Friday, August 08, 2008

Harvardman

HARVARDMAN SAID:

How would you gentleman respond to the following assertions about early and recent Christianity?

(1) The history of the Church shows that private judgment applied to scripture has frequently resulted in errors and heresies.


History also shows that our senses can deceive us (e.g. optical illusions). Yet that is an insufficient objection to the possibility of sense knowledge. We still reply on our senses. And if our senses were systematically unreliable, we couldn't even detect optical illusions. We use our senses to correct misimpressions—by enhancing our senses, changing our perspective, broadening our sensory sampling, &c.

Likewise, if private judgment were systematically unreliable, we couldn’t even recognize that private judgment sometimes results in errors and heresies. So your argument either proves too much or too little.

Early heretics expressly relied on scripture over other forms of authority when they believed the former to support their viewpoint and the latter to reject it. Their Catholic opponents, on the other hand, drew on both scripture and other sources of authority in order to counter heresies.

i) At the risk of stating the obvious, some interpretations are better than others. Erich von Däniken thinks that Ezekiel is referring to flying saucers. I don't need to adduce other sources of authority to prove him wrong. One can prove him wrong using the grammatico-historical method.

ii) Are you suggesting that Arian exegesis is just as good as orthodox exegesis?

iii) Invoking other sources of authority only pushes the problem back a steps since other sources are subject to the same hermeneutical issues, so all you've done is to create a vicious regress.

iv) Moreover, you have to validate your other sources of authority.

(2) The possibility of reasonable and holy men differing in interpretation of inspired scripture is made clear in the theological debates of early Christianity. Thus, men often need another authority to help them interpret scripture in a way that prevents them from becoming Arians, Manichees, etc.

i) Only if you classify Arians and Manicheans as reasonable and holy men. I don't grant your premise.

ii) If someone is determined to be a heretic, he will reject any authority to the contrary, whether Scriptural or ecclesiastical.

iii) It isn't God's will to prevent everyone from becoming a heretic. Indeed, it's God's will that some reprobates fall into heresy.

iv) Not every difference of interpretation amounts to heresy.

(3) While it is possible to find fathers who seemed to believe in justification by faith, and while various interpretations of particular early patristic sources can be advanced to support some aspects of modern evangelical Christianity, the preponderance of the evidence DOES NOT look anything like modern evangelical Christianity.

I don't care whether modern evangelical Christianity looks like the early church. I do care whether it looks like NT Christianity.

Rather, it appears that Christians who knew the apostles (or who knew men who knew them) and who were obviously neither Gnostics nor Arians, and who served as living examples of apostolic Christianity for the next generation, lived a Christianity centered around: obedience to their Bishop, rejection of the many rival claimants to the chair of their Bishop, and celebration of the Eucharist.

i) Of course, the Roman Empire was a very authoritarian society:

Emperors>kings>aristocrats>commoners>slaves

It's hardly surprising that bishops had a very authoritarian concept of their office, or that Roman Christians submitted to their bishop the same way they'd submit to other social superiors.

Christian emperors convoked church councils and presided over their proceedings. Do you believe that modern civil magistrates ought to enjoy that sort of authority over the internal affairs of the church?

ii) Except for the Salvation Army, it's hard to think of any Protestant denomination that doesn't celebrate the Eucharist.

(4) A person who reads scripture and concludes that it contains no errors or self-contradictions, when confronted with a handful of supposed errors or contradictions, should not say: "Oh, I guess I was wrong about scripture." They should say: "Maybe these supposed errors and contradictions need to be interpreted in a different way, so that I can once again see clearly the truth of scripture.

Of course, modern Catholic Bible scholars do think the Bible contains various errors, so that's a very poor analogy to argue for Catholicism.

If this is the correct approach to take with scripture, then why can one not take this approach in dealing with the handful of "obvious" errors and self-contradictions in Catholic teaching?

Because we don't have a good reason to treat Catholic teaching the same way we treat the word of God.

(4) The accusation that the modern Catholic Church teaches heretical beliefs about salvation outside the Church is adequately answered, not by the possibly sinful actions of popes and bishops, but by the documents of the Magisterium. The relevant document today is "Dominus Jesus":
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html


Since I never cited the sins of popes and bishops to prove that Catholicism has a heretical soteriology, you're burning a strawman.

(5) Reasonable people, with reasonable interpretations of scripture, and reasonable interpretations of history, have lived holy lives while calling themselves by the despised name "Catholic," have lead many to love and to serve Jesus, and have served as an inspiration for those in the darkness of unbelief to reject atheism, etc, and to embrace Jesus Christ. And they have done all this while asking Mary to pray for them, while preserving and honoring the relics of Saints, and while praying before the blessed sacrament, in Churches decorated with beautiful art.

i) I have never criticized Catholicism (or Orthodoxy, for that matter) on aesthetic grounds.

ii) Protestants can lead holy lives as well. So your appeal either proves too much or too little.

Given your responses to the above questions, I have to ask: is the intention of the anti-Catholic comments on this website to keep other people from falling into the trap of being as holy as St. Francis? or as holy as St. Therese? or as holy as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta? or as holy as St. Josemaria? or as holy as Edith Stein? or as holy as St. Maximilian Kolbe? Are you surprised that people would look at the lives of these men and women and wish to belong to their Church?

i) God has representatives of the elect in every generation. That includes some elect Catholics. Due to chronological and geographical factors, they will generally channel their pious impulses into the religious institutions which their particular situation in time and place has made available to them. So, for example, St. Francis is a Christian who happens to be Catholic. What else would a devout, medieval Italian believer be?

Had he been born into an Amish or Anglican or Lutheran or Puritan or Pentecostal or Baptist or Orthodox community, his piety would, in all likelihood, have emulated those distinctives instead.

ii) At the same time, that can also have a warping effect on piety. I don't think that preaching to the birds or going barefoot in the snow in the belief that your supererogatory suffering accrues 20 units of congruent merit which are duly deposited in the Treasury of merit represents a healthy form of piety.

Likewise, adoring the Sacred Heart of Mary is simply a form of idolatry. Genuine piety gets misdirected in Catholicism.

iii) In addition, you're cherry picking the very best representatives of your tradition. What about the Borgia popes or pedophile priests or the many bishops complicit in the priestly abuse scandal? They were products of the same system. So your argument cuts both ways.

Do you really believe that a person who values truth, who loves God, who loves his fellow man, and who seeks to follow Jesus and his apostles, is a sinner and a fool for looking at the evidence of scripture, early Christianity, and the history of the Church and her saints, and concluding that he would like to be a member of the Catholic Church?

I see a great deal of deception and self-deception in Catholicism. They give their alleged reasons for being Catholic, as well as their alleged reasons for not being Protestant. When we answer them on their own grounds, they become evasive and repetitive. That's not the mark of someone who values the truth.

Speaking of which, what about the False Decretals? What about Cardinal Bellarmine scheme to cover up the Sistine Vulgate? What about bishops who stonewall investigations into the priestly abuse scandal? Doesn't sound to me like a bunch of people who value the truth.

I would like to see more respect for Catholics and Catholicism on this site.

That's a rather sweeping statement. Must I extend unconditional respect to Ted Kennedy or the Borgia popes or Cardinal Richelieu or Cardinal Law or Bloody Mary or Catherine de Medici, &c.?

BTW, respect is a two-way street. Given the way James White (to take one example) is regularly trashed at Catholic sites, you might want to put your own house in order before you presume to criticize someone else's hospitality.

Have any of you even befriended a devout and practicing Catholic?

i) To begin with, this reminds me of how homosexuals argue for homosexual rights. They chalk up all opposition to ignorance and prejudice and bigotry and homophobia. If only you got to know a few homosexuals, you'd find out that homosexuals aren't the subhuman hellspawn you always thought they were.

Well, my opposition to homosexual rights was never predicated on that assumption in the first place. Likewise, I judge Catholicism, not based on Catholics, but Catholic dogma.

ii) And yes, as a matter of fact, I've known devout, practicing Catholics.

If you have, do you really believe that their distinctively Catholic beliefs and practices have harmed them in any way?

i) This reminds me of the Romney campaign, and what wonderful, upstanding citizens our Mormon neighbors are. No doubt that's true to some extent. It's also irrelevant to my evaluation of the Mormon cult.

ii) And yes, I do think that Catholic distinctives harm pious Catholics. I do think it's harmful when you trust a wafer for your salvation. I do think it's harmful when you pray to a nonexistent saint. I do think it's harmful when you commit idolatry. I do think it's harmful when you support a corrupt institution because you imagine it's the only wheel in town.

I don't know a better way to put this, so I'll say it this way: there is a lot of arrogance in your statements about the Church.

I think there's a lot of arrogance in the Tridentine anathemas. I think there's a lot of arrogance in Unam Sanctam.

I cannot believe that people as intelligent as you would publicly state such beliefs if you knew practicing Catholics personally and if you tried arguing with us extensively.

I have argued with Catholics extensively. Take my exchange with Philip Blosser, for one. Or my exchange with Al Kimel, for another.

I can only believe that your intelligence and good will would cause you to concede that we also have arguments favoring our positions, and we also have relationships with Jesus Christ.

I have reviewed the arguments favoring your positions. I've read all the best representatives of Roman Catholicism I can lay my hands on.

I am praying for all of you.

To whom are you praying?

But, regarding private judgment, my point is not that we shouldn't exercise it (as you correctly pointed out, how could we not exercise it?), but rather I wanted to see if you agreed that good and reasonable people could easily disagree using private judgment. If you do agree with this, then I wanted to ask whether you thought it was unreasonable for people to think it likely that God would respond to this deficit with an infallible teaching organ.

That begs the question by assuming that private judgment represents a "deficit."

It also assumes that the Magisterium fills the deficit.

Again, I know your opinion on the Church's infallibility in interpreting scripture, but what I wonder is whether you consider the fact that many people view the antecedent probability of such an organ as high to be an unreasonable belief.

That begs the question by assuming there is an antecedent probability for the Magisterium.

I base my rule of faith on God's revealed rule of faith, not "antecedent probabilities."

Regarding infallible authority of interpretation, I agree with you completely, except for the following: the living authority of the Church is designed to counter serious errors in the application of private judgment to her infallible interpretations by making it possible for her to issue subsequent clarifications when the need arises. The whole history of the controversy over the divinity, the person and the nature of Christ is a case in point.

There was no Magisterium under the OT. Why is that necessary for the new covenant community when it was unnecessary for the old covenant community?

MAGGIE SAID:

Where does the Bible claim for itself the primacy that you are asserting it has?

I've discussed this in my response to Philip Blosser.

Do the approximately 34,000 Protestant denominations not suggest that "sola scriptura" has some problems?

i) Sola Scriptura is not a problem-solving device.

ii) Catholicism is just one more denomination.

iii) I’d rather have too many denominations, some good and some bad, than one big bad denomination (e.g. the church of Rome).

What did the first generations of Christians rely on in the absence of a Bible?

Why do you think Jesus and the apostles spend so much time referring their listeners and readers to the Bible if they had no Bible? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that obvious question?

Before the invention of the printing press, how many Christians are likely to have owned a Bible?

Before the invention of the printing press, how many Christians are likely to have owned a papal encyclical?

In the absence of something resembling mass literacy, how many people would have been able to read a Bible, even if it were available to them?

In the absence of something resembling mass literacy, how many people would have been able to read a papal encyclical, even if it were available to them?

Who selected, safe-guarded and transmitted the books of the Bible that we have today?

Various Christians belonging to various denominations over the centuries.

I don't have high expectations of a civil response; I have no expectation of a charitable one. I have been reading this blog and poking around in the archives for a couple of weeks, after being introduced to this blog by someone who posts here occasionally. As interesting and valuable as so much of the information is, the stridency of your tone is often downright toxic.

How charitable was the Inquisition? And, as I recall, the Inquisition went beyond a harsh tone. It employed harsh methods. Indeed, Innocent IV authorized the use of torture. How civil or charitable is that?

Doesn't seem that your standards of civility and charity bear any resemblance to the historical standards of your denomination. And since you belong to the one true church, shouldn't we expect your denomination to exercise a higher standard than all us benighted Protestants?

11 comments:

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

    • Baptism: .

    Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.html
    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

    • The Trinity: .

    A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

    The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."

    Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

    Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

    • Theosis

    Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." . The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him. (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS agrees with Athanasius and Thomas regarding theosis.

    • The Deity of Jesus Christ

    Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless. http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html

    • The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: .

    The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

    • Definition of “Christian”: .

    But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

    It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian http://sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/207/2070037.htm , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . Please refer to: http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

    • The Parallel with the “Rise of Christianity”

    Rodney Stark in his book “The Rise of Christianity” found parallels with the rise of Mormonism:
    A similar growth rate (40 percent for Christianity, and 43 percent for Mormonism) for both nascent religious movements. Conversions proceeded along social networking lines, primarily. While Christianity retained Jews’ belief in the Old Testament, Mormonism retains Creedal Christians’ belief in both the New and Old Testaments. The Romans martyred the Christian leaders, the mobs in Missouri and Illinois martyred the Mormon leaders. In both cases, they expected the fledgling movements to fail without their leaders.

    • The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

    The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this:

    "There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.)

    Martin Luther had similar thoughts: "Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,...unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation."

    He also wrote: "I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among
    those who should have preserved it."

    The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.

    * * *
    • Christ-Like Lives:

    The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):


    1. Attend Religious Services weekly
    2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important
    3. Believes in life after death
    4. Does NOT believe in psychics or fortune-tellers
    5. Has taught religious education classes
    6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline
    7. Sabbath Observance
    8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith
    9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily
    10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)
    11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality

    LDS Evangelical
    1. 71% 55%
    2. 52 28
    3. 76 62
    4. 100 95
    5. 42 28
    6. 68 22
    7. 67 40
    8. 72 56
    9. 50 19
    10. 65 26
    11. 84 35



    So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics. (see http://MormonTeenagers.blogspot.com) It seems obvious pastors shouldn't be denigrating a church based on First Century Christianity, with high efficacy. The only plausible reason to denigrate Mormons is for Evangelical pastors to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

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  2. Yes, we are well aware of your propaganda. You posted this same article here before. What, nothing new to post?

    But, hey, I'm game:

    Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants)

    Not every Evangelical is a Paedobaptist, so this little jab won't do anything for you here.

    by immersion by the father of the family.

    No, by immersion of each professing person.

    The local congregation had a lay ministry. So do those in Evangelical churches. You may want to familarize yourself with the concept called the priesthood of all believers.

    An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified.

    Nobody denies the early churches had baptisteries in the Subapostolic period.

    Here's what that website actually says about the baptismal font: During this lengthy ceremony, the catechumen was immersed in water, anointed with oil, and dressed in a pure white garment. Only then was he or she permitted to enter the church and participate in the Eucharist by partaking of the holy bread and wine.

    It says nothing about the fathers being baptized for their children. Rather it says each catechumen was immersed themselves.

    The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin.

    So what, it isn't as if we rely on the Nicene Creed for the Trinity. In case you haven't noticed this is a predominantly Calvinist/Reformed team here. So appeals to creeds won't cut it.

    What, do you think Athanasius or the Greek fathers were using Latin Bibles? Umm, no. It's amazing how many times Mormons who float this objection don't ask this simple question.

    literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. This is an assertion, not an argument.

    The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one." Our Trinitarianism does not hang on this text. We are aware of this text variant.

    The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one." He doesn't believe in Mormonism either.

    Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit.

    They believed the Son took on human nature. They denied the Father and Holy Spirit were embodied Spirits. Try again.

    Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

    The Harper's Bible Dictionary isn't our rule of faith. The HBD doesn't offer any exegesis.

    Theosis

    What Athanaius meant and what you mean are not at all convertible. Try arguing this with Perry Robinson or another internet apologist for Orthodoxy. You have men become gods; the Orthodox line of thinking deals with participation in the nature of God. Go ahead, I dare you to show up on Energetic Procession with this nonsense. As much as we frequently disagree with Perry around here, I for one, would gladly like to get some popcorn and watch him shred you into a thousand pieces on this.

    Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless. http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html

    No, you affirm that he is divine, not that he is of the same essence as the Father and Spirit. You believe Jesus is Yahweh, the literal Son of God by sex with Mary. Try again.


    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross
    You don't know the difference between the cross and a crucifix. The cross, by the way, has been used by Christians from the subapostolic age. So much for your claim to have restored the Ancient Church.

    They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. This is a Calvinist blog. We affirm particular redemption. Care to argue for general redemption?

    The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”:



    All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.


    Did you even bother to read the quotes from your own representatives that flatly deny this is so.

    A similar growth rate (40 percent for Christianity, and 43 percent for Mormonism) for both nascent religious movements. Conversions proceeded along social networking lines, primarily. While Christianity retained Jews’ belief in the Old Testament, Mormonism retains Creedal Christians’ belief in both the New and Old Testaments. The Romans martyred the Christian leaders, the mobs in Missouri and Illinois martyred the Mormon leaders. In both cases, they expected the fledgling movements to fail without their leaders

    So what, you pay lip service to the Bible by interpreting it through Doctrines and Covenants, the Book of Mormon, etc.

    "Martyrdom" doesn't select for being a Christian.

    The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this:

    Roger Williams would have denied Joseph Smith was an Apostle. Roger Williams was searching for somebody with Apostolic authority to administer ordinances. How can we verify Joseph Smith is that authority?

    The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession

    How can I verify that this restoration occurred. The Campbellites make this same claim. So do the JW's. Hmmm, look familiar, why would that be - maybe because that was a fad in the 19th century? (Answer, yes it was, just about every group started calling itself the one true church...the 19th century was all about ecclesiology and in many cases ecclesiolatry).

    Christ-Like Lives:

    I eat at McDonald's, ergo I am a Big Mac.
    I talk about Star Trek, therefore I am the USS Enterprise.
    I teach an English class, ergo am I am the Webster's Dictionary.

    The actions of others do not define their Christianity. I went over this with you once before. Why not try to interact with it instead of cuttiing and pasting them same well worn arguments?
    So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church?

    We are told in Scripture to mark out false teachers. I thought you believed in the NT. You may want to familarize yourself with what is says about dealing with false teachers.

    You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics.

    Hmmm, I thought you said before that we shouldn't put our faith in creeds. Manata noted this back in January when you posted this same thing. Paul said:

    But since "the simplicity of the New Testament" isn't some verse, or couple of verses, then you must have in mind a summary or systemization of "the New Testament" in toto so that you can narrow its disparate teachings down into "the simplicity of the New Testament," and thus you have, contrary to your own stated position, something of a creed in mind, viz., "the simplicity of the New Testament."

    Go try your self-excepting fallacies out on someone else's blog.

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  3. Thank you, MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS, for giving me my daily OMG! moment. It's late at the time I'm reading your comment, so I apologize I will not be giving a thorough examination of your many propositions at this time. However, I will not forget you and will probably address much of your outrageousness on my own blog in the future.

    Aside from the Trinity, the diety of Christ, and the Atonement, your points hailing LDS doctrine as "historic" Christianity is at best secondary and at worst, hollow of meaning when it comes to determining genuine faith in the Christian God. And, that's giving you too much credit for the things you did say about the Trinity, the diety of Christ, and the Atonement.

    Here are your flaws:
    1. The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity...

    The Nicene Creed doesn't define the Trinity; it describes the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, being of "one substance" (Gk. homoousios) with each other. The Son is identified as "God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God" to which the creed follows with the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father (and the Son) to be interpreted as of the same substance as well. You sound as if you have never read the Nicene Creed and are not familiar with the formation of the Trinitarian doctrine, for anyone who has given it any serious look will know that Trinitarian doctrine is not based solely on 1 John.

    In trying to elevate LDS beliefs concerning the Son to the level of orthodoxy, you discreetly failed to mention that LDS doctrine teaches a polytheistic understanding of the divine vs. the strict monotheism of 1st century Judaism (and hence, Christianity) and that Jesus the Incarnate Son of God is the product of sexual intercourse between the Father and Mary. Nowhere in the Bible is the Son treated as a separate god apart from the Father, nor a literal offspring of God; the Father and the Son are the same divine being worthy of worship across the Old and New Testaments. There are no "separate divine beings," as there are no separate divinities within historic Judaism and Christianity, so it is exceptionally erroneous to claim that LDS beliefs are "in accord with Greek New Testament manuscripts."

    2. Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Erhman...

    Was it left in the KJV Bible that the LDS church uses itself?

    Bart Erhman, as you cited, no longer believes in very much about Christianity at all today. Are you willing to continue to cite him even when his point of view also contradicts your own? Erhman is best known for his touting of problems in the Bible, an opinion that has been refuted publicly not once or twice, but three times in debates with Christian scholars (not to mention the number of times in print). Just what do you think his opinion would be toward the Book of Mormon, a book that has numerous problems with language, scholarship, and consistency with actual history and historic Christianity?

    3. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son.

    You fail to clarify that this statement should read "Jesus is not only a son of God literally but also a god himself called the Son," in accordance with true LDS doctrine. Mormon doctrine indeed teaches that God has fathered many children quite literally in the spirit realm with his spirit wives, and that you and I are also one of these incarnate sons (and daughters)--we're just not Jesus. That is about as far away from biblical teaching as you can get.

    4. members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

    This is unsupported by the Bible. It is part of the orthodox understanding of the Atonement that the period at which Christ took upon the sins of the world was on the cross, specifically indicated when Jesus exclaimed that the Father had forsaken Him.

    5. The Gospel of Thomas

    Welcome to the funny farm. Not even reputable liberal scholars date the Gospel of Thomas to anything before 150 A.D., long after the last Gospel was written, not to mention that many of Paul's letters were written before even they. And why should we take seriously a "gospel" with talking crosses and men tall enough to reach the clouds (and beyond) compared to the four Gospels we have? Ridiculous.

    Even what you quoted is a tell-tale sign of the later Gnosticism that existed beyond the New Testament church, and you need to know that it doesn't correspond to LDS teaching about the godhood of man (as you implied). To the Gnostics, it was more important that Jesus was enlightened (occupying a higher plane of existence in which knowledge was supreme) more than He was divine.

    But this is what you must resort to doing: pulling out scraps of extremely bad scholarship and wacky ideas about Christian history and scholarship in order to prop up some semblance of credibility to the LDS Church. The problem that you haven't mentioned yet is that the LDS church doesn't even have any confidence in the Bible as the Word of God, from which Christianity ultimately flows. So far from being a part of the historic Christian faith, Mormonism is exactly it's namesake, that which the Book of Mormon has wrought, to contradict your moniker that MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS.

    Mormons need to have a truthful perspective on where the LDS church stands in the beliefs and doctrines of historic Christianity, which is firmly outside of the discussion entirely.

    BTW, your comments are a little convenient in their format in that it looks like a prearranged troll or tract. You wouldn't happen to drop this little package off every so often on people's blogs now, would you?

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  4. Yes, Letitia, he does. He posted this here back in January in "Dear Mr. Bills Can't Get No Respect."

    How this posting today is relevant to comments directed toward Roman Catholics in the comboxes here of late is anybody's guess...

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  5. Gene,

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

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  6. As a theological fence-sitter (I'm a marginal Deist), I find these denominational disputes intriguing.

    What would your advice be to someone such as myself who reads these very literate and well-presented defenses of several people loyal to their own variety of faith? Should I pick up the Bible and discern for myself who's right? Read Church history? Learn Greek and Aramaic and try to study the culture and the languages of Scripture?

    If I make that decision, should I refer to some higher human authority to check my interpretation? If so, whom, and on what basis do you judge that other human as a worthy arbiter of what is true and right?

    Further, say you pick Augustine or Origen or Calvin: if you take some elements of their ideas and reject others, on what basis do you do so? The common opinion of other Christians of that time?

    Perhaps my fence-sitting seems cowardly (or just another reflection that I'm one of the doomed), but I don't see how we have enough information to accept these beliefs with something more than "I'm pretty sure this is how it is, but who knows" ...

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  7. Anybody at Triablogue have the background interest, or just interested, in commenting on this?

    http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2008/08/apocalyptic-visionary-or-end-time.html

    Alternate link.

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  8. I said children were baptized by (not for) their father. The father had priesthood authority bestowed by John the Baptist (and those who succeeded him).

    My definition of a polytheist is one who reveres a plurality of gods (one for wind, one for fire, etc.). Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is acknowledged for his Atonement which allows us the possibility of returning to live with him (and his Father). Mormons do not pray to Jesus or any of God the Father's spiritual offspring. Therefore Mormons are monotheistic.

    Mormons are encouraged to become "god-like". Could this, in part, be responsible for their having more Christian traits than other denominations? For example, temple-worthy Mormons have a divorce rate one-twentieth the rate of a similar demographic population (UCLA study).

    If you Google the Nag Hammadi codices, you will find that they attribute the Gospel of Thomas possibly as the "X" Book which formed the basis for the four gospels.

    Nowhere in Mormon teachings will you find "sexual intercourse between the Father and Mary". Doctrine is very clear that Jesus was the product of the Holy Spirit (Ghost) and Mary, as explained to Joseph, her husband. You've been reading too many anti-Mormon books.

    I appreciate your thoughtful responses, however.

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  9. Mormons are Christian said:
    >My definition of a polytheist is one who reveres a plurality of gods (one for wind, one for fire, etc.). Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is acknowledged for his Atonement which allows us the possibility of returning to live with him (and his Father). Mormons do not pray to Jesus or any of God the Father's spiritual offspring. Therefore Mormons are monotheistic.

    When you deny the divinity of Jesus - when you deny the Trinity - you have to understand you deny the saving power of the cross and the sacrifice on the cross.

    And civic righteousness, which it is popular to grant to Mormons in greater degree than to Protestants in general, does not equate to salvation. And the civic righteousness may be a whited sepulchre anyway.

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  10. I said children were baptized by (not for) their father.

    Yes, I misread you. But you also read me. I referred to fathers being baptized for their children not vice versa.

    The father had priesthood authority bestowed by John the Baptist (and those who succeeded him).

    You said this could be verified by the site to which you linked. That site says nothing about fathers baptizing their children and having priesthood authority bestowed by John the Baptist.

    What the NT shows is apostles baptizing converts. What the NT shows is other qualified persons baptizing converts.
    It says nothing about the authority of fathers as priests on authority conferred by John. What is shows is exactly what the First London Baptist Confession of faith says:

    The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.

    Isa. 8:16; Eph. 2:7; Matt 28:19; John 4:2; Acts 20:7, 11:10; 1 Cor. 11:2, 10:16,17; Rom. 16:2; Matt. 18:17.

    My definition of a polytheist is one who reveres a plurality of gods (one for wind, one for fire, etc.).

    Yes, you "revere" Jesus. You just don't worship Jesus. But you still believe in the existence of more than one god.

    Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is acknowledged for his Atonement which allows us the possibility of returning to live with him (and his Father).

    The Bible never talks about the atonement in terms of "possibilities." The NT never puts the atonement into "general" terms.

    Mormons do not pray to Jesus or any of God the Father's spiritual offspring. Therefore Mormons are monotheistic.

    See above. All you do is redefine "polytheism." But why should we accept that definition? If we follow this logic, the Greeks who worshiped and prayed to Zeus but no other gods were also monotheists.

    Mormons are encouraged to become "god-like". Could this, in part, be responsible for their having more Christian traits than other denominations? For example, temple-worthy Mormons have a divorce rate one-twentieth the rate of a similar demographic population (UCLA study).

    Of course, in Mormon theology being "god-like" includes having a wife. Who did Elohim marry? Maybe one reason Mormons marry is because they are motivated to merit salvation. We deny meritorious works in salvation. Where's the supporting argument for that from you?

    If you Google the Nag Hammadi codices,

    Why don't you give a specific link?

    you will find that they attribute the Gospel of Thomas possibly as the "X" Book which formed the basis for the four gospels.

    The Gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic book. The Gospels look nothing like Gnosticism. You're now disregarding conservative NT scholarship in favor of the Jesus Seminar and The DaVinci Code. Where's the supporting argument?

    Nowhere in Mormon teachings will you find "sexual intercourse between the Father and Mary."Doctrine is very clear that Jesus was the product of the Holy Spirit (Ghost) and Mary, as explained to Joseph, her husband. You've been reading too many anti-Mormon books."

    This is an assertion, not an argument. You need to learn how to argue your position, not merely assert it.

    No, you're not familiar with Mormon teachings.

    1. Around here, we are familiar with Mormon teachings because we've actually read and interacted with them.

    2. Quotes:


    Henry D. Taylor, Conference Report, October 1967, Pg.142

    Having been begotten of an immortal sire, Jesus possessed as a heritage the power to withstand death indefinitely. He literally and really gave up his life. It was not taken from him.

    CHRIST NOT BEGOTTEN OF HOLY GHOST. I believe firmly that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. He taught this doctrine to his disciples. He did not teach them that He was the Son of the Holy Ghost, but the Son of the Father....Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God! (JFS, DoS 1:18).


    Mormons differ from other Christians in our literal belief that we are begotten of God spiritually and that Christ was begotten of him physically. Paul says in Acts that we are God's offspring (17:28-29). We believe that our spiritual conception was sexual just as we believe that Christ's mortal conception was. Elucidating the latter, James E. Talmage says, "That child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law, but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof" (1986, 81). Robert Rees, Bishop, 1st LA Ward



    "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the son of the Eternal Father!" [Pres. Ezra Taft Benson) cited in J. F. McConkie, Here We Stand p. 167]



    "That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure through mortal maternity, was of right to be called the 'Son of the Highest'" (James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 23rd ed., p. 81; quoted in Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual: Religion 231-232, p. 9; quoted in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles [New Testament Student Manual: Religion 211–212], p. 24)

    We can provide more...

    Oh, and by the way...this thread isn't about Mormonism. You used it as an opportunity to post a tract that you were posting here in January. We responded to it then. I've entertained you enough. You do not have carte blanche to post on Mormonism in discussions not involving it.

    You have a blog, you can start another blog. Instead of coopting others' blogs, post your tract there and start doing some writing to refute our alleged errors there. Coopting this blog and any others will make you no friends and will, on this blog, earn you a quick ban. We've done it before for others, and we'll do it for you too. This is your ONLY warning.

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  11. Dear Mormons,

    I will entertain your display of misinformation on my blog. Please continue your struggle with LDS identity. I do have to warn you that you do not have free reign on my blog either. So long as you play nice and stick to the subject, I will permit you to comment. I reserve the right to ban you for bad behavior at any time and without warning.

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