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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Egyptian Context for the Book of Abraham: Why Hor, Priest of Thebes, Might Want an Abraham Text

One of the important but often overlooked issues in the debate over the origins of the Book of Abraham is why the ancient Egyptian owner of the Joseph Smith papyri might have been interested in a biblical figure like Abraham.  Egyptians in general were not, but in Hor's era and vicinity, a group of priests were fascinated with biblical lore. Hor, the Egyptian priest in Thebes around the 2nd century B.C., owner of the papyri that Joseph Smith would later obtain, had interests and motives that add plausibility to the notion that he might have had an interest in Abraham lore. An academic publication, for those who demand such things, from an LDS Egyptologist, is Kerry Muhlenstein, "Abraham, Isaac, and Osiris-Michael: The Use of Biblical Figures in Egyptian Religion," in Achievements and Problems of Modern Egyptology, ed. Galina A. Belova (Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences, 2012), 259. A version of this paper was published by the Maxwell Institute as Kerry Muhlenstein, "The Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I," Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22/1 (2013), 20-33. (The link is to the PDF document with several helpful figures, including an Egyptian scene of a lion couch with Abraham listed among the names below it; a text-only HTML version is also available.)

Critics have alleged that Egyptians would not create scrolls about Abraham and that the whole idea of a Book of Abraham from ancient Egypt is ridiculous. They have also raised the objection that the Book of Abraham is allegedly from the very old era of the Patriarchs, while the Joseph Smith papyri date to around 200 BC or later. Muhlenstein's work helps resolve these objections. Here is his abstract, followed by the conclusion, both taken from the Maxwell Institute version of the paper (footnotes omitted):
Abstract
 Throughout its history, ancient Egyptian religion showed a remarkable capacity for adopting new religious ideas and characters and adapting them for use in an already existing system of worship. This process continued, and perhaps accelerated, during the Greco- Roman era of Egyptian history. Egyptian priests readily used foreign religious characters in their rituals and religious formulas, particularly from Greek and Jewish religions. Religious texts demonstrate that Egyptian priests knew of both biblical and nonbiblical accounts of many Jewish figures—especially Jehovah, Abraham, and Moses—by about 200 bc. Knowing this religio-cultural background helps us understand how the priest in Thebes who owned Joseph Smith Papyrus I would have been familiar with stories of Abraham.
Conclusions
While there is much more research to be done, a few things have become clear in this survey that are of interest to Latter-day Saints. First, in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, biblical stories and characters were employed in Egyptian religious practice. These stories and characters were added to the already existing repertoire of Egyptian, Canaanite, and Greek gods and mythical characters. Biblical figures were used in a manner similar to Egyptian figures. They were used in a variety of contexts with no clear pattern emerging. Two of the characters who loom largest in the Jewish canon—Abraham and Moses—were used in contexts that were in keeping with their biblical stories. These uses demonstrate that the creators of these religious texts were thoroughly familiar with both canonical and noncanonical texts about these characters. Our current evidence indicates that a group of priests from Thebes possessed, read, understood, and employed biblical and extrabiblical texts, most especially texts about Abraham and Moses.

This process likely began around 200 BC and continued for hundreds of years in a pattern that eventually morphed into Christian practices in Egypt. While a few textual examples from elsewhere in Egypt suggest that this practice was widespread, at this time our sample of evidence only allows us to make these conclusions for the Theban area, the area in which the priest who owned the original of Facsimile 1 lived and served. Further discoveries may allow us to refine or expand these conclusions.

As a result of these conclusions we can better understand why Hor, a Theban priest in 200 BC, would possess papyrus associated with Abraham. He was a product of his times who was informed by his culture and in turn had opportunity to inform that culture. His interest in biblical characters and his possession of both biblical and nonbiblical stories about these characters was part of his occupation. Hor would undoubtedly have been interested in any religious stories that could have been incorporated into, and thus given more power to, his priestly duties.

Interestingly, we know that Hor was involved with rituals that had to do with calling on preternatural aid to ward off potential evil forces. These rituals often involved either real or figurative human sacrifice. Now that we know that priests from Hor’s era and geographic location would have used biblical figures to augment their religious rituals and spells, we better understand why he would have been interested in the story depicted on Facsimile 1, that of a biblical figure who was saved from sacrifice by divine intervention. It is likely that Hor sought out appropriate stories, and then used his knowledge of the story of Abraham to add further numinous power to his appeal for preternatural aid in keeping destructive forces at bay. Hor’s possession of this drawing matches what we would expect of a priest in this time and place based on the understanding of that culture gained from this study.
How interesting that the one time and place in ancient Egypt where we know priests to have been employing biblical figures in Egyptian documents, ca. 200 B.C. in Thebes, corresponds to the time and place of the Egyptian owner of the Joseph Smith papyri. It's also interesting that Abraham was one of the popular figures to include. It's also interesting that the themes of the translated Book of Abraham appear to be the kind of thing that the priest Hor was interested in.

Muhlenstein's work provides a helpful background for understanding the nature of the relevant Egyptian documents involved in the Book of Abraham.

40 comments:

Everything Before Us said...

Interestingly, we know that Hor was involved with rituals that had to do with calling on preternatural aid to ward off potential evil forces. These rituals often involved either real or figurative human sacrifice.

So, the Book of Abraham comes from the shelves of an Egyptian priest who may have practiced human sacrifice, and possibly used this text as a means of augmenting these rituals.

I am confused by LDS fascination with ancient Egypt.

Anonymous said...

There's a fun bit of irony here. Critics have been quick to point to the dating of the scrolls as evidence against the Book of Abraham. And, while LDS scholars have (IMO) offered good explanations for the disparity in the dating, now, with this added light, the critics' nuptial commitment to that theory is going to be challenged more than ever.

Jack

Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

No reason to be confused about the LDS fascination with ancient Egypt as here is a run down of some events that took place in Egypt:

- Joseph sold into Egypt
- Moses and delivering the people out of Egypt
- Lehi's learning of Egyptian writing style
- Joseph and Mary's flight to Egypt
- Israel's conflict with Egypt both anciently and modernly
- Book of Abraham papyrus coming from Egypt
- Ancient Egypt as a major power in the region
- Jewish diaspora in Egypt

Besides, what's not to be fascinated about? Ancient Egypt had a long, rich culture that influenced the area for thousands of years.

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

Here is the problem with this fascination with Egypt:

Egypt is representative of something in the Bible that is important to understand so that one can properly distinguish between the "wisdom of the world," and the "wisdom of God."

Both the Israelites and Christ were brought out of Egypt. They both went into Egypt for refuge, but then were brought out.

You are reading with an emphasis on pure historical fact. But there is a symbolic or metaphorical reading that you are missing and which I believe is very important.

For those who are interested in the occult, Egypt is very important. It is considered to be the "cradle of Occultism." Thomas Burgoyne, a 19th Century British occultist, spirit medium, and astrologist even compiled a wealth of occult knowledge in a 2-volume set titled "The Light of Egypt."

This isn't just a 19th Century phenomenon, thought. We know from the story of Moses that Pharaoh had magicians that had sufficient power to imitate the miracles performed by Moses. The magician's rods became serpents. There was some dark power available to them. So, the Egyptian Priesthood was not simply a defunct vestige of a real Priesthood. It was something real.

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Everything Before Us said...

The Israelites and Jesus Christ are both brought into Egypt for refuge. In fact, Moses, as an infant, is given refuge in the heart of Egypt itself: Pharoah's palace. But both are then brought out of Egypt by acts of God. Matthew even refers to the Old Testament passage in Matt 2:15 that shows that the "Son" would be brought "out of Egypt."

Moses came out of Egypt, and through Moses came the Law. Christ came out of Egypt, and through Christ came grace and truth. (John 1:17) Both covenants came after a flight out of Egypt. This isn't just historical coincidence. There is something very profound here, and to miss it would be dangerous.

In Jeremiah 42 and 43, we find the Prophet commanding the remnant of Judah to remain in Judah,and not go into Egypt. Against the word of the Jeremiah, Johanan leads the people into Egypt anyway. In 44, Jeremiah prophecies that most of the Jews who fled to Egypt will be destroyed because of their worship of a false God.

Egypt here is again spiritually pitted against the Lord's people in a symbolic way. Egypt is not the place to go. It is representative of a type of wickedness that is offensive to God.

And even in the Christian era, Christianity itself was corrupted by the Gnostic tendencies of Egypt. Gnostic Christianity, with its belief in aeons and strange Creation/Fall of Man accounts, its denial of the divinity of the man Jesus of Nazareth, and its emphasis on occult knowledge given only to an elite class, flourished in Egypt. The Church at Alexandria was a hotbed of Christian Gnostic thought.

I am not the only one who sees strong Gnostic influences within Mormonism. It has been rather well-documented. Gnostic thought plays a prominent role in occultic thinking. And Mormonism has deep ties to the same. This has been thoroughly documented in The Refiner's Fire, and Early Mormonism and the Magic World View.

Egypt is the symbolic center of the occultic sciences. We are to flee "out of Egypt" in order to come into covenant with the one true God. Yet, Mormonism flees into Egypt for so much of its esoteric teaching. Hugh Nibley fled into Egypt to find historical precedent for Mormon temple rituals.

This isn't a good thing. If you understand the symbolic significance of Egypt in relation to the Lord's people in the Bible, when you see Egypt, you'd turn the other way and run.

Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

Why is Egypt symbolic of being delivered from in general but also a place to seek refuge? These two thoughts seem opposed to each other. I understand that Moses and the Israelites were delivered from Egypt but there is no such wording when Joseph, Mary, and Christ came back to Israel from Egypt.

A lot of people see Gnostic similarities with Mormonism. This is not a unique view. There are a lot of differences too. A lot of Gnostic beliefs had their roots in Greek philosophies and not from the ancient Egyptian religion.

I can't comment about Egypt being the symbolic center for the occult as I am not familiar with the occult. What little I know about ancient Egyptian mythologies is that they are mostly pretty foreign to Christianity (and I throw Mormonism in there too for good measure) with the exception of the idea of a resurrection. Furthermore, when I go inside LDS themed bookstores, I do not find any books about the occult and very few books about Egypt and what books I find about Egypt are in relation to the patriarchs that spent time in Egypt. I believe Hugh Nibley wrote a book about Egypt but I haven't read it. I can say that I have never had a Sunday school lesson that focused on esoteric Egyptian teachings.

So, I will continue to pick here and there about Egyptian stuff (along with other ancient religions out of curiosity), I'll also go trick or treating on Halloween with my kids and search for Easter eggs on Easter. I'll continue to attend sacrament meeting on the Sabbath to partake of the sacrament to remember the atonement that our Lord has done.

Steve




Anonymous said...

The book of Abraham was held at a place of refuge and preserved in Egyot and brought out of Egypt to provide light to the World about creation, God's purposes and our eternal history and destiny.

That all fits with the theory that good things went into and subsequently came out of Egypt for the benefit of the world.

You can imagine someone almost 2000 years ago saying, Egypt is the occult and if this man called Jesus sought refuge in the land of the occult as a child and now performs miracles as God, he's clearly got a pharoah complex and is linked to the occult himself.

It's not my view, but your naysaying logic now wouldn't bring you closer to Christ if you lived in his day and employed it as you do now.

Everything Before Us said...

I can say that I have never had a Sunday school lesson that focused on esoteric Egyptian teachings.


Yes, you have. But considering your lack of knowledge with the occult, you don't realize it.


Everything Before Us said...

Why is Egypt symbolic of being delivered from in general but also a place to seek refuge? These two thoughts seem opposed to each other. I understand that Moses and the Israelites were delivered from Egypt but there is no such wording when Joseph, Mary, and Christ came back to Israel from Egypt.

The 12 sons of Israel left the land promised to them to seek refuge in Egypt. They were enslaved. They had to leave and return to claim their promised land.

Jesus was taken out of the promised land to seek refuge in Egypt. But he was brought back out of Egypt to the promised land.

This is symbolic of the Garden, the World, and the restored Earth. The human race, according to the legend, starts in the promised land (Eden), falls by seeking refuge in the world, and must be brought out of the world back into a paradisaical relationship (Edenic) with God.

All of us must cease seeking refuge in the world. We must leave the world. Exodus. This is all powerful symbolism. Bibically, Egypt is symbolic of the sort of counterfeit refuge we find in the wisdom of the world, which mimics the wisdom of God in corrupt ways.

A lot of Gnostic beliefs had their roots in Greek philosophies and not from the ancient Egyptian religion.

I am not an historian. But I do teach Art History at the college level. The Greeks were students of the Egyptians. This is made very clear in the evolution of the Greek artistic style. The Greeks, in their ancient early days, were greatly influenced by Egyptian thought.

But it is simply not true that Gnosticism had no ties with Egypt. The earliest Gnostics may have been Egyptian and Babylonion. It is possible that Gnosticism predates Christianity.



Everything Before Us said...

I can say that I have never had a Sunday school lesson that focused on esoteric Egyptian teachings.

Thomas Burgoyne. The Light of Egypt. Late 19th C. Read it.

He talks about how male and female joined together eternally progress, (yes...he actually says, and I quote, "eternal progression.") He says their word becomes law in the universe. He says that male energies can never manifest in the physical world as female persons, nor can female energy manifest in the physical world as men, thus mimicking the idea that gender is an eternal attribute our our existence. He says that no worldly success can compensate for failure to properly use our sexual capabilities, that sexual disharmony between men and women produce all manner of spiritual discord in the world. He also says that the safest place to practice the channeling of spirits is within the family circle.

He teaches that the purpose of creation is to bring about an ultimation of Deific "intelligencies," which are separate minds possessing "mortal souls capable of eternal progression" who will become "secondary creators and the arbitrators of the destinies of worlds." So, humankind will create worlds, establish law, etc.

He writes, "...when speaking broadly of spirit and matter, the terms are perfectly unmeaning in an occult sense, for that which we call spirit is not pure spirit, but only the positive or acting attribute of that which we term matter." He says pure spirit is diffusive, eternal, and that there is no real distinction between spirit and matter. Spirit is matter.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

So, yes...indeed. You have studied esoteric Egyptian teachings in Sunday School. You just don't realize it.

And of course you aren't going to find occult books at LDS-themed bookstores. Why do you think that is the case? The leaders do not want you to know the origins of your "unique" Mormon doctrines.

Mormonism and Christianity share some core beliefs. But at a certain junction, Mormonism and Christianity part ways. Where Mormonism and Christianity part ways is where Mormonism walks hand-in-hand with the occult.

Find this book. Read it.

Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

Art and philosophy are two separate disciplines. While the Greeks may have been influenced by Egyptian art, it sounds like the other way around when it comes to Gnosticism (gnosis is a Greek word by the way).

It appears that the only relation that the book "The Light of Egypt" has in relationship to Egypt is in its title. It appears to bear no other resemblance to Egypt.

As far as the deification of man, this teaching is not unique to the occult, nor Mormonism nor early Christianity nor the ancient Egyptian religion (if they did teach that) and it is my hypothesis that remnants of this teaching is still found in the Catholic Church when they go through the process of beatification and sanctification. I don't mind if Thomas's book taught that spirit is matter. If we believe that our spirits exist then it makes sense that it would be made up of a different type of matter than what we are used to.

I have to say that I have not had Sunday school lessons in how I am supposed to get along with my wife in quite the same way that Thomas's book describes.

To say that Mormonism and the occult walk hand in hand is a bit of a hyperbole.

Steve

Everything Before Us said...

Art and philosophy are two separate disciplines.

No they are not. Art is nothing more than philosophy clothed in tangible, visual form.

You cannot separate the two. The Egyptians made the kind of art they did because of their philosophy. Greek art began to look less "Egyptian" around the same time the Greeks began to enter into new philosophical territory. And Roman art reflects beautifully Roman thought.

You will find existentialism expressed visually in Post-war European art. Enlightenment thought is manifested in art. Marxism shows up in the visual arts. Postmodern art is the best thing to show someone to whom you are trying to explain postmodernism, because it perfectly captures and visually summarized the spirit of postmodern thought. This is rarely a conscious effort on the part of the artist.

Read Hegel. He lectured about this stuff. Art is one expression of the "zeitgeist" or the "spirit of the times." Religion is another. Philosophy most fully and accurately expresses the zeitgeist, he said, but art makes the zeitgeist most accessible to everyone. Hegel...Lectures on the Fine Arts.



Everything Before Us said...

It appears that the only relation that the book "The Light of Egypt" has in relationship to Egypt is in its title. It appears to bear no other resemblance to Egypt.


The deification of man isn't the problem as it is understood by those Christians who teach it. C. S. Lewis comes very close to teaching this in Mere Christianity, and I am pretty much in line with Lewis personally. It is the logic of the incarnation. The Divine became human so that the human could become divine. Peter says we "partake of the divine nature."

But Christians, none of them, will teach that the Divine was first human. This sets up a logical problem that has yet to be sufficiently dealt with. If the human became divine, where was the divine at the beginning of all things? Well...there wasn't any divinity at all at the beginning, because there wasn't any beginning. It is the infinite regression of Gods. If there is no First Cause, there is no effects at all. None. It is an impossibility. There has to be something at the beginning that is not effected by anything else, but is the cause of all other effects.

If you need to borrow my book, but I must first get it from Gary, who needs to get it from Tom, who needs to take it from Sally, back into eternity, there is no book at all to borrow. The book doesn't exist.

Even Thomas Burgoyne knew this, and Burgoyne's teachings insist on a First Cause, though he never calls it by this name.

Mormonism has no First Cause, though. Mormonism has a Man for a God. Thus Mormonism has no God at all in any Judeo-Christian sense of the word.

Burgoyne claims that the doctrines he expounds upon in his book come out of Egypt. Did they for real? That's up for debate, of course. I suspect this is more myth than fact, but regardless, I've already laid out what I think on this matter sufficiently. The important thing is that Egypt is given credit as the origin of these doctrines. I believe the origins go back further than that even.

Anonymous said...

Hi EBU,

Current philosophies will be shown in the art, I agree to that. The style of the art will be done with current methods. I had assumed that the style of the time was reflected in how both Egyptian art and Greek art were done. I think that philosophy comes first and then the art represents the philosophy. You are trying to say that the art came first and then the philosophy followed.

It does appear that the occult has a fascination with Egypt. You are trying to state that Mormonism is occultish and trying to also state that Mormons have a fascination with Egypt. Furthermore, you seem to be stating that anything Egyptian is occult and therefore evil. How about the proposal that anything pagan is not of God so that we don't limit ourselves to just Egypt?

Steve

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that Mormons must believe in an infinite regression of gods. But, even so, said regression is no more incomprehensible than an all powerful God who is without beginning. We simply don't possess the faculties to comprehend the infinite. We don't comprehend the Big Bang or an infinite universe -- and, yet, here we are stuck in the middle if it however we choose to define it. Though reason is useful in helping us discern the nature of God, ultimately, only revelation can reveal His true nature and our relationship to Him.

Re: Occultism -- I agree that much of occultic beliefs and practices predate Egypt. In fact, I believe that there have always been some kind of occultic spin-offs from the gospel in every age. And the fact (IMO) that most occultic beliefs are corrupted spin-offs from the *gospel* is precisely what makes them interesting. We're not pursuing the occult per se. We're seeking for gems of the gospel amidst the refuse of corrupted liturgy. And, in so doing, our hope is that we will put together a puzzle that offers a relatively clear picture of what the primal religion in its pure form really looked like. And, IMO, there's already enough evidence to suggest that it looked very much like the gospel Joseph Smith restored. In other words, Adam was a Christian who, ultimately, received the fulness of the gospel.

Jack

Everything Before Us said...

You are trying to say that the art came first and then the philosophy followed.

I don't know what makes you think I am trying to say that. I am actually trying to say that philosophy and art are both products of something deeper that runs through a civilization. Hegel called it "zeitgeist." Philosophy as an academic practice is a little more forced than the general philosophy of a group of people, but still, it isn't like a civilization can simply choose to believe anything at any given moment. Not everything is possible in all ages. That isn't my idea...it comes from Gombrich, an art historian, and it applies, I believe, to more than just artistic style.

To try to clarify more of what I am trying to say, I think that there is a wisdom that makes sense to the mind of mankind. This wisdom can be summarized by the Greek idea that "Man is the measure of all things." I believe that this concept is at the root of occultic wisdom. The occult starts and ends with man. There may be different conceptions of a divine being, depending upon the different traditions within the occult, but ultimately the occult concerns itself with man and what can be observed around man, and it attempts to make sense of this in very limited ways. These ways are as limited as man's understanding.

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Everything Before Us said...

I believe in the evolution of species, and therefore, I think there was a time in the history of man far back in time when humans began to have a consciousness of themselves as something different than animals. For an example that hits closer to home, in the Renaissance, Europeans, especially Italians, began to have a sense of their place in history as something distinct from the period (Middle Ages) that came before. Historians call this "Renaissance-consciousness. They came out of the Middle Ages, but more importantly, they realized they had come out of the Middle Ages. They understood their place in history. This awareness of our place in history is the sign that a new stage of human civilization began, and this is why the Modern Period is sometimes marked to have begun in the Renaissance.

But if human beings evolved from lower life forms, then there had to have been a moment in the distant past where humans became conscious of their new place in relation to the life around them. I would say that if there was a "Fall" in a literal sense, this was it. It was a loss of innocence. A loss of animal innocence that came about through the debut in time of reason over instinct. This is the fall in my opinion. And human beings have forever been out of union with all of creation. And thus with God. Because of the way they have employed this reasoning power.

Fortunately, we have at least one amazing tale that shows us an attempt by human beings to understand or explain their new relationship with the animal kingdom. It is one of the oldest stories that exists. It is the story of Enkidu within the Tale of Gilgamesh. Sure, it isn't perfect, because human beings are already in existence when Enkidu is formed, but in the character of Enkidu, we see an attempt to explore in a mythical way this moment when humans fell out of union with the animal kingdom. Enkidu is created and lives with the animals, hunting and sheltering with them. When he is seduced by the human Shamhat, something changes within him, and the animals recognize that he is no longer one of them. They cast him out. He loses his animal-ness, and becomes fully human.

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Everything Before Us said...

A winding path I am taking here, but I'm getting to my point. At some point humans realized they operated on a higher mental plane than animals, yet they were basically behaving as animals do, eating and digesting food in the same way, engaging in reproductive acts in identical ways, etc. Their show anger in their faces the same way (bearing teeth, etc). They show fear the same way, domination and submission the same way, etc. They had to come to terms with the fact that they were animals, but not. Human reason, this new faculty (new being a relative term in evolutionary time), made it difficult for humans to accept that for all practical purposes, they were just like those animals in the woods. That when they were having sex in their shelter, they were doing nothing more than what they saw the animals doing out along the treeline, and when they were eating and defecating, they were doing just what animals are doing.

The biggest human mistake of all time is to think we are somehow above creation, something special, set apart. Well... we are set apart, but by God's choice and grace. Not because of anything we do ourselves. Who are we, the vessel, to question the potter that made us for such a grand purpose?

But humans didn't want to be a part of creation. They didn't want God's glory, they wanted their own. But look at us...we're animals! Oh no we're not! And so even though it is our animalistic sex drive that compels us to fall in love and mate, human beings invented stories about soul-mates, and Twin Flames, and male and female polarities in the universe, and all other sorts of occultic sexual concepts. Sex magic was invented. Sexuality was tied to dark occultic secret rituals. All in an attempt to push down the knowledge of the true God and our place before that true God as part of his creation, not above his creation. The idea that man is eternal sprung from this need to elevate or exalt ourselves above creation and God.

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Everything Before Us said...

All occultic idea and many Mormon concepts break down when you consider the fact of the existence of the mammals. The moment you turn your attention to mammal group, of which we are a part, all these high-falutin' ways of talking about human beings and our "divine nature" and our eternal co-existence with the creator of the universe becomes so obviously flawed.

Take the issue of procreation and Mormon teachings about it. In order to turn an intelligence into a pre-human, pre-mortal spirit, you need an exalted man who is sealed to an exalted woman. Male and female together make babies on earth. Male and female together make spirit children in a pre-mortal life.

The logic is air-tight until you ask yourself this one question: "Okay... in what way then is God the creator of animals? If all things created spiritually are created through a process of union between male and female polarities, how is a human God the creator of all life forms?

Animals use sexual reproduction on earth to create new animals. So do two animal gods create animal spirits in a pre-existence? If so, in what way is God said to be the creator of all things?

Everything falls apart. This is because in order for the logic to work, human beings have to be plucked out of the rest of creation and considered separately and distinctly. The moment you bring the elephant of the lion back into the picture, these beautiful ennobling ideas suddenly become problematic.

These are no problems at all for Christians, because the Christian God is and never was a human being. He only became a human being through the Son in order to rescue us. But God's nature, by nature, is not human nature. We do not have "divine nature" as a Young Woman will recite to you. We are NOT biological sons and daughters of God. We are creations of God, loved by God, set apart by God for something wonderful, made in his image (metaphorically speaking!).

It is the wisdom of man that sets man apart as the measure of all things, but it is the wisdom of God that declares God is the measure of all things, the creator of al things, the sustainer of all things.

We are NOT sons and daughters of God, the Bible makes this so clear. That alone should silence all occultic and Mormon thinkers. We are of this earth, earthy. We are children of the devil, metaphorically speaking, until we are born again through faith. Then, and only then do we become sons of God, but this is only through adoption. We are not biologically children of God by nature. We are biologically enemies of God by nature.

There is no pre-existence. We began here, below. We can have eternal life above, but only by adoption into the family of Christ, the God that became man so that we could become one with God, partakers of the Divine nature which the Son shares with the Father.

Christians have this all figured out because we use the word of God and the wisdom of God to lead us. Give up the wisdom of man, which seems to make sense at first, but falls apart like a castle on the sand. This is why it is important to know what the occult is. It is the combined wisdom of the world founded upon the devilish and damnable concept that man is God because God is man.

Everything Before Us said...

In other words, Adam was a Christian who, ultimately, received the fulness of the gospel.

That idea itself Joseph Smith borrowed from Freemasonry, a branch of the occult. Freemasonry in the 19th century considered itself to have been first taught to Adam in the Garden of Eden, and passed down through Seth.

Read the 1801 book "Antiquities of Freemasonry" by George Oliver, who talks about this, and describes a righteous masonry and a corrupted masonry that existed alongside it since Cain.

Anonymous said...

Well, there are some things Mormons and main-stream Christians are never going to agree on. That said, I think you base some of your disagreement on ideas that are not necessarily canonized. Yes, we believe that we are the literal offspring of God. But that isn't to say that there's universal agreement on a viviparous birth of sorts.

Re: The antiquity of Masonry -- I'm open to the idea that some of the precepts and ritualistic elements of Masonry may go back to the beginning. Indeed, it is my opinion that, as Joseph Smith restored the Gospel of repentance and the law of the church, so too, he restored the "mysteries" (those things pertaining to temple theology). And, so, Masonry (IMO) definitely has its roots in a revealed liturgy. Though, over time, it lost much of its original meaning and intent.

Jack

Everything Before Us said...


Well, there are some things Mormons and main-stream Christians are never going to agree on

I don't think it is a problem to disagree. I think though that a strong case needs to be made for one's beliefs. An argument, if you will. Like writing a thesis paper. I need to support my thesis.

The good thing about being a non-Mormon Christian is that I don't have to qualify my statements with "Well...I don't speak for the Church. These are just my beliefs." In my version of Christianity, there is no church to speak for even if one wanted to speak for it. There are only believers with beliefs. Christianity is a Way, not a religion.

I can make an argument for my beliefs and never have to mention the name of a denomination. But a Latter-day Saint has to point out how and where his/her personal beliefs may depart from canonized LDS doctrine. Why is this?

But regardless, pretend like you don't have a church that has canonized doctrine. What do YOU believe?

Is God eternally God or was God once a man who became God?

Is Jesus Christ eternally God, or did Jesus Christ also have to work out his own salvation, as Holland taught a few years ago?

What do you believe? Don't cheat....don't mentally consult the Church for the official word? What is your own private personal belief on these two very fundamental questions.

This is how we should choose our religion. We should first find out what we believe, and then attach ourselves to the denomination that best suits it. Or attach ourselves to no one at all, frankly, which might be just as well.

Mormons encourage an approach that first requires us to believe that the Church itself is "true," and then simply accept the doctrine that is spoon-fed, more or less, at least publically when it comes time to renew the temple recommend. This is the problem with a church that builds itself on authority and not on doctrine.

This is why when I point out the doctrinal inconsistencies here on this forum, no one is swayed by my arguments. Because for you guys, having the true doctrine is not nearly as important as following the proper authority. You are convinced you have the right authority, so you can handle doctrinal adjustments or inconsistencies over time, and the fact that Orson Pratt and Brigham Young couldn't even agree about the nature of God is of no consequence to you at all. They both had the same authority, and it was the right authority, as you believe, so it's all good, as they say.

Of course, there are doctrinal inconsistencies from one Christian thinker to another all over the Protestant world, but Protestantism functions totally differently. This is to be expected. No one claims to be a prophet seer and revelator. We are all just believers. Christ is our head. Our only head. We may have priests or pastors, but they serve us; we don't really believe they point us toward Christ. We've already been pointed toward Christ, ideally, through the Holy Spirit. They just aid us in our collective worship, and offer pastoral care.

But the LDS Church has claimed to have PS&Rs since its beginning. So, the bar is quite a bit higher. We shouldn't expect to see such doctrinal confusion, because doctrinal confusion was a sign of the lack of prophets, seers, and revelators.

Anonymous said...

That's a great comment -- well thought out. But, I think you need to make a distinction between doctrine and theology. They both have rather fluid definitions and overlap in some ways. That which is truly "hard" doctrine in the LDS church is rather narrow and involves the basic ordinances and priesthood authority. Beyond that, things are generally more flexible and are subject to change more frequently. But, even so, doctrine, beyond a few tenets of belief, really tends to focus on what we need to be doing. On the other hand, theology tends to be more about how we think about the gospel, which is certainly important but not necessarily as salvivic as doing what the doctrine requires in the moment.

That said, for me, the gospel is less about understanding precisely who Jesus is and more about following Him by doing the things He asks us to do. But! It is by following Him that we begin to understand Him; to learn more about His nature -- who He really is. And how do we follow Him? We start by taking the steps He's outlined: We are born of the water and the spirit to begin with. And it is by taking these steps that we are converted; by entering into a covenant relationship with God and then receiving His spirit -- not by getting the theology right from the outset. God is less interested in how much we know and more interested in where our hearts are at. Though, in process of time, we will grow in the knowledge of God as we retain the Holy Ghost. And how delicious that knowledge is.

That's my two cents worth -- and the beauty of it is: another LDS may disagree with me on some points, but we'll still be brothers in the Kingdom because we have made the same covenant and have tasted of the same Spirit.

Jack

Everything Before Us said...

I kind of agree with your first paragraph, but then you start to lose me. I do agree that following Jesus is more important than getting the theology right, but I do not believe conversion comes through baptism. Nor does the Book of Mormon teach this. Baptism comes because of conversion. The covenant is already made in the heart prior to baptism. If you read the Waters of Mormon portions, you'll see this. Mosiah 18:10. Read it carefully. Baptism is a sign that a covenant has already been made. But by what authority is this covenant made? Who were the officiators or ministers of this covenant? There weren't any! No priesthood, no authority. Nothing except a pact made in the heart of the individual to follow Christ. It was private.

The covenant is private. Baptism is superfluous, a public sign of the covenant already made. Even the Episcopalians get this wrong....which irritates me, and which is where I begin to part ways with my own current denomination.

And then, if you notice, Alma first baptizes Helam, and the Spirit is first poured out upon Helam and then he is baptized, mimicking the order of conversion for Cornelius in Acts. Holy Spirit first.

In Acts it is even more explicitly stated that Cornelius received the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (not just the "influence," which was Joseph Smith's way of reconciling Acts with Campbellite doctrine). Cornelius received the gift of the Holy Ghost, but not through any laying on of hands. Afterwards, he was baptized. Baptism is a sign of a covenant, but no one has the power to forge this covenant except God and the individual. No third party priesthood authority necessary. And this private covenant is what saves. This is what being born again is all about. Those who have experienced this privately knows precisely what this is all about.

Read verse 13, too. Baptism is a testament to a covenant already entered into.


Everything Before Us said...

That's my two cents worth -- and the beauty of it is: another LDS may disagree with me on some points, but we'll still be brothers in the Kingdom because we have made the same covenant and have tasted of the same Spirit.

Right...it is all about authority. Your LDS covenant trumps all other covenants because it is performed by the right authority. Life's purpose is all about attaching oneself to the correct church. This is such a worldly way of thinking about it. It is human nature to want to be on the right team, to be a part of the correct tribe. But I think Jesus was sort of talking about this when he said that those who are born again are like the wind that blows, and no one can tell where it comes from or where it is going, or when he says that foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. If we are to follow Christ, I think we should start to get worried when we find a place to lay our head. That goes for all Christians, myself included.

Think about it...it would be so easy if all we had to do was find the right church. Christianity is a way, not a religion. All the rituals that any Christian church performs - these are just symbolic of something that is supposed to have happened inside the heart. The rituals themselves are utterly empty of any saving power. Thus, salvation is available without the rituals. But the rituals can serve as important reminders of the covenant we have already made, and it also serves as sort of a public display before believers that one has chosen a certain walk of life.


Everything Before Us said...

Okay. So I feel like I hijacked this thread now, so I'm out.

Resume conversation about Egypt.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thank you for finally recognizing that this was genuinely unwelcome threadjacking. On the other hand, it would have been interesting to see how one can argue that the teachings of Christ, the Apostles, and numerous early Christians on the essential nature of baptism were wrong or, as I am sure you will say, simply misinterpreted.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my part in the threadjack, Jeff. Can't help myself sometimes.

Jack

Anonymous said...

@Everythingbeforeus.

Good Grief! Enough of your garbage spewing psychobabble. You are condescending, you call names, you are hateful, and you make sense only to yourself. Talk about doublespeak and contradiction, that is all you do.

Go after a real cult like Scientology that destroys families, believe L Ron Hubbard is a god, does not believe that Jesus existed, dishes out cruel punishment, etc.
Or Islam that puts a pedophile murderer over the true God of the Bible, rapes women and children and animals, beheads and burn people alive, convert or die, kills gays and Jews and Christians, women are lower than dirt, female genital mutilation, etc.

Waa waa waaa you are a cult, waa waa waa you don't believe in God, waa waa waaa you use doublespeak, waa waaaaaaaa waaaaaa. Shut the H UP already! You sound like the demented Libtard Democrat Communists that use dirty tactics to get their way, and complain and whine and lie about everything that does not go along with their ideaology and attack those who think different than they do.

If man being created in God's image is metaphorical, then the entire Bible is metaphorical which means that Jesus really did not die on the cross and rise again. If Christianity is a way not a religion then why are there so many Christian religions? Every single one disagree with one another. Catholics are called cultists also. You make no sense, ever, in anything you say. It only makes sense in your shriveled little, egotistical, brain.

You used to be LDS, so what? You want a Participation Trophy for being a chest thumping "I am right and you are wrong, scumbag" Christian? You want an award for being smarter than all members of the LDS church?

Grow Up, and quit being an arse hole. Your schtick is old and not doing any good.

Everything Before Us said...

If man being created in God's image is metaphorical, then the entire Bible is metaphorical which means that Jesus really did not die on the cross and rise again.

If man being created in God's image is literal, then the entire Bible is literal which means that Jesus's feet really are polished bronze, and he really does have a two-edged sword sticking out of his mouth.

See how that works Mr. Anonymous?

May the peace of the Lord be always with you.

Flying Fig said...

"this was genuinely unwelcome threadjacking. On the other hand, it would have been interesting to see how one can argue that the teachings of Christ, the Apostles, and numerous early Christians on the essential nature of baptism were wrong"

Jeff, you crack me up. Once again you chastise a non-Mormon for coming here to argue and, in the same sentence, throw more gasoline on the fire.
Please, for once, just be up front with us. You love it.

Everything Before Us said...

Actually, though, perhaps the word "metaphorical" isn't entirely accurate when it comes to being made in God's image. I think the ancient world had an entirely different understanding of "image." When the Egyptians made images of their Pharaohs, these images did not physically resemble the actual men they were meant to resemble. To physically represent their leaders' actual appearance, what we call "portraiture" today, was far from the Egyptian artistic mindset. They focused on capturing other intangible attributes in the images they created. These attributes illustrated the eternal nature of their Pharaoh, his resolve, his perfection, his uncontested authority, etc. Portraiture as we know it, meaning the attempt to create a likeness, did not exist in the ancient world when Genesis was being written. Images served other purposes.

So, as Christians believe, to be in the "image" of God is not to physically resemble God, but to share intangible attributes that he possesses, such as the ability to reason, to be altruistic, to create and devise, to love and show compassion, to be just and merciful, and generally to act from a higher plane than mere animal instinct. To be in the image of God in physical appearance tells us nothing really about ourselves or God in any deep spiritual way, but to be in God's image in the way that Christians believe tells us much about who we are to God, and what our future can hold for us.

To be physically like God brings God down out of Heaven into our animal sphere. To be in the image of God in the way I have set forth keeps God in Heaven, and it brings us to Him where he is.

verumestamandecium said...

I have always wondered about this. You all bring up some very interesting topics of discussion. Thank you! I was taught as a kid, that God, was a Triune God.

He is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He is the Father of all Creation and then was made flesh when being born as Christ. But this sets up a discussion. How was Mary impregnated if God the Father was not flesh? And then, when he's born as Christ...why does He teach everyone to pray to...his father? Why not say, "pray to me, in my name"? And the Great Intercessory Prayer, Christ continually asks the Father for unity with the apostles, this, that, and the other. Except if He's the same person He's praying too...er...huh?
Also, during the baptism of Christ, who is saying "This is my beloved Son"? Can't be the Father...can it? I thought He was made flesh and is Christ...so was it a past self...future self? was there time travel involved?
And if Christ is also the Holy Spirit which descended on Christ in the form of a dove...how did Christ, who is also the Holy Spirit do that and be standing in front of John?? Makes no sense...well...unless...well there is ventriloquism...

And Come on EBU, you know there are Animal Gods too...i mean that's the only way to have spirit animal spirits right?

Everything Before Us said...

Verum,

Trinitarians do not believe that Jesus was praying to Himself in the Garden. Trinitarians believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt are separate persons. What you are describing is called Modalism.

Trinitarianism: One God, Three Persons. One divine nature fully manifested in three separate and distinct persons who interact, talk to each other, etc.

Modalism: One God, One Person who shows up in three different forms, at different times. This one person cannot show up as the Father while he is showing up as the Son.

Mormons usually get this wrong, and they argue against Modalism when they think they are arguing against Trinitarianism. It would behoove you to figure this out, so you don't do what I did for many years, which was prove myself to be woefully ill-informed when I discussed theology with Christians.

Mary was not impregnated by the Father, although early Mormon leaders speculated as much. Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit. It can't be explained in any human terms. That is why it is considered a mystery.



verumestamandecium said...

Thanks EBU for the education. I really was taught in the Modalism way. Or maybe I just thought that way because the Priest taught it in Trinitarian terms and I heard it in Modalism terms...

So much to learn. Hey just a side note...on January 09, 2017 you said that if we take the literal meaning of the whole God created man in his image...then Christ has a two-edged sword coming out of his mouth...thereby we have to accept that the entire bible as literal...well that would make the Songs of Solomon much more...interesting...when we really know...that it's totally literal.

Everything Before Us said...

Well, I said that bit about the two-edged sword in response to what Mr. Anonymous said about the Bible being all metaphorical if we are metaphorically in God's image.

As for Song of Solomon, it is nothing more than poetry. Most of the Bible is not the "word of God" in the way that most Protestants teach. It is a collection of ancient writings, myths, legends, etc, with a few truths thrown in for good measure. The good stuff is really in the Prophets and the Psalms. And of course, the New Testament, especially the Epistles are some of the most valuable writing we have. There really is nothing at all in comparison with the Epistles found in the Mormon Standard Works. And here is why: the Epistles, especially the early ones like Galatians, represents the earliest understanding of what Christianity was before the "Apostasy." And it is very telling that Paul and John and James and Peter are not saying anything about eternal families, temple work, endowments, garments, word of wisdom, etc.

Galatians may be the earliest Christian writing in existence, and it alone condemns the Mormon concept of exaltation.

Good stuff.

Many Trinitarians can't even explain Trinitarianism very well, and all analogies usually come out sounding more Modalist or more Arian. There are not adequate analogies to describe Trinitarianism that aren't heretical.

Here is how I think of it. You and I are boht fully human, but there aren't two human natures. There is one human nature. We both share it. We are one in nature, two in person.

The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all completely manifest the fullness of the Divine Nature. But there aren't three Divine Natures. There is one. One Divine Nature. Three persons who fully possess that Divine Nature.

One human nature, but billions of persons who have human nature.

Human nature is not divided up between the billions of people. All people are fully human.

Divine nature is not divided up between the three persons. The three persons are fully divine.

It is simple, really. And quite glorious when you really understand it. This is life eternal.....

verumestamandecium said...

EBU,
What in Galatians specifically outlines this non-exaltation thing for mormonism? What about Romans then which says we will be joint-heirs in Christ if we follow Him? Joint-heirs in what? Salvation? Christ is salvation, so that can't be. What is Paul referring to there? Some of the Protestant readings don't clearly define that for me. What is your take on it?

Anonymous said...

Well, thank goodness EBU has finally spoken and we now all know which parts of the Bible count. I would have thought the gospels would make the cut, and even rank above the epistles. But that's probably just my Mormon paradigm talking. Maybe EBU's real problem with the Mormon claim of living prophets is that he views HIMSELF as God's mouthpiece, since he seems to know which scriptures are valid and which are not. At least he admits that most protestants are wrong.

So the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct individuals who share a common nature, just like humans are distinct individuals who share a common nature? That pretty much sounds like what Mormons believe.

Everything Before Us said...

Verum.

You need to understand the reason Paul wrote to the Galatians in the first place to understand how his letter destroys Mormonism. The Galatians were justified before God through their faith by grace. But then, they were teaching that they also needed to be circumcised. There was a ritual that they needed to perform to be saved. Paul says to them that if they think they are justified by the law, then they are fallen from the grace that saved them in the first place. They added law on top of faith. Mormons do the same thing. To be justified and exalted, Mormons teach that there is a law that must be followed. Paul's message is that the law condemns us, since no one can keep it.

Do you understand the doctrine of adoption? You need to understand that doctrine to know what Paul means when he says "joint-heir with Christ." Christ is the heir because he is the Son. You and I are not children of God, unless we believe in Christ, and only then are we made the children of God through adoption. This is basic New Testament doctrine. Thus, not naturally are you a joint-heir with Christ, for Christ is the only begotten Son, but through adoption we are brought into the family of God, and are then made joint-heirs with Christ.

Anon 12:20

I am no prophet. The Gospels are great, but Galatians was written down earlier, thus Galatians gives us a better understanding of what the earliest Christians were be taught regarding justification, grace, works, etc.

I never said anything about Protestants being wrong. I said Protestants are wrong by what they mean when they say, "The Bible is the Word of God." I do not believe in the infallibility of the Bible.

And yes, Trinitarianism is very similar to what Mormons believe, except that Trinitarians believe that God was always God. He has never been anything except God. He wasn't a man who became a God. And there are not other Gods out there in the universe being worshiped by their own spiritual children. And Jesus Christ is not a creation of God, like you and me. He is not a biological Big Brother. He is not Lucifer's brother. He is God. He is with God. He was God and was with God from the beginning. We are his creation, not his children. We become God's children through adoption into the family. We are not by spiritual birth already a part of the family. That's all New Testament doctrine.

Jeffery Spicoli said...

When I hear people talking about their beliefs it makes me realize God was correct when he told Joseph none of the religions were true and that their beliefs were an abomination to him.