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For LDS only...some tricky questions

Discussion in 'Latter-day Saints DIR' started by Truth_Faith13, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. Truth_Faith13

    Truth_Faith13 Active Member

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    Hi Orontes,

    Firstly I am very grateful for all of your posts (alongside Clear, Katz and Jane) so please do continue posting. It does take me a while to digest and engage sometimes as unfortunately with two young kids, my brain doesn't seem to work as well as it used to and I don't get much chance to sit and read properly. It's usually a quick skim through. I try and catch up when the kids have gone to bed but I usually end up falling asleep on the sofa :) The time difference won't help either!

    Thank-you for the way in which you post as well, you make it very easy to understand the point you are trying to make. In terms of 2) the logical critique. Would you mind writing out how you would for the Godhead please? I'm struggling to see the difference between the points you have written and the ideas of the Godhead.
     
  2. Truth_Faith13

    Truth_Faith13 Active Member

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    Clear,

    I haven't heard of the early Christians texts you mention (with the exception of the dead sea scrolls but even then I don't know much about their content). Would you mind giving me some background on the texts you have mentioned please? Who wrote them? Where did they come from? Why don't mainstream christianity use them? (I'm assuming because they can't and conflict with their ideas?) Do mainstream Christian churches see these texts as heresies?

    Am I right in thinking your point is LDS can use ALL early christian texts without being in contention with the mainstream scriptures such as the Bible where as mainstream Christian churches cannot do this?
     
  3. Truth_Faith13

    Truth_Faith13 Active Member

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    Hi Katz,

    I am praying about it and reading! I will rely on the answer from God in the long term!

    The issue at the moment is as Jane said, learning to understand His voice so that I am not "scammed" by a fake call. I have been spending lots of time with the Sisters and I really enjoy spending time with them. They are coming over today to watch films (the ones they are allowed to) and chill. I definitely get a "feel good" feeling with them but whether it is the Spirit, I don't know. It does feel different to when I pray. So it could just be me "enjoying" their company as opposed to the Spirit telling me I am on the right path. I am also just coming to the end of an episode of postnatal anxiety and so am not making any decisions while I'm still taking medication and still feeling anxious at times!

    I certainly won't be making a decision soley based on who "wins the argument". My questions are more for me to fully understand the doctrines of both Catholicism and Mormonism. I've already learnt something new about Catholicism as had misinterpreted their understanding of apostolic succession. Obviously if one doctrine appears to be anti biblical then that's a different matter. I'm not so concerned with extra biblical. To give an example the Bible clearly states baptism. Obviously churches disagree about the methods, age, what it means etc but as a whole baptism is clearly and plainly in the Bible. However the salvation army do not baptise.

    Some of my questions are just trying to make sure I am understanding you all (Catholics and LDS) so I may question/critique etc but it's not necessarily because I disagree with your points, just that I'm trying to make sure I understand them correctly.

    Some are just general interest and will have no bearing on my decision.

    Mainly it's because I don't want history to repeat itself. I'm taking my time this time. Ive had days where I have wanted to be LDS and days where I have wanted to be Catholic. Most of my days I am unsure. Im trying to make sure I separate, the spiritual from the social, the truth from the worldly.

    Catholicism probably has more teachings that Im unsure on but there is a lot in Catholicism I can understand. Mormonism has a lot I *like* (but again it's not about what I like) specifically Godhead, degrees of glory and plan of salvation. I probably feel more spiritual in a Catholic Church but that may be a consequence of growing up loving stained glass windows, incense, statues, the liturgy etc. I also went to Catholic primary school. Just as a Pentecostal worship conference can give you that high of excitement, Catholic Churches do the same for reverence, spirituality, and a *thinking space* to shut off from the world.

    I suppose from a historical, logical perspective, Im currently more for Catholicism but from a *want* perspective, Im more for mormonism. I actually want Mormonism to be true and I dont want Catholicism to be true but I am drawn to both and its not about what I *want*.

    I prefer the Catholic view of angels specifically guardian angels. I thought I believed the real presence but after reading a non denominational article, his points made sense and Im now not sure. I love the modern worship songs of the evangelical, Pentecostals etc. I love communion in the Church of England and how you kneel to receive the bread and wine.

    Even silly things, like my two children are christened. I did a party with a cake and ivory silk clothes for them to wear and they have three godparents (the church of England tradition, two of same sex, one of different). I'm very big on trying to do the same for each child and we are planning another....

    I'm not sure about the esoteric nature of Mormonism (is that the right word). As you can tell, I like to have my information before making a well informed (alongside spiritual) decision.

    I hope this gives you some insight into the craziness of my mind at the moment and where I am at. I'm waiting for some books to arrive to star doing my own research as well at the same time as trying to understand what Gods voice sounds like!
     
    #323 Truth_Faith13, Nov 19, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
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  4. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Truth_Faith, I am in full agreement with this statement. I don't know that there is an official LDS statement on the subject, but I do feel that most of the LDS leadership would agree with it, as well.

    I agree with this statement, too. In fact, if you (Truth_Faith) are interested in yet another book, I could recommend, "How Greek Philosophy Corrupted the Christian Concept of God." It goes into the specifics of how the idea of a triune God developed and how the doctrine of the Trinity is founded on the Greek Philosophers' idea of what God "had to be." It was quite different from the God the Hebrews believed in.
     
    #324 Katzpur, Nov 19, 2016
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  5. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    I am so glad to hear that. (I should have never doubted you. :oops: )

    I can totally relate to that. Totally.

    Baptism is a good example. It's one I have used on many occasions when I'm talking about the differences between the many different Christian denominations. But -- since you brought it up ;) -- now might be a good time for you to stop and think about the purpose behind it. Throughout the New Testament, baptism is consistently spoken of in conjunction with repentance and with the remission of sins. It is something to be undertaken when an individual (1) actually has sinned, and (2) has the ability to recognize and repent of his sins. Does the Catholic baptism of infants make sense when considered in this light?

    I sincerely admire how you're going about making your decision this time around.

    Well, I've got to agree with you about worshiping in a beautiful Catholic cathedral verses a relatively sparse Mormon meetinghouse. I have been to Catholic masses twice, and went to an evensong in Westminster when we were in London a year ago. There is definitely something very, very powerful associated with the grandeur of a Catholic cathedral, and it truly does invoke a spiritual feeling.

    By the way, we do have christenings. We just call them blessings. They are performed at church on new babies (generally about a month old). There is just no baptism associated with it.

    Again, good luck and God bless.
     
    #325 Katzpur, Nov 19, 2016
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  6. Truth_Faith13

    Truth_Faith13 Active Member

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    Something new I have learnt about mormonism. The Holy Spirit is only in one place at a time but His influence is felt everywhere. I always assumed LDS believed the HS to be omnipresent. What's the reasoning behind this?
     
  7. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    The issue of omnipresence, particularly with respect to the Holy Ghost, is an interesting one. To begin with, the words "omnipresence" and "omnipresent" are found nowhere in the Bible. Like other words that are frequently used to describe God, it is used to describe a concept or idea found in the Bible. When you start actually using that specific word, however, you almost immediately encounter problems. You already understand, I know, that Mormons believe that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are physically "in Heaven." That fact in no way implies that their power, knowledge and authority are limited to Heaven alone. Because they have physical bodies of flesh and bones, however, they cannot physically be everywhere at once, which would be the case if they were physically or ontologically omnipresent.

    A spirit, not having flesh and bone itself, can, however, reside within a physical body of flesh and bone, as your spirit resides within you. A spirit, on the other hand, is not restricted to the confines of a single place, but can be in multiple places at the same time, i.e present everywhere or "omnipresent." The Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 tells us, "Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us." The Spirit (i.e. the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit) can simultaneously dwell in me and in you and He doesn't have to make us take turns in being with us. I'm speaking not just of His influence but Him -- an actual member of the Godhead. The fact that He can be in more than one place at one time, however, does not mean that He actually is "everywhere at once." I don't believe He was with Osama bin Laden when he and his followers were celebrating the destruction that took place on 9/11/01. I don't believe He was with Jack the Ripper as he brutally murdered his innocent victims. If, by "omnipresent" we mean that He actually is everywhere at once, no we don't believe He is. But we believe He absolutely can be everywhere He chooses to be at once. The scriptures speak of the Father sending the Holy Spirit to Christ's followers. If He (the Spirit) was truly omnipresent in the way most Christians believe He was, there would have been no reason for the Father to have had to send Him anywhere; He'd already be there. Make sense?
     
    #327 Katzpur, Nov 20, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  8. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
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    True_Faith13 asked : "The Holy Spirit is only in one place at a time but His influence is felt everywhere. I always assumed LDS believed the HS to be omnipresent. What's the reasoning behind this?"

    I assume by "reasoning" you are asking for a model of how omnipresence works? (rather than the "reasoning" why a thing is as it is...).

    I would think the reasoning and logic and model of cell phone service would serve as a simple base model for the type of omnipresence the Holy Spirit has. In the same way that the transmitter of cell phone service is in a discrete place, while it's signals are "omnipresent" in that they are sent out in space and received either by all, few, some or even by discrete individuals, I think it is quite logical that the spirit is able to operate metaphysically along similar lines.

    This does not mean that the ancients were even able to think this way or even conceive of the obviousness of this mechanism.

    In this day and age of cell phones it is obvious that there is not one big cell phone that “fills the universe” to explain “omnipresence”, but rather the obvious model is that a signal itself may be somewhat “omnipresent” and fill the vast voids, but the origin, the transmitter itself, may be a discrete entity in a single space. In the age of theologians, when they were trying to come up with their best model of how the Holy Spirit can communicate with far reaches of geographical space, perhaps it seemed easier to simply imagine the Holy Spirit himself to “fill the universe” rather than the Spirit having influence which is able to emanate over distance and space.

    Truth_Faith13 I noticed your post on early Judeo-Christian Texts and will get back to you later today. I also agree with your own self opinion that if you are having post partum anxieties, this is not a good time to think clearly and make decisions. Study things out but wait until you are off medicines and feeling normal before you expect to have clear thinking.


    Clear
    φυφινενεω
     
    #328 Clear, Nov 20, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  9. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    Happy to. One note, trinitarianism is not a single position. There is more than one version. This is both the case on a philosophical level and within formal creedal statements.


    Another note: though it is common for Mormons to use the term Godhead as a contrast to the Trinity. The terms themselves are not particularly relevant. Mormons in the past also used the term trinity, it fell out of favor in the mid-Twentieth Century when there was a push to distinguish Mormon Thought from larger Christian positions (the same applies to the use of crosses). The term trinity predates the Nicene Council and extends beyond it. There is not just one form of trinitarianism.

    Here is the logical challenge again:

    1) There is one God
    2) The Father is God
    3) The Son is God
    4) The Father is not the same as the Son

    I will explain what I think the Mormon position is and then give how that position deals with the logical challenge I used against the Nicene stance. I think the Mormon notion of the Godhead is a subordinationist social trinitarianism. I'll explain what I mean. The social trinitarian component is that each of the three members are fully distinct persons. I say this in the most robust sense. The members of the Godhead are bound together in a unity of purpose and intent, a complete openness to each other and an indwelling relationship of love. There is no erasure of self at any level. As it relates to the an indwelling relationship of love: the concept I am using here when taken from the Greek is perichoresis. The easiest way to explain its meaning is to think of dancing partners twirling and spinning in complete harmony. Their actions are unified, but their personhood is not challenged. How would that apply to 1) in my logical critique? Two dancers are not one dancer. How then can there be one God? This leads to the other element I put forward: subordinationism.

    Subordinationism means there is a hierarchy. The Father is at the apex. He is God simpliciter. What then to do with 3) in my critique? The Son and the Holy Ghost submit to the Father fully and completely. In and through that subordination to the Father, they participate in His full Divinity and are thereby also Divine. There is an equivocation that is at the heart of this notion of Godhood. God can be a being, but also a way of being. Any who participate fully in that way of being, are also God. Understanding this participatory component of God allows one to understand Christ's kenosis (His emptying of Himself) when He went from the pre-mortal Jehovah of the Old Testament, to a mortal child, with all the frailties of the human experience to walk the path of Savior. It also allows one to understand deification ( the exaltation) of mankind where those who have repented and fully opened themselves participate in at-one-ment. This is exaltation.


    Prior to the Nicene Council the common theological stance was subordinationism. Origen was a simple example and he was the theological benchmark for all Christian theologians up to the gathering at Nicene. What changed with the Nicene Creed? The change is in the assertion: "(The Son) is one substance with the Father". This claim is a metaphysical position. It removes the possibility of the Son being subordinate, as one cannot subordinate what is one substance. Sub-point: if subordinationism was the common theological posture up to the Council? Why would there be a sharp change? There are two base reasons.

    1) Philosophical assumptions: Christian theologians of the Fourth Century were working under Greek conceptual terms. This was mentioned before. As it applies to the idea of God. They operated under the Greek logic of perfection. To whit: in order of a discussion about God to occur, one must be clear on the meaning of the term. God includes something being perfect. If it is not perfect, it cannot be reasonably considered God. Another essential component of the concept of God is necessity. What is necessary being, cannot not be, and cannot be otherwise. This is contrasted with contingent: something that may exist, but is not required. For example, an elephant may exist, but there is no logical requirement. God must be necessary being, otherwise He would be dependent for His existence on some other thing, which undercuts perfection. Now, if one claims Jesus is divine, then He too must be necessary being. This then leads to opting for verbiage that equate the Father and the Son.

    2) Linguistic component. According to the Tradition, there were 318 bishops at the Council of Nicene. Of these only 6 were from the Western Empire (the Bishop of Rome was not an attendee and no one noticed or cared as Rome was not vital to the Church at the time). The term "one substance" in the Greek is homoousios. The prefix homo means same. Ousios is more complicated, more nuanced. At its core it means being, but secular use included essence. Essence can connote the idea of class. For example, one could say under this usage: man and elephant are the same essence. This would focus on their commonality of kind, i.e. as being living things and mammals. Latin does not have this nuance. In Latin the transliteration of homoousios is consubstantialis. The suffix substantiialis is where we get in English substance. Just like in English, were one to say man and elephant are the same substance. The meaning is quite different and doesn't allow for the possibilities in Greek. Because of this, the Latin Bishop speakers at Nicene viewed the concept in stark terms. Why is this important? Why would 6 bishops from the periphery matter? The reason is because Constantine the Roman Emperor came from the West, He spoke Latin and knew little to no Greek. His confessor was Bishop Hosius of Cordova (Spain) who was one of the 6 attendees from the Western part of the Empire. It is known from the details of the council that it was Constantine who demanded homoousis be inserted in the creedal statement. Once Constantine made his position known, all bishops in attendance bowed to his will (except for two). Why would Constantine, a non-Greek speaker do this? The general view is his confessor Hosius was in his ear and got the Emperor to demand the inclusion. For his part Constantine was a practical Roman and simply wanted a unified stance. He didn't concern himself with the subtleties of theology. (It should be noted however, that when Constantine was ultimately baptized, right before his death,, he was baptized by an Arian Bishop. He changed his mind on the matter later in life).

    Is the above helpful?
     
    #329 Orontes, Nov 20, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
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  10. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    The Holy Ghost is a person with a spirit body. He is then by definition localized, just as Christ is. The Spirit (though it can be used to refer to an individual) is not a person, but a force. It is the Father's presence that covers and interacts with all that is. In the scriptures this force can be referred to as the spirit, light or God's glory for example. In Greek the distinction would be the same as the difference of psyche that is individualized: a person's mind, or spirit or soul and pneuma that is non-individuated, and encompassing, like wind which is what the word actually means. The Holy Ghost's role is to be a testator of truth. This can be done by using the spirit that connects to all things, to communicate with us at our most intimate level: the soul.
     
    #330 Orontes, Nov 20, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  11. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
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    Truth_Faith13 said : I haven't heard of the early Christians texts you mention (with the exception of the dead sea scrolls but even then I don't know much about their content). Would you mind giving me some background on the texts you have mentioned please? Who wrote them?

    Who wrote the ancient texts
    Firstly, no one knows for sure who wrote any of the earliest sacred Literature.

    For example, we do not know who wrote any Old or New Testament book. We attribute their authorship by tradition. That is : It is tradition that Moses wrote the first book of Moses (called “Genesis” in American bibles). However, historians have long pointed out that Moses could not have written of his own death in the Old Testament, thus he did not write the entire book. Similarly, we attribute the authorship of N.T. "matthew" to the disciple by that name. However, no one knows who wrote matthew and we cannot prove it was actually Matthew who wrote the book nor any other book. The same is true of all other books in the Old and New Testament.

    Still, these books are sacred and valuable in that they are a valuable witness to the earliest Christian movement, what was taught, what was believed and done. The same is true of almost all of the earliest historical witness of early Judeo-Christianity in all their forms. It is only as one moves from the earliest texts and then into the later texts, one is able to objectively prove with any confidence who wrote a specific text.

    You mentioned the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    The same is true regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls. No one knows who any specific author was, or even who created this library. The early discoverers found the texts near a settlement at Qumran and assumed the settlers were the authors, but this theory is out of favor since there are more than 1200 books and several hundred different writers, but there were only approx. 300 men, women and Children who lived in the Qumran settlement. If 1/2 to 2/3rd were men this leave only 150 -200 writers, which does not come close to the number of authors and different scripts discovered in the various texts.

    I think the theory that these texts represent the ancient Jerusalem Library is probably gaining more popularity at this point. If the copper scroll is authentic (it is an index to where ancient Israels national treasures were hidden from the romans), then this theory is probably correct. In fact, Israel just announced more expeditions to explore for more caves and texts since they believe there is much that has not been discovered. We’ll see how that pans out for them.

    The background of sacred texts - the principle of texts as witnesses
    My interest is in sacred early texts that form the context of early Judeo-Christian literature. The value these texts as a vast but, coherent witness should be obvious. If a Christian convert from 100 a.d. writes a diary of their conversion and describes their beliefs and practices, this is a single witness describing his Christianity. It might represent orthodoxy, or heresy.

    However, if one can find 100 such diaries, and all describe the same beliefs and practices, then one can see a pattern of belief that has a higher chance of representing orthodoxy. Now, one can also look for various popular Christian literature which were used by a large number of early Christian groups for a long period of time and by various groups over large geographical distances. These form an even better witness as to what early beliefs and practices were. Such literature becomes even more important if one can compare themes of beliefs in literature which were generated by and used by different and independent Christian groups that were separated by geographical distance and time.

    The principle is obvious. If I, as a Mormon, write a diary as to what I am taught and believe in 1900. If someone finds my diary 500 years later and reads my diary, my writings might represent orthodox Mormon thought, or that of a heretic. However, if one looks at 500 or 1000 of these half-century old diaries on Mormon doctrine and finds distinct and repeated patterns and descriptions, then one has a higher chance of finding descriptions that are authentic and genuine popular / orthodox doctrines of Mormons 500 years ago.

    The same principle is true of early Judeo-Christian literature. The literature is valuable as it forms witnesses to the early Judeo-Christian beliefs and their interpretations of other literature such as the bible.

    It's late for me and I'm going to stop here and continue further thoughts tomorrow.

    Clear
    φυφυσετζω
     
    #331 Clear, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  12. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
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    Truth_Faith13 said : "I haven't heard of the early Christians texts you mention...Would you mind giving me some background on the texts you have mentioned please? ..."

    The many and varied types of ancient Judeo-Christian literature of belief
    Some of the early Judeo-Christian literature I’ve referred to was in various Christian bibles : Barnabas, Hermas, Jubilees, Enoch. Some were used as source material for the Bible : e.g. Enoch. Some is simply early literature held sacred by early Christians : early diaries (e.g. perpetua and felicity), early psalms and synagogal prayers, early hymns (the pearl), early fiction and non-fiction literature (the various Clements), pseudepigraphs (literature written under a pseudonymn), The Talmud is the Jewish Oral Law (the “other half” of the written law – Torah, books of moses, etc.).

    Ascension literature refers, in this case, to early Judeo-Christian literature that describes the visions of various prophets who have visions or ascensions into heavenly realms (ascension of Moses, ascencion of Isaiah, apocalypse of Abraham, etc..) Decensus literature refers to the descent of Jesus as a spirit into the spirit world to resurrect the individuals who are there from Adam down to Jesus’ day (gospel of nichodemus, etc.). There is a genre of early Christian literature that is “40 day” literature. That is, it describes early traditions regarding what Jesus taught the disciples during the 40 days between his resurrection and his ascension into heaven. (discourse on Abbaton, etc. ).


    There is a great deal of witness literature (testimony of the 12 patriarchs), some of it is simple teaching material (didache from approx 100 a.d.), and there are early lectionaries, commentaries, there is a great deal of early Jewish literature that fits into similar categories, The Zohar, The haggada, the Talmud is broken down into mishnic parts, discussions of law, anechdotal and parable-like stories, etc. There is a great deal of Islamic history that was gained from early historians like Al-Thalabi. But much of Al-Thalabis sources were Jewish. Thus some of the Jewish history such as the early Abrahamic youth histories cross over into Islamic texts. This is true of multiple doctrinal themes. For example, the earliest histories regarding the origin of Lucifer/Devil meet at the cross roads of ancient Jewish, Christian, and Islamic literature and all of these categories agree on this early teaching.

    Also, much of the early literature is of mixed type and is difficult to place into a simple category. For example, Archbishop Timothy of Jerusalem was researching the Jerusalem library for “old documents” to discuss the early angel “Abbaton”. This was the name of the angel who came to take souls at death. His resulting “discourse on Abbaton” has more to do with the teachings of Jesus during the 40 days than it does the “angel of death”. And, obviously, the Archbishop of Jerusalem would have been seen as an “orthodox” source.

    Much of the literature is similarly, difficult to categorize. For example, the term “Gnostic” became a “trash basket term” and thus, MUCH of what is not Gnostic, was simply labeled Gnostic. Much of the earliest literature is syncretic. The Enochian literature for example, starts out Jewish and very, very popular. There are more Enochs in the dead sea scroll library than any other book outside of the Pentateuch other than the psalms! However, Enoch was also put to use by the Christians and parts are not original Jewish. This should not surprise anyone since much early Jewish literature has Christian usage (the Old Testament is used by Christians).

    I suppose I could go on with poetic and other literature. But you get the point. The vast amount of early religious literature covers almost every conceivable genre and subject. And, we do not have to leave the earliest periods to even discuss later histories such as was generated in the later age of the Church Fathers. We have also left out much. For example, I did not mention the earliest church sermon (I Clement) that comes from New Testament era, and I did not mention the Apostolic Fathers. These are written during a time when an apostle could have been alive or the writer could have known an apostle. For example, Papias was “a hearer of John”. Clement was a colleague of Peter (and later a bishop of the roman congregation). Some of this stuff is very, very old, some pre-christ, some post Christ.

    Do you see the difficulty of simple categorization, and simple description of early literature? And, I admit, there are a lot of early literature descriptions, but I am going on memory and what has come to my mind as I sit and type.

    The common principle is that they all serve as a witness to early belief, traditions and practices of early Judeo-Christians.
    This is not to say the anecdotes or stories are perfectly true, (even the Talmud of the orthodox Jews often relates simple simile), but it is to say that these texts represent
    BELIEF of the authors and their readers. Themes and principles that are repeated and come up in different forms and repeated patterns represent a belief of a large group of Judeo-Christians over a long period of time and over large geographical space.

    Comparing early patterns of doctrines and practice with modern patterns of doctrines and practices.
    The earliest texts were, obviously, written by the earliest Judeo-Christians and, whether right or wrong, they reflect the beliefs of these ancient Judeo-Christians. One can then compare any modern belief to the pattern of early belief and see how they match. If there was a degree of apostasy and evolution of doctrine away from the early doctrines, then modern doctrinal patterns will frequently be quite different than early doctrinal patterns. To the degree that a modern doctrine remains unchanged or has been restored, it will be similar to ancient belief patterns. (I used the sower and seed as an example in post #252). An authentic restoration of early Judeo-Christian theology should have many, many parallels to early base belief patterns. The comparison of LDS doctrines to the ancient doctrines display mulitple, distinct, objective, parallels and patterns. This means something very, very important.

    I am writing between appointments at work, so my thoughts will not be as organized nor as coherent as when I can stay at my desk and give more thought to what I am writing. I will continue on some of your other comments later.


    Good luck in coming to terms with the avalanche of new information. I hope it does not confuse anyone.

    Clear

    φθφθσισεω
     
    #332 Clear, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  13. Clear

    Clear Well-Known Member
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    Regarding Early Judeo-Christian texts :

    1) Truth_Faith13 asked : Why don't mainstream christianity use them? (I'm assuming because they can't and conflict with their ideas?)
    I do not think most Christians are aware of the existence of early Judeo-Christian literature, and most who are aware, do not understand them, and if they do understand them, they misunderstand their providence, and if they are aware of their doctrinal providence, are usually unaware of their historical import and what they might have to add. For example, you seem to be a good Christian but have been unaware of them and what they are as was I when I was a young Christian. The only reason my own children are aware of them is because they grew up in a historically aware home.

    The Talmud tells us that the Rabbis forbade the study of any inquiries into Pre-creation existence and thus, all literature regarding pre-existent themes would have been lost to their consciousness within a single generation. This explains why ancient Judaism and their writings both knew about and assumed pre-existence of spirits and modern Judaism and their writings, often does not.


    2) Truth_Faith13 asked : Do mainstream Christian churches see these texts as heresies?

    I do not think most Christians even know enough about them to have an opinion. I do not think most LDS know much about them. When the texts are used to support their doctrines, Christians are generally very excited about them. When the texts disagree with them, the same Christians often change their mind and then feel they are heretical. The “test” for whether something is inspired and correct is often whether whether the early Christians agree with one’s own opinion.

    For example, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, it was hailed as one of the most important religious discoveries of our generation. Once the scrolls came to light and the Judaism of the texts came to light, they described an ancient Judaism that was far too Christian for their comfort. They described a presidency of three, a council of 12, a Eucharistic meal, a ritual washing (baptism), etc. They were so much “Christian” that the Jewish Scholar Zeitlin declared that they were Christian!. The Christians did not like them because it described “a Christianity before Christianity was supposed to exist” in their opinion.

    The initial excitement waned among those who had hoped that the scrolls could be used to support their own doctrinal position. The LDS and the historians and a few others were among those who remained excited about the sectarian texts. Charlesworth, in his approx 2000 page tome regarding Jewish pseudepigraphs thanks the LDS church for their financial contributions toward discovery, translation, and printing of these texts in his famous volume. The LDS church realized their value as witnesses as to the nature and doctrine and practices of early Judeo-Christianity. The membership is, to a great extent, oblivious.


    3) Truth_Faith13 asked : Am I right in thinking your point is LDS can use ALL early christian texts without being in contention with the mainstream scriptures such as the Bible where as mainstream Christian churches cannot do this?
    Not quite. There are certain points of agreement with even “mainstream” churches. For example, the specific witnesses that Jesus is the Christ and the only source for salvation is in agreement with all Christian churches, including the LDS.


    However, since most churches have lost the doctrine of pre-mortal existence and the importance of pre-mortal happenings, very, very few, can use this data without causing ripples while the LDS can use it well (as could the early Judeo-Christians who believed in Pre-mortal existence of spirits of mankind).

    As I pointed out, the doctrine of a post-mortal existence of a world of spirits (spirit world) is useable by both the Catholics and the LDS; by a few of the protestants, but it would cause some doctrinal ripples with Catholics, it would cause consternation and gnashing of teeth among some of the protestants who do not believe in the LDS model of there being a chance to be taught and accept Christ after death, and it a wonderful and parallel model to restorational theology. This is important since there must be some mechanism for individuals who lived and died without ever hearing about Jesus Christ to have this knowledge. It is unjust to send such individuals to mortal life and then punish them in a hell for not accepting a Savior they never heard of. The ancient model described in say, the gospel of Nicodemus IS the LDS base model.

    So, while these texts are available to ALL individuals and churches, some can use the data very well and for multiple doctrines, others cannot use the data very well and only for a couple of points, and Others can use only rare bits of the doctrines. There is also a degree of contamination in all old texts, stuff that is undecipherable and some textual "trash" as well. It's not all in good shape.

    However, ANY theological movement which is similar to the ancient Judeo-Christian religion should be able to use the ancient Judeo-Christian documents and those who are NOT similar to the ancient Judeo-Christian religion should be able to use these documents LESS well to support and explain their doctrines and practices.

    In any case, you will have to study a long time to become familiar with all of them in any depth. Good luck in making sense of this simple point that the ancient Christians also left textual witnesses to what they believed and how they interpreted the scriptures and one can simply read such witnesses to give the ancient Christians a voice.

    Clear
    φυφυακνεω
     
    #333 Clear, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  14. Truth_Faith13

    Truth_Faith13 Active Member

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    Just wanted to stop by and say thank-you for the posts! I think I'm going to take a couple of days to read back through this thread and digest the points/information you have given me as well as praying and reading some of the books which have been recommended. So if I don't post, I'm not ignoring your posts! :)
     
  15. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    Good luck to you. The devotional life includes an intellectual component, but I believe the core lay with the heart. Part of the value of prayer is in asking one's heart be open to feel the spirit and then having the wherewithal to follow.
     
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  16. DeepShadow

    DeepShadow White Crow

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    Okay, I'll take a few, but I reserve the right to lose steam if/when we see serious shenanigans:

    From the top, skipping Emma, we have the infamous Fanny Alger. Strangely, the site skips the few references to their actual marriage in favor of the much more flimsy evidence of a sexual relationship. This is consistent with many polygamy critics: they consider the claim that such marriages were spiritual in nature--and never consummated--as impossibly naive, even when DNA testing has backed this up repeatedly. The truth is, it appears that Joseph's concept of celestial marriage was of marriage without sex, which boggles the minds of critics who think he was some kind of sex maniac. Seriously, if he wanted sex, why bother to create a system for unconsummated unions and then sneak sex in the back door!? There was already a system in place in these communities for sex without marriage--apostate John C. Bennett's "spiritual wifery". This "free love" heresy had developed like a plague in Mormon communities, to the point that many of those who knew about it believed Joseph had given it the okay. If it was free sex Joseph wanted, Bennett's heresy could deliver that in spades--all he had to do was endorse it, as many thought he already had. Instead, Joseph denounced this wicked practice and replaced it with a system of (mostly or completely) unconsummated marriages, at least with respect to his own wives. Rather odd behavior for someone who wanted lots of sex, no?

    Getting back to Fanny Alger, beyond the fact that Joseph was sealed to Fanny, and that Emma was upset and had the girl removed from their home, not much is actually known. The website tries to hint at a sexual relationship, quoting Chauncy Webb and his daughter Ann Eliza, while failing to note that Chauncy's stories were published in a terribly biased anti-Mormon rag, on the same page as a baseless accusations that Joseph came up for the idea for polygamy in a brothel. Seriously. Meanwhile, the website says Ann Eliza "recalls [things about Joseph, Emma and Fanny]" while she could not have "recalled" these things because she was born 11 years after the events she describes. She also said these things in a scandal-sheet memoir "Wife No. 19, or The story of a Life in Bondage," which makes it hard to consider her an unbiased source.

    The racy account by William McLellin of Joseph and Fanny getting caught in the barn was/is very popular among critics of the prophet...so popular, in fact, that he gave no less than three recorded statements on the subject, one of which swapped Fanny's last name for "Hill." All of them statements are heresay--he repeats what he claims to have heard from Emma Smith, despite Emma having zero motive to say such things and contradicting him to her deathbed. And all this coming from a man who was repeatedly excommunicated for adultery, who was an active persecutor of the church in the mob era, and who robbed Emma Smith of her property right in front of her in her own home, while her husband was in jail. She had to keep her children from sleeping in the cold because this man had stolen their bedding.

    What was that I said about running out of steam?

    I'll try a few more.

    Lucinda Harris - No marriage date, her husband didn't know, one hearsay witness to corroborate she was married to Joseph AT ALL. Zero evidence of an affair, unless you count the scare-quotes part about Joseph picking a lot for their house that was close to his own. Oh, and she cried a whole lot when he died. Hardly a smoking gun.

    Louisa Beaman - NOW we finally have witnesses and records! Of course they make a big deal of where the two spent their wedding night, and that Louisa had five children, but they were all by her second husband. Are we to believe that this couple just go lucky on that front in an era with little to no birth control? She was obviously quite fertile, as her second husband found out...

    Zina Huntington Jacobs--website omits that Zina was sealed to her husband Henry for time, and to Joseph for Eternity. Consistent with this, she lived with Henry and bore him children, and would only be Joseph's wife in eternity. Again, this is odd if Joseph's goal was to have sex with her.

    Sylvia Sessions Lyon--once again, married to her husband for time, Joseph for eternity. Bore several children that died, last one lived and said her mother told her on her deathbed that she was Joseph's child, much to the critics delight. They are overlooking the fact that there are many ways to construe the statement--especially in that context, she may have been saying that the girl would be Joseph's child in eternity. At any rate, DNA tests confirmed that this statement could not refer to a biological relationship.

    Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner--Full of scare quotes, ("Zion"?!) lots of innuendo, but there's scant evidence that this was anything other than a spiritual-only marriage. When asked about Joseph's biological children later in life, she said a few had introduced themselves to her, which pretty much rules out any of them being hers. And before people jump all over her saying she met Joseph's plural kids, remember that while they may have thought the prophet was their father, they were wrong as far as we can tell. As far as why Joseph was having spiritual-only marriages with other men's wives, I really don't know, but the sex angle just does not add up. Here's a pretty good summary of the already-married.

    Since I'm now seeing more and more evidence that these marriages were not consummated, the fact that he married two other 14-year-olds is moot to me: not only was that not too unusual an age to get married, but it's pretty ho-hum for a sexless marriage. He basically just kept them chaste until his death when they married other people...which may have actually been the whole point. As a father of two daughters, I can see the appeal of a system where girls are spiritually "married" to the prophet for a few years until they grew more into adulthood. Not so much necessary these days, when the average marriage age is higher, but back then they were still reeling from the blows of the "spiritual wifery" heresy, and unmarried girls were a liability when women outnumbered the men so much. For that matter, so were married women whose husbands were frequently out of town, like Mary Lightner. This brings us full circle to my original paradox: if Joseph wanted to have lots of sex with lots of women with no strings attached, why destroy a system that delivered exactly that, and replace it with a system of nothing but strings?! See Meg Stout's Faithful Joseph series if you would like to see thorough research on this hypothesis. I think she makes a solid case.

    I'll leave off there for now. I'm not opposed to doing more research if you have more questions, but I'll warn you that the list of wives is really a Gish Gallop. Each woman had a unique set of circumstances that led to her marriage to the prophet, and accusations have to be refuted individually using details and clarifications so that the rebuttal can't fit in a small space like the list does. This creates the appearance of a winning argument because the list is easy to toss out but takes an exhausting amount of time and energy to argue with, especially in real time. So if you have more concerns, please be specific.

    That's all for now!

    P. S. Hey Katz! I'm posting on a Saturday! :)
     
  17. DeepShadow

    DeepShadow White Crow

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    This is part of how doctrine adds to and enriches itself over time. One can imagine how easy it was for early saints to oversimplify and just say "The HS is everywhere," but as more is revealed, we get a tweak: the influence is everywhere, even though the HS has a localized presence somewhere.

    Unfortunately, some people see new clarifying revelation as contradiction or even heresy. It reminds me of when I was in first grade, and we got a computer at home (a VIC-20, the kind with cassette tapes!) and it had a math program that told me, among other things, that 5 - 7 = -2. When my first grade teacher said "You cannot subtract a larger number from a smaller one," this became an issue. Who was right? Well, they both were. For the purposes of that classroom, I was not supposed to use integers. That was supposed to come much later, after I had learned more. Integers were an expansion of what I had learned in primary grades, not a contradiction.
     
  18. Truth_Faith13

    Truth_Faith13 Active Member

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    Hi all, hope you are all well! I'm still around, reading, studying, praying, meeting the missionaries. They just had transfers so one has moved on and we have two new ones (so 3 in total!).

    Random question, I know those who have already died are currently in spirit prison/spirit paradise and haven't recieved exaltation yet as that happens after the final judgement but why does D&C 132 talk about Abraham being exalted?
     
  19. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    There are a few (a very few) exceptions to this general rule. Abraham would be one of them. Others would be Moroni, Peter, James and John. This, if I understand correctly, is because they have or will have the need of a corporeal body prior to the Second Coming of Christ. For example, Peter, James and John could not have laid their hands on Joseph Smith to confer the priesthood upon him if they were still merely spirits.
     
    #339 Katzpur, Dec 5, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  20. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    Christ's mortal ministry is tied to the Meridian of Time. A meridian refers to the 180 degree point of a 360 degree system. It is therefore the midpoint of a whole. What would the midpoint of a temporal system, a la the Meridian of Time, be? It is Christ's resurrection. Why would Christ's resurrection (where He is the first) be connected to a midpoint? The first act of a thing and a midpoint don't seem to cohere. The answer is found in the Doctrine and Covenants (DC) Section 138. The entire section is concerned with the time Christ visits the realm of the dead between His death and resurrection. This is noted in 1 Peter 3: 18-20

    “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”​

    In DC 138 the fuller scope of Christ preaching to the spirits of the dead is explained. This is a revelation given to the prophet and president of the Church in 1918. It is noted that the spirits of the just who had died faithful to Christ were gathered together waiting on their deliverance. What is that deliverance? It is explained being the escape from the bands of death. Death is the separation of the body and the spirit. Therefore, the escape would be resurrection. The Section notes a list from a vast congregation of spirits of those who were part of the just dead. Abraham is listed as one. The section goes on to state:

    For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage. These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father’s kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life. DC 138: 50-51​

    Upon Christ's resurrection the just waiting His coming, from Adam to Christ Himself, were allowed to receive their reward: exaltation. Abraham is an example. Those who die post Christ's resurrection and are tied to the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times (this is the last Dispensation that is connected to the restoration of the Gospel) are the just dead who minister to others in the spirit world and will see their resurrection with Christ's return when He ushers in the Millennium. Make Sense?
     
    #340 Orontes, Dec 5, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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