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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Flesh and Bones of a Resurrected Body: A Serious Teaching Moment or Just Divine Smoke and Mirrors in Luke 24?

It's been bugging me for years. I've asked a few people but haven't had a satisfying answer, so let me ask here. For those of you that accept modern formulations of the Trinity regarding the nature of God and believe that Christ is Spirit only and of one immaterial substance with the Father, I would like to understand how the words and actions of Christ in Luke 24 are to be understood. This scene happens shortly after the Resurrection--the great miracle where the physical body of Christ was missing from the grave apparently because it had been re-united with His spirit.. It's hard to understand any other way to parse the New Testament information on this event. And then Christ shows Himself and His tangible, physical body to His disciples toward the end of Luke 24, a group of men who still didn't get what the Resurrection meant. They were about to learn:
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
He stood before them. They could see Him. Wow! They thought it was His spirit. So then he had them feel His tangible body and stated that it was not just spirit, but also obviously comprised flesh and bones. They marveled. To further remove any doubt, He then asked a most surprising question: "Have ye any meat?" What, He wants to eat? Why was He doing this, if not to teach basic facts about Who He was now as a Resurrected Being with flesh and bone?

They handed him some physical, tangible fish. He held that fish in His hands, put it up to His mouth, bit some off with His teeth, chewed it with His jaws and tongue and palate, then swallowed it, presumably sending the food down an alimentary canal. Or was this all just divine smoke and mirrors, with food particles being suspended by a tractor beam and then teleported a few miles outside of Jerusalem to create the majestic illusion of eating and swallowing food, a second act to the trick of creating the illusion of a tangible body? If this was all just a temporary "manifestation" of a body that wasn't really there and would soon be abandoned in favor of being immaterial spirit only, WHY was he doing this? Why not just say, "Yes, I'm a spirit. Don't bother touching me, just look and be glad that my spirit lived on."

Was He showing us what our resurrection will be like with a temporary manifestation that doesn't really apply to Him? Why not explain that? Why leave His followers with the unmistakable impression that the Son of God looks like us (as if we were created in His image) and has a tangible body of flesh and bones capable of eating food? Maybe that even enjoys eating food? I can understand why philosophers steeped in Neoplatonic thought would find this laughable or shocking, but should we?

Reality or smoke and mirrors? What was Christ doing in this powerful demonstration to his disciples, whom he now asked to be witnesses of what they had just experienced. Witnesses of what--reality or illusion?

66 comments:

rameumptom said...

I think the new standard answer is that Christ is a spirit, but retains his resurrected body in a closet just off the main portico. He takes it out and wears it, but only on special occasions.....

Kimberly said...

Are there really some Christians that believe Christ is Spirit only? I guess for any belief, there's a denomination for it... but as a Catholic, I believe that Christ rose from the tomb, body and soul--isn't this the definition of "resurrection"?

Jesus also ascended into Heaven, body and soul, and the body is something he continues to retain. We also believe that Mary was assumed (translated) into Heaven, body and soul. And as the Apostle's Creed states, we believe in the eventual resurrection of our own bodies as well.

I think this confusion comes in because God the Father and the Holy Spirit are said to not have bodies, and the members of the Trinity are one in being with each other. But to a Trinitarian, they do have a body through Jesus Christ. Christ gave God a face. Christ is not immaterial.

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

Jeff, you do the Nicene creed a little injustice in your quote: "of one immaterial substance with the Father," whereas it really reads:

"being of one substance with the Father." The word "immaterial" is not in the Nicene Creed.

I read some scholars say that "being one one substance" means the same kind of substance, but not inter-mingled into one entity. I'm given to understand that in Latin it does not mean one "entity" or "thing" of a certain substance, but that the three members are of the same kind of substance.

IE, like two lumps of clay, not one big lump of clay.

The Athanasian Creed, though it contains lots of double-speak, does elaborate on the point:

"One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person."

Though that itself is open to interpretation too.

larryco_ said...

I have also always wondered why there would still be wounds in a perfected, glorified body. I know it provided "proof", possibly prophesied, but it still seems to counter what people picture as a celestial body.

Bookslinger said...

So actually, if one can nuance the meaning of "of one substance with the Father", the Nicene Creed does fit in with LDS theology.

I just think that the "of one substance" phrase has been interpreted in a post-Reformation (ie 1500's) western/Platonic mind-set, and is probably not what the original council of Nicea had in mind.

I just checked all three creeds, Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles', at Wikipedia. And that "of one substance" is the only tripping point of the Nicene. And the Apostles' Creed really has nothing objectionable to an LDS viewpoint in it, it's pretty simple.

Note: that the Apostles' Creed says "He was conceived by the _power of_ the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary." And I think that as long as "power of" is in there, that can fit too.

Can someone who knows Latin check the Latin original of Nicene Creed at Wikipedia, and tell us the connotation in the original of the phrase "of one substance with the father", whether that is like two lumps made out of the same kind of clay, or one big lump of clay?

Bookslinger said...

Here's the double-speak Athanasian Creed, but again, there's nothing in there about "immaterial":

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved."

Kimberly said...

Bookslinger, I'm not too familiar with Latin, but I do know that the Nicene Creed's "one in Being with the Father" is rendered consubstantialis in Latin - consubstantial.

Substance is the inherent nature of something, and is completely apart from its physical properties. Something that is consubstantial has two natures existing fully--for example, Lutherans believe consubstantiation of the Eucharist, where the nature of bread and the nature of Christ's body are equally and fully present in their Sacrament. In contrast, Catholic transubstantiaton means that the nature of Christ fully replaces the nature of bread. In either case, we're not eating physical flesh!

So to say that Christ is consubstantial with the Father is to say that he is fully divine (God's substance) as well as fully human (our substance). Because he is fully divine, we call him God. But the Father and the Son are still their own Persons. They're still physically apart.

I'm not sure how this fits with your clay example, since substance has nothing to do with the physical. When people try to use a physical analogy to explain consubstantiality, it just gets more confusing, I think.

Kimberly said...

larryco, I think that there will be quite a few upset Vikings if their perfected bodies don't have their battle scars. :)

You're right, though, people do seem to think that perfect means to literally be without blemish. But a perfect record of Christ's perfect sacrifice should definitely be on His perfect body.

cadams said...

While I would prefer the poetic mystical sublimity expressed in places like D&C 88 and 93 - I can understand why these creeds carry a lot of clout. They contain a great deal of poetic strength - even if I don't really understand a single concept expressed in them.

Bookslinger said...

Kimberly,

What you just said above is pretty much in line with the LDS view of the Godhead: 3 identifiably separate persons or beings or entities who are united in purpose.

However, I have a Catholic friend who understands the Catholic version of the Trinity in terms more like the Protestants, ie, one combined "entity" of three parts/manifestations.

I'll accept that you're giving the correct Catholic understanding. But that's not what Protestants say (or imply) is the meaning of "of one substance" or "consubstantial". The Protestants seem to say it means one single being or one single entity. And then they go on about how the One single entity (ie, "One God") has three simultaneous forms or manifestations.

And, my understanding of what Protestants mean by "substance" is the actual material of composition, whether it be a physical composition, or a spiritual composition, or a meta-physical composition.

Is the official Catholic position that Christ maintained (still has) His post-resurrection physical body that he showed to the disciples? And, if you believe that He does, do you believe that God the Father also has a tangible physical body? Or is the Father a spiritual and non-physical being in Catholic belief?

NathanS said...

Reading these comments has corrected my understanding about the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity so I thank all of you who have contributed to this discussion. Now I'd like to point out a glitch in what we LDS tend to think and say about Protestant doctrine.
A large and rapidly growing minority (most Pentacostals) regard the Godhead as does our Catholic friend in this discussion.
I might have included "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the same sentence because they also recognize Jesus and the Holy Ghost as separate from God the Father but I have gotten the impression that they do not recognize Jesus for all of What he is.
Wow! With Catholics and Pentacostals on board with us (for the most part) regarding the Trinity, We LDS aren't as unique on that one doctrine as most of us still believe!

larryco_ said...

Kimberly:

I don't know about Vikings, but I've been promised a perfected body with all my hair back, and I'm stickin' to it.

Also, didn't the catholic fathers us "homoosious" and not "consubstantialis" to describe "of the same substance"?

rameumptom said...

Kimberly wrote:
"So to say that Christ is consubstantial with the Father is to say that he is fully divine (God's substance) as well as fully human (our substance). Because he is fully divine, we call him God. But the Father and the Son are still their own Persons. They're still physically apart."

Actually, in the Trinity they are NOT physically apart. They are one Spirit with 3 persons. But there is nothing physical about them. This description you give almost suggests a modalistic view, where they are viewed as separate. The Athanasius and Nicene Creeds reenforce the idea that while they are three persons, they are yet one indivisible God. That is the incomprehensible part of the Trinity - that they can be One in Three and Three in One.

Kimberly said...

Bookslinger, it's not quite the LDS view of the Godhead, because the Trinity is united in more than purpose. When Catholics say that Christ is fully divine, we mean that he is fully God, as is the Father and the Spirit. It's a very specific substance, nature, essence, that allows them to truly be one in being with each other, and makes them one God. However, you might be interested in this Christian Churches of God paper, which argues that the early Church viewed Christ's consubstantial divinity as the divinity consubstantial in all of us, and is not specific to God alone (this is different from the Catholic view, which holds that while we are all partakers of the divine nature, the Trinity is of its own divine substance). This author also has a different beef with the Nicene Creed.
http://www.ccg.org/english/s/p081.html

Larryco, homoosious is the Greek for the Latin consubstantialis.

Rameumpton, I do give a Trinitarian view of One in Three and Three in One, even though it's something deeper than physical. If you go to a Catholic Mass, you'll hear the Priest talk all the time about Christ's trust in His Father, praying to His Father, having a relationship with his Father--it's more than Him talking to Himself! Even St. Augustine argued against them being the same person:
"Listen to the Son Himself", St. Augustine invites us. "'I and the Father are one.' He did not say, 'I am the Father' or 'I and the Father are one [Person].' But when He says, 'I and the Father are one,' notice the two words '[we are]' and 'one'...For if they are one, then they are not diverse; if '[we] are', then there is both a Father and a Son" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 36, 9).

Bookslinger said...

Here's the creed that gives the "immaterial" belief about God, the "Westminster Confession of Faith", that has the famous "without body, parts, or passions":

Westminster Confession of Faith:

I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
II. God hath all live, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, and upon them, whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Bookslinger said...

Here's the intro to the above "Westminster Confession of Faith" as found at: home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Creeds.html

The Westminster Confession arose out of the stormy political scene in England during the reign of Charles I. "Charles met with resistance when he attempted to impose episcopacy on the Church of Scotland and to conform its services to the Church of England's Common Book of Prayer. A civil war erupted and Oliver Cromwell led the Puritan forces to victory. Charles I was beheaded in the process. In 1643 the English parliament commissioned the Westminster Assembly to develop the creed of the Church of England. The 121 English Puritan ministers met for 1,163 daily sessions from 1643 to 1649. The Westminster Confession of Faith, completed in 1646, affirmed a strong Calvinistic position and disavowed 'the errors of Arminianism, Roman Catholicism, and sectarianism.'

So it appears to me that the "immaterial" adjective comes from Protestantism (Church of England) and is not necessarily something that was passed down through Catholicism.

However, I do remember reading somewhere about a 3rd or 4th century cleric who protested when he was told he must worship an unembodied God.

The double-speak of the Athanasian creed and the impreciseness of the Nicene Creed lead me to believe that the authors were trying to placate both sides of the material/immaterial debate.

Bookslinger said...

Kimberly, just to clarify, do I understand correctly that you do not believe that Heavenly father has a tangible body like Jesus?

Before I discovered Mormonism, I never gave it much thought. But if Jesus still has his physical/tangible body that he was resurrected with, and he's sitting on the right hand (right side) of Heavenly Father, and if Heavenly Father does not have a physical/tangible body housing his eternal spirit, then the scene painted by the scripture writers of Jesus sitting on the right hand of the father seems kind of awkward.

Matthew said...

Luckily the bible is so crystal like in it's clarity that the form and nature of God (which the entire book is supposed to teach of) is without question!
/sarcasm

Matthew said...

On a side note (but it was mentioned earlier) regarding the whole issue of scars and a celestial body. Does one get to choose what scars they keep, or what their idea of a 'perfected' body is? If not then do people that were crushed to death have to retain their flattened characteristics? Perhaps the movie Beetlejuice got it right then!

Kimberly said...

Bookslinger, you're correct: I don't believe God the Father has a body. With Stephen's vision, I've heard some people point out that Stephen saw the glory of God, and not necessarily God Himself. However, I think the idea of theophany fits well--God's presence revealed to our human senses. This means that God can be present as a man, a burning bush, or anything else, without being confined to a tangible body.

Matthew, this is all speculation on my part, but I'm thinking that crushed people won't have to remain flat. :)
I think that being able to choose what scars you retain, or the "age" of your perfected body, etc. would be in line with free will. I could see how some martyrs would choose to keep their cause of death on them for all eternity, while others would not... It's an interesting thought.

Pops said...

Kimberly,

Out of curiosity, what do Catholics think "spirit" is?

It's interesting that Joseph Smith clarified that spirit is a different class of matter, but is matter nonetheless. Otherwise, you get into the dilemma where a spirit is not really real, and "immaterial substance" becomes an oxymoron.

["Different class of matter" is an interesting concept from the perspective of physics. For example, photons of a different class of matter might have the wrong quantum of energy to be absorbed by the atoms of our class of matter, and thus could not be detected by our eyes nor by our instruments.]

Creek said...

Just how important is the Trinity vs Godhead argument?

I've never understood why we Christians of all denominations/sects/groups let these issues come between us.

Personally, I believe in the Trinity concept. But if conclusive evidence was found that proved the Trinity doctrine false, I would still believe in Jesus Christ and God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Matthew said...

Creek,
Your outlook is a healthy one. For many people it's of upmost importance that their concept be the correct concept. Nobody likes the idea that the way they understand it could be wrong. Just the psychology of being a human being I'd wager. :P

@ Kimberly,
Your idea about getting to choose the flat or regular variety of body in the afterlife sounds good to me. So do we reinflate ourselves by blowing on our thumb the way mickey mouse and the looney tunes do? I would sincerely hope so.

Something I've wondered is the following. If I get eaten by a bear and then a hunter kills that bear and eats him and my particles become part of the hunter's particles then what happens during the resurrection? Do I get back those parts, doe the guy that ate the bear or does the bear get them? It seems like resurrecting every man woman and child and every animal would use up a pretty considerable amount of the earth's mass especially if the supposed age of the earth is correct. This is all tounge in cheek of course but still is interesting to me from a theoretical standpoint. Kind of like wondering whether superman or the incredible Hulk would win in a fist fight.

Kimberly said...

I agree, Creek. I think vital concepts are straightforward and easy to understand, but many people don't understand their own Church's teachings on the Trinity, or they understand it in a highly simplified way (as noted by Bookslinger's Catholic friend). Still, this is fun to talk about. :)

Pops, I don't think the Catholic Church has made a statement on what spirit is made of, but we do hold that spirit unconfined by a body can be infinite, and so God the Father is omnipresent. Regardless of what spirit is made of, however, "immaterial substance" is not an oxymoron if you use the definition I provided earlier.

Matthew, my husband says Superman, no question. It should all make sense now. :)

Anonymous said...

As a BYU religion professor once euphemistically explained it to me, it's the "zipper" theory. Christ had a body when he appeared to his disciples on earth but then discarded it once he returned to his Father in Heaven, or himself . . . oh whatever.

Kimberly said...

I've been looking through Evangelist, Calvinist, and non-denominational statements of belief, and they all seem to believe in a resurrection of Christ's body, as well as his bodily ascension. Even Oneness Pentecostals, who believe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indivisible, immaterial manifestations of one God, believe that Christ ascended into Heaven with a glorified body:
http://www.apostolictheology.com/ascension.html

I have found one denomination that believes Christ's resurrected body was divine smoke and mirrors - Christian Scientists. This is because they believe that all things physical are illusions to be overcome. However, they don't hold a Trinitarian belief, but instead believe that Jesus was a man of God that embodied what divinity is, and was not God Himself.

Jeff, I'm really curious to know the denominations of the people you've asked this to. Unless they were confused by your question, I don't know why they would defend it.

Anonymous said...

You mean it was a straw man? I'm shocked, shocked.

Matthew said...

Perhaps I'm missing the point but what are people really saying here. That the beliefs of non mormons are incoherent or irrational because they believe that Jesus died resurrected and then shed his body after returning to heaven?

Is that even slightly less rational or nonsensical then the idea that a man was walking on water, was nailed to a cross, died and then came back to life?

Jeff, I'd imagine other religions reconcile their beliefs with with the logical contradictions in the exact same way that you or anyone else does with their beliefs. They come up with some sort of semi workable reason for how it doesn't really contradict anything and then carry on their merry way. As was stated above I don't think you'll find many religions that disagree with scripture stating that Christ ressurrected. They may not have any perfect understanding of how this fits with all the scriptures that speak of god and jesus as the same being but then again neither do you. There are plenty of places where god refers to himself as 'god' and yet LDS members believe that Joseph Smith was the only person to actually see him other then the brother of Jared. Making it so that all those scriptural accounts where god speaks to his prophets innacurate.

Did God really speak to the prophets of the old testament, or was it just divine smoke and mirrors?

Mark D. said...

Actually, in the Trinity they are NOT physically apart. They are one Spirit with 3 persons. But there is nothing physical about them.

According to whom? By any historical standard we believe in and have a doctrine of the Trinity as well. Check out D&C 20:28. Furthermore it is not as if the historical Christian tradition is entirely univocal on the subject.

This description you give almost suggests a modalistic view, where they are viewed as separate.

Modalism is exactly the opposite, the view that there is only one divine person who appears in different "modes". What you are speaking of is conventionally known of as "tritheism", a subset of "polytheism".

Mark D. said...

As to the general subject, it is not even remotely clear that the New Testament era view of a "spirit" entailed that it wasn't composed of some sort of spirit material. The difference between spirit matter and physical matter is so minimal that it can practically only be maintained by convention.

The idea of timeless, immaterial spirit was more or less a Greek invention, something that was adopted into Christian classical theism several centuries later. There isn't any significant argument I am aware of that any reference to "spirit" or "Spirit" in the Bible refers to something immaterial. Luke 24:37 is ample evidence of that.

Finally, with regard to the word "substance". The translation of the Greek ousia into the Latin substantia was controversial and immensely confusing as early as the third century. "substantia" means that which stands under, which is a literally correct translation of the Greek idea. But it had acquired a commonplace interpretation as a classification of _material_ (rather than of form) long before then.

Everytime you read "substance" in a theological or Greek philosophical context, you could do a lot worse than to mentally substitute the word "nature". The debate at the time was whether the persons of the Godhead had similar natures or an identical nature, i.e. homoiousious or homoousious. The latter (largely Western) camp won out, to some considerable controversy.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Re: Smoke and Mirrors. Doesn't physics tell us that all matter is essentially "light" which can be manifest as either wave or particle. In my mind that translates as spirit and matter. Some of the particles can be measured until one tries to "see" them, when they disappear. Some apparently can exist in two places at once. So it looks to me like both and bird and the birdcage are actually the same substance, and the bird could "unzip" the cage if only he knew the how-to's of physics. Isn't EVERYTHING then (Spirit and matter) basically the same thing?
LIGHT. Which really illuminates the 88th section of the D&C!

Anonymous said...

Matthew said: " There are plenty of places where god refers to himself as 'god' and yet LDS members believe that Joseph Smith was the only person to actually see him other then the brother of Jared. Making it so that all those scriptural accounts where god speaks to his prophets innacurate."

Matthew, I don't think your statement is an accurate presentation of LDS beliefs. cf. Mormon 1:15; 2 Nephi 11:3; Ether 12:19-20.

Matthew said...

If I'm incorrect in my assumption then I apologize. That's what I was told over and over in institute classes and seminary but perhaps that was just interpretation.

So according to scripture god the father (not christ speaking as if he was god) has appeared to people other then Joseph Smith? Whenever a scripture speaks with apersonage referring to himself as 'god' is this really god, or is this christ acting on his behalf. My understanding of mormon doctrine is that this is Christ acting on behalf of God the father. This includes the creation of the earth if I'm not mistaken. Perhaps I am though.

Bookslinger said...

Matthew: your explanation of what you meant now clears it up.

Your seminary / institute teachers may have been off. But essentially, they/you were correct, not many prophets got to see God the Father (Elohim) that we know of.

Before the fall, Adam spoke with the Father, "Elohim". Before the fall "Elohim" is used in Genesis, but afterwards "YHWH", Yahweh, or the latinized Jehovah, is used. "YHWH" (Yahweh or Jehova) was translated by the King James tranlsators as "the LORD", with "LORD" in all caps.

If I understand correctly, Enoch and Moses may have also been in the presence of Heavenly Father.

And, it was my understanding that the personage to whom the Brother of Jared spoke, was indeed Jehavah, the Son, not the Father.

This concept of Christ speaking in the name of the Father (or an angel speaking in the name of Christ) is called "divine investiture". A recent blog article about it is here:
http://www.millennialstar.org/the-lynchpin-the-doctrine-of-divine-investiture/

You can also search older Ensign articles for the phrase.

And, maybe one of the reasons certain scriptures aren't clear whether it's Christ or the Father, is that it doesn't matter. Whatever Jesus tells us comes from the Father anyway, and is as binding on us as if Heavenly Father spoke it himself. Heavenly Father has delegated that authority to Christ.

Matthew said...

You're right. I read more about the brother of Jared and apparently he also just saw Christ acting on behalf of god.

So my whole point is that while LDS members look at the idea/doctrine of other churches that Jesus Christ is the same as god the father, and find plenty of scripture that by their understanding backs this idea up quite well. Christ seems to refer to himself as the father the son and the holy ghost and doesn't bother to explain that he isn't doing so in a literal sense. One can look at the idea as not being all that rational or sensible (how can one person be two people?) but from the point of view of people outside the church it's equally as bizarre to say that on all the occasions where christ refers to himself as God that it wasn't really what he meant. Also to say that when God appears to the ancient prophets and says, "I'm god" that he really means, "I'm God's son and I just talk in third person a lot."

I'm sure there is some sort proposed explanation for trying to reconcile all of this but its just as confusing to me as saying that god the father, christ and the holy ghost are the same personage.

Was this stuff clear to the people that lived during christ's time? Is it just all confusing and contradictory sounding because it doesn't translate well?

The one thing that is clear is that reading the bible doesn't seem to bring people to any common conclusions (or at least not all of them) there is a tremendous amount of leeway in regards to what any given passage could mean.

Long story short it seems irresponsible to criticize another person's interpretation of scripture when your own can be seen as just as flawed as theirs is when looked at from an outside perspective. Perhaps I was reading an air of criticalness in Jeff's post that was not meant to be there though. the title is provocative to say the least.

Matthew said...

Sorry, I wrote this:

"So my whole point is that while LDS members look at the idea/doctrine of other churches that Jesus Christ is the same as god the father, and find plenty of scripture that by their understanding backs this idea up quite well."

and reading it now it makes almost no sense. What I meant was this:

"while LDS members see it as odd that other faiths could not find a glaring inconsistency with Christ resurrecting and yet being the same as god and god doesn't have a body; other faiths may see it just as odd that members don't find an logical inconsistency with the fact that Christ commonly refers to himself as god, christ and the holy ghost, or that LDS members believe that even though a personage appears and says he is god, he was in fact not god but God's son.

Hopefully that's clear as mud now. :)

pops said...

I'm not sure we use the term "god" the same way, and I'm not sure God uses it the same way that any of us do.

Some of us think it refers to a single being or entity. But when any member of Deity refers to themselves as a group they use the singular "god". Maybe it's more like a committee or class of being, eh?

Matthew said...

@ pops,
This may be the case. It seems rather odd to me that a being of infinite knowledge and empathy would choose to refer to himself in a way that causes such chaotic confusion and frustration for his followers, but that seems to be a running theme with most of what he presents.

Again, my point is simply that it's ridiculous for LDS members to be critical of the way others view the godhead when the actual scriptures are so amazingly ambiguous. If one is to tell another that their idea requires ignoring parts of the written scripture or interpreting them in a way that is 'incorrect' that person can turn it right back around on the LDS member's beliefs. None of the different theories are as clearly written out as the believers of those theories claim they are.

Pops said...

Yeah, that seems reasonable. We may be dealing with something that can't be described using our language, nor comprehended using our minds.

For example, the longer I live the more convinced I am that our four dimensions are but a subset of reality. Quantum particle entanglement, for example, gets a lot easier to swallow with extra dimensions.

So what is God "really" like? Maybe it isn't possible for us to get beyond major simplifications. I expect that what's been revealed is all true, but perhaps we aren't capable of putting the pieces together correctly.

Pops said...

Yeah, that seems reasonable. We may be dealing with something that can't be described using our language, nor comprehended using our minds.

For example, the longer I live the more convinced I am that our four dimensions are but a subset of reality. Quantum particle entanglement, for example, gets a lot easier to swallow with extra dimensions.

So what is God "really" like? Maybe it isn't possible for us to get beyond major simplifications. I expect that what's been revealed is all true, but perhaps we aren't capable of putting the pieces together correctly.

Pops said...

[Ooh, I really hate it when my browser flakes out and I can't tell if the original comment took...]

rameumptom said...

Perhaps it's due to the quantum entanglement of electrons in the Internet bit bucket?

Bookslinger said...

Matthew, one of the reasons why LDS are critical (aside from the harsh words that JS and BY had for preachers of other religions) is that the concept of God and the "Trinity" as accepted by most of modern christendom contains much influence of Greek philosophy, and is vastly different than 1st through 3rd century concepts of God.

It's not the LDS that have changed or come up with anything new; it's mainstream christianity that has changed. The LDS are actually a "throwback" to pre-4th century ideas on the nature of God.

And I think that can be historically proven, too. The LDS ideas are not new or newer, _they_ (the mainstream Christians) are.

Kimberly said...

I never understood the hostility toward Greek philosophy. I don’t think that Christians have a monopoly on Truth, and Greek philosophers and others were honestly seeking it out. I think they were missing some key pieces of information that kept them from reaching the fullness of Truth, but that doesn’t mean it was a total wash. While there were a lot of Greek ideas that were rejected by the early Church, there were also some concepts that illuminated and clarified things early Christians already knew.

For example, Christians knew that there was only one God; yet Christ said that He was I AM, while also differentiating between Himself and the Father. With the Greek concepts of substance and accidents, these seemingly contradictory facts fell seamlessly into place. We now have an understanding of the Trinitarian relationship. The Catholic Church is not afraid of expanding its understanding when Truth comes to light.

Mormons do the same thing. I’ve heard people claim that LDS theology contains concepts that are distinctly 19th century American. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—I’ve also heard that this dispensation started in the 19th century for a reason, and that the American environment and American ideas of the time put people in the right mindset for the Truth the LDS Church would bring. Joseph Smith and the Prophets that followed would often gain greater understanding of the Truth through praying about the ideas around them, and discerning whether they held any weight. In just 200 years, the modern LDS Church looks different from the 19th century version, but most would say for the better—understanding has grown.

The key, then, is discerning whether a new concept or idea is of man or of God. If it’s nothing but a man-made philosophy, your understanding of the Truth decreases; but if God had a hand in it, your understanding increases. I personally believe that God has been guiding the Catholic Church for 2000+ years, but of course, many would disagree. :)

Matthew said...

@ pops,
Yes he certainly is illusive. I'm not sure why all the secrecy and ambiguity over the details of his existence but I guess he must have a reason for keeping things vague.

@ Bookslinger,
It may very well be that the early early Chrstian church had a handle on how the Godhead 'really' is (separate pesonages) if they did then they were rather horrible at communicating this idea as it isn't clear in the scriptures. My point still is that the answer of them being separate personages is not any more obvious then the viewpoint others take that they are the same if you're going by scriptural references. With either viewpoint you have to ignore or interpret in a particular way a large number of scriptural references.

@ Kimberly,
Thanks for your perspective. It's nice to see how people outside of an LDS background view the subject.

As Kimberly states there are plenty of people that see things from a different perspective then the LDS church and their viewpoints (as far as any objective arbitrary ruler can be concerned) seem to be equally plausible with the LDS doctrine. For every LDS member that is feeling the spirit confirm to them that their faith has it 'right' there is a person of another faith that has some different doctrine that also feel 'right' for the exact same reason.

The LDS church claims to not have a monopoly on truth, but many of its doctrines (and to be fair every faith does many of the same things) indicate otherwise. Unless it's somehow possible that both the Catholic church and the LDS church are both equally right in this sense. It seems illogical to me that this would be the case but then again most of what people believe would fall into that category. To some extent all of us take on irrational/illogical beliefs because they make sense in some way to each of us and allow us to have a less ambiguous world view. Something that seems of paramount importance for the human mind.

Anthony said...

Kimberly said, "I never understood the hostility toward Greek philosophy."

Me neither, especially coming from Mormons. Discounting a doctrine as false because it comes from Greek philosophy is an example of the genetic fallacy. Besides, we have a lot in common with Greek philosophy. Socrates taught the preexistence of spirits. Stoics taught that we are the offspring of God. Epicureans taught that spirit matter is more "refined" matter. The pentagram that appears on the Nauvoo temple was once a Pythagorean symbol.

My only criticism of the doctrine of the trinity is that it's too small. I think there should be more than just 3 in 1, as John 17 suggests. By the way, the phrase "one in purpose" doesn't occur anywhere in the scriptures. It's an extra scriptural interpretation that, while it may be true, should not be taken as limiting. In Lectures on Faith, God the Father and Jesus Christ were said to have the same mind. The Book of Mormon says repeatedly that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one God. If the Bible had said anything like that, perhaps the Catholics would have had no need to announce a doctrine of the trinity.

Bookslinger said...

Matthew/Anthony:

The problem with the admixture of Greek stuff into Christian theology is that it really was "of men." It was uninspired. And much of it was actually pagan.

Why aren't the scriptures more clear on the Godhead? They were, as they fell from the pen of the authors. But much has been taken out of the O.T. and many many letters of the apostles never made it into the NT.

You gotta remember that the NT was "assembled" long after the apostasy. So that the assemblers used their incorrect understandings to bias their selections of which letters supported their doctrines, and to avoid those that conradicted their Greek-influenced doctrines.

Adding to the "pick and choose" nature of the assemblers, you gotta remember that the actual text has been changed. The oldest copies, even the ones in existence at the point of assembling the NT, were at least 3 generations of copying removed from the originals.

You can find many LDS doctrines in the writings of the "Early Church fathers" and how those doctrines were eventually declared heretical.

On the OT side, by the time Jesus came to earth, the pharisees had rewritten much of the OT, so the nature of the Godhead in that collection of books had also been obscured with changes.

I've read legend, but haven't found any supporting evidence, that the Jews also had a major editing of the OT some time before 700 AD, recalling all existing copies, and remove further evidence of a tri-partite Godhead in order to combat Christianity. But I wonder if that was someone's speculation or if he had evidence of that.

Matthew said...

@Bookslinger,

When we make claims about what things came from man and what things came from god there isn't an objective way to determine that.

For example the free masons have many signs and tokens that are now commonly used in the LDS church and which are said to be part of restored doctrine through prophecy. One can point out that Joseph was a free mason and that perhaps this was an idea of man and he was merely incorporating ideas he saw from the free masons into the doctrine of the church. LDS members won't see it that way. The argument though is the same as saying that Catholicism was influenced by previous mythologies and that the trinity doctrine is merely a creation of man.

The truth is that to many people there is a sensible reason for believing that the trinity are a the nicean creed concludes. As Kimberly pointed out this doctrine feels right to her and I'm assuming this would mean that she feels a spiritual confirmation of some sort that the doctrine is correct. Telling someone that believes this that their beliefs are merely the machinations of mankind, while your own beliefs (and neither can be seen with an objective metric to be correct or incorrect) are of God, seems a bit ridiculous to me.

Matthew said...

Sorry, just one more thing.

How do you know that the doctrine was clear against the idea of them being the same personage and then was muddied up? If God really does speak through his prophets then why not clear it all up by rewriting the parts that are screwed up? I've never understood why this didn't continue to happen as Joseph had started out doing. Did he already fix it? Even with JST the text is still amazingly ambiguous.

There will always be apologies for why scripture is so convoluted but it still doesn't make sense to me. If your child needs to be taught a principle wouldn't you try to explain to them in the way that is most clear and concise? This certainly not what we have been presented with from scriptural writings if even the basic nature of what god is and his relationship with Christ and the Holy ghost causes this much confusion controversy and argument.

Maybe I'm crazy for making such an assumption or perhaps having a better idea of who god is would somehow destroy our agency. I don't know.

pops said...

@Matthew - "illusive"? I'm chewing on that. Perhaps you meant "elusive"...

From time to time God has revealed truth to humans, only to have us lose it. It isn't very creative to only think that Joseph Smith was taking and using the ideas of man with regard to the temple ceremony, when equally persuasive is the idea that human history is littered with bits and pieces of truth that have been hacked to death by humans, and that when truth gets restored there will always be bits and pieces and remnants that fit because, well, they are remnants of truth.

Of course, when the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, a bunch of questions were answered quite clearly. The word of a 14-year-old boy, however, was disparaged because the people of his time knew that it was the beginning of a huge hoax that apparently hatched full-fledged in the mind of an uneducated 14-year-old farm boy. Or, maybe because it violated the sensibilities of preachers steeped in the tiny remnants of truth floating in a sea of human philosophical musings; and besides that, it would injure their livelihood if God were to reveal himself to man again. We shouldn't wonder that God would choose to reveal himself to the humble and uneducated.

Matthew said...

@ pops,
:) D'oh! (referring to my unique spelling of elusive.)

It is certainly possible that what you propose is true regarding the use of free masonry in LDS doctrine. I think that's a reasonable theory.

My point is merely in answer to Bookslingers point that because one can find man made origins to an idea that the idea cannot be of god. If we hold that the LDS adoption of Free masonry pieces is not in refutation of the ideas having doctrinal veracity then we must also admit that it is possible that the adoption of ancient ideals on the trinity could still have been inspired by God (as Kimberly suggested.)

I'm not a person that finds the gospel to be untrue based on any sort of evidence that will be able to prove this beyond any shadow of a doubt. My personal position is merely that I don't find compelling reason to see it as the truth (at least not any more then the evidence I see for any number of beliefs about the universe or the metaphysical ideas about things.

Anthony said...

Hi Bookslinger,

Thanks for you response.

You said, "The problem with the admixture of Greek stuff into Christian theology is that it really was "of men." It was uninspired. And much of it was actually pagan."

So what? You have to evaluate individual doctrines on their own merits, regardless of source. In my earlier post, I pointed out that Mormons and pagans share a few beliefs. So from a Mormon point of view, pagans can sometimes be right.

"Why aren't the scriptures more clear on the Godhead? They were, as they fell from the pen of the authors. But much has been taken out of the O.T."

Could you please provide some examples of what was removed from the OT that clarifies the nature of the Godhead?

"You gotta remember that the NT was 'assembled' long after the apostasy."

When exactly did the apostacy occur?

"On the OT side, by the time Jesus came to earth, the pharisees had rewritten much of the OT, so the nature of the Godhead in that collection of books had also been obscured with changes."

That's a mighty bold claim that needs some evidentiary support. As a matter of fact, pharisaical beliefs were closer to Chrisitanity than some other forms of Judaism at the time. If they did rewrite the OT, it's funny that they didn't do a better job of making it support their own particular claims.

If you do study how the scriptures change over time, you'll notice that it's more common for scribes to add things than to take them away.

Kimberly said...

Pops, when you say "remnants of truth", are you saying that rather than fragmented inspiration, humans are relying on bits of truth they once had? Just trying to clarify.

Bookslinger, I've asked LDS members before why they accepted as cannon a Bible that wasn't finalized until the fourth century, way after the apostasy was supposed to have taken place. Their explanation was that the Holy Spirit could still come to those in an apostate world--especially to guide the compilation of a book that would be accepted as God's Word for millennia. This made sense to me. Anybody can be inspired, regardless of their background or current beliefs. Do you disagree with this?

The Greeks had some firmly held beliefs that prevented them from being open to complete Truth, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have moments of inspiration. Anthony pointed out many examples where Mormons would agree. Of course, my husband points out that the 19th century LDS Church didn't have a motive to adopt Greek ideas like the early Catholic Church may have. Adopting now-obscure Greek philosophic concepts would not have won over Protestant America. :)

But now I wonder: If spirit preexistence, spirit matter, and being God's offspring are Greek concepts, why would the early Church do away with those? If the early Church was adopting Greek concepts in order to gain acceptance, you'd think it would be easy for them to retain Greek concepts that were already in line with Christian teaching. That they were simply adapting their beliefs to fit in with popular philosophy doesn't sit right with me.

Matthew said...

As is usually the case, people will chose evidence that supports what they want to believe and ignore the stuff that is contradictory.

This is exactly why it seems so silly to me to make claims that evidence backs up one's spiritual beliefs. People don't make these decisions by analyzing all the evidence and coming to a logical conclusion. In the end people believe what they do because it feels 'right' to them.

If a person feels that an all in one trinity is the most logical explanation of god then you really can't argue for or against the idea and come to any objective truth independently verifiable truth.

Pops said...

@Kimberly - right. Adam had all the truth, Noah had all the truth, Abraham had all the truth, Moses had all the truth. We humans aren't very good at holding onto truth.

Matthew said...

@pops,
???
Do you really believe that those men had 'all truth'? What does that even mean?

Did they know how many stars there are in the universe, or whether time travel is possible? Isn't knowledge infinite? How does one arrive at infinity in a finite amount of time?

I'd think they would have expounded things a little bit better if they knew all things. Didn't Noah get drunk? Shouldn't the Word of Wisdom have been part of 'All truth' and since we know that when we come across truth we are obligated to follow it wouldn't that mean he was breaking a decree from god by drinking?

Sorry, I just really don't understand what people are talking about when they say things like this. Does it actually makes sense to you or does it just sound good.

pops said...

A couple of words of advice, Matthew. First, don't act like a Pharisee. Second, think outside the box a little.

One of the things God does with major prophets is he shows them the big movie. Do they come back knowing everything that can possibly be known? Probably not. Do they have the opportunity to know anything they want to know? Probably not. As Moses was told, "... I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end..." So, yes, you caught me in a word trap. Suffice it to say he knew everything he needed to know, and then some. In the future, I'll try to refrain from commenting when I don't have time to proofread for those who would make a man an offender for a word.

It's interesting to read what Hugh Nibley had to say about his near-death experience. (For Matthew's sake, I should probably call it a "temporary death before he was revived, lived a bunch more years, and then died permanently, but not really permanently because his spirit is immortal and he will, after all be resurrected" experience.) I'll paraphrase, if you promise not to get upset because I can't find the exact quote without doing a bunch of research I don't have time for. He said we humans are stupid. Being in the spirit world was like drinking from a firehose in terms of acquiring knowledge. He just had to think of a topic and the floodgates opened. He also said that the angels envy us humans for the two things we can do better than the angels, and that is to repent and to forgive. So, I repent of using the phrase "all knowledge" and hope Matthew will forgive me.

This is way too long. The bit about a drunken Noah was really a bit silly, both Pharisaic and small-minded. Does this phrase ring a bell? "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days..."

I doubt that God cares nearly as much about whether alcohol ever passes our lips as he does about our demonstrations of obedience. And if Noah wasn't told to lay off the old stuff, then it wouldn't be an issue, would it? [In other words, stop and think: how would Noah get drunk? Would he be hanging out at the local watering hole knocking back a few shots? Or is it more likely he made a batch that turned out stronger than he expected, or that he was really thirsty and drank more than he normally would have? Seriously. Give the guy a break. He's not a drunken bum. His name in the spirit world is Gabriel - does that ring a bell?]

Matthew said...

pops,
So then they didn't have all truth? You made a bold statement and its kind of a hard one to defend.

I'm not saying Noah was a drunkard. I'm just saying that if he had all God's laws laid out in front of him not drinking (according to mormon theology) is a pretty big one. I think it's hard to say that he had all things laid out before him.

If the prophets do indeed hear the word of god then they only get bits and pieces as far as we can tell from scripture. That being the case, making claims like those made above (that the trinity doctrine is a philosophy of man and not of god because it came from earlier mythologies) becomes more difficult to defend. People begin to start arguing over which things are the revealed truths and which are the ones that just sounded good to somebody. There isn't an objective way to know what's going on and I don't think there is any good evidence to say that any of the prophets had it all figured out let alone had access to 'all truth' (which is an infinite thing.)

As much as people want their religion of choice to just 'make sense' to everyone the honest truth is that it simply does not. Your own beliefs are seen to be just as ridiculous as some of mine may be to your own. As of yet we haven't come across a reliable objective ruler to measure the truth of people's religious philosophies.

Kimberly said...

Wow, things just got a bit too heated.

Matthew, I understood "all truth" to mean "all spiritual truth". This does sound good because if you have all spiritual truth, you have authority to teach on all spiritual matters. I think that the Old Testament prophets had such authority without necessarily knowing everything--since their communication with God was so strong, they could ask anything and get a direct answer (even if that direct answer is, "You're not supposed to know at this time.")

My problem with the "remnants of truth" idea is that different people ask different questions. Noah, Abraham, and Moses may have all had ready access to Truth, but other people with different backgrounds would likely have different questions, which may be just as relevant--they're just looking at the divine from a different angle. Maybe God has answered these people through divine inspiration, even if they have no source of authority to guide them. They would then have spiritual truth that was not yet found anywhere else.

This doesn't contradict the idea of their being remnants of truth, just that I think that there's something more to what people outside of the Christian tradition know. I believe everyone has access to God, especially if they desire it.

Matthew said...

Perhaps I'm totally misunderstanding what you meant by this comment though,

"@Kimberly - right. Adam had all the truth, Noah had all the truth, Abraham had all the truth, Moses had all the truth. We humans aren't very good at holding onto truth."

Were you being sarcastic, or do you feel that at some time these men had all truth?

Was I really twisting things to point out some of the many aspects of 'truth' that do not seem to be encompassed by these men? Maybe I went a bit too snarky with it, but you are (unless I'm incorrect and your comment was being sarcastic which could be the case) making a substantial claim.

Matthew said...

Sorry. Internet communication doesn't always portray emotion that great. I may have layed it on way too thick as well.

Agreed, I think there are a lot of sources for inspiration and if god is influencing things he seems to be doing it from innumberable different avenues.

Pops said...

@Matthew: There's a phrase used in the LDS Church: "fullness of the Everlasting Gospel". That's what "all truth" means. It doesn't mean, for example, chemical pathways in human metabolism. I should have been more clear and you caught me on it. We humans sometimes use shorthand when we're rushed. Hey, I had a good laugh about it.

@Kimberly: you're probably not familiar with the full canon of LDS scripture, so a little more explanation might be in order. As described in the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price - this is an account that was deleted from Moses' writings and restored through revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith - there is more information about Moses' conversation with God. He was basically shown everything from the creation through the end of this world. He saw "all the children of men which are, and which were created". Other prophets have had the same experience. The principle appears to be that when a person reaches the point of having perfect faith, there is no longer any need for them to live by faith, and so God literally brings them back into his presence and shows them around. They've proved themselves. Another term for this is "calling and election made sure."

Matthew (insert smile here) will wonder how it would be possible to see so much in so short a time. But since God doesn't dwell within time, but rather outside of time, I don't see how that would be a problem. This is also consistent with many accounts of "near-death" experiences - the clinical death may have been only a few minutes by our reckoning, but the persons involved experienced a significantly greater number of events than we would expect had their time in the spirit world been consistent with the passage of time for us.

Tony said...

From what I have studied about it, Bookslinger pretty much gets it. I do see the trinity, when the aristotleain philosophical terminology used to describe the oneness of the Godhead is interpreted correctly, to seem to be more in line. However, to think that God the Father or Jesus Christ are not corporeal does conflict with LDS doctrine.

This is from a research paper I wrote on the subject:
"The word ‘substance’ that is found in the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds of Christendom is one that has been the cause of much confusion among Protestants, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox believers, and Mormons alike. Therefore, it is requisite that one must first understand the Aristotelian philosophical terms that would later be adopted into the creeds concerning the trinity. In his treatise entitled “Substance and the Trinity,” found in the Oxford published written work The Trinity, the non-LDS patristic scholar William P. Alston states:
'Since Aristotle takes it to be an objective fact that each individual belongs to a unique kind, such as human being, water, horse, or maple tree, which constitutes the essence of those individual substances belonging to it, these kinds can themselves be called ‘substance’ in a secondary sense. A natural kind is, so to say, ‘the substance’ of each individual belonging to it. Being a tree is ‘the substance’ of each individual tree (182).'

Elaborating on this, Alston goes on to explain how the Greek term ‘ousia’ (that is translated into ‘substance’ in English) is used in two different ways when describing the oneness of the members of the Godhead. Referring to the confusion caused by Aristotle’s “use of ousia both for the individual bearer…and the essential nature that makes the individual a substance,” he goes on to cite the early Christian theologian Origen, who “says both that ‘The Son is a being (ousia) and subject distinct from the Father’, and that they are of one ousia” (Davis 184). Thus, the first ‘ousia’ refers to Christ’s being an individual entity, while the second ‘ousia’ speaks of what is common among the Father and the Son, namely Godhood. Another term used in place of the second ‘ousia’ is the Greek word ‘hypostasis,’ which would later be translated as ‘persons’ in the Trinitarian creeds, “thus giving rise to the standard Latin formula of three persons in one substance” (Davis 187). Knowing this, it will hopefully be clearer to LDS members and non-members alike that the unity of the Trinity as defined in those creeds does seem to be quite compatible with the idea of three separate Personages that are one in Godly attributes."

Darion Alexander said...

For just a little humor...I have a one phrase explanation to this post about Christ's body and spirit,

"Cocoon, the Movie"

Mormanity said...

Kimberly, yes, of course there is a recognition that Christ resurrected with a glorious body and that the physical body in the tomb was gone. There is a recognition that Christ's body could be felt in Luke 24. The issue is how is it that this tangible body apparently no more if Christ is "without body, parts, or passions" as the Westminster Confession specifies? How is it that God is spirit only and immaterial spirit at that? What happened to the physical body that was once in the tomb and obviously alive again in Luke 24? Was it shed? Transformed to spirit only?

Does "glorious" mean spirit only?