the past little while.

Can someone LDS summarize the key points into a concise outline? Or do you want me to with what I have understood so far?

Ryan said...

If you read the whole chapter, the psalmist actually ends up mocking these so called 'gods' and ends up, (in the last verse) praising God. =)

It's unfortunate the the word "god" (little 'g') always seems to connote something like the ancient Greek gods (or Mesopotamian, in this case, I guess). Such petty, selfish, arbitrary, and sometimes downright nasty beings those were! Hopefully no faithful Christian becomes anything like that.

Zeus (say) is what you'd get if you handed most of us God's power. What God wants is beings who would act like Him, given God's power.

Disclaimer: Please don't read this as a guess about the kind of authority God might choose to bestow upon those He grants salvation. It's just that power and authority have a unique way of bringing out the extremes in people.

Ranbato said...

CatholicDefender:
I think you are missing the forest for the trees.
Paul also taught that "neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:11)
The one you referenced is:
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman . . . . I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. (1 Corinthians 7:1, 9)

And yet, later in the chapter Paul made clear that this was not a general principle, but special counsel in unusual circumstances: "I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be." (1 Corinthians 7:26) Paul never let us know what the "present distress" was, but clearly there are circumstances in which it is better not to marry, and indeed there are many in the Restored Church who live celibate lives for various reasons.

D.G. Hunter says:
Clement of Alexandria insists that marriage and procreation are an intrinsic and positive part of God's plan for the human race. He frequently cites Gen. 1:28 ("Increase and multiply") and regards human procreation as an act of co-creation with God: "In this way the human being becomes the image of God, by cooperating in the creation of another human being" . . . . Indeed, Clement is even capable of regarding marriage as, in some respects, superior to celibacy. The celibate who is concerned only for his salvation is "in most respects untried." By contrast, the married man who must devote himself to the administration of a household is a more faithful reflection of God's own providential care.

You are taking one statement of Paul and ignoring others just as you are taking the Mormon 'General Case' and ignoring revelation and statements that provide different guidence for those that don't fit the general case.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Tatabug,

So much to say, so little space and time available.

In short I would refer to NM's answer above and suggest that I am with his replies to the verses offered.

On the verse in John 10, please look at the whole breakdown of key phrases below :

Ye are gods. The quotation is from Ps. 82:6. The Psalm is an arraignment of unjust judges, spoken of as “gods” (see Introduction to Ps. 82, and on vs. 1, 6). Rabbinical tradition applied the term “gods” to those who received the law: “The Israelites accepted the Torah only so that the Angel of Death should have no dominion over them [Ps. 82:6, 7]” (Talmud ÔAbodah Zarah 5a, Soncino ed., p. 21). Jesus seems to make His reply in terms of this tradition (see on John 10:35). However, He was “God” in an altogether different sense from that of Ps. 82:6.
35. The word of God came. If, as seems likely, Jesus was thinking of the rabbinical interpretation of Ps. 82:6 (see on John 10:34), then the Israelites generally, who received the law, are referred to.
Broken. Gr. luoµ, “to loose,” “to break,” “to annul,” “to cancel” (see on Matt. 5:19). This principle the Jews acknowledged. Therefore the conclusions based on this principle they must also acknowledge. If the Scriptures called the Israelites “gods,” how could the Jews accuse Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God?

So there you have it. Jesus reasoning with the Jews over their own interpretation of the Law, and showing up their errors.

This text nor any of the others that you offered pertain to human beings one day becoming 'gods'.

I welcome your enthusiasm and I am enjoying the thread, but getting down to the nitty gritty basics of scripture, just doesn't support this notion Biblically, I'm afraid.

BTW my reference to Revelation was not to point to the marriage topic (I was trying to stay away from that) only that these verses in Luke and Matthew are in harmony with the 'saints' named in Revelation as being redeemed human beings (that do not metamorphasise into 'gods' or angels) but rather are esteemed to the same status, to be equal in God's eyes, as the angels. This is Biblical. Nothing to do with marriage except that the angels do not marry and humans will seemingly follow this heavenly principal too.

Have you not considered that 'gods' may actually refer to the self-appointed god of this earth, satan and his demonic angels who actually are in current posession of the dominion that was granted to Adam before his fall?

Teranno4x4

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Ryan,

I really like and agree with your disclaimer !

That is why I am happy for God to continue being worshipped for all eternity in the hope that I can partake of the necessary characteristics of His Divinity, just enough to grant me immortality, a new renewed heart and mind and the willingness to serve Him unconditionally and identically to the way His loyal angels do right now. Total Divinity is reserved only for God and includes power, dominion and authority amongst His many other attributes.

May peace and harmony reign for ever more (and may I be included!)!

I personally desire no more than just to be there, whoever wants it can keep the 'god' status it is not for me!

Kind regards,

Teranno4x4

NM said...

Ryan,

Interesting...some commentators, particularly Matthew Henry seem to think that the 'gods' referred to in Psalm 82 might have been rulers; human governors I guess - religiopolitical leaders, maybe?

It might seem fitting for the psalmist to refer to his leaders as 'gods'. It's almost as if the psalmist is building them up for the sole purpose of wanting to put them down. The psalmist is obviously very unhappy with these gods because he lists many complaints, then attempts to offer solutions to the complaints...then for the final blow in verse 7, the psalmist delivers his sucker punch by reminding these so-called gods that they shall die and fall like every other ruler...

BUT...the psalmist reverts back to God - to say that only He alone is the judge! =D

Terrano4x4,

I haven't fully read your comments on John 10 yet, but for my two cents' worth. John recounts three astounding claims that Jesus makes. Two of these claims result with members of the Jewish community wanting to kill him for blasphemy.

1) That Jesus occupies TWO roles: He is both the shepherd AND the gate.

2) In verse 29, Jesus refers to his Father as GREATER THAN ALL. Hmm, what does 'greater than all' mean? THEN, Jesus has the audacity to say, "I and the Father are one"?!?! What arrogance!

3) (Which I find the MOST profound) - found in verse 26, when Jesus says to the men who want to stone him, "You believe not, BECAUSE you are not my sheep"?!? What on earth is that supposed to mean?!?! Notice, Jesus didn't say, "You are not my sheep BECAUSE you don't believe"...on the contrary; Jesus said, "You don't believe because you are not my sheep"!! Have you ever noticed that? It seems that our salvation depends not upon our choosing, but upon God's!?!?! Remember Romans 9? Paul asks (paraphrased), "What if God before the beginning of time, chose whom he will show mercy to and to others who God will show wrath?"...

Jesus' answer to those who wanted to kill him seems to reveal something about God's Sovereignty and hints at God's full participation of the plan of salvation: that ultimately, it is God who chooses and has chosen before the foundation of the world! =D (Ephesians 1 etc.)

...anyway that was just a thought...

Anonymous said...

NM

As a convert I replaced the name God for Father in Heaven. Once you do this and understand that we are much like our prefected brother Jesus Christ then it fits togother for me.

Quantum Physics

Ryan said...

"You believe not, BECAUSE you are not my sheep"

Here's another view of the issue:

2 And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them.
3 For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought.
6 And it came to pass that... I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations.
7 And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken...
8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
9 And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.
10 Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?
11 Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said? If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.
-- 1 Nephi ch. 15

Faith is a gift of God which we must seek from him. If we do not choose to look unto Him (ie are not His sheep) he will make no such thing known unto us (ie we will believe not). God wants us all to have faith, but waits for us to seek Him. God doesn't just decide "person X won't receive faith unto salvation because I'm in a bad mood and the dart hit their name." He lays out very specific requirements and waits to see what we will do in response. It's part of the test of earth life.

Ryan said...

CatholicDefender,

I'm sorry about griping that your comment was off-topic. This thread has wandered all over the place with plenty of help from me, so it wasn't very fair to call you out...

NM said...

Ryan,

I've just noticed that Jeff has kindly given us a new post to ponder on. It might seem quite fitting seeing that you quoted from the book of Nephi. You have to excuse me at this point because I know mothing about the Book of Mormon. I started reading Alma a few months ago being quite amazed by just how ACCURATE it was (whoever it was that wrote it) with its prophecies, particularly of the coming coming Messiah. The book was so accurate that the writer even gave us a name! Jesus!?? Isaiah in the Bible didn't even get THAT close!

So, I might just start posting on the Jeff's more recent post to discuss my concerns with the Book of Mormon...care to join?

Quantum Physics,
Yes, I can appreciate your literal use of 'Heavenly Father' now. I do recall the elders (missionaries from the LDS church) who came to visit me oh those many months ago and they kept saying this 'our Heavenly Father' with much warmth.

Super String Theory.

NM said...

Sorry for the (more than usual) many grammatical mistakes. It was at 5:40 in the morning when I started to type the response...

NM said...

One more question:

Is that we are literally sons and daughters of God? Or have we been adopted? How do you crazy Mormons out there ;) take Paul's letter to the different church when he says that we have been adopted? I guess it could mean (from a LDS perspective) that once we sinned, we were no longer regarded as children of God? Would that be right?

Anonymous said...

Were you asking about Ephesians 1?

Anonymous said...

I think you are saying that we are Saved by Grace.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear NM,

" I started reading Alma a few months ago being quite amazed by just how ACCURATE it was (whoever it was that wrote it) with its prophecies, particularly of the coming coming Messiah. The book was so accurate that the writer even gave us a name! Jesus!?? Isaiah in the Bible didn't even get THAT close! "

I beg to politely differ with this comment.

The BOM originated from an angelic revelation to Joseph Smith in 1823. If you count that this is after the time of Jesus it becomes quite easy to name Him personally. Then you could argue that the content in the BOM was taken from records of two civilisations accounts and written by Mormon. Your comment above can only stand, IF one fully believes in the evidences that surround this whole literature.

Seeing as evidences such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts contain pretty much unadulterated ancient Hebrew versions of the Book of Isaiah with only minor pucntuation / grammatical differences to the modern Hebrew version that is available today (which do not change the understanding of the book in any way), I would say that Isaiah was precise in His prophecy of Jesus in chapter 53. They are all such beautiful words that I can not pick any particular ones out from this chapter.

I will use this earlier text though :
Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -
Can you personally invent any better, more perfect names for Jesus than the ones that Isaiah preserved for all eternity? Oh - what is this - Jesus, our Prince of Peace is also our everlasting Father ? But I thought that He was our brother ? This brings a new meaning to His own words in John - "I and my Father are one" !!

We know that Isaiah was real archaelogically, do we have the same evidences for Mormon? Witnesses in the 19th century do not count.

Are you aware that Daniel prophesied exactly when Jesus would be born ? Were you also aware that there is a rabbinical curse that still exists today against any Jew that studies the Book of Daniel because they may discover the true prophecies about their Messiah?

I am only thankful that Jesus was born to be my King.

Teranno4x4

Anonymous said...

NM


adopted: I read this in Ephesians 1:4-5 4 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he[c] predestined us to be adopted (counted) as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will," For a Mormon I am free willing when it come to reading the scriptures and disagree in some ways with different takes on the scriptures. I would put the word "counted" in the place of "adopted". Just because it confuses me and I have taken my doctrine from other works of Joseph Smith and leaders of the LDS church. I am also rewrite the Genesis ch.1 and 2 by taking out the word God and replace Him with Father in Heaven. Again I do this to help me better understand our relationship with Our Father in Heaven.

Quantum Physics

Anonymous said...

One reason the Dead Sea people left Jerusalem is they complained that the Priests at Jerusalem took parts of the scriptures out and they were look for the coming Messiah.

tatabug said...

NM and Teranno4x4,

I disagree with both of you on your interpretations of Psalms 82 and John 10 as well as 1 Cor. 8. I'm no scriptorian, so perhaps that's why I don't interpret it as you do. (And NM, I did mention John 10 to start off with, but then you already seemed to know about that one, so it seems you were fishing to try and catch me in a debate. I will play along--for a bit.)

Anyway, here's how I see it. Psalms 82:1, God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. Seems that God judges among the gods. Is He judging among the pagan gods? That wouldn't make sense, because in verse 6 He says, "Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High." Are pagan gods children of the Most High? From what I understand, God is speaking here. He is asking why the gods are ruling unjustly, why they are honoring the wicked. Their rule has brought about chaos. He is telling them they have a job to do and a responsibility and they are falling down on it. Then He reminds them who they are by saying they are gods and children of the Most High. More is expected of them.

As for John 10, it appears that Jesus is defending His claim on godhood by referring to Psalms, and basically saying that it was God who made the gods, gods. Jesus wasn't giving himself the title as the Jews believed, because He was earlier comparing His power to God's power in verses 28-30. He was saying that it was God who had given Him His title and His power. Jesus is saying that those who receive the word of God are to be gods, just like in the Psalm. He is implying here that not only is He a god, but so are others as well.

Then in 1 Cor. 8, it certainly is talking about idols and offering sacrifice to them, but what I think 5 and 6 is saying is that yes, there are many gods and many lords, of that we don't dispute. But there is only one God whom we worship. LDS doctrine agrees with this. We believe that even given the existence of other genuine gods, made and ordained by God, we only worship one, and that is God our Father.

Anyway, this is how I see it, and I have no doubt that we will continue to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Now that T4x4 brought up the Dead Sea Scrolls it is interesting that some of the the translators have made comments that "you might as well call them Mormons and be done with it", because of the many parllels that are found there.

tatabug said...

Teranno4x4,

The reference to Jesus being the everlasting Father refers to the fact that Jesus, through His atonement, has redeemed our souls, and has rescued us from the chains of spiritual and physical death. He is in that sense our Father because it is through Him that we can be reborn. He is the Son of God and one with God the Father, though they are still separate and distinct individuals.

NM said...

Tatabug,

Errm, I don't know if I ever said that these so-called 'gods' were pagan-gods. It's times like these that I wish I could read Hebrew/Aramaic. Nevermind. I am though, learning greek, which is a start I guess =)

For now, I can only point to Matthew Henry's commentary and he seems to say that these so-called gods were people who occupied high Jewish offices. People like the Sanhedrin maybe, who weren't just teachers of the law - but also had the ability to pass sentences etc.

So yes, verse 1, the Psalmist does acknowledge that God is present with these gods. This is I guess the stage that is presented.

Notice though, as soon as he moves in to verse 2 that the psalmist complains! He says, "How LONG are you going to judge unjustly and accept the persons of the wicked?!"
Not only does the psalmist accent the wrong things that are happening, he then has the audacity to tell whoever it is he's addressing his complaints to what needs doing! Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course."

So, who is the psalmist addressing? We find this out in verses 6&7. =) Notice that verse 7 is a natural progression of verse 6. To stop at verse 6 does not give a good indication of the psalmist's thoughts...


For example:

Part 1 of my love letter to my wife:

"Can I just be honest with you? I find it really annoying when you put me down in public. And please don't nag me to do the garden everytime I get in from work. I know it needs doing, I just need time to rest from work."

Part 2 of my love letter to my wife:

"Thank you for your understanding with all of this. And I really appreciate that you are reading this letter right now. The many good things that you do for me outweigh all the niggly things that I feel annoyed by. I just want you to know that I love you and thank you from the bottom of my heart that you love me too"

Or whatever...you get the point.

To just read part one does not do totality of the letter justice. I think that if this kind of thing happened within academic circles, the student might receive a D- for misinterpretation and even mishandling of evidence.

Do you get my point?

So, yes verse 6 point out that, "Yes, I did refer to you as 'gods' and yes you ARE the children of the Most High..."...and what does verse 7 say? (paraphrased), "But you're all rubbish at your jobs!"

Do you see?

The psalmist reminds them that they are mere mortal beings just like the rest of us...

Then notice in the last verse...the psalmist returns to God - the real article. What does he say to God? He acknowledges his Sovereignty, he gives God His due worth and acknowledges that God alone has the ability to judge....

The whole chapter, just like most of the Psalms is all about acknowledging how praise-worthy God is. Sure, life has its difficulties and all that, but in the end God is sovereign and He is worth of praise! =D

tatabug said...

NM,

Seems like we aren't too far apart in our ideas here, except that you don't want to acknowledge multiple gods, or the idea that God labels us mere mortals as gods because of our divine nature and potential.

tatabug said...

NM,

Perhaps a sort of analogy might work here. This may be similar to something Ryan or someone else has already stated, so forgive me if I am being repetitive.

Anyway, we are mortals. We are humans. Some of us men, some of us women. We have children. We had a hand in creating those children. As parents, there is a certain respect and attitude that we expect our children to display towards us. But we love our children very much. We want to see them enjoy every good blessing and happiness that is available for them. We may even hope that someday, they become like us, or even better than us. But it is not demeaning for us when they become equal to us. It is not demeaning to us when we refer to our children as also human, as also men or women, when they achieve such status. Why then would it be any different with God. He is the Father of our spirits. Why would He not want the best for us? Why would He not hope that we could someday grow up to be just like Him, so that He can be proud and find joy in our achievements, just as any mortal parent would for their own children. Why would it be so unthinkable that God would refer to His own children as gods also. We are after all his offspring. Though He is immortal and we are not, someday we will be immortal and will be like Him in that way. (Even if you believe God is a spirit, but still believe the doctine of the Trinity, you must also believe that God indeed received an immortal body when Jesus was resurrected, since they are the same being according to the doctrine of the Trinity. But that is another topic.)

I like to think of this life as a preparation, so that many of the experiences we have here, not only help to refine us, but teaches who our Father in Heaven is in relation to us. Although the love we have for our children can't fully compare to the love our Father has for us, it at least gives us an idea of who He is and what He wants for us. It wasn't until I became a mother that I truly began to understand God, if that is possible.

NM said...

Tatabug,

Hmm, I don't think it's that I don't want to accept for the sake it. I just want to remain Biblical. I don't want to come across condescending here, but like Dave D pointed out the other day that it's all too easy for us when we approach the Bible to bring preconceptions. Do you see what I mean?

It sounds all too easy coming from me as I don't come to the Bible having had prior knowledge of the Book of Mormon. Do you see? But I also acknowledge that the many influences I have had in MY PERSONAL life may also influence the way that I read the Bible. Do you see my point? For example, for someone who grew up with an abusive father, might find it hard to accept that this Heavenly Father is trust-worthy. Sure, this someone might have head-knowledge that God is loving, nurturing etc. but deep inside everything inside himself/herself just wants to run away for fear of rejection/neglection or the potential to be abused again.

So, and like Dave D and I discussed, I think the best way of making sure that we do not come with any pre-conceptions (on our part - humanly speaking) would be to read the Bible in its entirety - making sure that we do not isolate single verses etc. as you and I know that that would be plain silly and even dangerous. =)

The example that comes to mind is a young man, who is zealous to do what God wants and one day he goes through the motions of praying to God for guidance etc. closes his eyes, opens the Bible at a random page, places his finger on a single verse only to read, "...And Judas hanged himself..."

Slightly perturbed, he again goes through the motions of praying to God etc. openning another random page, points to yet another verse only to read, "....go and do thou likewise..."

=/

Funny?/Stupid?/Dangerous?Naive?: feel free to pick one or two.

So, with Psalm 82 and the mere isolation of verse 6 is not enough to use that as a springpboard or enough of a verse to even create a whole doctrine that describe us as gods.

I don't know, what do you think?

It's not that I don't want to accept that we are gods; although I do get very wary when people say things that don't seem to fit in with my understanding of the Bible, but I think there's a lot to be said about wanting to read things and keeping them in their proper context...

...just a thought...

tatabug said...

NM,

I understand what you mean about preconceived notions. I am guilty of that, and I try to approach the Bible with an open mind, but it isn't always easy to understand the Bible if you don't come to it with some kind of preconceived ideas, because of the fact that it seems that the Bible contradicts itself at times. For example, one minute, God forbids murder, then in the next, He commands it against not only men, but women and children also. One minute, we read that grace, not works saves us, and then the next we read that faith without works is dead. You see what I mean. Without some basis of understanding, it would be extremely difficult for the average person to understand. When you have two apparently conflicting ideas, you either have to ignore one as being false, or you have to somehow reconcile the two so that they harmonize. Who can do that without some help? Not many of us, would be my guess. But I didn't just isolate verse 6 in my interpretation. It's just that our ideas of how to interpret the whole thing differs a bit. And I feel perfectly Biblical in my interpretaions.

One other scripture that I forgot about is found in Romans 8:14-18, 14 For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God....
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together;
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ? This seems to imply that we will inherit something. What do you suppose we will inherit? Something that Christ has or will also inherit perhaps? Glorified together? Us, glorified? Not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us?

NM said...

Tatabug,

First of all, can I say thank you for your honest response =) I really like your line of thought, particularly what you said in the first paragraph. I resonate with everything that you said.

I'm in the same mind as you are then when we approach the Bible. Like I said before, it's as if the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, written by 40 people, have been given a set of variables, some of which are fixed and others not so fixed. And like you said (or at least what I think you were trying to say) we need to understand these many variables and almost piece such them together in order to create something tangible - a workable equation if you like. =)

As an evangelical (reformed-type kinda guy), and I'm sure that you as a LDS church also do, we place HUGE emphasis on the Bible. - Because the Bible is God's revealed Word. The Bible contains everything we need to know about who He is and also how to respond to what we read, study and know. It's difficult WORK and we can but depend upon His mercy that the Holy Spirit might move us to know THE TRUTH of who He is =)

So: first I think I need to propose that the LDS church and Evangelical interpretations of God's Word are very different. At least, it seems that you and I seem to work with two separate paradigms of who God is. I think this was shown evidently when Jon pointed out that when I said 'salvation', to the LDS community, it actually means 'conversion' or whatever.

The differences are so subtle that upon close inspection, I almost wonder if we're talking different languages. =)

I can only hope that through these discussions, whatever you say to me isn't met with my own preconceptions and therefore misinterpret your thoughts; and vice versa.

So, on with the show?

Can I tell you how the systematic theology, that I hold dear to, describe about the nature of God? I'll just say it - then if I can be bothered, back it up with Scriptures along the way...

The first astounding statement that I read is when He said to Moses, "I am that I am

What on earth is that supposed to mean?! How was this supposed to help Moses when he had to describe who God was to His people and to Pharoah?! Surely God could have said something a bit more substantial; you know, something that can be easily related with?!

It took me a while but it seems that this 'I am that I am' statement has MIND BLOWING effects! God didn't say anything that He could be related with because He IS the ultimate reference point! Philosophically speaking, this is very significant. If I was given the task to describe myself, I'd have to say: well, I'm Nat, 28 years old; I am a husband, a father to three children. Errm, a son to Ami and James etc.

Do you see? I am who I am - in relation to others and I am who I am in relation to chronology, to space etc.

The fact that God said, 'I am that I am' means that there is NOTHING that describes Himself to anything else other than to relate Himself with Himself(!?!?!?!?!?!) Conversly, He IS the reference point for EVERYTHING ELSE. (!!!!!) Isn't that just utterly MIND BLOWING?! So (and Quantum Physics you might be interested in this one) God is SELF-GOVERNING: there isn't anything new that goes into Himself that wasn't already in Himself. Do you see that?

We can somehow glimpse at what the writer was saying when he said, "From eternity to eternity, YOU ARE GOD!" He has no beginning, He has no end. In fact, His greatness means that he must have thought up concepts like time, eternity, space, light, truth etc. What did Jesus say about Himself (assuming that the Trinitarian view is correct in the way that Jesus IS God)? He said, "I am The Way, The Truth and The Life..."

Jesus is truth itself?! Jesus is Life itself?! Can you see this? Jesus makes some blasphemous claims. And the religious leaders around him knew what Jesus was trying to imply...

I could write reams and reams from this one single, "I am that I am' statement. My mind EXPLODES. =)

This description of God's character is nothing new. This description of God is something widely accepted by mainstream (non-Mormon) Christianity.

And it seems quite different to the God described by the LDS church; especially when it is entertained that before God there was another God etc...Do you see the dilemma here? If before God, there was another god, it means that the LDS interpretation of God isn't someone who is Sovereign. First of all by the fact that there was another God before hand (who was probably greater than he was), and also that God is governed by time. =) Do you see? God (from non-Mormon Christians) is HUUUUGE! He is THE reference point to everything! =)

It means that it is God who thought up things like: joy, love, peace, truth etc. He didn't just create something out of nothing (materially speaking), and it must also imply that God is not governed by law, because He IS law; over and beyond law!? Crazy stuff, huh? And people think Mormonism is weird! Just wait till you read stuff written by the reformists and the puritans!?!

This is why passages like Romans 9 when Paul asks, "Did God, before time, create vessels for wrath in order to show his mercy to those who he chose to be merciful to?" God is immense. And to grip hold of what is revealed in Scripture about His character will blow your mind!

There's another place in Exodus when God says to Moses, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious to"...which simply means that those who will be saved is not dependent upon people's choosing. Ultimately, it depends upon His choosing =) Arrogant? You bet.

And why did he choose to even create us and all of the universe? Because He can. Who can give counsel to the mind of God? Answer: no-one. Who can give anything to God that God might repay him? Anser: no-one.

You can somehow glimpse as to why His ultimate motivation is glorify Himself! Our salvation isn't ultimately for our benefit; it is His own! Mind-blowing, huh?

I have digressed. What was I supposed to be talking about again?

NM said...

Can I point to Mr. Piper again? His lecture entitled, "The Great Work of the Only Wise God". As ever, click on my username - nm.

Peter said...

NM,

I have been following this for a while, as with most of Jeff's posts. I want again to approach your understanding of our Heavenly Father's sovereignty. Is it because our Father in Heaven allows something bad to happen that you feel he wills it to happen?

If I went and stole something from someone, is it the Lord's will because he allowed it to happen?

I am trying to understand your notion of sovereignty. If we look at a King or some sort of other ruler on Earth we can probably understand slightly more. If, in an Earthly kingdom, I was to commit a crime, because it happened it means it is the King's will? Being that we have free will the King can't stop us from doing anything. He can punish us for going against his law, he can use the law as a deterrent, but if we wish to do something we can do it. The same ways apply with our Father in Heaven.
He is the law, he rules the kingdom but he doesn't force us to do his will. Because he wants us to grow he allows bad things to happen, for whatever reason. Because He knows what is happening doesn't mean he wants me causing trouble with his children. He may let it happen, because people will learn from it, undoubtedly he will punish us. We deserve to be punished, we have gone against his law. Thankfully there is a way for us to be absolved of the punishment and that is through faith, sincere repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

Does this fit your idea of sovereignty?

Peter

Kathleen said...

Peter said, "there is a way for us to be absolved of the punishment and that is through faith, sincere repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."

And through trusting Christ alone for our salvation, right?!?! ;)

Peter said...

Kathleen,

Do you know of any other name under Heaven by which we can be saved? :P

Kathleen said...

Nope. :)

Kathleen said...

Oh, I would answer Peter's question about sovereignty, but I'm not a reformist, like NM. Okay, I guess I am to an extent, but I'm always asking questions (what else is new?) about it and would not say that I agree with all its doctrines. I don't even know where I stand on free will /foreordination!

However, that fact that God is and He cares amazes me. God's immensity and goodness and perfection and power and glory and creativity just boggle me. He blows my mind away!! The fact that He is all-powerful and can do anything He wants is part of His sovereignty, though...

Peter said...

Kathleen,

In terms of free will the Lord has allowed us to do whatever we want. I am sure that if it doesn't fit in with his plan he wouldn't let it happen. A lot of what we do here on Earth won't affect his plan in the long run.

In terms of fore-ordination I believe it has to do with the Lord knowing us before we come to Earth. He knows how we will act in circumstances and what we will do. He knows what we will fail at and what we will overcome. There is a comment made by someone (NM I believe) that there is a sign on a door saying "he who will may enter" and then looking back after entering a sign saying "chosen from before". Something along those lines anyway. I believe that this is in regards to the knowledge that our Father in Heaven has of us. He was chosen from before because the Lord knows us and the person wills it because he knows the Lord.

Anonymous said...

The Bible contains everything we need to know about who He is and also how to respond to what we read, study and know. Until we come to Joseph Smiths First Vision on.

Anonymous said...

NM
You want to blow your mind? Why did God allow the spirits in Heaven creat a rebelion and Satan and one third were cast out? Or did God make them do it for His own reasons.

QP

Anonymous said...

NM


I think you confuse Mormon doctrine, theology, and mythology up.
The cannon of scriptures for the Mormons are Bible, Book of Mormon,
Doctrine and Convents, and Pearl of Great Price. These are doctrine. The President and the 12 Apostles explain doctrine with theology along with BYU professors and some members that write books. This theology may or may not be doctrine. Then there is mythology.

The idea that there was a God before Our Father in Heaven is a Mormon Myth. It is used to get our mind to understand.

To ask you where did your God come from? Just a blank because it is just all speculation.

Anonymous said...

Where did God come from or what was before God. Well, the other side of the event horizon was a perfect vacuum fluctuation and was self created. At the point He became self aware He created Heaven, spirit children, and the universe. The rest is history.

Anonymous said...

In terms of fore-ordination I believe it has to do with the Lord knowing us before we come to Earth.
He knows all the future.

Anonymous said...

We are not Gods yet?


So, in our pre-earth existence, we weren't gods then?


What, were we some sort of spiritual entities (just not yet gods) or something?

Or is it that when we are sent to earth, we discard our god-hood status, take on human status - to then return to god status. Is that right?


So, in what way then are we not like Father in heaven?


What are we to experience in order to be like our Heavenly Father?


Was the Heavenly Father's intention for us to rebel or something??


If so, what part did the serpent play in the Garden of Eden? Was the serpent's role to tell us the truth of ourselves - that we really are gods?


Errm, were we meant to celebrate the news?


Are we meant to celebrate the news now?


If it was the truth, then why did it have such devastating effects on human history? ?



Why did our knowing of our god-status cause such disasters to happen?


Why did our knowing this truth, bring sickness, death, disease, famine, poverty etc.?



Why do we need to have a Saviour (in Jesus) to rescue us from knowing that we are gods?


Do you see the dilemma that I have here?


If knowing who we truly are (as gods), what is the point of Jesus?


What 'sin' did Adam and Eve commit at the Garden of Eden?


Was your Heavenly Father wanting to conceal that information from us?


Is that what it is?


If so, and we did disobey, then that effectively means that our Heavenly Father was the liar; because He told us not to eat lest we what? DIE. Do you see the kinds of implications this is having on my simple mind?!!?


Please someone explain the Mormon Pre-existent Theology to me!

teranno4x4 said...

Dear All,

NM - I really enjoyed your comment 1:40 PM, October 31, 2007 and agree with your words.

Peter - your analogy was also beneficial from an everyday perspective and is one of the more generally accepted Christian views of God's sovereignty. 3:17 PM, October 31, 2007

Kathleen, I agree with your comments after this too.

From then on the thread becomes fairly murky again, comments on 'horizons and perfect vacuums', foreordination etc - WHAT IS ALL THIS ABOUT?

God is from EVERLASTING to EVERLASTING. His power, majesty, might, authority, rule, (restored) dominion, divinity, love and mercy will stand for evermore. Everlasting means just that - before the vacuum existed He was there. Before the Horizon existed, He was there. It is something that the human mind has no concept over and will never fully come to terms with here on earth, in a sinful state. So why try ? Just accept it through faith !

It also seems that some comments are confusing foreoridination with pre-destination and foreknowledge.

There are distict diffences between all three words. Free will of each human being plays a major part, as does the whole role of satan and his demonic angels in tempting us and leading all of us astray. No one is exempt - not even Jesus, but we can overcome both Satan and sin, just as He did through the power of the Holy Spirit - that is our ultimate choice.

As for the Father of spirits, the role of the angels is defined more clearly by the author of Hebrews in ch 1:13,14 ... and this leads one to conclude that our Heavenly Father is also Father of the angels. If we have a 'spirit' as the LDS claim inside us, I can tell you quite clearly that no angel is living iside me - I would know it.

'spirit' (little 's') in the Hebrew refers to the word ruach - which translates as breath of God. This is the same breath that God breathed into the nostrils of Adam after he was created. It is the life source that we all have daily through His grace. When it is exahusted it returns back to God who gave it. No other being has that power to manifest or copy it - satan can take it away as the body in death, but the power still returns to God. Seeing as the power is the same for each one of us without prejudice, where comes the LDS idea that the 'spirit' has characterists. If God knew the 'spirits' before they inhabited a body, that would insinuate that they had a conscience and feelings that could be stimulated through this communication. What would then be the need for a body ? This doctrine is not supported Biblically from the original languages of Hebrew or Greek. Quite simply ruach is ruach and it is not in the plural.

In the NT it talks about the 'spirit of wisdom'. Please can you tell me which earthly body this spirit is inhabiting today, because I do not see much evidence of anyone that has it in the whole world. I believe that this is something that needs to be taken into context. The NT frequently names 'spirit' or 'spirits' as heavenly characteristics that Christians need to adopt from the call and lead of the Holy Spirit. This is the preparation that we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus for our development in the path to our eternal home.

Teranno4x4

tatabug said...

PHEW!! This is making me dizzy--all these mind-boggling comments and questions.

NM,

I agree a great deal with you about who God is from your last statement to me. I just disagree with you when it comes to who WE are.

To talk about other Gods before God is something we don't know or teach, so let's not try and have a conversation about something that neither of us know anything about, much less the implications it would involve. Let's leave such speculation, and worry for later when either we know more, or wait for the next life to learn the real truth. For now, why not worry about the things that matter to our salvation. I don't think that it matters whether or not I believe that there are numerous gods or Gods, so long as I am doing what God requires of me to follow Him acceptably. Anyway, I think I am done with this particular conversation. It has gone way off-track and I don't like where it's going. I just don't think it's productive.

Anonymous (most recent),

Most of your questions have been answered. Perhaps you should re-read. The ones which haven't been answered, probably don't have any informed answers. And I think some of the conclusions you draw are way off-base. If you want to know more about the pre-existence, I suggest you consult the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Look up pre-existence and premortal life. I just don't wish to engage this conversation any further. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

We are not Gods yet? Correct.



So, in our pre-earth existence, we weren't gods then? Correct. Spirit Children the Spirit Adults.



What, were we some sort of spiritual entities (just not yet gods) or something? Spirit Adults without physical bodies like Our Father in Heaven.

Or is it that when we are sent to earth, we discard our god-hood status, take on human status - to then return to god status. Is that right? No God status for us in the preexistence that I know of. If we return to Our Father in Heaven after being righteous then we will be resurrected in a perfect, glorified body like Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father.



So, in what way then are we not like Father in heaven? We need the above perfected body and reach a status to be perfect like Christ and our Heavenly Father.



What are we to experience in order to be like our Heavenly Father? Earth life, then the gospel laws, then live them and the perfect body thing.



Was the Heavenly Father's intention for us to rebel or something?? Yes maybe? I think our Heavenly Father knew we would. He knows all things. I don't think this is left to chance. This is why there are statements like, presentation, fore ordination, yea are chosen, my sheep are numbered.



If so, what part did the serpent play in the Garden of Eden? Introduce us to evil.



Was the serpent's role to tell us the truth of ourselves - that we really are gods? Maybe? I don't know. It is clear our Heavenly Father knew how it was going to play out.



Errm, were we meant to celebrate the news? Yes, because it was the only we could go through the process to return, and become like our Heavenly Father.





If it was the truth, then why did it have such devastating effects on human history? I don't think it did. But that is just my take on it. The Garden of Eden was just an extension of Heaven placed on a fallen world. When Adam and Eve was sent out of the garden the world was already in an fallen earthly state and access to the Heavenly Garden of Eden was closed.




Why did our knowing of our god-status cause such disasters to happen? I don't think it did. It was our direct access to our Heavenly Father. And it was Adams disobedience to our Heavenly Fathers law and the ability to live forever in his sin if he ate from the second tree. The tree of Life. Christ will take care of this problem for all of us later in the story.




Why did our knowing this truth, bring sickness, death, disease, famine, poverty etc.? Again I don't think it did. It is in many ways a story to help everyone to understand how and why we got here.




Why do we need to have a Savior (in Jesus) to rescue us from knowing that we are gods? He doesn't. He is to rescue us from our sins.



Do you see the dilemma that I have here? No. What dilemma?



If knowing who we truly are (as gods), what is the point of Jesus? We are not gods. We are in a fallen and sinful state and have been rescued by Jesus Christ.



What 'sin' did Adam and Eve commit at the Garden of Eden? Disobeying our Heavenly Fathers law or laws but unlike Satan we have no desire to rule over Heavenly Fathers kingdom. We wish to be joint partners.



Was your Heavenly Father wanting to conceal that information from us? I do think many thing are with held from us but I think any time there have been prophets on the earth and people are willing to listen to them we get the necessary information we need.



Is that what it is? The knowledge that we can become like our Heavenly Father in the scriptures but look at how much trouble such statements and ideas have gotten us into.



If so, and we did disobey, then that effectively means that our Heavenly Father was the liar; because He told us not to eat lest we what? Adam could eat from the tree of life but not from the tree of Good and Evil. Heavenly Father did not lie. He kept His word. I am not sure where you get He lied.



DIE. Do you see the kinds of implications this is having on my simple mind?!!? Yes, and I am not sure if this helps.



Please someone explain the Mormon Pre-existent Theology to me!

QP

Ryan said...

that effectively means that our Heavenly Father was the liar; because He told us not to eat lest we what? DIE.

Wow. This exact conversation has happened before:

20 But there was one Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state, that the soul can never die?
21 What does the scripture mean, which saith that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever? And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever.
22 Now Alma said unto him: This is the thing which I was about to explain. Now we see that Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people.
23 And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely die.
24 And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.
25 Now, if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead; but there was a plan of redemption laid, which shall bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, of which has been spoken.
26 And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect.

Anonymous said...

I guess it pays to read the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scriptures.

teranno4x4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
teranno4x4 said...

Sorry for the deletion above - I needed to correct a grammatical error...

" 26 And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of redemption would have been FRUSTRATED, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect. "

To be quite honest - I am miserable right here right now in my own 'happy, simplistic' existence. The plan of redemption didn't NEED to happen. It was only promised AFTER Adam and Eve touched and ate the fruit from the tree (of knowledge). If Adam and Eve hadn't eaten then I would be much more ecstatic in the Garden of Eden than I am right now outside of it. That is why I have the blessed hope in Jesus, looking forward to His eternal restoration where I can eat from the tree of Life.

What is this preparatory state that is mentioned ? Is it our life here ? The only differences between life the Garden of Eden and now is that all humans (except Jesus) have sinned and lost their clothing glory that was to be ours for eternity, making them appear naked and prone to death. Now is our task to bring many to be re-takers of the glory that is on free offer through the grace of Jesus (but not to be 'gods').

Do you really believe that Jesus - the Son of God WANTED to be crucified ... and that the plan of redemption would have been FRUSTRATED? That is quite an irreverent and sadistic thought and one that turns my stomach over!

Teranno4x4

Peter said...

Teranno4x4,

The plan was in place from the beginning. Adam and Eve didn't have children in the garden, for a good reason. They didn't know they were naked until after they partook of the fruit. Do I think Jesus wanted to be crucified? No I don't think he wanted to, he even asked the Father to "remove this cup" from Him, "not as my will but thy will be done". Jesus chose to be our savior knowing full well what would be required of him. Someone had to do it and you can be sure that Satan chose the most horrific way to kill him. Anything to try and frustrate God's plan. Yet Jesus did it, for us. Is that not a monumental sign of His love. There is something that I have realised, it wasn't just Jesus' sacrifice. Our Father in Heaven sacrificed as well. How hard would it be to send your son to die and in his last moments to not be in his presence. God is wiser then us all and his plan would never be frustrated. In fact it tells us so in the Doctrine and Covenants 3:1-3 - 1) The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. 2) For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round. 3) Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

I suggest you read the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint scripture at some point. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Ryan said...

What is this preparatory state that is mentioned ? Is it our life here ?

Yup. God is just, and His justice demands punishment for every broken law. If there was no "preparatory state" between the time that we sin and the time of judgment, we'd all be out of luck. Each person's first sin would instantly and eternally damn them, end of discussion.

Fortunately, God is also merciful, and provided a way to delay judgment long enough for us to (hopefully) come to our senses and rely on Christ's atonement to deflect it.

Do you really believe that Jesus - the Son of God WANTED to be crucified ... and that the plan of redemption would have been FRUSTRATED?

WANTED? as in ENJOYED? How in the world did you wrench that twisted concept out of the passage I quoted? How disappointing.

FRUSTRATED? Yes, **had God allowed it to happen**. Nowhere has anybody say God was actually **going** to allow (or be unable to prevent) the plan's frustration.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Ryan and Peter,

Your comments sadden me. It seems that the mute point is that God deemed it necessary that Jesus should die out of love so that we CAN be exalted ?

The point that I was trying to make is that Adam and Eve were ALREADY EXALTED. They were the icing on the cake, the jewel in the crown, the evidence of the pinnacle of all of God's created beings. Was that not enough.

Human life debased itself. The plan of redemption was designed from the very outset as a contingency plan, not as a formula for development. This is the part that does sicken me, to think that this was Jesus' destiny from the beginning of time. I do not believe this one iota. It was a pure demonstration showing the love of God to the unfallen worlds of the extent that he would go for any of His created Beings. In the demonstration, satan who had accused God that it was not possible to keep His eternal law and that His authority and that of Jesus were not just, showed his true colours, and subsequently satan lost.

This is where the battle lies, not in any frustration.

Finally - what kind of contradiction is this : "his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round." ?

Can you show me how to draw a straight line with a round (circle) please?

Teranno4x4

Ryan said...

The plan of redemption was designed from the very outset as a contingency plan, not as a formula for development.

I think there are two underlying issues here:

1. Did we exist before we were born? I say yes, and apparently you say no. However, it's starting to look like the bigger issue is actually...

2. What is the role of agency in your theology?

- If God just wanted beings that obeyed Him, he could have done that without all this messiness.
- If agency *is* important, what is important about it?
- Does God intend us to exercise our agency and (hopefully) use it to voluntarily submit our wills to Him? Because we're downright awful at it, and God surely knew this fact from the beginning.
- Does the process of learning to submit ourselves to God involve any kind of growth (ie change for the better) at all?
- If agency is important enough that God endows it upon His creations -- who He loves enough to do just about anything for -- knowing full well that they will abuse that gift, then how is an atonement not a necessary and central part of God's plan?

Adam and Eve were ALREADY EXALTED. They were the icing on the cake, the jewel in the crown, the evidence of the pinnacle of all of God's created beings. Was that not enough?

Apparently not. If it was perfect, why mess with it, or allow us to? I just don't see a way to put the pieces together that doesn't make it look like God's plan from the beginning was for us to progress (learn to willingly serve and glorify Him), that this earth life is the opportunity to do so, and that the cost of that opportunity was an infinite atonement, worked out in perfect love by Christ.

This is exactly what spurred my original question to NM. If we were already at the pinnacle, the jewel in God's crown, why on earth then, did He feel it important to risk everything by allowing a fallen world where the best that could happen was to gain back what we would surely lose, and at such a terrible price to His Son?

Can you explain how to connect the dots your way? I'll honestly try to understand, even if I don't agree, but I'm having a hard time getting where you're coming from here!

tatabug said...

Teranno4x4,

Okay, so if Adam and Eve were already exalted, then why did they need to come to Earth? Please tell me what purpose this life serves, or at least what purpose would our life have been had Adam and Eve not fallen. Why did God allow opposition to come into the picture? Why didn't God just remove that troublesome tree or at least put cherubim and a flaming sword guarding it to prevent Adam and Eve from messing everything up? Why would He allow us to pay the consequences of a choice made by Adam and Eve and not us if there was a better way? That just seems unfair.

What sickens me is the idea that the atonement of Christ was a contingency plan and that it never had to happen in the first place. We either need to curse Adam and Eve for being so stupid, or God for not preventing such a tragedy. Your idea of how things are indicates that you don't believe God is very omniscient, since Jesus was a contingency--just in case things didn't go as planned. Or do you think He knew exactly what would happen? In that case, Jesus wouldn't have been a contingency at all, but rather the only option.

Ryan said...

what kind of contradiction is this: "his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round." ?

Try walking due east for a lap around the earth and see how close you end up to your starting point.
If you actually managed to go perfectly straight east on a perfectly round planet, your course would become an eternal round.

Or, maybe it's a nod to quantum mechanics, where you can be and not be, move and not move, and be in two places, all at the same time. Given those possibilities, moving in a circle and straight line at the same time doesn't sound so bad.

*shrugs*

tatabug said...

I was apparently still writing when Ryan was posting, so I may have repeated some of his same line of thought.

tatabug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
teranno4x4 said...

Dear Ryan,

I will try and answer as briefly concisely as possible, since you sincerely asked to understand my theology. My fear is that it may not get across successfully in this short permitted space.

I am presuming that by 'agency' you are meaning exercising free-will and how we use it for God's purpose here on earth? If not then please define it in your own easy to understand language.

Answers :
1 No we did not exist before we were born. I have identified the Hebrew word for spirit in the OT that may be mis-represented in an earlier comment. To insinuate a ghostly state of pre-existent being is not Biblical. If you feel the need to check, please ask any Jewish Rabbi for the original context / meaning of any OT verse that you feel supports your doctrine. To take this out of context exposes the flaws of manipulating Biblical scripture to twist it and make it fit into a 'new ideal' doctrine.

2 - "If God just wanted beings that obeyed Him, he could have done that without all this messiness. "
He did it without the messiness - Adam and Eve screwed it up by venturing near to the forbidden tree and allowing temptation to take a hold on them.

- "Does God intend us to exercise our agency and (hopefully) use it to voluntarily submit our wills to Him? Because we're downright awful at it, and God surely knew this fact from the beginning. "
When you get into heaven, ask this question to Adam and Eve and see if they agree that they had a free-will ... Did they submit their wills to God in outright obedience to Him ? Of course not and now that we are not in the Garden in the very presence of God, that is why we are downright awful at submitting our wills to Him. The enemy has us in the palm of his hand (in his attempt to lead us to death), but not under his outright control. THAT is our free-will, plus the Holy Spirit that CAN and WILL lead us into all righteousness, providing the way of escape."

- "Does the process of learning to submit ourselves to God involve any kind of growth (ie change for the better) at all?"
Do you have it better in your life now than Adam and Eve did in the Garden ? No, I didn't think so... If you said yes then you are deceiving yourself. Were Adam and Eve upset at being evicted the Garden? Of course ! So please show me the progress that was made - "the change for the better" ?

- "If agency is important enough that God endows it upon His creations -- who He loves enough to do just about anything for -- knowing full well that they will abuse that gift, then how is an atonement not a necessary and central part of God's plan?"
Do you know the parable of the lost sheep? Ninety-nine are safe in the fold (this could apply to the unfallen worlds & angels who I believe still to have agency as created beings!). What exactly does 'lost' mean ? Progression or danger scenario? Safety or fear? Jesus went searching for the one that was lost and when it was found He took it back to safety in the fold. That was the whole purpose of the Gospel for this fallen world and how one day we will be restored back into the fold of God. The sheep is still a sheep - it didn't change into a lion or a bear or a man. So we will remain as humans, only our characteristics will be glorified and we will put on immortality through Jesus.

- "Apparently not. If it was perfect, why mess with it, or allow us to? I just don't see a way to put the pieces together that doesn't make it look like God's plan from the beginning was for us to progress (learn to willingly serve and glorify Him), that this earth life is the opportunity to do so, and that the cost of that opportunity was an infinite atonement, worked out in perfect love by Christ."
Adam and Eve were ALREADY EXALTED - there I said it again. The 'forbidden' tree was not put in the garden for their benefit as 'progress'. No, it was put there for the benefit of satan as the only place that he could obtain access to them if they CHOSE to be disobedient, otherwise satan would have had the same argument against God, as when discussing Job, in Job ch.1; with satan claiming that he couldn't obtain any access to get at him because of the hedge of God's protection. Adam and Eve did make this conscious choice to disobey, to leave God's protective hedge and the rest is history. Job remained sinless in his supernatural afflictions.

"This is exactly what spurred my original question to NM. If we were already at the pinnacle, the jewel in God's crown, why on earth then, did He feel it important to risk everything by allowing a fallen world where the best that could happen was to gain back what we would surely lose, and at such a terrible price to His Son?"
There was a battle (that has already been won by Jesus at Calvary), started by satan against Jesus when he was still in heaven. This battle was about Jesus' rightful position in the Godhead. satan was jealous and the resulting battle until Calvary ensued. It will continue in the future as it is in all our lives still today. BUT this is the very essence of the Christian 'Good News' - Jesus has already won. Man's salvation is the by-product of the vindication of the character of God in front of the whole universe by his divine justice with satan and the rest of the wicked beings. They will be extinguished for all eternity (known Biblically as the second death).

I would like to know the part that satan plays in your theology and how he 'helps' in man's historical progress when he is EVIL to the very core...?! There is NO REWARD for him - only death physical, spiritual, mental, everything..al!

"Try walking due east for a lap around the earth and see how close you end up to your starting point.
If you actually managed to go perfectly straight east on a perfectly round planet, your course would become an eternal round. "
I enjoyed your technical answer, but mathematically it is not logical. First point is that if you keep walking east, eventually you end up west - that's not so clever.
Secondly, if you shrink the earth to the size of a tennis ball for dimension's sake, do you see any straight lines? Does it become easy to make accurate measurements with a ruler across the surface, or is it more difficult? A straight line is simply that - like a ruler compared to a tennis ball. It is a perpendicular line between two given points, that does not wave, twist, bend or kink.

Over to you. Can you understand my theology now or does it need more time and explanation? I really appreciate the conversation and good natured discussion.

Teranno4x4

Ryan said...

Terano:

I'm starting to get some idea of where you're coming from, but there are still some rather large gaps.

Agency. We seem to have the same definition.

Pre-earth existence. In my opinion, the "breath of life" argument knocks out the least two interesting passages, especially since it seems perfectly reasonable to need God's spark of life to make a body live, regardless of whether that body is to house a pre-existent spirit or not. Dave D gave a nice list of other passages that got roundly ignored, as far as I can see.

Messiness. Adam and Eve "screwing up" *was* the messiness I referred to. Unless you think they surprised God with their action (which I doubt), He knew perfectly well what would happen if He allowed it (and He did allow it).

Awful at submitting. It seems to me that we (as a race) were awful at submitting right from the start, even in the Garden. I agree, though, that the tension between enticings of the Spirit and those of Satan provides an environment where free will can be exercised freely.

Change for the better. (a) Nobody is arguing that this life is more pleasant than the Garden. Comments like that stink of hedonism: equating "good" with "pleasant" is Greek, not Gospel. (b) The Fall was *not* a change for the better. It provided raw materials God could use to effect a change for the better in us. (c) Again, I hold that the Fall shows that Adam and Eve were *not* perfect and exalted (to me those phrases imply being beyond temptation's reach). (d) I won't go into "opposition in all things," again because it's already been proffered by others and ignored.

Lost sheep. You argue that those who sin are abherrations who must be dealt with using "plan B." Where did you get that idea from? I can't think of anywhere in the Bible that supports it. Why would you expect even a measurable fraction of truly free agents -- let alone a majority -- to make perfect choices every time, when they start with no prior experience, have limited foresight and memory, and face an experienced adversary devoted to tripping them up?

Forbidden fruit. You seriously mean that God felt the need to prove *anything* to *anyone*, let alone Satan? And that Christ's Atonement became necessary only because God decided to let Satan have the "benefit" of taking a crack at this unlucky planet? Please tell me something got lost in translation here -- I thought you argued that God simply is, and answers to no-one, and that Satan gets NO REWARD from God (which I agree with!).

Second death. Extinguished? as in non-existent? What is Hell then? Death row? Seriously though, I think evil will exist as long as free will does (see below).

One eternal round. I was being a tad bit facetious. It's just not a phrase I lose sleep over.

Satan's role. Satan started out as one of us in the pre-existence -- one of the noble and great ones, in fact. However, he chose evil (= to reject God) and, with his followers, was promptly cast out of God's presence as the heavens wept over the tragedy. However, evil exists quite independently as a choice, not a person; Satan is notable only because of the great height he fell from. Today, those who have made the same choice (some of them mortals!) work quite zealously to tear down all that is good, using their influence to convince others to make the same choices they made, and suffer the same fate.

Peter said...

In terms of the eternal round and the straight path. I think of a straight path as one that does not waver.
Example. Try to draw a circle unassisted. Is it a perfect circle? Unless you have a very steady hand I would think not. Draw one with a compass. Is it a straight line? It's an eternal round isn't it?
That's my take on it.

Anonymous said...

T4x4

No we did not exist before we were born. I have identified the Hebrew word for spirit in the OT that may be mis-represented in an earlier comment. To insinuate a ghostly state of pre-existent being is not Biblical.

With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other documents along with the Bible Old Testiment it can not longer be said that all Jews before Jesus Christ did not believe in the pre-existents of mans spirit.

Mormanity said...

Adam and Eve were already exalted?

What kind of exaltation is it when one dietary slip can cost you everything? Who left that toxic tree in plain sight? And who let that snake in the door?

Question: will those who accept Christ and go to heaven also be in a similar unstable state, with demons running around trying to trick them into a little slip in the heavenly diet that will cost them their salvation and get booted out? What kind of exaltation is that?

And what good is exaltation for a population of 2? Don't you think God has something bigger in mind for His work than just two people for this amazing planet?

Mormanity said...

This is the part that does sicken me, to think that this was Jesus' destiny from the beginning of time. I do not believe this one iota.

Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). It was the plan from the beginning!

Peter in 1 Peter 1 speaks of the glory that is possible through enduring the afflictions of mortality and obeying God. He calls us to look to the precious blood of the Lamb for our salvation (v. 19). This Lamb, even Jesus Christ, "was foreordained before the foundation of the world" (v. 20). The Messiah was part of God's plan from the beginning - not a solution proposed when God's real plan was overthrown by Adam. Christ as Redeemer was planned from the beginning, as was our potential for honor and glory with Christ as we overcome the trials of our faith through the grace of Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the glorious ministry of Christ was an unfortunate afterthought or a backup plan when God's real plan somehow went awry. Christ was prepared from the beginning - the only hope for mankind. God's objective was not to have two ignorant children remain forever as children, but He prepared a way for them to come unto Him as glorified sons and daughters who intelligently and knowingly choose God and Christ and the power of the Atonement of the Lamb, who was prepared long before Adam and Eve ever set eyes on that fruit.

Anonymous said...

T4x4,


And as he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who has sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" Jesus answered, 'Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but the works of God were to be made manifest in him.'" (John 9:1)

The disciples ask the Lord if the man himself could have committed the sin that led to his blindness. Given the fact that the man has been blind from birth, we are confronted with a provocative question. When could he have made such transgressions as to make him blind at birth? The only conceivable answer is in some prenatal state. The question as posed by the disciples explicitly presupposes prenatal existence. It will also be noted that Christ says nothing to dispel or correct the presupposition. Here is incontrovertible support for a doctrine of human preexistence.



"I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." (John 3:5-6)

Anonymous said...

T4x4,

Jesus taught that each of us is the prodigal son/daughter of the One God -- and that we enter this world to embrace the process of soul/spiritual growth and perfection (Matt 5:48). Of this higher reality that is beyond the comprehension of carnal man, Rufinus writes of the Churches teachings: "...that it is not according to his [God’s] own pre-judgment and knowledge, but according to the merit of the elect that God’s choice of men is determined; and he says that, before the creation of the visible world, of sky and earth and seas and all that they contain, there existed other invisible creatures, among which also were souls; and that these souls, for reasons known to God alone, were cast down into this vale of tears, this place of our mournful pilgrimage, and that this is shewn by the prayer uttered by a holy man of old who, having his habitation fixed here, yet longed to return to his original abode: 'Woe is me that my sojourning is prolonged, that I have my habitation among the inhabitants of Kedar,' And, '…my soul has long been a pilgrim,' and again 'O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death?' and in another place 'It is better to return and be with Christ,' and elsewhere, 'Before I was brought low, I sinned;' and other words of a like character.” (Life and Works of Rufinus With Jerome’s Apology Against Rufinus, The Apology of Rufinus in Two Books; Anti-Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, s.2, v.3 [27], p 903). What is clear here is that many of the earliest of Christian church authorities openly professed the belief that the soul pre-existed the body and the life that we presently live -- and our soul is in fact a “sojourner” -- a "pilgrim” -- in this physical world. Speaking of men such as the Apostle Paul, Rufinus writes of Jerome and Origen’s doctrine: “…before the souls were cast down into the world, and before the world, which was made up of souls, had been cast down together with its inhabitants into the abyss, God chose Paul and those like him, who were holy and undefiled."

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Jeff,

Thank- you for your thought provoking and quite interesting comments.

Adam and Eve were already exalted. The way that one views this is how one explains the whole temptation passage of Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden, from the deception offered by the serpent (satan – whose name means ‘the accuser’) under area restriction of the tree only, not the whole Garden, note; until God calls for them when they are hiding and asks them who told them that they were naked. This isn’t a lesson for them to go and start shopping at Bloomingdales, it is far more simple than that. The robes of glory and righteousness adorned their bodies so that they knew no shame. This was exaltation from God for the crowing glory of all of His creation here on Earth, in it’s purest state. It was never God’s intention that Adam and Eve should ‘fall’. It was their own choice through their own actions and stupidity of going where they were instructed not to go – then taking their mistake further by undergoing temptation and both of them – agan note – BOTH of them individually falling in their own right. Adam’s was worse than Eve’s. She was deceived – He made his own choice as a result of the thought of losing his companion, which ultimately was worse, because he distrusted God’s heeding at that stage. That was the sin – the fruit was the proof of the pudding in the eating! Have you ever gone somewhere that you simply shouldn’t, in your lifetime ? I have and I have felt the guilt afterward as a result. Can we blame Adam and Eve – no of course not, because we all are no better. None of us – only Jesus who proved that we can choose to live like He did, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Often that choice comes once we seem to have made too many bad choices in our past.

No - your question about the heavenly diet is answered simply. “There will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away”. This means a complete paradigm shift in a completely new direction that none has ever experienced before. No more booting out – the price was paid at Calvary. No more desire to be proud or self exalted – “former things have passed away”. Bye-bye satan and followers – bye bye………

For the two people question that you posed - was it God’s intention to give man dominion of the earth, the power of reproduction and no ability to actually use it? This is pure supposition, but anyone can guess at when Adama and Eve at the fruit. Many believe it was after millions of years, which gives us the data that some can extract from scientific analysis today. Many believe that it was after a few hundred years as they were roaming around the stretch of land mass in the whole sea that was ‘The Garden of Eden’, many (including me) believe that God is all powerful and merciful and that if they had overcome the wiles of satan, obeyed God implicitely and stayed away from ‘that tree’, then satan would have been sent packing, the tree as a test to obedience would have been removed totally from the Garden and we could all have enjoyed eternity living with God in His Garden. That they had no children logically implies that they fell well into their early days in the Garden, certainly within the nine months, which is the usual gestation period for human pregnancy. There is no distinct proof either way and to believe your notion is also pure supposition.

teranno4x4 said...

“The Messiah was part of God's plan from the beginning - not a solution proposed when God's real plan was overthrown by Adam.” I agree with the verses that you gave and also the comments that you made except the one quoted here. I did not suggest that the plan of redemption was an emergency plan quickly set up after man fell. Please go back to my original comment on this and re-read. The word that I used was a ‘contingency’ plan. Contingency doesn’t mean ‘after thought’, it doesn’t mean back-up plan exclusively. It means something that may happen but is not necessarily going to happen. So here we still see the power of free-will at work. Adam and Eve had that choice. ‘Foreordained’ does not mean His destiny. It means taking on status or title or position. In context to this verse it means acknowledgement of Jesus in the Godhead before the foundation of the world (in that He was involved in the planning of the activities of the complete unit known as God).
The verse in Revelation that you quote is an interesting one, because the key word in the whole sentence is ‘from’. In context, the plan of redemption (contingency) clicked into action after creation which was our beginning – that is what ‘from’ means in this instance. Hence the ‘promise’ given by God about the ‘bruising of the heel’ etc in Gen 3 and the contingency plan becomes reality ….
I am not making any mistakes here – my theology is Biblically sound. “Christ was prepared from the beginning - the only hope for mankind.” I agree with this wholeheartedly but it was not prepared as the ONLY way for fate, destiny, history or whatever you want to call it. This is pre-destination without free-will. It doesn’t apply to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or to mankind. We all have choices of freedom – Jesus made his choice to desire to save us – it is up to us to make our desire for Him.

Let me ask you a few questions in reply. Is the whole sinless sacrifice of Jesus just about His desire for man to be glorified and become ‘gods’ ? Or is there a deeper significance relating to the clensing of the sanctuary after the 2300 day prophecy found in Daniel – if so, which sanctuary ? Did sin originate on the earth ? If yes – how ? If no – where ? So whose benefit is the sacrifice of Jesus for ?

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Anon,

Thanks for your comments too.

“Jesus taught that each of us is the prodigal son/daughter of the One God -- and that we enter this world to embrace the process of soul/spiritual growth and perfection (Matt 5:48).”
In the verse cited in Matt5:48, Jesus is teaching us to be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. This is instruction for us to be single minded in our calling, so that we do not waver from the righteous path. It says nothing about “that we enter the world to embrace the process of soul / spiritual growth and perfection.”
Same for the previous text used in the verses about the disciples and the blind man. Jesus stated that the man was born blind so that “the works of God were to be made manifest in him”. This is not talking about the miracle so that he can see – it is talking about his belief so that he can one day realise eternal life. This is the work of God – restoration back to Him. The vision in his eyes was simply a peripheral by-product of the man’s faith in his heart as read by Jesus.

This concept that you offer is a new theology that was borne out of man’s conception regarding eternal matters :
SPIRIT. The translation of the Heb. ruÆach, “spirit,” “wind,” “breath,” and of the Gr. pneuma, “wind.”
God is declared to be a “Spirit” (John 4:24). The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. Angels are “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14). With respect to human beings, “spirit” is the vital, animating force that characterizes a living person. RuÆach is sometimes translated “breath” (Gen. 7:15; Job 9:18; etc.), breath being a readily observed and conclusive evidence of the presence of life.
At death the invisible life force leaves the body (Gen. 7:22; cf. Job 27:3; Ps. 104:29). The spirit returns to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7; cf. Acts 7:59). Bible believing Christians have sometimes identified the spirit, which leaves the body at death, with simply the breath. For example, the expression in Luke 23:46 “he gave up the ghost” (Gr. exepneusen) is literally “he expired,” or “he breathed out.” On the other hand, the spirit that returns to God has also been identified with the character: Our personal identity is preserved in the resurrection, though not the same particles of matter or material substance as went into the grave. The wondrous works of God are a mystery to man. The spirit, the character of man, is returned to God, there to be preserved. In the resurrection every man will have his own character.

However, nowhere in the Biblical Scriptures does it indicate that a human’s “spirit” exists as an intelligent entity, apart from the physical brain and physical nervous system inside the body. In fact, quite the contrary is repeatedly and emphatically affirmed (Ps. 146:3, 4; Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10; etc. etc.). The concept of the spirit’s being capable of independent, intelligent, conscious, personal existence apart from the body was derived from pagan Greek philosophy and was introduced into the Christian church in the early centuries of the Christian Era by theologians of the church in Alexandria, Egypt, who adopted Platonic philosophy and blended it with Christian doctrine. This was noted in the Bible in the following textual warning :

1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 1John 4:1-6

The spirits spoken of are not floaty, invisible, ghostly apparition incarnations of our Being (pre-natal or post-death). The Bible texts do state quite literally without any mis-understanding exactly what they are, whether one looks at the English translation or the original language used. Please tell me when the last time you actually heard a spirit that you define, confessing to you?

Anonymous said...

T4x4, said;


However, nowhere in the Biblical Scriptures does it indicate that a human’s “spirit” exists as an intelligent entity, apart from the physical brain and physical nervous system inside the body. In fact, quite the contrary is repeatedly and emphatically affirmed (Ps. 146:3, 4; Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10; etc. etc.).

This why those that study the scriptures look at all the documents from the time peroid to determin what the Bible is tring to get across. It is not always clear from just reading the scriptures.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Anon,

The Bible is God's Word to human kind. And then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!

The Bible is the most accurate historical record known to man. There are more archaeological discoveries from ancient civilisations as a result of the Bible's record than any other known.

You relate to other documents - which ones please ?

Anonymous said...

Remember Galileo. He was brought before the Inquisition and forced to recant his belief that the Sun was the center and the Earth revolved around it because of a 'Biblical' verse that was interpreted to say that it was the Sun that stood still and not the Earth.

What I am saying is that just because the Bible does not go into enough detail for some of you with regards to the preexistant intelligence of spirits or whatever subject you choose to discuss does not mean that it is not true. Nor is it true that a few well chosen verses of scripture will destroy someone else's argument. Ask Galileo when you see him. God chooses the time, the place and the Prophet to whom he wishes to dispense his truths to. And they are always relevant to the ones he reveals them to.

Isn't it nice to have a Prophet in these last days so you can find answers to these tough questions so you don't have to rely on the 'arm of flesh' and your own intellect. Well did God say that the wisdom of man is foolishness unto him.

Anonymous said...

I will get back to you on the list of documents when I get the chance, but I am pretty sure that all you know about the Bible comes from someone else. ie. translations, bible archaeological discoveries, Jews, professors.

NM said...

Anonymous,

Can I point you to leestrobel dot com? He was once an atheist who set about trying to discredit it the Bible. But came to the wrong set of conclusions about it...in fact he is now a Christian and apologeticists. He wrote that infamous book, 'The Case for Christ'.

There's a section in his website that specifically deal with the historicity of the Bible. Excellent stuff =) It's the kind of material that I present whenever I run the 'Christianity Explored' course at my church... =)

NM said...

Anonymous,

The site can be found here. (clicky clicky)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

T4x4,


"The Bible is the most accurate historical record known to man"

I don't think most professors and scholars of theology would agree. I believe in the bibles doctrines we know it is all about who is interpreting what it says.

NM said...

Anonymous,

I'd have to agree with T4x4 here. When you investigate the historicity of the Bible, the facts speak for themselves; and they really are quite staggering(!) =)

Just check out the lee strobel site... it's really quite eye-openning.

Anonymous said...

NM, said:


"I'd have to agree with T4x4 here. When you investigate the historicity of the Bible, the facts speak for themselves; and they really are quite staggering(!) =)"

Not if you read people that study it from a scholarly point of view. You, I, Lee Strobel and others want it all to be true and we may know it is true but history correct it is not been proven. There are many good finds but most history scholars do not consider it good history.

Further, study are other book that are mention in the bible but not included.
The Book of Wars - Num. 21:14
The Book of Jasher - Josh. 10:13
The Chronicles of David - 1 Chron. 27:24
The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah - 2 Chron. 27:7; 35:27; 36:8
The Book of the Kings of Israel - 1 Chron. 9:1; 2 Chron. 20:34.
The Words of the Kings of Israel - 2 Chron. 33:18.
The Decree of David the King of Israel - 2 Chron. 35:4.
The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer - 1 Chron. 29:29
The Chronicles of Nathan the Prophet - 1 Chron. 29:29
The Book of Gad - 1 Chron. 29:29
The Book of the Prophet Iddo - 2 Chron. 13:22
The Words of Shemaiah the Prophet - 2 Chron. 12:15
The Deeds of Uzziah by Isaiah the Prophet - 2 Chron. 26:22; 32:32
The Book of Jehu - 2 Chron. 20:34
The Record book of Ahasuerus - Esther 2:23; 6:1
The Book of Remembrance - Mal. 3:16
The Book of Life - Dan. 12:1; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 20:11; 22:19
The Book of Judgment - Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12
The seven-sealed book - Rev. 5:1, 13.
An angel's book - Rev. 10:2

The would be important studies and could add to our knowledge. Just to quote the bible over and over again does not help expand us understand what the meaning of some scriptures are.

The example of the Morman practice of Baptism for the Dead? 1 Chrinthians 15:29 What could this mean? Here are some bible commintaries that try to explain its meaning. There are other that disagree but they study other historical documents to try to determine what it means. They don't just keep quoting the scriptures.


James Moulten and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament:


Close inspection of the language of the reference makes all attempts to soften or eliminate its literal meaning unsuccessful. An endeavor to understand the dead as persons who are "dead in sin" does not really help; for the condition offered, if the dead are not being raised at all, makes it clear that the apostle is writing about persons who are physically dead. It appears that under the pressure of concern for the eternal destiny of dead relatives or friends some people in the church were undergoing baptism on their behalf in the belief that this would enable the dead to receive the benefits of Christ's salvation. (James Moulten and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981, p. 651, original emphasis)


The Expositer's Bible Commentary:


Here Paul returns to his argument for the resurrection of the dead. There is a special difficulty in understanding v. 29 because we do not know the background of the words "baptized for the dead." There are many interpretations, but it is difficult to find a satisfactory one. The present tense "baptize" suggests that the practice of baptizing for the dead was current and evidently well known to the Corinthians. . . .


. . . its ["huper's", the Greek word behind "for" in "baptized for the dead"] basic meaning with the genitive is "for," "in behalf of," or "in the place of."


According to [H. A. W.] Meyer, this verse means that believers already baptized were rebaptized for the benefit of believers who had died unbaptized. This was done on the assumption that it would count for the unbaptized dead and thereby assure their resurrection along with the baptized, living believers. . . .


At any rate, Paul simply mentions the superstitious custom without approving it and uses it to fortify his argument that there is a resurrection from the dead. (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976, vol. 10, pp. 287-288)

Other books Dead Sea Scrolls, Pesudopigraphy, ect. ect.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Anon,

I am not going to discuss the baptisms for the dead with you in this thread - maybe Jeff can start a new topic. My Biblical views are a sure-fire way to see deletion.

In answer to your 'book list' I noticed that all of the reference points were Biblical. Maybe further study of the Bible could show you what was contained in these books. Have you looked in study to discover more about the people that wrote them ?

I am sure that the last five books in the list are inter-related in some way and we will not receive this knowledge until we get to Heaven. Some things are worth waiting for, so let us study what we have....

The point that I (and I think NM are trying to make) is the archaelogical finds that are constantly being discovered. For years atheists used to condemn the Bible for ancient civilisations for example - the Hittites. Well, now the habitation, cities, language, culture and time is well documented for the Hittite empire and guess what ? - it is Biblically sound. This is just one example of many, many, many.....

To take one Bible verse, relate it to Galileo's personal belief and the mistake of the 'Institutionalised Inquisition' in their evil regime of 'mind and body' control, shows the inadequacies of the shallow nature of man's doctrines, not God's Commandments.

Teranno4x4

teranno4x4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am sure that the last five books in the list are inter-related in some way and we will not receive this knowledge until we get to Heaven. Some things are worth waiting for, so let us study what we have....

My whole point is not every thing is in the bible and the bible is not perfect. Just taking the bible at face value is dangerous.
is the archaelogical finds that are constantly being discovered. For years atheists used to condemn the Bible for ancient civilisations for example - the Hittites. Well, now the habitation, cities, language, culture and time is well documented for the Hittite empire and guess what ? - it is Biblically sound. This is just one example of many, many, many.....


Here you use archaelogy to prove a point just like everyone does. This is what we try to do with our discussion our religion. Further, archaelogy also has shown that the bible, in many ways have been missunderstood if not incorrect. Later as more is found that may change.

Anonymous said...

The point that I (and I think NM are trying to make) is the archaelogical finds that are constantly being discovered. For years atheists used to condemn the Bible for ancient civilisations for example - the Hittites. Well, now the habitation, cities, language, culture and time is well documented for the Hittite empire and guess what ? - it is Biblically sound. This is just one example of many, many, many.....



There are many examples where the bible is wrong. The scriptures are not perfect but God is.

teranno4x4 said...

Dear Anon,

I think that you are mis-guided when you state that the Bible is 'wrong'. I pray for the correcting experience in your thinking.

I would prefer to use the comment:

The Bible is God's Word to mankind. It is consistent in it's message of truth that will lead man to salvation. It has been written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by man. So if you want to doubt it feel free - as you only doubt the Spirit.

I never stated anywhere that I think that the Bible is perfect. It was written by man and man is not perfect, so even under guidance there will still be some small margin for error - but it is not to the status that you claim. Jesus is perfect, the Holy Spirit is perfect and His recorded words are perfect. Historians are marvelling about how accurate the Bible is in it's own historical records. Many doubters are now convinced that the Bible record is more accurate than is given credit for and many scientists prefer to play down these accuracies because they do not 'fit' their logical thinking.

The bottom line is : what kind of future could man look forward to without the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or Acts ?

Teranno4x4

Anonymous said...

T4x4, said:


"Historians are marvelling about how accurate the Bible is in it's own historical records."

Only bibical historians find accuraties, not those that study it with a open mind. I know it is true but most historians don't consider it good history or very accurate.

Anonymous said...

But these days, she said, an increasing number of archaeologists have come to doubt that Joshua's campaign ever took place. Instead, they theorize that the ancient Israelites emerged gradually and peacefully from among the region's general population -- a demographic evolution, not a military invasion. "And that would explain how their pottery is so similar to the Canaanites', and their architecture, their script

(This debate was recently fought out in a lively issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review, a bimonthly magazine published in Washington, in which one of the minimalists, the British scholar Philip Davies, wrote that biblical accounts of early Israel were purely theological, not historical. In response, a major critic of the minimalists, the American archaeologist William Dever, wrote that ample physical evidence pointed to early Israelites living in the region's highlands 3,200 years ago, two centuries before the time of David and Solomon.)

Israel Finkelstein, the director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University makes the same argument: "Archaeology has shown that early Israel indeed emerged from the local population of late Bronze Canaan." In addition, he said, archaeology has turned up no physical remains to support the Bible's story of the Exodus: "There is no evidence for the wanderings of the Israelites in the Sinai desert."

Israel Finkelstein, his reports from Megiddo that some structures attributed to Solomon were actually built after his reign have touched off fierce debate in Israel.

Although I know the bible is true and mostly correct archeology has a long way to go to pin down many of the important events in its history.

The statement "purely theological" reminds me of how we have needed to look at the Book of Mormon from different angles and deeper to find all it has to offer. Was it written for history, theology, spiritually, family history, or leadership authority?