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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review of Adam S. Miller’s Future Mormon

One of the most interesting LDS books I've read in a long time is Adam S. Miller’s Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2016). My detailed review was just published at MormonInterpreter.com: "A Brighter Future for Mormon Theology: Adam S. Miller’s Future Mormon," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 21 (2016): 119-146. On the same day, The Interpreter also published another review by Ralph C. Hancock, "Beyond Agency as Idolatry," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 21 (2016): 147-153, which I like and recommend.

Miller, a professor of philosophy and a highly respected LDS thinker, gives us much to discuss and learn from in his short collection of essays. I especially liked his deep reading of Jacob 7, which nicely illustrates just how much there is to learn and consider in the Book of Mormon when we go beyond superficial reading. I also greatly appreciate his emphasis on and understanding of grace and charity. At the same time, there are some areas where I must disagree, particularly on his critique of Terryl Givens on the topics of the premortal existence and Darwinism. I hope you'll take a look and share your comments, and I also hope you'll read and think about Miller's important work.

48 comments:

Jude said...

I haven't read Miller, but I read your critique of Miller. Being a platonist, I like some aspects of the idea of a premortal existence, and in my experience as a Mormon, many latter day saints find it ennobling. They also use it to explain why people appear to be born into seemingly unjust conditions, but that's a topic for another day. There is a pervasive problem in Mormon culture, however, with procrastination of happiness. The idea that everything will be alright in the next life is used by many Mormons to settle for certain injustices in this life. One example of this relevant to current events is the church's stance on gay marriage. Their theodicy for the apparent injustice of being gay and not having all the opportunities of straight people in this life is that somehow it will get worked out in the next. This is exactly the sort of thinking that Nietzsche was criticizing, and its's hard to see how he was wrong about it.

Consider a thought experiment. Which perspective motivates a rational being to make the most happiness in the present life: 1) this life is all that there is, 2) there is a life to come, where any perceived injustice or lack of happiness will be compensated, 3) Nietzsche's eternal return, where everything that happens in this life will happen again an infinite number of times. We can rationalize an answer that accords with our preferred belief, but I see a tendency among many Mormons to postpone happiness.

Regarding your remarks on material and laws, and this applies to your remarks on evolution as well, many Mormons simultaneously entertain contradictory ideas about the role of God in creation. On the one hand, he is the great law giver and the existence of laws is evidence that there is a law giver. On the other hand, the laws are eternal, and God is an advanced engineer who has mastered them with his intelligence. Which is it? The approach of some Mormons to the question of evolution exemplifies this dilemma. I say "some" because the majority of believing Mormons, of course, do not accept that evolution occurred. They heard that evolution is wrong from over the pulpit for many years, and they didn't hear anybody later rescind those remarks from the pulpit.

Everything Before Us said...

On the one hand, he is the great law giver and the existence of laws is evidence that there is a law giver. On the other hand, the laws are eternal, and God is an advanced engineer who has mastered them with his intelligence. Which is it?

Precisely!

And do you want to know why there is this contradiction in Mormonism? It is as easy as pie to figure out.

Joseph Smith started out as a Christian, thus God is the law-giver. But Joseph Smith didn't end as a Christian, and thus God Himself is obedient to law.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jude,

You bring up some interesting points. I'd like to point out that we don't know the nature of the here-after so there will be gross assumptions whenever we talk about the nature of heaven, resurrection, etc.

It also sounds like you are mixing "laws" with "commandments." Laws are best understood in the context of the law of gravity for example. Humanity understands the law of gravity to such an extent that we can build sky scrapers, launch rockets, etc. The law of gravity is part of the framework of this universe so we as humans cannot break this law. We can understand it and after understanding it, we can do marvelous things that to the untrained eye might appear as breaking the law of gravity.

I don't know which laws govern heaven but I would have to guess that heaven isn't willy nilly, no holds barred type of place. But, when you mention that God has mastered laws but is obedient to them, what exactly are you referring to?

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

Steve..

I think we need to see some authoritative source in Mormonism telling us there is a difference between "law" and "commandment." Otherwise, I get the feeling that you are playing around with words in order to inadvertently promulgate terribly false doctrines about the nature of God.

Wouldn't be the first time this has happened. Not by you necessarily, but certainly by others (see the famous Oaks talk in which he slices and dices the words "sin" and "transgression" in a way that even he admits cannot be supported by scripture) So...let's see some sources.

Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

Yeah, I might be splitting hairs with semantics but the notion that the laws make up God and not the other way around doesn't make sense, or as I put it, God makes the commandments and the commandments don't make God. And what false doctrines about the nature of God would I be promulgating?

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

No it doesn't make sense. But we must learn to become Gods just as God did before us. So, I think Mormons are somewhat stuck with the idea that laws make Gods, that Gods do not make laws but rather pass them along.

CS Lewis deals with the heresy at the beginning of Mere Christianity. If there is a law that the righteous power adheres to and the wicked power departs from, then clearly both sides agree as to what those laws are. But who made the laws? If the laws are made by someone other than the righteous or the wicked power, that someone else is God. If the law is unmade, the law itself is God.

Either way, Mormons do not worship the Creator, but rather they worship the created.

Everything Before Us said...

CS Lewis says it better than I can. Even Paul eludes to this when he says that they have suppressed the knowledge of the Creator and have turned to worship the creature.

The Mormon God is a created being. He is not the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, on Earth and in Heaven. He is an lower-tier organizer. Someone or something else created all things. Christians worship the God that created all things. Mormons worship what would have to be considered a creation of that God.

Everything Before Us said...

Jeff,

I just want to say that the quote by Adam Miller that you included in your review in which he says that we need to ask the right questions about the church and the body of Christ is absolutely beautiful. I agree. We need to root all that we do in Christ. To the extent that Mormonism, or any religion, does this, they have nothing at all to worry about.

Thanks. I found this inspiring.

Steve said...

Sorry but unrelated comment re. your discussion of Abraham:

"The Babylonian Talmud reports that Gabriel pleased with God to rescue Abraham from the fiery furnace, but instead God went down Himself, but told Gabriel he would be allowed to deliver three of Abraham's descendants instead (p. 120)."

I think it should read “pleaded”.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Steve, many thanks for noting a typo on my Book of Abraham Evidences page at http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/boa.shtml. Fixed that. Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

EBU

It seems there are certain philosophical questions that religion is unable to answer. If God created all, did he create evil? Who created God? Mormons have asked the latter question but ended up just moving the bar back a bit with their answer that "as man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." One of my favorites is if God is an all-powerful creator, can he make a rock so big that not even he can lift it?

Everything Before Us said...

Yes, there are these philosophical conundrums pertaining to the nature of God and the origins/source of evil. St. Augustine was dealing with this stuff hundreds of years ago.

But I wasn't really addressing that. I was getting at the heart of the difference between Christianity and Mormonism. Is God an advanced human being, or is God a different type of being altogether?

It is a big question. The answer has profound ramifications for the rest of one's theology and soteriology. It isn't just that Mormons and Christians have different understanding of God...they have different Gods. The two conceptions of God are so different from each other that it isn't a matter of being off the bulls-eye. We are dealing with two different targets.

The Mormon God hasn't always been God.

The Christian God has always been God.

These are two different beings entirely.

If the Mormon God hasn't always been God, but became God through obedience to laws and ordinances, then we surely can't expect to become God except through the same means. Thus, where exactly does the Atonement come into play? For all practical purposes, where does it come into play?

Does grace only give us the power to obey and the chance to repent? Is that it? Is it really nothing more than the chance to get back up and try again? Well, by that logic, then our exaltion is achieved through works. Grace is only there to keep us from being damned when we screw up. But until we have mastered obedience, we get no exaltation. Grace looks more like simply a safety net. Or better yet...it looks like the cage in a cage-fight. It keeps us from getting thrown out of the arena. But as far as helping us actually win the fight...well...that is up to us. Keeping working. Keep trying.

For all practical purposes, this doesn't sound all that appealing. It kind of sounds impossible. How successful have you been at it so far? How much closer are you now toward finally mastering obedience? When do you plan on having this all tidied up?

In the next life? You think things will be even easier in the next life? If you have no reasonable chance of mastering obedience here, what makes you confident that you have time afterwards to keep working on it?

Anonymous said...

EBU

In both concepts of grace there are prerequisites to obtaining it. The overall concept is still the same. God gives us a gift through Christ for something we don't deserve. I don't think it's a radical idea to try to be perfect (Christ commanded us to be so)--it's a common theme among most major religions to try to be better and progress.

Everything Before Us said...

There are prerequisites to obtaining grace in both concepts, but the differences make all the difference, so to speak.

To be honest, I am not entirely sure most Mormons even know exactly how their own system works, or even what their system is, so prone to fluctuation has been the Mormon doctrine of salvation/exaltation. The fact that Brad Wilcox has to write an entire book on the subject because members he kept running into were so confused on the topic indicates that there is a serious problem.

And there is.

The question "Are you saved by grace?" should be a simple question to answer. Mormons would have a hard time answering that question without a qualifying statement tacked on at the end of their answer. They couldn't just say, "Yes!" They know that if they did, they'd be lumped in with the rest of the evangelical crowd/mainline Protestant crowd, and that just wouldn't do.

The fact that they want to distinguish themselves from the rest of Christianity with these qualifying statements is a clear indication that Mormons are NOT in agreement with the rest of Christianity. So,...why can't Mormons simply answer the question with a bold, confident "No"?

You are not "saved by grace." You are "saved by grace, but..."

So, no...the "overall concept," as you put it, is NOT the same. To say otherwise, as you did, is quite a bold statement. You are putting words into the mouths of Christians when you say that your Mormon concept of grace is basically the same. Christians are telling you..."No....it isn't."

A Christian who is a former Mormon (that's me) is telling you that no...it isn't.

In true Christianity, the prerequisite for grace is to stop trying to do something to earn it. When you understand deeply what that means, your whole world will come toppling down.


Pierce said...

EBU,

For all of the haunting you do on Mormon blogs, it's amazing to see you ignore all of the nuances found in Mormonism and mormon doctrine.
You know very well that to us grace means more than "only the power to obey and the chance to repent." You know full well there are many aspects to it, repentance only being one aspect. It inovlves changing our nature, and changing us into better beings. It heals wounds. It takes of the sinfulness that we cannot change or atone for ourselves. Etc, etc, etc.

The thing is, you don't want our teachings to be so nuanced and deep. You want to believe in the caricature you have drawn. It really is a spectacle to witness month after month, year after year.

"The question "Are you saved by grace?" should be a simple question to answer."

It's true that Mormons want to have a more nuanced discussion about the topic of salvation, because many protestants like to end a discussion on the salvation of the soul with "I accepted Jesus into my heart, so I know where I'm going." That doctrine is the antithesis to Christ's message, so we do like to discuss what Christ actually taught on the subject. You know full well that we aren't trying to "earn grace," but that we believe we have a part to play in our own transformation--something that Jesus constantly taught. Actually, that's pretty much ALL he taught.

Curiously, it took 4 gospels and a bunch of letters to sort out the question of salvation. Perhaps Jesus and Co. weren't good enough teachers that they couldn't just say "accept me into your heart (however you want to define it) and you'll be in heaven (whatever that means to you), guaranteed." Bam, one verse of scripture, cut out everything else and look how simple that would be.

But we both know there is much more to that. You criticize Mormon authors for expounding on the subject, and praise Lewis who did the exact same thing. He also seemed to think salvation as multi-faceted, which was really demonstrated by how he viewed the afterlife in the Great Divorce.

Everything Before Us said...

When you talk about "changing our nature and changing us into better beings," you are talking about sanctification, not justification. These are two different things.

What is justification, and how do you achieve it? I'll let you explain the Mormon view to me. What is justification, and how are you justified? Be thorough in your answer.

Anonymous said...

Before Pierce answers, EBU, I would like to know if you are admitting that there is something better than salvation? You seem to be saying one can be justified (saved) without being sanctified. That sounds like simultaneous salvation and damnation to me- you haven't achieved the best possible outcome if you're not sanctified, and therefore you are damned. I thought you were extremely opposed to the idea of there being something beyond salvation.

Everything Before Us said...

Anon.

It is Mormonism that has simultaneous salvation and damnation. Anything less than the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom is described in D&C 132 as damnation. Yet, D&C 76 says that all are saved in a degree of glory. So, if I am in the Terrestrial Kingdom, I am saved, yet I am also damned because I am not exalted.

Saved, but damned. How convenient. To non-members, you can talk about how all are saved. But when they become members, you can warn them how if they don't obey, they will be damned.

Salvation IS eternal life. The two terms are synonymous. They are used synonymously in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. If you have Christ, you have eternal life. This isn't even Paul's doctrine. It is John's.

I am not saying that one can be justified without being sanctified. I am saying that one who is justified begins the process of sanctification. But they are saved. They have eternal life.

Again...it is Mormon doctrine to preach that someone can be justified by not sanctified. That is Mormon doctrine. A man in the Telestial Kingdom is justified (saved). But he is not sanctified (exalted).

In Christianity, when one is justified, one will be brought back fully into the presence of God. In Mormonism, a justified soul is not necessarily brought back fully into the presence of God. He or she will only enjoy the presence of the Spirit or the presence of the Son, but not necessarily that of the Father.

This I find to be strange, since Jesus, according to Paul, possesses the fulness of divinity. He possesses the fullness of divinity, but souls (according to Mormonism) who cannot abide a fullness of divinity will be in his presence in the Terrestrial Kingdom? What?!




Pierce said...

I agree, I think the onus is on EBU to explain why a distinction is being made and what is meant by it. This conversation stemmed from a criticism that we are not simplistic enough in our salvation doctrine, so now I'm confused by this new distinction.
Besides, my simple refutation was not a complete exposition on our understanding of salvation, so it seems like you're straying from my point and are venturing off into the woods.

Pierce said...

"I am not saying that one can be justified without being sanctified. I am saying that one who is justified begins the process of sanctification."

Can you explain further what sanctification means to you, and how it differs from justification in the outcome of the afterlife? What does "begins the process mean" and what does sanctification lead to that justification does not fulfill?

Anonymous said...

@ EBU 10:21 am

There are a couple of premises you have based your argument upon that are problematic:

1) "The question 'Are you saved by grace?' should be a simple question to answer." Why? Says whom? As a responder above commented, if it were an easy answer, the Bible wouldn't contain so much doctrine.

2) "Mormons are NOT in agreement with the rest of Christianity."
I think the Mormon concept of grace is closer to the Catholic and traditional Protestant concept than the evangelical concept. You seem to be in the minority of Christian belief on the subject.

3) "In true Christianity, the prerequisite for grace is to stop trying to do something to earn it." This isn't true. The evangelical prerequisite is to accept Christ as your Savior. Not everyone earns grace in your concept either.

The big difference is the concept of accountability after conversion. You believe that it doesn't matter what you do, grace will make up for it. Mormons believe it does matter what you do--grace is given because God knows that even our best won't be good enough.

Everything Before Us said...

I agree, I think the onus is on EBU to explain why a distinction is being made and what is meant by it.

I would first be interested in seeing if I am understanding correctly. Are you saying that there isn't a distinction between justification and sanctification?

Pierce said...

The Mormon view of salvation and Atonement has many aspects even outside "justification" and "sanctification," and that is obvious, so I don't know why you're trying to steer us there in the first place. Your claim is that the true Christian salvation doctrine isn't nuanced, and that any discussion about it should be very cut and dry. Now you've made distinctions, acknowledging at least 2 different aspects of salvation, but not clarifying what roles each play in your salvation. The fact that you brought these distinctions up at all seems to have weakened your own criticism. So I think that needs to be cleared up before I answer any questions because this conversation is first and foremost about whether or not salvation is a complex subject.

Everything Before Us said...

Okay...I was unsure of where we were going, but you clarified.

No...I haven't acknowledged 2 different aspects of salvation. I've acknowledged one. Salvation is eternal life. Eternal life is salvation. But once saved, we are then rewarded for our labors.

Christians do not busy themselves trying to define these rewards, but that is what Joseph Smith did. Actually, he only managed to define one of these rewards. He gave us a fairly fleshed-out description of exaltation in D&C 76 and 132, but he really did absolutely nothing to describe anything other than exaltation. What are we going to be doing in the Terrestrial Kingdom? No one knows, except that we will be ministering angels.

What are we going to be doing in the Celestial Kingdom as exalted beings? Now...that is what Joseph Smith and others spent so much of their time explaining, didn't they? Yes...and their view of it is firmly rooted in the practice of polygamy. I am convinced that if there had been no Fanny Alger there would have been no eternal family doctrine.

But back to the main point: Salvation/eternal life is simple, at least in explanation. Being saved...inheriting eternal life...justification...these are all referring to the same thing. This is coming into a relationship with the living Christ. In other words, believing in him.

After one is brought into a right relationship with God/Christ, the Holy Spirit can begin the work of sanctifying that person. This is where works come into play. I am not sanctified by sitting on my duff. I am sanctified by going out into the world as a believer and living a Christian life. The good Christian works I perform, the love I share, is returned to me at the end of my life. These will be my rewards. I lay up my treasures in Heaven. If I have stored up more treasure in Heaven then Jim or Tom, I will be more richly rewarded then Jim or Tom. But Jim and Tom are still saved. They have eternal life. They are brought back into the full presence of God, just like I am, to enjoy life, community, relationship, love, peace, etc forever in the presence of the Father.

There is no hierarchically-structured afterlife where exalted human beings are served by ministering angels who were not worthy of a full-weight of glory. There is no afterlife where men and women are rewarded with thrones and powers, and where worthy men snatch up the wives of the less-worthy, which is what Brigham Young envisioned.

I must remind you...the afterlife you may try to describe to me is a Post-Manifesto construction that has been sanitized, washed, scrubbed-clean in order to have more appeal to a Christian audience. Be honest with me here.

You know that current sealing policy still has embedded in it the reality of a polygamous afterlife. You know that there are Mormon men who are still sealed to two living women. (Civilly divorced from first marriage, but still sealed, and remarried/sealed to a second wife.)

You know that the sealing ceremony gives the woman to the man, but does not give the man to the woman.

You know that a few of your leaders are essentially polygamists, being sealed to two women.

And you also know from reading 132 that the defining characteristic of the life of the exalted is plural marriage.

Do you really want to venture into a conversation where we describe for each other what our respective afterlives will be like? You can't do your own view justice unless you are willing to be honest, and admit that exaltation IS plural marriage.






Everything Before Us said...

3) "In true Christianity, the prerequisite for grace is to stop trying to do something to earn it." This isn't true. The evangelical prerequisite is to accept Christ as your Savior. Not everyone earns grace in your concept either.

I was speaking poetically. Yes...one must accept Christ as the Savior. But what does that look like? Reading a statement of belief off the back of a Chick Tract? Not necessarily.

To accept Christ is to give up the struggle, to stop trying to do something to earn it yourself. If you have to do something to be justified, it is no longer grace you are seeking, but you are seeking justification through your own works.

It can't be a combo. It can't. The two concepts are so fundamentally in opposition to each other, that to try to combine them, you nullifying both of them...and you are damned.

Take your pick. Works or grace. You are at a buffet. You have two options, but one spoon. And you can't dip the same spoon into both entrees.

Pierce said...

EBU, I'll get back to your response when I have enough time. But you said:

"To accept Christ is to give up the struggle, to stop trying to do something to earn it yourself. If you have to do something to be justified, it is no longer grace you are seeking, but you are seeking justification through your own works."

No, you're not. Not as a Christian, anyway. You're doing what Christ told you to do as his disciple and you're participating in your own transformation by exercising agency--a transformation that cannot be done without Christ, from rescuing you from original sin to helping you make better choices. You've gotten so hung up on a few of Paul's letters in which he was explicitly writing to some of the struggling branches of the church--where the message of Christ was in its infancy--that you all but make the majority of the teachings in the 4 gospels irrelevant. Christ is the one who described discipleship and salvation as a struggle, comparing it to a cross. He compared it to the eye of the needle. He talked about sheep and goats, righteousness and wickedness, rewards and punishments, the consequences of our choices. He described, in detail, what a man must do to enter life. And he never, not once, described an "exemption" for those who professed and are "justified." He was speaking directly to his followers. You and I are not greater than they.

Your simplistic claim that the idea of grace and works are so mutually exclusive that they are "in opposition to each other" is actually the opposite message that Jesus taught, and quite frankly is the opposite of what Paul taught when you stop isolating pet "grace" verses. Taken as a whole, the New Testament is a guidebook on how these concepts fit together and are a part of our salvation. It may not, however, fit with some modern interpretations.

Everything Before Us said...

you're participating in your own transformation by exercising agency

This is Mormon-speak. It is Brad Wilcox 101.

When does this transformative process end? At what point have you finally succeeded in being fully and completely obedient? Will you achieve this in this lifetime? Will you achieve it in the next life? And what role does the Blood of the Lamb play in this process?

If there were no Blood, your first sin would eternally damn you to Hell. But now, we have this cleansing Blood, and it simply provides a safety net. It keeps you out of Hell so that you can repent and change course. But how does the Blood help you change course? How does the Blood of the Lamb exalt you?

I don't think that it does, other than provide that safety net, like I said. How does the Blood of the Lamb stop you from fornicating again after you repented of it once? How does it keep you from disrespecting your wife for the 115th time? How did it stop my atheistic father-in-law from smoking, when my atheist father-in-law would come near to spitting on a cross? (My point being that I see a lot of non-believers succeeding in overcoming addictions without Christ when believers struggle day after day to do so with Christ).

I don't see any answers for this in Mormonism. But Mormonism needs to answer this question, because Mormons believe that they are exalted through Christ. How, then?

How, precisely, does the Atonement of Christ exalt you, and what role is grace playing in that process?

And how would you reconcile any of this with Romans, that says that we won't be released from this body of sin and death until we die, that we will continue to sin even though we know it is wrong, but that there is no condemnation for those who are alive in Christ?



Pierce said...

This is Mormon-speak. It is Brad Wilcox 101

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.”

-C.S. Lewis

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is."

-Irenaeus, Against Heresies

"16 It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God."
-Paul

How, precisely, does the Atonement of Christ exalt you, and what role is grace playing in that process?

Perhaps you view a full transformation as something that God's power cannot accomplish, or that He willingly withholds it, or that it somehow is of no benefit to humans. I believe differently. "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

And how would you reconcile any of this with Romans, that says that we won't be released from this body of sin and death until we die, that we will continue to sin even though we know it is wrong, but that there is no condemnation for those who are alive in Christ?

It is your own willful misconception that Mormons believe that we will achieve some sort of perfection and sinlessness in this life.

Anonymous said...

@ EBU 9:11 AM,

"To accept Christ is to give up the struggle, to stop trying to do something to earn it yourself." This statement is contrary to what Paul taught:

Philippians 2:12
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

This is a letter to the saints in Phillipi. They were already converted. In the evangelical view, they should have already been saved by grace. What need then to continue to "work out [their] own salvation" in his absence?

Everything Before Us said...

How funny it is that you are quoting a self-professed Trinitarian who was unabashed in his membership in the Church of England, (which teaches salvation by grace through faith alone) and an early Christian Father who taught that God was uncreated, uncontained, and invisible, to try to prove to me the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression, in which we learn that God was once a man who achieved Godhood by obedience to laws and ordinances, and now he has a body of flesh and bone and can (and has) been seen. That is really sad.

By the way, when Paul talks about the "sons of God," he is referring to the doctrine of Adoption. In Romans and Galatians both, he makes it very clear that the "sons of God" are ADOPTED into the family through belief in Christ. Human beings are not natural or biological sons of God, as Mormons profess. Only Jesus Christ is the natural or biological son of God. That is why he is called the Only Begotten. The rest of us are part of God's creation. Jesus, the Word who WAS God, took upon himself human nature (he was not naturally human to begin with. God and humans are not of the same species) in order that we as humans could partake of God's nature, which is Holiness.

You don't believe Christians, nor their doctrine. Stop using it to support Mormonism.

Everything Before Us said...

"Work out" doesn't mean "work for."

When you "work out" the day, you are not "working for" the day. See what I mean?

Notice the possessive. "Your salvation." The Philippians already possessed salvation. But they weren't dead yet.

Paul did not believe in "once saved, always saved." Nor do I. I do believe in such a thing as a "fall from grace." There is a point in which one can slip from the salvation so freely granted. This is called the unpardonable sin. Paul talks about it. Peter suggests the same.

But that is between God and the individual.

Anonymous said...

@ EBU,

"Take your pick. Works or grace. You are at a buffet. You have two options, but one spoon. And you can't dip the same spoon into both entrees."

I'm not sure why I have to live by your rules? Luckily, there are a plethora of buffets. If yours doens't allow me to sample both, I can choose one that does. :^)

I like to think of it as chocolate=works and grace=peanut butter. They're both good by themselves, but dip one into another and you've got one delicious (heavenly) buttercup.

Anonymous said...


"Work out" doesn't mean "work for."

When you "work out" the day, you are not "working for" the day. See what I mean?

Notice the possessive. "Your salvation."

1) Salvation is an individual thing--I'm the only one responsible for my salvation (with Christ's help, of course). Ergo the possessive "Your salvation."

2) If "work out" = review, as you imply, why would they need to do it with "fear and trembling"? If they're already saved, wouldn't it be a joyful thing to work out?

Pierce said...

"The good Christian works I perform, the love I share, is returned to me at the end of my life. These will be my rewards"

Sorry, I'm not understanding what you're saying here. Sounds more like karma. But my question is, if someone who is merely justified, but didn't live a Christian life, receives of the same fulness of God that you do, what more can you possibly gain? I know you acknowledged that you don't really know what this means, but you've either received a fullness or you haven't. And if you truly don't know what rewards mean, then isn't it possible that Joseph and others before him might be correct about doctrines like theosis? The scriptures seem to point that way, if nothing else (I would even argue that they outright teach it, but I'm willing to meet half way for the sake of argument).

If I have stored up more treasure in Heaven then Jim or Tom, I will be more richly rewarded then Jim or Tom. But Jim and Tom are still saved. They have eternal life. They are brought back into the full presence of God, just like I am, to enjoy life, community, relationship, love, peace, etc forever in the presence of the Father

I suppose this goes back to the question of what salvation really means, and how it is obtained. A person who accepts Jesus as savior, but who willingly rebels against him anyway, CANNOT fully enjoy life, community, relationship, love, peace, or be in the presence of the Father because "where their treasure is, there will their hearts be also." They have used their agency to embrace the things of the world. But if they truly want God help them change their nature and embrace the things of God and atone for their sins, then it will happen. Mormonism believes in a post-mortal world where that is possible. How many times did Christ warn people to change their nature, such as the young rich man who asked what he should do to inherit life, but was disappointed that it required him to give up the things of the world and follow Christ? I don't really see what you're describing taught consistently in the Gospels.

There is no hierarchically-structured afterlife where exalted human beings are served by ministering angels who were not worthy of a full-weight of glory. There is no afterlife where men and women are rewarded with thrones and powers...

You seem to know a lot about the afterlife. Have you been having visions??

2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
-1 Cor 6

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
-Revelation 20

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
-Revelation 3

That last one is a bit of a doozy, it even talks about overcoming things similar to what Christ had to overcome. It sounds like *gasp* a struggle! I don't know EBU, I see thrones, I see a hierarchy over angels, I see overcoming. Sure, people can interpret these things differently, but within the framework of modern revelation, there is a harmony.

You can't do your own view justice unless you are willing to be honest, and admit that exaltation IS plural marriage

Hm, I don't remember making any such covenants regarding having more than one wife. And there is no marriage IN heaven. But if you say so, I should probably let my wife know.

Anonymous said...

"You don't believe Christians, nor their doctrine. Stop using it to support Mormonism."

I will quote whomever I please to illustrate my ideas, and that includes a church Father. If I'm talking with a Muslim, youbetter believe I'm quoting Mohammed and their califs.

That whole response was ad hominem and strawman beating. Did you run out of things to say?

Everything Before Us said...

I like to think of it as chocolate=works and grace=peanut butter. They're both good by themselves, but dip one into another and you've got one delicious (heavenly) buttercup.

Okay...fine. That's cute. But do you get to boast about how great your chocolate is? If not, why not? You made it, didn't you?

You still have to deal with this, though..."if by grace, it is no longer by works...if by works, it is no longer by grace."

Anonymous said...

Two can play that game:

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Everything Before Us said...

Hm, I don't remember making any such covenants regarding having more than one wife. And there is no marriage IN heaven. But if you say so, I should probably let my wife know.

I think you need to have a good sit-down with D&C 132. And I think you should also figure out what could possibly be implied in the fact that you were never sealed to your wife, but she was sealed to you. She gave herself. You received her. This exchange did not operate in both directions.

And just to strengthen the argument, consider that during the Temple Lot Case Lorenzo Snow was adamant to the point of holding up the questioning until it was very clear that men were NOT sealed to women, but that women were sealed to the men.

It is a common misconception that sealing goes both ways. It doesn't. The woman gives herself to the man. The man receives her to himself. Not the other way around.

Here is the transcript:

218 Q:-You state now that Joseph Smith was sealed or married to your sister in April 1843, and this so-called revelation was given in July of 1843?
A:-No Sir.
219 Q:-What do you mean by that answer?
A:-I mean sir tha[t] I did not make any such statement.
220 Q:-What time did you say it was?
A:-Well the time I said it was was all right.
221 Q:-At the time that he said he was sealed to your sister you were abroad preaching?
A:-I never said anything of the kind.
222 Q:-And you said did you not, that you came back in the month of April 1843 from your European mission, and on your return, or a few days after your return he took you aside and told you of of this alleged revelation and at the same time told you that he was sealed to your sister?
A:-I never said he was sealed to my sister,-you were mistaken if you understood me to say that.
223 Q:-Well you that he told you that he had taken your sister?
A:-Yes sir.
224 Q:-Yes sir, and that is what you said he told you?
A:-Yes sir, and that is what he did tell me.
225 Q:-That he had taken your sister?
A:-Yes sir.
226 Q:-And she was sealed to him?
A:-Yes sir, that is it exactly. Now you have got it,-she was sealed to him.
227 Q:-Now then according to your understanding of this new covenant the woman is sealed to the man, and not the man to the woman?
A:-Yes sir, you are right now, and I am very happy that you have got right for once.

What do you think, Pierce? You were not sealed to your wife. How do you feel about that? How will she feel about that when you explain this to her?

Anonymous said...

"You still have to deal with this, though...'if by grace, it is no longer by works...if by works, it is no longer by grace.'"

Taken by itself, this is a great illustration that salvation cannot come by one aspect alone. It is a combination of grace and works (a buttercup).

Your quote was provided without any context. It is part of Paul's explanation to the Romans why Gentiles and Israelites can both qualify for salvation. Actually, it illustrates that salvation has come to the Gentiles as a result of a failing in the house of Israel. Their belief was that salvation was a birthright, but Paul was arguing that the birthright (works) can only take you so far. Belief is required as well. He doesn't ever argue, however that the birthright (works) isn't important. He emphasizes that the Gentiles must be grafted into the tree of the birthright to achieve it. Jews can't be saved by birthright alone; and Gentiles can't be saved by belief alone.

Your deal. . .

Everything Before Us said...

Anon...yes, I know the context of the passage I presented. I presented it because it gives us insight into what Paul means when he uses the word "grace."

And frankly, you have so totally botched it and twisted it to mean the complete opposite of what it is saying, it actually makes me sick.

I didn't quote the full passage. It really says this, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."

Under what conditions is grace no longer grace? Under the condition of works getting involved.

Grace is not grace if works are involved. I'll repeat that...grace is no longer grace if works are involved.

That you can read this and see just the opposite scares me. It really does.

The point of Romans 11 is to tell the Gentiles that they had better not look down up on the Jews.

Everything Before Us said...

God has preserved a remnant according to his GRACIOUS choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works....It is no longer on the basis of works.

Everything Before Us said...

I don't know why I continue to bother with this. You guys go on about your merry way so confident in your boy polygamous prophet. Your church is true. That is all you need to know. Of course, none of you can explain exactly what it means to have a church that is "true." Your leaders have been teaching contradictory doctrine since the beginning so surely it can't mean that the doctrine is what is true. You can't agree on your doctrine. God is an eternal being from all eternity to all eternity. But there was a time when God wasn't God, but was sweating it out on an earth trying to obey laws and ordinances.

Good luck. You need to clean your house. Figure it all out and come back then. Quit worrying about your wordplay and your clever puns and your Early Modern English. Figure out whether God is really eternal or not. Start there...

I find it interesting that you quote Christians to support your Mormon beliefs, but I never once have to refer to a Mormon quote to support my Christian beliefs. Why is that?

Think about it...why is that?

You are outside the club. You know it. You desperately want to be seen as being inside the club. Your Mormon forefathers would be rolling over in their graves. They wanted nothing to do with the Christian world. They mocked it in the temple ceremony until 1990, showing a Protestant minister in the employ of Satan, and mocking the language of some of the creeds as being nonsense. They lambasted it, calling it the whore, the Devil, etc. They told people that the fast track to Hell is to receive an ordinance from the hands of the apostate ministers.

These early Mormon leaders...they'd want nothing to do with your ecumenism. Stop coming cap-in-hand to the Christian world, hoping to be let in. Your faith began with a single statement that called our creeds corrupt and our pastors an abomination. Stand by that statement. Be true to yourselves. I will actually like it better that way. I will certainly have more respect for you. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

So, using the text you presented as evidence (Romans 11), show me how my interpretation is incorrect. I used the text to support my interpretation--you do the same.

Pierce said...

Haha wow EBU. Showing your true colors there. Guess your emotions won't let you have a civilized conversation that stays on topic.

Never go full anti

Jeff Lindsay said...

Everything, your tone and volume have become inappropriate again. We get it: our beliefs do not comply with your ca. 5th century Neoplatonic metaphysical formulations about God, therefore we are bad people doomed to fail the great metaphysical final exam that will separate the Heavenly Elite Christian Club from the lost souls who are trying to follow Christ with a flawed philosophical framework. Heaven help those poor devils who think they should strive to "keep the commandments" and who don't get that Christ was just being tricky or something when he told people to do that. You have made this point and hurled your invectives from your perch on the tower of condemnation, and done this so long that it is truly wearisome. Let's move on now.

Everything Before Us said...

Moving on...

The Five Darrington's said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Everything Before Us said...

Just for the record, the above comment that was deleted was not mine. I have been behaving myself. But man...I'd love to have seen it before it was removed.