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

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Abiding in Christ and the Tragedy of Pernicious Theology

I've had some wild experiences since moving to China. Some were worried about the risks I might be taking in the crazy streets of Shanghai (one of Asia's most livable and lovable cities for Westerners) and other places over here, including parts of Indonesia where I was earlier this week. But the challenges I've faced are a piece of cake compared to what my youngest son is probably going through each day as a new missionary transplanted into an impoverished, dirty, parasite-rich, excessively hot, and not-always-friendly part of Peru. I know he probably won't share just how difficult and dangerous some parts of his experience are, but it's hard to hide what life is like there. Yet he went willingly to stand as a witness of Jesus Christ and to bear witness of the power of Christ and His Atonement, teaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ.

A few days before he left the comforts of Appleton, Wisconsin, he was approached by one of his friends from high school, a friend who had known my son and seen his example as a Christian for years (recognizing parental bias, it's still fairly objective to say that my son is a popular and well-liked young man who is widely noted for being religious and for having high standards). This friend, a devout Protestant, just wanted to reach out and let my son know that his soul was lost and that he wasn't a Christian at all. What, believing in Christ, teaching of Christ, seeking to follow Christ, and putting your life at risk for two years as an ambassador of Christ doesn't count for at least being partly Christian? No, it doesn't count at all. You see, it's one thing to believe in Jesus and be saved, but if you ALSO think you really ought to keep the commandments, then you don't properly understand grace and, naturally, will rot in hell for this gap in theological understanding. In his form of modern Protestant theology, failing the Great Theology Quiz on the semantics of grace, justification, soteriology, and perhaps even esterification is just about the only way that someone who has accepted Jesus Christ can get thrown into hell.

My son was about to put on a name tag bearing the name of Jesus Christ ("The Church of ....") to be a public witness for Christ for two years. My son explained that he fervently believed in and accepted Christ as his savior. But that wasn't good enough. It's good enough for almost everyone else except Mormons, apparently. By coming along and adding an errant belief on the relations between grace, works, and salvation, all is lost. Eternally. So, in the spirit of Christian love, this good Protestant just wanted to reach out to my son and warn him that his soul was toast. Nice way to say good-bye. [Update: Of course, he was trying to be loving and helpful to save my son's soul, and my son recognized this. The intentions were noble, but good intentions can lead to bad outcomes when informed by horrifically flawed teachings.]

That Protestant young man was the victim of bad theology, and that theology, perhaps reinforced by religious bigotry from a pastor, led to an unfortunate result. A friend and fellow Christian was condemned as non-Christian. An entire religion of people seeking to follow Christ have been denounced as a non-Christian threat. That's not just bad theology, it's pernicious theology. Tragic theology.

If that young man is reading this blog, or for those of you who share similar unfortunate views, let me point to one of many passages from Jesus Christ that I hope you'll read and ponder. My son shared a lot of Bible verses that ought to have helped clarify the relationship between grace and our response to it, including the importance of following Jesus not just in word only, but to no avail, so this may not do any good. But this passage takes a different approach that I hope will open some eyes, somewhere. This passage reminds us that to be truly Christian and to truly accept the grace of Jesus and be saved eternally, we need to abide in Jesus. It's not a momentary event, but a journey. Abide. That means we endure, hang on, keep following, and not let go. Read this passage and see if you can possibly resolve what your minister has taught you with what Christ so plainly teaches.
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

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

11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

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

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

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

15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

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

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
How ironic, how tragically ironic, that a young man striving to be a friend of Christ by not just believing once but by abiding in His grace and keeping His commandments should, for that very reason, be condemned as a non-Christian whose soul was lost. That's pernicious theology. Tragically so.

Mormons believe in Christ. We accept Him as our Savior. After accepting Him, we seek to abide in His love. We seek to endure in faith to the end. We seek to do keep His commandments and do what He said. That great God who said, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" may have a lot of issues with our failures and misunderstandings, but I don't believe that salvation inn Christ depends on passing a quiz on modern theology.

92 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sometimes think that all who go through the narrow gate will have a mort of uncommonly silly notions they'll have to be disabused of. At least this friend takes his Christian beliefs seriously, even if they do shade off into nonsense.

Adam G.

Cindy said...

Jeff, I am sorry that your son felt unloved by his friend. There are many ways to share truth with others in ways that are loving...this post offers that potential.

I believe in your love for Christ, and I believe your son does too, and I would guess that you believe that I do too. So if we both love Christ and trust Him as our Savior how can we disagree? The issue for me is the incomplete atonement that Christ offers as defined by the LDS church:

“The atonement of Jesus Christ was of two-fold nature. First: By his death upon the cross he redeemed all mankind from death. Second: He redeems all mankind from sin on condition of faith in God, repentance from all sin, and baptism by immersion—a burial in water—for the remission of their sins”

Using this definition, Christ's atonement doesn't even seem to require my faith in Him, does it? It does, however, require a great deal of action on my part in order for my own sins to be forgiven.

In contrast, the Biblical definition of the atonement of Christ is complete:

"But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared , Not by works of righteousness which we have done , but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;" (Titus 3)

This complete salvation will result in our being filled with the Holt Spirit to good works...and hopefully those works will include things like lovingly witnessing God's truth to others. I hope you can feel the love I have toward you in this post Jeff...

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

When I was a missionary, I encountered a lot of "love" from people like your son's friend. I responded the same way as you: would God punish us for bad theology? If so, wouldn't He also have to punish people who just aren't sophisticated enough to have a proper understanding of theology or soteriology? Doesn't seem right to me.

I'm curious, though, how you might apply your reasoning to heterodox Mormons like myself. I no longer believe that the Book of Mormon is historical. I keep my temple and baptismal covenants, but I don't think the atonement as it's commonly taught makes sense. I'm sure that Joseph Smith had a powerful spiritual experience when he was about 14, but I suspect that the way we now report it is embellished. I'm sure the leadership of the church consists of very capable men, but I'm frequently skeptical of their declarations. I don't think that there was an actual Adam or Eve. I still attend church and pray. Can I get into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom like this? Or do I need to correct my "theology" first?

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

I took the liberty to put in some more verses of Titus chapter 3:

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."

I took the verse you quoted as to saying that Jesus came down to save us not because of righteous things we have done but because we needed saving so he was merciful towards us and there fore he came down to save us. Notice the admonition in verse 8 to do good things.

I won't comment on your unreferenced quote because I am sure that you are not implying that LDS doctrine denies requiring faith in Jesus Christ.

Steve

Papa D said...

Once again, Jeff quotes extensively from the words of Jesus himself to teach a Christian principle, and the counter-argument doesn't address those words at all. Absolutely amazing.

That passage, Jeff, is one of the clearest in the entire Bible. There is no refuting that Jesus taught the true nature of faith and love - loving someone and believing what they say enough to do what they ask. You also might add the parable of the two brothers who reacted differently to their father. I won't bother quoting it here, but one said he would do what he was asked and then didn't do it; the other said he wouldn't and then repented and did it.

Guess who was blessed and rewarded - the one who said he loved his father but ultimately didn't do anything or the one who did what his father asked even after refusing first? Yep, the one who initially rejected his father's wishes then repented and did what he was asked to do.

I have two sons and four daughters. I don't make very many demands on them, especially the ones who are not minor children anymore and have left home to establish themselves as individual adults. However, it would be incredibly easy for me to see who really respects me more when I actually do make a formal request of them. I'd FAR rather they do what I ask, even if they grumble a little and try to get out of it initially, than have them tell me how much they love me and then turn around and ignore me and my wishes.

This isn't a difficult concept - unless someone is so steeped in alternate theology that they just can't let go and actually believe the words we have that are attributed to Jesus himself. That never ceases to amaze me - seriously.

Papa D said...

Oh, and Cindy:

1) I'll take the words of Jesus over the words of an apostolic epistle every time - and twice on Sunday - IF they are in conflict.

2) As has been pointed out already, they are NOT in conflict in this case, since you (hopefully unintentionally) flat-out omitted the part of the Titus reference that actually supports Jeff's point in this post. I'll chalk that up to nothing more than an oversight, but the full passage from which you excerpted teaches exactly what Jeff is teaching in this post.

3) That's precisely what I've been saying to you in every one of these threads - that your argument ONLY works if you ignore Jesus and quote other verses out of the full Biblical context (and, often, even out of their own context, as you did in the case of the Titus reference). Please, just once, actually critique the verses and passages that Jeff and others provide, especially the ones that are attributed directly to Jesus. Lacking that . . . I really don't know how to respond any differently than I already have many, many times.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, The Jesus of the Protestant, Catholic faith is VERY different. Different parentage. The Trinity. The miracle of the sacrament.

Eric Nielson said...

Excellent post Jeff.

Cindy - the very quote you use contains the phrase - 'He redeems all mankind from sin on condition of faith in God'. Yet you say that it does not require faith.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, it was not so long ago--right on up into your parents' day--when Mormons were just as theologically exclusionary as your son's friend. And why not? Didn't Joseph Smith say that all the other churches were false? And weren't all those other churches (especially but not only the Catholic Church) widely considered to be "the Church of the Devil"?

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad such beliefs have faded from the Church. I just think we should all be a little less eager to jump on your son's friend's church without first looking at our own.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but don't Protestants say that Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist theologies are false? Can't we say that any teaching which denies the truth and teachings of Christ is not of God's doing? I believe Protestant Christians wouldn't hesitate to say that the devil has a hand to play in keeping those peoples in ignorance. Does that mean that those beliefs don't have righteous or well-meaning adherents? It doesn't.

I believe in what Joseph Smith declared about all other Christian creeds. That doesn't mean that other beliefs don't have %99 of the truth and are good and righteous people that won't end up in the celestial kingdom with God for eternity despite their life-long ignorance.

You shouldn't take Joseph's statement personally: he was talking about the churches; not the people.

Anonymous said...

I still don't quite get this post. Jeff describes the actions of his son's friend, "a devout Protestant," by saying that he "just wanted to reach out and let my son know that his soul was lost and that he wasn't a Christian at all."

The friend is politely and sincerely expressing what he believes to be true. How exactly is that pernicious? Is it pernicious simply because of the notion that Mormons do not meet some other church's definition of "Christian"? If so, given that the LDS Church for generations believed the same thing about other denominations (see "Church of the Devil" comment above), do we now have to think of the LDS Church as having had a "pernicious" and "tragic" theology all those years? Seems to me we can't have it both ways.

-- Eveningsun

Lamdaddy said...

Evening Sun:

It is quite different. For starters, Joseph Smith, other prophets, and our scriptures do denounce false creeds and beliefs. The difference, however, is that we do not teach that a person who is a victim of false beliefs has lost his soul (will be in hell, forever) and are not Christians. We don't tell someone that they are not following Christ because of theological differences. Our message has little to do with what others believe and more to do with what we believe and what Christ has taught. Of course there is a difference in beliefs, and us announcing ourselves as Christians is not an attempt to come into mainstream Protestant-Christian circles. We simply invite everyone to take the good that they have, and receive more.

Lamdaddy said...

Cindy,

"Second: He redeems all mankind from sin on condition of faith in God, repentance from all sin"

What exactly do you mean that this definition doesn't require faith? It says it very clearly.

Plus, why would we keep the commandments of someone that we don't have faith in?

Cindy said...

Dear Anonymous,

I didn't say we shouldn't do good works, just that faith produces them. "This complete salvation will result in our being filled with the Holy Spirit to good works"

You said, "I won't comment on your unreferenced quote because I am sure that you are not implying that LDS doctrine denies requiring faith in Jesus Christ."

I'm sorry for not referencing the quote about the atonement...there are many places on LDS.org where it can be found...here are a couple:

“Thanks to the Atonement, the gift of immortality is unconditional. The greater gift of eternal life, however, is conditional. In order to qualify, one must deny oneself of ungodliness and honor the ordinances
and covenants of the temple” (Russell M. Nelson, “Divine Love,” Ensign, February 2003, p. 24

“The atonement of Jesus Christ was of two-fold nature. First: By his death upon the cross he redeemed all mankind from death. Second: He redeems all mankind from sin on condition of faith in God, repentance from all sin, and baptism by immersion—a burial in water—for the remission of their sins” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 3:179).


So what I was asking is this, If the first gift of the atonement is eternal life, and it is given to all, do I need faith in Christ for it?

And if I must qualify for eternal life, why do I need faith in Christ for that?

Papa D said...

"So what I was asking is this, If the first gift of the atonement is eternal life, and it is given to all, do I need faith in Christ for it?"

The first gift of the atonement isn't "eternal life". It's salvation from physical death (an actual, real, physical resurrection of some sort) - or, as we term it, immortality. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (It's indisputable, imo, that the resurrection was seen by the early saints as literally physical, especially given the description of Jesus' appearance in Luke 24.)

"And if I must qualify for eternal life, why do I need faith in Christ for that?"

This is about what Jeff has been writing in his posts - the numerous admonitions of Jesus himself and of his early apostles saying that there is more to everlasting life than mere immortality. We could be vegetative and still be immortal. What the Bible teaches is that we not only will be resurrected (be physically immortal), but that we also may become "eternal" ("at one" with God). This principle is what constitutes the "New" Testament - by which the "Old" Covenant of collective servant-hood was replaced by the "New" Covenant of personal "heir-ship". The verses and passages that teach this change are almost innumerable in the New Testament, and Jeff has quoted many of them for the posts that deal with this general topic - but they just are brutally difficult for most people to accept.

The idea of true "at-one-ment" is counter-intuitive to most mortals, since we know we naturally are separated from God by a bridge we simply are unable to cross on our own. Because it is so blatantly counter-intuitive, it takes REAL, DEEP, ABIDING faith in the teacher of it (Jesus) and those who taught it after his death (Peter, James, John, Paul and others).

Thus, it takes no faith to receive the free gift of immortality - unless one counts the pre-mortal decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior (and I do count that decision), but it take "abiding" faith to believe the unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

You seem to have a nice collection of LDS literature so I suspect that you know the answer already. If that is the case, then you are purposefully interchanging terminology to obfuscate the point. Eternal life is life with God, we need to deny ourselves of ungodliness and perform the ordinances necessary for salvation. Resurrection is the gift everyone who is born receives having already chosen to follow Christ and having faith in the plan of salvation that our Heavenly Father laid out before the world was created.

But, I suspect you already knew the answer. Both gifts require faith. All of us already exercised faith to receive the gift of resurrection.

Steve

Papa D said...

Let me say it this way:

It would take no faith whatsoever for a caterpillar to be changed to a butterfly. It's simply a natural process.

However, if no caterpillar ever had seen another caterpillar "die" and "rise again" as a butterfly (recognizing it for what it was), it would take GREAT faith for that caterpillar to believe she literally, actually could become a butterfly. A butterfly could say to her, "I used to look like you. I lived as one of you. Look at me now. You can become like me and live as I live - and all you have to do is what I tell you must be done to live long enough to experience the metamorphosis" - and it would take "abiding" faith (faith that lasts despite and through "things not seen") to believe the butterfly.

The words of Jesus during his ministry constituted, at the most basic level, his promise of what could be - while his words after his resurrection and the words of his early disciples and apostles constituted their testimony of what had been for Jesus and may be for us. Their admonitions and pronouncements about what we have to do constitute the directions of our own "eternal manual" (what will produce the promised metamorphosis) - and they boil down to one simple (but not easy) statement:

"Have hope in the "substance" of what I've taught, and use my life and teachings as the "evidence" of the things that can't be seen."

Iow, "have abiding faith that I can make the impossible come true - and trust me enough to do what I tell you must be done, even though you are naturally inclined to believe it can't have any merit or effect."

Cindy said...

Papa,

First of all, I am sorry for misusing the term eternal life as you define it...my definition is different and I wasn't intentionally trying to distort.

Secondly, I appreciate your candor in defining LDS doctrine. As you know, I am trying to understand the perspective of my LDS friends, and between looking at Mormonism through the lens of my own perspective as well as what I find to be some convoluted LDS writings, I am often confused by the actual meaning.

In terms of your definitions of the first principle of the Gospel, i.e., Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are saying that decision was made by us in the pre-mortal state, right?

And in this probation, you have faith in the teachings of Christ that you interpret as saying that you can become a god if you are obedient enough?

So is it fair to say that you would describe the gospel of Jesus Christ by saying that He came to show us how to become gods ourselves?

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Sorry, have been away for a few days. Internet access can be a challenge in Asia. But I'd like to ask Cindy if she'd care to respond to the content of my original post here and tell me how I'm misreading the words of Jesus regarding abiding, commandments, etc. They seem very clear to me, but that's probably because I haven't been trained formally in modern theology. Sorry about that!

As for the actions of my son's friend, my son recognized that it was motivated by a sincere desire to help, as misguided as it was, or rather, misinformed. That friend was not the first to sincerely seek to serve God by attacking Christians. I hope he'll come around eventually, as Paul and others have. Sadly, the effects of bad theology can be tragic, especially when one sees the Church of Jesus Christ as a threat rather than a blessing.

Bookslinger said...

Papa, I don't think Cindy was clear on the LDS definitions of "eternal life" versus "immortality".

According to one of Elder Oaks' talks, the term "salvation" can have 6 meanings in LDS theology. It was in the May 1998 Ensign, from the April 1998 General Conference.

Here's the link:

http://lds.org/ensign/1998/05/have-you-been-saved?lang=eng

Bookslinger said...

Another stumbling block in terms of definitions is that most Christians (of the evangelical type mainly) use the word "saved" to be coincident with "accepting Christ as one's savior". To them it is an _event_, whereas to LDS it is more of a process.

Sometimes the word "conversion" is used. In the mainstream christian theology, "conversion" is also used along with 'getting saved.'

In the Book of Mormon, the experience that Alma the Younger, and the sons of Mosiah had with the angel, when they had their big "turn around moment" would be called "getting saved."

Other examples in the Book of Mormon would be Lamoni's conversion experience, and Lamoni's father's conversion experience when the Holy Ghost fell on them and they fainted.

Even today, many LDS converts can point to a specific moment when they realize "it's all true", God, Jesus, the atonement, the Bible and Book of Mormon, etc.

Or, like me, I had my "one big moment" as a teenager when I realized God and Jesus were real and had a big "change of heart".

But it was when I was in my early 20's when I had the next step, investigated the LDS church, and had two other big "moments" when the Holy Ghost confirmed that the Book of Mormon was true, and that Jospeh Smith was a propeht.

People who grow up in the LDS church more often have smaller, almost imperceptible steps, and can't point to exact moments when they realized or "accepted" these things. To "lifers" in the church (or BIC/Born-In-Church), it's even more of a process than an event or events.

In LDS terminology, we often call it "a mighty change of heart". And we realize it is the _beginning_ of a life-long process of progression.

However, we also need to realize that our brothers and sisters in other churches also have their "mighty change of heart" experiences of conversion.

But one of the big differences of definition, is that they define that moment as the point of their "salvation" or "getting saved". And most often, they define that "moment" or "conversionn experience" as all that's necessary.

LDS also need to acknowledge that those experiences that our brothers and sisters in other churches go through _are legitimate_. The Lord does bless them in that experience, and does pour out his Spirit. I can personally testify that I felt a very great outpouring of the Spirit when I had my experience as a teenager. That experience as a teenager was even more powerful than the confirmations/conversion I went through as an investigator of the Book of Mormon.

However, it should be easy to see how someone can get confused in thinking that such an experience is the "be all and end all", because the Lord blessed the experience with an outpouring of Spirit.

LDS realize it is the _beginning_, such as with Alma Jr., Lamoni, Lamoni's dad, etc.; and progress and growth then needs to be pursued.

But evangelical Christians often think it is "all done and over with", "I'm saved", "that's it", "don't need anything else", "good to go". After all, in the evangelical viewpoint, what can be needed more than "salvation"? Salvation is the be-all and end-all in their paradigm.

So if that's the be-all, and end-all, for LDS to come along and say that you need MORE, that you need to progress, and press forward, keep the commandments for the rest of your life, and "endure to the end", well that pretty much cheapens that "getting saved" experience.

Not only that, in their view, our assertion that you need "more", cheapens or even tries to negate that outpouring of Spirit they received.

Bookslinger said...

As I see it, that outpouring of Spirit on the part of the Lord comes under the heading of the Lord is bound when we obey. If someone undergoes that mighty-change-of-heart (or "getting saved" in evangelical terminology) experience, and fully turns towards the Lord with full purpose of heart, He is _bound_ to pour out his Spirit.

Perhaps what our evangelical friends don't realize is that that initial outpouring of Spirit is merely a down payment (deposit or "earnest" as the NT puts it) of blessings to come. I get the impression they think it's more of a "done deal; don't need to do any more" kind of thing.

Cindy said...

Hi Jeff,

I don't disagree with the verses you posted, I'm just asking whether or not those works/commandments are the basis of your eternal life (and I'm using that term with your definition now-of eternal life in the celestial kingdom with the father sharing in the same glory he has) because it seems like that is what LDS doctrine says.

I agree that the life of a true disciple of Christ is filled with good works, but Believe that those works should be a result of our faith in the forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. As He says, we should love much because we are forgiven much. And the fruit of our love for God and others will be good works.

Our faith in Christ's forgiveness will lead us to obedience....we won't be obedient in order to merit eternal life. Jesus's testimony is that our belief in Him is what gains us eternal life

"That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

THEN

Our works will be evidence of that faith.

Anonymous said...

is something wrong Jeff? Not feeling well? I have never seen you write So negatively. You need to accept your place and standing. We are NOT Christians to many religions due to not meeting their criteria. Why are you not okay with that? Learn to deal with the fact others do not consider us Christian by their criteria. Get past it.

Patrick said...

Saved-Freed from the effects of sin. I believe everyone will experience this; from the citizens of the Celestial Kingdom on down. All will be justified through the atonement and sacrifice of our Lord. But having the filth of sin removed doesn’t make us prepared for EXALTATION.

Exaltation-the acquisition of divinity, God's nature. An exalted life is the life of a divine being equal to the TYPE of life of Christ and his Father.

As discussed in a previous post it will be up to us to acquire with the help of the Savior the nature of God. It won't be God who denies us an exalted life. God will force no man to heaven, and he will force no man to be divine. If we do good works or not it is a choice. This choice exists on earth and in heaven. The Spirit may encourage us (plead with us, exhort us) to do good works, but the actual doing is a choice we make. The transition to becoming a divine being will be the result of making exalted choices.

Keeping the commandments is simply you making exalted choices. Why not start now to live an exalted life? To live with God will require that you become a divine being living an exalted life. Might as well start now rather than wait. Whether you start now or start later it will depend on you. The choice has been and always will be yours.

For what servant will love a Master that he has never served? Or, what man will live a life eternally that previously he has CHOSEN to never live?

We keep commandments not as a chore, not as a punishment, not to earn salvation, but to become what they will make us......DIVINE.

Now here's an interesting question: Why do we want to be divine?

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Cindy, as LDS folks here have pointed out numerous times, of course someone who loves Christ and has faith in Him will naturally strive to follow Him and keep God's commandments. But does that person become instantly immune to temptation? Does one conversion event with sincere faith in Christ make it impossible for that person to later walk away from Christ and cease abiding in Him? Is choosing to believe in Christ a one-way decision that cannot be undone?

Or, for believing, faithful Christians, might there be legitimate worries if we wander away from the straight and narrow and fall into sin? Might that be why Christ tells those people who already believe in Him that they need to keep His commandments to abide in His love? Might that be why he said those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13)? Might that be why he gave us the parable of the sower and the seed, to point out that a faithful start as a sprout is not enough, but that we have a process of care and diligence to pursue? Might that be why Paul told Christians to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12)? And why Paul repeatedly warned Christians against the soul-destroying dangers of sin that he was seeing in some believers? Our return to Christ is depicted by Him as a journey on a path, not a single step, and we can stray and be lost if we don't continue to choose Him.

His pleas for us to abide in Him make no sense if abiding is automatic and guaranteed once we believe. We must allow Him to lead us all the way back, abiding in Him to the end. We can and many do choose otherwise. That's tragic, because believing Christians can abandon their faith and be lost. Any other other conclusion tortures scripture.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Anon, I was sharper in the post than normal as I face the truly tragic consequences of the bad theology that some anti-Mormon ministers offer, theology so pernicious that it creates modern Sauls out of followers of Paul. I'm fine with doctrinal differences and with people explaining why they think we're wrong, but it is no longer a mere quibble when they condemn efforts to follow Christ and keep His commandments as sin and apostasy so severe that we aren't even Christian anymore. When theology is so backwards and harmful, it's time to speak out more forcefully.

Romney has triggered some increased ministerial focus on Mormons in congregations all over America, and too many good Christians are being deceived into thinking that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ isn't even Christian and that our souls are utterly lost because of our seeking to do the very things Jesus taught. The vile fruits of that bad theology call for a firm response, IMHO. Sorry if I've been too aggressive.

Papa D said...

Cindy, your last comment, once again, is something that could be preached from a Mormon pulpit without anyone batting an eye or disagreeing in any way.

Seriously, I can't count the times I've heard that good works for incorrect motives won't bring true conversion - that it's about "becoming like Christ" and not just "doing good works". Works are ALWAYS meant to be framed within faith in and love of God. Sometimes it's not mentioned explicitly simply because it's such an assumed foundation - like Paul's discourse on the resurrection and the justification for baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15.

One of our apostles made the same point as your comment the center of his recent address in General Conference, and another one spoke about how prone we are (people, generally, and Mormons, specifically)to take cultural ideas and elevate them to the level of command to such an extent that we "build hedges about the law".

If I read your perspective correctly, you are concerned about two things, primarily:

1) A focus on works as a source of exaltation rather than a converted heart being the key.

That's solidly Mormon, even though individual members obviously get it mixed up.

2) The belief that we can become like God.

We've talked about this extensively in other threads, and all I can say is that I believe it is the central message of the Bible - especially the New Testament. It's taught implicitly and explicitly in numerous passages throughout the Bible - especially the New Testament.

Also, in all my conversations with those who call this belief un-Christian, I've never (not once) had them address the actual passages I quote directly from the Bible and explain how they don't mean what they appear so clearly to mean. The only message I've heard all my life (spanning nearly 30 years of discussions and literally hundreds of people) boils down to:

"That's heresy, no matter what those passages say. That's not what they mean, even though I can't give you a consistent counter-meaning that makes any sense."

Let me explain why this is so personal and deeply frustrating to me - why I am saddened greatly by those who call us non-Christian for teaching this concept:

The most obvious example was the reaction of the Graduate Assistant in a class I took at the Harvard Divinity School to a paper I wrote about this very subject - in which I quoted ONLY Biblical pronouncements. Let me repeat that. I mentioned in the paper ONLY verses and passages from the Bible, not once quoting any uniquely Mormon scripture. I got an "A" on the paper, with, to the best of my recollection, the following explanation for the grade:

"Although this paper is doctrinally incorrect, there is nothing in it that can be refuted intellectually or by analyzing the passages quoted. It is well-written, well-organized and sets forth an air-tight case for the opinion expressed in it - but it does not represent the teachings of Christianity and will never be accepted by the Christian community. If you desire to pursue a career in the ministry, you will need to re-examine this belief and realize that, although there is no way to refute it through an appeal to the Bible, you will never be accepted as a Christian or a preacher within Christianity if you teach it." (Obviously, those are my words, but that's the message I remember vividly.)

Yes, Cindy, as Jeff says, that's pernicious - to phrase it charitably. If we can't explain our beliefs by citing the Bible, and if the beliefs we cherish are rejected out-of-hand as non-Christian even when they can't be refuted using only the Bible, then we truly are the victims of "pernicious theology" - and I almost never play the victim card.

Papa D said...

"However, we also need to realize that our brothers and sisters in other churches also have their "mighty change of heart" experiences of conversion."

Absolutely, Bookslinger. I've said multiple times in lots of places that our general inability to accept the truly "liberal" parts of our theology is the single biggest reason for much of the misunderstanding we experience - and your point is one of those "liberal" aspects of our theology. It's not hard to understand why other Christians get mad at us when the message they hear is: "Your beliefs are wrong, and your conversion isn't real."

I think we can believe the first part of that statement and still reject the second part - or, as Joseph Smith once said, I don't think anyone should or will be condemned for erring in doctrine. I believe, as our Article of Faith implies, that we will be judged by the intent of our heart and sincere efforts (for Christians) to "exercise faith in God, the Father, and Jesus, the Christ" - not by the specifics of our understanding of theology and doctrine. Iow, I believe we can be "wrong in our heads" as long as we are "right in our hearts" - even as I believe it is important to try, to the best of our ability, to be right in our heads, as well.

("We claim the privilege of worshiping almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow ALL men EVERYWHERE the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.")

I believe we will be judged primarily by how truly we worship according to the dictates of our own conscience - and that God probably sighs in exasperation over our collective inability to be more charitable toward those who worship / believe differently than we do, especially since all of us "see through our glass, darkly".

Pops said...

...we won't be obedient in order to merit eternal life...

Sorry, but that's just plain wrong. What did Christ tell "a certain ruler" in response to the question, "...what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" One hint: he didn't say, "You've got it backwards. You have to be saved first, then you will be obedient without really trying."

What he did say was to obey the commandments. When the man responded that he already was obedient to the commandments, Christ raised the bar, he didn't lower it. He clearly wants us to put forth our best effort. He will judge us by our works, not by our intentions.

Papa D said...

Pops, we need to be careful how we phrase things, since I think it's crystal clear in Mormonism that works alone can't make us exalted. We have to have a change of heart to be "converted" (which really means nothing more than "changed" - just like "repentance" really means nothing more than "change").

I don't think that's at all what you meant to say (that works alone exalt us regardless of our spiritual condition), but it would be very easy to read that meaning into it - and that unintended, perceived meaning is what I think drives much of Cindy's concern, for example.

Pops said...

As I've delved into the origins of orthodox "Christian" theology, I've found that there was a fundamental change in the concept of God in the works of Origen, Augustine, Clement, and company. The philosophical underpinnings of the orthodox God is that he has all power, that reality itself is produced by (or a subset of) God. There are a number of unfortunate difficulties with this concept of God.

One is that he becomes a God of contradictions, really a self-refuting God.

Another, one more pertinent to this discussion, is that if God is as orthodoxy claims, then there was no need for the Atonement - after all, he has all power. All God has to do is simply forgive whomever he wishes to forgive. Now, what kind of God would send his Son to suffer for the sins of all mankind if in fact it were unnecessary?!?

The true God exists in reality. He has all power that can be had (as opposed to having all power that can and cannot be had). He sent his Son to die for us because it was necessary - because there is a reality that demands justice.

Because Christ satisfied the demands of justice on our behalf, it behooves us to plead with him to release us from the grasp of justice. After all, he doesn't have to release us if he doesn't want to. If he asks us to do any particular thing (e.g., obey the commandments), we do it in hopes of finding favor, that he will in fact intercede for us. We don't do it because we think we can bypass him - that's absurd. We recognize that he is a real being, he has placed real requirements on us if we wish to benefit from his Atonement, and we work out our salvation - that is, we seek to find favor in his eyes - with fear and trembling, knowing what horrific fate awaits us if we fail.

And the positive side of the equation is enticing: "Ear hath not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love him." When that is coupled with "If ye love me, keep my commandments", our objective is pretty clear.

Pops said...

Okay, Papa D, I'll rephrase.

Faith and works are inextricably linked. We can increase our faith by increasing our works. As the Savior said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

Works are necessary but not sufficient to save us. The Atonement is necessary, but not sufficient, but not because God could not save us without works if he wished to. It is because God has clearly stated that he will not save those who will not do the things he has asked us to do. I don't think Christ was fooling around when he gave us commandments.

Where some people get into trouble - perhaps Cindy's LDS friends fall into this category - is they don't understand the kind of works that are asked of us. We are not asked to do busywork, or to do for others what they can and should do for themselves. We are asked to bless the lives of others by lifting them up. And we cannot lift them up if we do not first ascend to higher ground. In so doing, we come to know God, because that is what God is like.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Papa D said...

Amen, Pops.

The classic definition of "faith" is interesting in light of what you just wrote about acting "in hopes of finding favor":

"Faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things NOT seen."

In that light, our faith consists of those things for which we hope but for which we have no objective evidence that has been observed. I have not seen the resurrected Lord, and I have not heard him tell me personally what he taught in the Bible (and, I believe, elsewhere), but I absolutely hope he was right and his words are true. That is my hope - that he really will accept me and my sincere efforts to do what he has told me to do - that he will "find favor with me".

At a deeper level, how we act (the things we do or our "works") is the manifestation of that faith - the "evidence" that we really do believe what we can't see but for which we hope. That's why James said so simply, "Faith without works is dead, being alone."

If we divorce our actions from our beliefs, we are left with "dead works" - since there is nothing that animates those beliefs and makes them "living" (which, interestingly, means "capable of growth and change"). "Repentance", at the root, means nothing more than "change" - and when we act without an intent to change, we become "dead" (or nothing more than "inanimate" objects).

Jesus made one very radical alteration in the Jewish culture of his day; he repositioned humanity as supreme and the law as created to change humanity (rather than humanity being created to serve the law). He made the law all about "repentance" (progressive change that produces growth and literal transformation), instead of an end unto itself.

That's the true focus of our "works" - a recognition that they are nothing more than our best attempt to create evidence that we really do believe that in which we say we hope. That in which we hope is the heart of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - that we really are "children of God" who can become "heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ" and, ultimately, "be one, even as we are one" - seeing Him as He is, because "we shall be like Him."

Papa D said...

Sorry, "joint-heirs WITH Christ" is the accurate quote from Paul. The difference is important.

Jon said...

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.


So, in other words, if you don't believe in the same theology of Christ then you are a sinner. If you are an unrepentant sinner do you go to heaven?

As mormons do we not teach that if you don't accept the true authority of Christ and receive baptism from whom is the correct authority it does not count and if you are not baptized with those with the correct authority then you will not be saved?

I think both sides believe the same on this point. Protestants don't believe mormons have the authority and mormons don't believe protestants have the authority.

I'll just let God sort it out.

Papa D said...

Jon, I understand that problem, and it's a realm valid one that makes the clash much more complicated than most Mormons and Protestants think - but at least Mormonism posits that sincere people of all faiths and religions will have a true chance to do whatever is necessary to gain salvation and exaltation, while Protestantism (speaking generally) posits that Mormons are damned because our beliefs in this life aren't exactly like theirs.

That's a major difference, and it's important.

Papa D said...

Also, Jon, the actual passage only says that our faith is vain if Christ is not risen (since it is Jesus' resurrection and promise of the same for us that is the heart of our hope and faith); it says nothing whatsoever about exactly how we see other doctrinal issues.

Cindy said...

Jeff,

If I have intimated that I think that a one time belief in Christ leads to a lack of temptation and sin, I am sorry. My own ineptitude at times on this blog should be evidence that isn't true!

You stated the following, "for believing, faithful Christians, might there be legitimate worries if we wander away from the straight and narrow and fall into sin? Might that be why Christ tells those people who already believe in Him that they need to keep His commandments to abide in His love"

So I would ask, does Christ love us only if we are keeping the commandments? Is our only hope of abiding with Him to be free of sin?

Didn't He demonstrate His greatest act of love toward us by dying for us while we were sinning?

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8

Can "believing Christians really abandon their faith and be lost" by sinning? Isn't that why He came? Are we expected, after believing that Christ died for our sins, to never sin again, or to become personally responsible for every one of our own sins?

You yourself, describe how Christ raised the bar of sin to the level of our intentions rather than simply our actions. Do you really believe that you will be able to stand before God at your judgement day and merit eternal life based on your own perfect intentions?

Anonymous said...

PapaD writes, "at least Mormonism posits that sincere people of all faiths and religions will have a true chance to do whatever is necessary to gain salvation and exaltation, while Protestantism (speaking generally) posits that Mormons are damned because our beliefs in this life aren't exactly like theirs."

You add, "That's a major difference." But I don't see any difference at all. Yes, of course, Mormons believe all people have a chance at exaltation -- but only if they change their ways and believe in, and behave in accordance with, Mormon doctrine, right? (Obey the commandments, perform the ordinances, etc.)

Your basic evangelical Protestant is inclusive in exactly the same way. They believe a Mormon can be saved -- as long as he changes his beliefs to those of evangelical Christianity.

So what's the big, significant difference? Both seem equally inclusive, and equally exclusive.

-- Eveningsun

Anonymous said...

I have to ask, if we're not required to pass a "grand theology quiz" to get into Heaven, why do Mormons place such an emphasis on learning "correct" doctrine? Or to borrow a question directly from the Sunday School manual, why is it important that we learn correct doctrine? If doctrinally correct ideas aren't a requirement to get into Heaven, why all the fuss with the correlation committee?

Tim said...

Hi Jeff I'm Timmy I live in Utah. I would be afraid to live in China. Haha
I posted last week suggesting that members don't see the passage Romans 12:2 about "being transformed by the renewing of your mind"
Jesus spoke of born again " unless a man be born again he will not see the kingdom of God " John 3:3
If I mention the act of "born again (Not an act really but a humble conversation with Jesus and point of renewal) to a member, he/she will argue that that happens at baptism.
I've tried to explain it to several members in the past, they just don't get it! The bible says that 'baptism is a declaration of submission to Jesus.' But born again is where Jesus will personally change you! You might say that it's okay for Christians to have our belief, while Mormon's have their belief system. The problem with that? Christian is not a belief, it's not a mind set, it's not a religion! To the truly born again follower, Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. 1st John 4:20 says He is the only true God!
My Nephew is fixing to go on his mission in Wash. DC soon. and I'm pretty sure the message he and his companion will be sharing is that Joseph Smith was visited by two personages (god and jesus ) and that LDS is the true church and that family is central to gods plan + Jesus. The fact is, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is love, Jesus is grace and mercy, Jesus is the beginning and Jesus is the end. Only after a loved one is born again will he be able to understand the truths that are in the bible, but then you'll start to appreciate and grow in Jesus and recognize His residence in you and the fact that your residence is Heaven.
A good explaination to why Christians won't except Mormons as Christian? Christian is supernatural, Mormon is natural.

Pops said...

If doctrinally correct ideas aren't a requirement to get into Heaven, why all the fuss?

Knowledge of truth is a requirement, but it's not a quiz at entrance. It has to do with figuring out how to please God and become like he is during this life. If we have a false concept of God, we won't do the things we need to do in this life, which is the point of this topic.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Pops said...

A good [explanation] to why Christians won't [accept] Mormons as [orthodox] Christian? [Orthodox] [Christianity] is supernatural, Mormon is natural.

Agreed, although I would be more inclined to use the word "magical" rather than "supernatural" because of differences in understanding of the latter term. LDS think of supernatural as being consistent with natural laws of which we are not yet aware. Orthodox Christianity interprets supernatural as being beyond logic and reason, such as the concept of creation ex nihilo. To me, the word "magical" conveys that idea more succinctly.

Of course, with a magical God there is no need for an Atonement or a Savior because God can simply forgive us, so the whole topic becomes a moot issue for Orthodox Christians who appreciate their own definition of God. In fact, the idea of God requiring his son to suffer as he did becomes more than a little perverse.

Tim said...

Magical has nothing to do with it, I'm talking about the omnipresence or the omniscience of God. Magic comes from another kind of spirit.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Right after mentioning that Mormons believe God and Christ visited Joseph Smith, Tim said: "A good explaination to why Christians won't except Mormons as Christian? Christian is supernatural, Mormon is natural." God, Christ, angels, gold plates, revelation, miracles - we're not supernatural enough for modern Christians to accept us? No, the mainstream Christian revolts at the thought of ongoing revelation and living prophets and angelic visitations. They teach that the supernatural stuff is long gone and the heavens are closed. We have good news: they are wide open and truth continues to be revealed. Totally cool, IMHO. It's a restoration of ancient truth and authority.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Tim also said: My Nephew is fixing to go on his mission in Wash. DC soon. and I'm pretty sure the message he and his companion will be sharing is that Joseph Smith was visited by two personages (god and jesus ) and that LDS is the true church and that family is central to gods plan + Jesus. The fact is, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is love, Jesus is grace and mercy, Jesus is the beginning and Jesus is the end.

Tim, from my perspective, that's a bit like saying, "Mormons believe that Jesus lived in Jerusalem, but in fact the Bible teaches that he died on the cross." We get that logical fallacy all the time--anyone have the cool Greek name for it?--where someone quotes some LDS teaching and then "contrasts" it with a passage from the Bible that we fully accept and is not contradictory. We believe Jesus is Alpha and Omega, the Son of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The fact that Joseph Smith saw Him doesn't change any of that. Can you clarify what the problem is and why on earth you think Mormons aren't Christian? Hope you'll review that position!

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I find this whole thread a fascinating example of the power of small differences, of straining at a gnat, of ignoring the elephant in the room....

By any reasonable definition--by any definition not designed specifically to exclude Mormons--both Mormons and evangelicals qualify as Christian. This is a no-brainer to me.

But so what? What always gets me in these disputes is to see the argument proceed by means of a highly selective kind of proof-texting that studiously avoids those biblical passages that, if read in the same spirit as other passages, make Christianity itself as ridiculous as Harold Camping. I mean, Jesus promised to return on clouds of glory and usher in the kingdom within the lifetime of his hearers, and that didn't happen. Ergo, Jesus was a false prophet, I don't follow him, end of story.

It is the rejection of Christianity tout court, and not the resolution of some in-house nit-pickery between two branches of believers, that strikes me as the proper result of taking the Bible seriously.

So yes, Mormons are every bit as Christian as evangelicals -- and every bit as wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Knowledge of truth is a requirement... It has to do with figuring out how to please God and become like he is during this life. If we have a false concept of God, we won't do the things we need to do in this life,"

Pops, will you please explain to Jeff that correct theology is a requirement to get into Heaven.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone read about the slaughter of the Egyptian children, the mass killings of the Canaanites, and similar atrocities, and then want "to please God and become like he is"? (I refer here to the God of the Bible, of course. There might be other gods worth emulating--but not the blatantly immoral Yahweh.)

Tim said...

Mr Anonymous. That post I left was for you, explaining that you can except the grace of Jesus and put aside all that frustrating struggle to please God. You are on the exact path that Jesus explains how to avoid in the bible say this prayer to Jesus and you'll begin to understand the bible better: (Jesus come into my heart and be my lord and savior, I am a sinner. I confess my sins to you my Lord. Thank You for dieing on the cross for my sins I now promise to follow You all the days of my life) This is the only way Jesus will renew your mind.
The things you see happening in Egypt is only the beginning things will be getting lots worse

Papa D said...

Tim, Anonymous is talking about the Old Testament - not current events in the Middle East. It is one of the better arguments atheists have - that there are some horrific things recorded in the Old Testament that are claimed to have been commanded by God.

The easy Mormon answer (and I know you're not Mormon, so take this for what it's worth to you - not much, I'm sure):

"We believe the Bible to be the word of God, **as far as it is translated directly**" opens up a HUGE window of interpretation for me to believe that God didn't command that stuff, even if the people of the time believed it.

Papa D said...

Sorry - was rushing and didn't proof read. It should have been: "as far as it is translated CORRECTLY" - not "directly".

Anonymous said...

I am a born again mormon trying to share eternal life with those who are still trying to earn their play in heaven
this has been a voice text

Anonymous said...

it's me tim trying to gather souls into the kingdom of god I am a born again mormon simply trying to share eternal life with you all.
this has been a voice .

Pops said...

From lds.org:

The truths about God that Joseph Smith restored are of paramount importance. In 1844, he taught that “it is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another.” Ten years earlier, the Lectures on Faith, which Joseph Smith directed and approved, taught that to acquire faith unto salvation one needs a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes, and that one needs to know that the course of life one is pursuing is according to God’s will. He also added, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”

Pops said...

I mean, Jesus promised to return on clouds of glory and usher in the kingdom within the lifetime of his hearers, and that didn't happen. Ergo, Jesus was a false prophet, I don't follow him, end of story.

You should have paid more attention to the context of the statement. He was describing the signs that will precede his second coming, and those who will witness them. And then he says "this generation", meaning the generation that witnesses the signs, "shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." Seems perfectly logical and plausible.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Pops, the context was an apocalyptic one in which people did indeed expect an imminent and literal judgement of the world. This is the context that renders sensible not only Jesus's prediction of his return in the followers' own lifetime, but also his persistent urgency ("Let the dead bury their dead"), and much else.

Anonymous said...

"And then he says "this generation", meaning the generation that witnesses the signs, "shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." Seems perfectly logical and plausible."

No, Pops, it doesn't. That's an apologetic rationalization that falls short. If he meant something other than the then present generation, he would have said "that generation," not "this generation." The implication of "this" is pretty clear.
It's also pretty clear that early Christians thought that the Second Coming would occur in their lifetimes. They didn't interpret "this" the same way that you do. You also wouldn't interpret "this" the way that you do if you didn't have to harmonize it with the fact that the End hasn't occurred yet.

There are multiple New Testament passages that suggest that the Second Coming would occur within the lifetimes of early Christians. Matthew 16:28: "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Mark 9:1: "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." Luke 9:27: "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."

Paul thought this as well. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 15: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope....For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep."

Rev 1:"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;....Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

Pops said...

If he meant something other than the then present generation, he would have said "that generation," not "this generation." The implication of "this" is pretty clear.

You forget a few things: he wasn't speaking English; the person who recorded it may have altered what he said due to confirmation bias; a medieval scribe may have altered it; the ink may have smeared on some transcript; the translator may have inferred it.

There's no question that many of Jesus' followers thought he would return soon according to man's time-frame, within their natural lifetimes. That doesn't mean that's what Jesus meant by what he said, but it would have affected anything they had to write on the subject.

"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

That clearly refers to John the Revelator; apparently there were others who received the same gift.

If you parse the scriptures - or any text, for that matter - with the intent of discrediting them, it doesn't take long to achieve that aim. But if you examine them thoughtfully and prayerfully, with a mind open to the overriding message, you'll get a different result.

You also have to read with faith. That doesn't mean you make up your mind to believe in the scriptures before you read them. That means that you do so with the determination to obey whatever truths might be revealed to you in the process. That is the key that opens your heart to revelation from the Holy Ghost to witness to you the truth of the scriptures. And that truth is not altered by whether somebody somewhere misquoted or misinterpreted something; but it is the reality of God, that he loves us, and that he has provided sufficient guidance - often through fallible men called to serve as prophets - to help us fulfill the measure of our creation.

Lamdaddy said...

"You are on the exact path that Jesus explains how to avoid in the bible say this prayer to Jesus and you'll begin to understand the bible better..."

Tim, where in the Bible to Jesus say to put away the frustrating struggle to please God and praying that particular prayer? I never saw that in the Gospels, but I hear Evengelicals sure say it a lot.

Anonymous said...

Lambdaddy I like the name
I'm tired right now drivin to salt lake and back over night can't remember where it is but I will. It goes like this. "Lean not on your own understanding but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Transformed will be the key. You may not believe me but its true that prayer really works as the point of salvation that and internal humility
I mean the prayer I wrote on the blog.
Timmy said it.
The words are optional. Your welcome to use my words though. Hahaha. Humility

Anonymous said...

@Pops

"You forget a few things: he wasn't speaking English;"
Are you serious? English isn't the only language that distinguishes "this" from "that."

"the person who recorded it may have altered what he said due to confirmation bias; a medieval scribe may have altered it; the ink may have smeared on some transcript; the translator may have inferred it."

The problem with each of these suggestions (none of which you have any evidence for) is that Jesus refers to "this generation" not passing away in three different books of the New Testament: Mat 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21; they weren't all transcribed by the same person; it's unlikely that the same word would get smudged three different times; multiple translations say the same thing; etc.

"That clearly refers to John the Revelator; apparently there were others who received the same gift."

On the contrary, that's not at all clear, as evidenced by the fact that only Mormons believe it.

"You also have to read with faith. That doesn't mean you make up your mind to believe in the scriptures before you read them."

In your case, it means making up your mind what to believe regardless of what the scriptures say, as evidenced by your willingness to cast doubt on their accuracy when they don't support your belief system.

Anonymous said...

Pops, you write that "You also have to read with faith," etc. Been there, done that. Didn't work. The message I got, quite clearly and sincerely, was that Jesus was a misguided apocalyptic prophet, sincere but wrong. So it goes.

Pops said...

Are you serious? English isn't the only language that distinguishes "this" from "that."

I don't speak Aramaic or Greek - have you researched it?

In your case, it means making up your mind what to believe regardless of what the scriptures say, as evidenced by your willingness to cast doubt on their accuracy when they don't support your belief system.

No, that isn't what it means.

Whenever one evaluates an ancient text with the provenance of the Bible, one has to make allowances or reserve judgment in cases of apparent contradiction because many errors will creep into the document. The Comma Johanneum, for example, was thought until recently to be part of the original. It's in my Bible. But scholars today don't find it in older Greek manuscripts, and have proposed that perhaps it was inserted by scribes attempting to buttress the Nicene Creed.

I'm not sure I would stake my eternal fate on that one word.

Pops said...

The message I got, quite clearly and sincerely, was that Jesus was a misguided apocalyptic prophet, sincere but wrong. So it goes.

Follow your heart, by all means. That you would waste your time commenting on this blog suggests that's not really what's in your heart.

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

my wireless program crashed today I wasn't able to explain anything
timothy
please be patient and look for my next p o s t

Anonymous said...

Pops, why is it a waste of time for me to comment on this blog? I find it much less interesting to hang around only where everyone already agrees with me.

Anonymous said...

"I don't speak Aramaic or Greek - have you researched it?"

Yes, they're different words in each language.

"Whenever one evaluates an ancient text with the provenance of the Bible, one has to make allowances or reserve judgment in cases of apparent contradiction because many errors will creep into the document. "

Not the same error three different times. I've shown you that what you dismiss as error occurs in multiple places in the New Testament. That makes it unlikely to be an error that crept in. What is the "apparent contradiction?" There isn't an internal contradiction; multiple New Testament authors agreed that the End of the world was imminent. The contradiction was external: the End of the World didn't come. But if you follow apocalyptic prophecies, you'll see that happens a lot.

"But scholars today don't find it in older Greek manuscripts, and have proposed that perhaps it was inserted by scribes attempting to buttress the Nicene Creed."

Are we appealing to scholarship now? What do scholars say about Jesus' belief that the End of the world was at hand?

"I'm not sure I would stake my eternal fate on that one word."

I haven't shown you just one word. I've shown you multiple examples from the New Testament. You require multiple explanations to dismiss each one. I require only one explanation for them to all fit together. Occam's razor.

Pops said...

Okay here's one explanation for them all to fit together: every account of Christ's words on that occasion where the "this" was recorded instead of "that" derived from the same written source.

Another factor that should be considered is that Christ wanted all people of all generations to watch for his Second Coming, regardless of whether they would be alive at his coming or not. He intentionally created a mindset of anticipation among his followers, perhaps no better illustrated than by the reaction of the Maya when European explorers first arrived in the Americas. Even though the Maya had by that time forgotten most of what Christ had taught them, they were still looking forward to his return.

Lamdaddy said...

Anon @ 12:22,

Some high school names just stick.
I would like to know where Jesus states that uttering a prayer once is sufficient for salvation. If you are of the "once saved always saved" school of thought, this will also require a passage stating that this prayer is sufficient despite what a person does in life. This scripture will also need to clearly supersede all of Jesus' other teachings regarding salvation and, more specifically, judgment according to works.
Good luck.
Even if your paraphrased scripture reflected something that existed, your interpretation of it is the only thing resembling Timmy's prayer requirement. It says nothing of judgment, salvation, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Okay here's one explanation for them all to fit together: every account of Christ's words on that occasion where the "this" was recorded instead of "that" derived from the same written source."

That single explanation doesn't cover Jesus' saying that some "here" would not taste of death before the Second coming. For that, you need the separate explanation that he was referring to John. It also doesn't explain Paul's saying in 1 Thessalonians or John's saying in Revelation. A single explanation, proffered by me and others, covers all these New Testament sayings. You require separate explanations for each.

Also, you're doing what you earlier denied doing: casting doubt on the accuracy of the Bible where it conflicts with your faith.

"Another factor that should be considered is that Christ wanted all people of all generations to watch for his Second Coming, regardless of whether they would be alive at his coming or not. He intentionally created a mindset of anticipation among his followers..."

Well, which is it? Did he say it to keep everybody on their toes, or is it a scribal error as you suggested previously? I'm starting to think you don't care what he said, just as long as you can make it fit your preconceptions. That's the difference between apologetics and scholarship. I wouldn't stick with this one if I were you. It makes Jesus out to tell lies. We can never be sure of anything else he says. There are other ways to create anticipation that don't involve deception.

Anonymous said...

"Christ wanted all people of all generations to watch for his Second Coming, regardless of whether they would be alive at his coming or not. He intentionally created a mindset of anticipation among his followers..."

This doesn't make sense to me. If Christ had wanted to "create a mindset of anticipation" it would make far more sense to say this:

"I'll be back, but I ain't saying when; could be next week, could be thousands of years from now."

...than to say this:

"I'll be back before this generation passes away."

To say the latter would be to create a sense of disappointment and theological crisis (which is in fact what ensued).

Of course, to the true believer, to the person who's not going to let empirical reality impinge upon faith, such disappointments are merely occasions for ever-more-creative interpretations, such as those presented here by Pops (not to mention a legion of other creative readers of scripture).

-- Eveningsun

Pops said...

That single explanation doesn't cover Jesus' saying that some "here" would not taste of death before the Second coming.

John the Revelator still has not died. Apparently there were others.

Also, you're doing what you earlier denied doing: casting doubt on the accuracy of the Bible where it conflicts with your faith.

No, it's casting doubt on the accuracy of the Bible where it conflicts with the preponderance of the Bible.

Well, which is it? Did he say it to keep everybody on their toes, or is it a scribal error as you suggested previously? I'm starting to think you don't care what he said, just as long as you can make it fit your preconceptions.

Once again, it has to do with making it consistent with the preponderance of the Bible. Those who wrote the four gospels didn't view Jesus as a liar, for example. We can't know what he said for certain. I've provided a number of plausible explanations. We can't know which, if any, is correct. But given the entire body of evidence about who Jesus was, and the flimsiness of the assertion being made (flimsy in that it is based on hearsay raised to nth power), it isn't reasonable to conclude that he lied on that occasion.

Pops said...

This doesn't make sense to me. If Christ had wanted to "create a mindset of anticipation" it would make far more sense to say this:

"I'll be back, but I ain't saying when; could be next week, could be thousands of years from now."


He was quoted as saying something to that effect: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

To say the latter would be to create a sense of disappointment and theological crisis (which is in fact what ensued).

The theological crisis resulted from the loss of authority and, with it, the loss of revelation to guide the Church.

Of course, to the true believer, to the person who's not going to let empirical reality impinge upon faith...

If:

a) what you mean by empirical reality means what we think might be true today, and refers to a tiny droplet of a factoid awash in an ocean of contrary evidence; and

b) that faith derives from personal study and experience;

then it would be foolish in the extreme to assume the "liar, liar, pants on fire" assertion has any merit.

Anonymous said...

"John the Revelator still has not died. Apparently there were others."

That's an additional explanation. You're making my point.

The "preponderance of the Bible" does not contradict the expectation that the End of the world would occur within a generation of Jesus Christ. Can you name any scriptures that predict the end would occur after the contemporaneous generation had died off?

"... it isn't reasonable to conclude that he lied on that occasion."

You're the only one who suggested that. You suggested that Jesus may have used the words "this generation" in order to create a sense of anticipation despite the fact that the Second coming wouldn't occur in "this generation." That would be deceit. Logic is not your forte, is it?.

Pops said...

In statistical analysis, it is standard procedure to reject outliers on the basis of the preponderance of the data. You (anonymous) seem intent on rejecting the preponderance of the data based on an outlier.

When outliers are rejected, reasons for that data not being acceptable or representative are proposed. It is customary to propose multiple reasons when there are multiple mechanisms that might have caused the error. That is not a failure of logic. Quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

I've shown you eight different New Testament references that predict the End of the World within a generation. Unless there are a greater number of New Testament references that contradict them, that is the preponderance of the evidence. But of course, there aren't. There isn't even one. So these are not "outliers."

Anonymous said...

Pops, this is the first time I've seen someone propose that we base our hermeneutics on the procedures of the statistician. That's quite original. I would cite it as evidence in favor of my belief that the contradictions in scripture (and the implausibility of a good deal of theology) are just as likely to be hermenutically productive as destructive. By this I mean that when they don't destroy one's faith entirely (as they did mine) they wind up driving the committed believer to finding creative interpretations to make them go away (and creative justifications for those interpretations).

Pops said...

So, what I'm hearing is that the record incontrovertibly proves that Jesus was a liar when it came to prophesying the date of his return (which, by the way, he clearly stated that no man would or could know). The same reasoning that makes the record of that particular statement accurate and true requires that one admit also the truth of the record that states that he was born of a virgin, walked on water, healed the sick, cast out devils, raised the dead, fed the 5000, correctly prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, taught truth, forgave those who tortured and crucified him, paid the price of our sins, rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, ascended into heaven in full view of many, and was in very fact God and the Son of God. That is, the record of those facts follows the same pattern you've used to justify the assertion that he was a liar.

Now, the assertion that Jesus lied about his second coming contradicts the many other, weightier, things I listed, and many more that I omitted. What is the reasonable thing to do in such a case? The logical choice is to reject the one assertion that is out of place, the one that is inconsistent with the umpteen others, given that they all have equal and identical proof of their truth. And I do, in fact, reject it.

That's not just a statistical procedure - it's common sense. You've strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.

Anonymous said...

Pops,

First of all, I never claimed that Jesus was a liar. I claim that he made a failed prediction. Hopefully you see the difference. You're the one who suggested that he lied in order to create a sense of anticipation in his followers. Remember?

Second, you're confusing internal and external evidence. The preponderance of Biblical evidence suggests that Jesus and his early followers believed the End of the world was imminent. The claim that Jesus performed miracles does not contradict the claim that he predicted an imminent End of the world. Each claim is in the Bible, and neither is contradicted by other internal Biblical claims.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be suggesting that if one accepts the miraculous claims as true, then one must also reject the claim that Jesus predicted the End of the world. That doesn't make any sense because both are reported by the same sources. It's cherry picking to accept the sources' miracle claims as true and reject the same sources' claim that Jesus predicted an imminent end. If the source is wrong about Jesus predicting the End of the world, then why should we trust the source's miracle claims?

Would you suggest that if I reject the supernatural claims in the Bible that I must also reject the natural historical claims in the Bible? I don't think so. The claim that Jesus predicted an imminent end is a natural, historical claim. The truth of that claim does not depend on the truth of the supernatural claims of the Bible.

According to your logic, the miracle claim and the claim that Jesus predicted an imminent end cannot both be true. All right. Can the miracle claim be true and the historical claim false? It's possible but not probable. If the source isn't reliable enough to report natural things, it probably isn't reliable enough to report the supernatural. Can the historical claim be true and the miracle claim false? Again, we have to question the reliability of the source, but this scenario is more probable than the converse simply because the natural is more probable than the supernatural, by definition, Can both the historical claim and the miracle claim be false? Definitely. No contradiction there.

Pops said...

Can the historical claim be true and the miracle claim false? Again, we have to question the reliability of the source, but this scenario is more probable than the converse simply because the natural is more probable than the supernatural, by definition.

It isn't the probability of the event that is in question, but the credibility of the witnesses. If you reject the witnesses in the one case, to be consistent you must reject the witnesses in the other. They are the same witnesses. They are either reliable or they are not.

In addition to - and perhaps greather than - the issue of the credibility of the witnesses is the issue of the provenance of the evidence that has survived the ages. If an ancient record that has passed through many hands and multiple languages is 99.99% consistent, it isn't reasonable to reject the 99.99% on the basis of the 0.01%. That's cherry picking. It is not cherry picking to go with the 99.99%, particularly if there are plausible explanations for the 0.01% - and there are plenty of error mechanisms in play throughout the history of the documents that make up what we call the Bible.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be suggesting that if one accepts the miraculous claims as true, then one must also reject the claim that Jesus predicted the End of the world.

What I've said is that the assertion that Jesus made a false prediction about the end of the world is inconsistent with the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament, and I wasn't the one who originally made that connection. As stated by one of the anonymi (you?) who commented earlier on this thread:

Ergo, Jesus was a false prophet, I don't follow him, end of story.

Pops said...

Here's an interesting tidbit in Jesus' "false" prediction of the end of the world.

His audience on that occasion was not the general public - it was his "disciples", most likely the Apostles. When they question him about "the sign of thy coming", one of the very first things he predicts is this: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you."

So, by the time he gets to the "this generation" phrase, the deaths of those in his audience have already been prophesied, and that before the second coming of Christ. Those in the audience clearly could not have been the antecedent to the "this" in that phrase.

Pops said...

Here's another interesting tidbit. Joseph Smith was inspired to make the following addition to the "this generation" phrase:

"Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled."

Whether or not one believes Joseph Smith was a prophet, he provides a simple and plausible explanation as to why our Bibles read as they do - a small but relevant phrase was omitted somewhere along the way.

Anonymous said...

"If you reject the witnesses in the one case, to be consistent you must reject the witnesses in the other."

Then why don't you? Actually, it's not unreasonable to accept a witness's natural claims and reject his supernatural claims. For example, the Roman historian Suetonius says that Vespasian healed a blind man by spitting in his eyes and a lame man by touching his heal. It's not unreasonable to reject those claims as fiction while accepting Suetonius's account of the historical aspects of Vespasian's life. But if you insist on an all-or-nothing approach to a historian's accuracy, then you must reject the miracle claims about Jesus as well as the claim that he predicted an imminent end.

"If an ancient record that has passed through many hands and multiple languages is 99.99% consistent, it isn't reasonable to reject the 99.99% on the basis of the 0.01%."

Again, you're confusing internal and external consistency. The claim that Jesus predicted an imminent end is perfectly consistent with the rest of the Bible internally. It's not consistent with the external evidence that the end didn't come. Is there external evidence that the miracles occurred? No, so we need not harmonize the claim that Jesus predicted the end with any external evidence either. So there's no need to harmonize it at all.

"Those in the audience clearly could not have been the antecedent to the "this" in that phrase."

That's right. Generation =/= apostles. But it's still "this generation" meaning the contemporaneous one.

"Here's another interesting tidbit. Joseph Smith was inspired to make the following addition to the "this generation" phrase:..."

Yes, I know. A lot of Joseph Smith's revelations were responses to criticism of the Bible. He was harmonizing. The fact that he saw a need to change the wording should tell you something. People have been bothered by these verses for a long time.

Pops said...

Then why don't you?

I don't reject the witness in either case. I reject the evidence of what was witnessed, bearing in mind its provenance, on the basis that it's inconsistent with the remainder of the record.

In other words, I don't think the King James rendition of those verses is an accurate transcription of what Jesus said.

The Latin Vulgate renders the word in question as haec, which has several translations to English. One of those translations is "the latter", which, if it had been used by King James' translators, would have made it consistent with Joseph Smith's correction: "Verily I say unto you, the latter generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

Actually, it's not unreasonable to accept a witness's natural claims and reject his supernatural claims.

If 99.99% of the testimony is of the supernatural and 0.01% is of the natural, then it would be unreasonable.

The claim that Jesus predicted an imminent end is perfectly consistent with the rest of the Bible internally.

That is a false assertion in two senses.

On the one hand, he clearly stated that "no man knows" the hour of his second coming, not even the angels in heaven. He would not have then told them it would happen within a specific time period. What he did tell them was that it would be accompanied by signs, and that the signs would reveal when his second coming was imminent. He admonishes all people of all ages to watch for those signs.

On the other hand, he was not in the habit of making false predictions. It was not consistent with his character or his track record.

To have some repeated text mistranslated multiple times produces consistency of translation, not consistency of content. (The four Gospels were written decades after the fact. It is reasonable to expect their authors worked from common sources to produce their verbatim accounts of what they had witnessed.)

The fact that he saw a need to change the wording should tell you something. People have been bothered by these verses for a long time.

Apparently God also saw the need, having been so badly misrepresented. That was one of the express reasons God gave for having called a prophet in the modern era.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, I don't think the King James rendition of those verses is an accurate transcription of what Jesus said."

The original Greek says "this generation."

"If 99.99% of the testimony is of the supernatural and 0.01% is of the natural, then it would be unreasonable."

That isn't the case in the gospels. Most of the accounts have to do with Jesus' sayings and a portrayal of natural events.

The Bible makes a set of claims about Jesus. Most of the claims, what you call the 99.99%, are unfalsifiable. Very few of the claims, among them the claim that Jesus is a true prophet (your claim, actually) are falsifiable. If only 0.01% of the Bible's claims are falsifiable and are falsified, is it reasonable to write them off as some sort of error because the other 99.99% are not falsified? No, because the 99.99% aren't falsifiable anyway.

"On the one hand, he clearly stated that "no man knows" the hour of his second coming, not even the angels in heaven. He would not have then told them it would happen within a specific time period."

There is nothing inconsistent with the statements "no man knows the hour" and "the end will come within a generation." I don't know your birthday, but I know that you will have one within a year. See how that works?

"On the other hand, he was not in the habit of making false predictions. It was not consistent with his character or his track record."

We can't know that because most of his predictions were about events that had already occurred by the time the gospels were written. The only fair way to test him is with predictions about events that would occur after the gospels were written. He fails on that account.

"The four Gospels were written decades after the fact. It is reasonable to expect their authors worked from common sources to produce their verbatim accounts of what they had witnessed."

Yes, it is. But if we're going to distrust the verbatim accounts of the falsified predictions, we should definitely distrust the verbatim accounts of the miracles.

"Apparently God also saw the need, having been so badly misrepresented. That was one of the express reasons God gave for having called a prophet in the modern era."

Hmm. Maybe you shouldn't be so intent on refuting the fact that Jesus made a false prediction in the Bible. It's a nice precedent for making a false prediction in the Doctrine and Covenants:

"3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation."

Pops said...

A short parable:

Someone hears Neil Armstrong say, "The moon is not made of green cheese." He writes it down in his notebook for inclusion in a newspaper article he's writing about Armstrong's speech.

The person who transcribes from the notebook to the computer is interrupted mid-task and inadvertently leaves out the word "not". The article, as published, reads: "Neil Armstrong was heard to say, 'The moon is made of green cheese.'"

The article is picked up by the wire services and is published in the Seattle PI, the SF Chronicle, the LA Times, and Chicago Sun-Times. Nobody bothers to proof it beyond the first couple of paragraphs - it's boring stuff they've all read before. Another party collects the articles and triumphantly announces that the moon landing was faked, as proved by Armstrong's documented statement that he believes the moon to be made of green cheese. There are, after all, four published accounts to back the assertion, and all from different sources!

Oops.

Anonymous said...

False analogy. Armstrong's statement about the moon isn't the only testable claim about the moon landing. If it were, skepticism would be justified. In other words, if the only evidence for the moon landing were Armstrong's testimony, then we would be right to mistrust it. In contrast, Jesus's prediction about the end of the world is one of the few testable claims in the New Testament.

Pops said...

You missed the point, which is that in the parable Armstrong was misquoted due to clerical error, and the guy who relied on the propagated misquote drew an erroneous conclusion. The guy should have reserved judgment, given the obvious contradiction between the statement and what else is generally known about the moon and about Armstrong.

Anonymous said...

No, I got the point. The problem is with your invocation of "the obvious contradiction between the statement and what else is generally known about the moon and about Armstrong." What else is "generally known" comes from testable sources which are independent of Armstrong's testimony. Without those, we'd be justified in disregarding his testimony. There isn't an analogous set of testable sources that confirm that Jesus could make accurate predictions about the distant future, so there is no "obvious contradiction."