Sunday, August 24, 2008

More on Haplogroup X

Am J Hum Genet. 2001 July; 69(1): 237–241.
The Presence of Mitochondrial Haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia

"A striking example of the presence in American Indians of genotypes not from haplogroups A–D is haplogroup X. This haplogroup represents a minor founding lineage that is restricted in distribution to northern Amerindian groups, including the Ojibwa, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, the Sioux, and the Yakima, as well as the Na Dene–speaking Navajo (Brown et al. 1998). Unlike haplogroups A–D, haplogroup X is also found at low frequencies of ~4% in western Eurasian populations. Despite a shared consensus RFLP haplotype, substantial genetic differences exist between the American Indian and European haplogroup X mtDNAs. Phylogenetic analysis and coalescence estimates for American Indian and European haplogroup X mtDNAs exclude the possibility that the occurrence of haplogroup X in American Indians is due to recent European admixture. They also clearly indicate that the two branches/subgroups are distantly related to each other and that considerable genetic substructure exists within both groups (Brown et al. 1998).

Haplogroup X is remarkable in that it has not been found in Asians, including Siberians, suggesting that it may have come to the Americas via a Eurasian migration. The virtual absence of haplogroup X in eastern and northern Asia raises the possibility that some American Indian founders were of European ancestry. In that case, as it has been proposed, haplogroup X was brought to America by the eastward migration of an ancestral white population, of which no trace has so far been found in the mtDNA gene pool of modern Siberian/eastern Asian populations (Brown et al. 1998)."

1. The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East. PLoS ONE. 2008 May 7;3(5)

2. Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup X, Am J Hum Genet. 2003 November; 73(5): 1178–1190.

3. The Presence of Mitochondrial Haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia
Am J Hum Genet. 2001 July; 69(1): 237–241.

4. Distribution of mtDNA haplogroup X among Native North Americans. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1999 Nov;110(3):271-84.

5. Rohde, DLT , On the common ancestors of all living humans. Submitted to American Journal of Physical Anthropology. (2005)

6. Rohde DLT, Olson S, Chang JT (2004) "Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans". Nature 431: 562-566.

More on Vows and Covenants

A friend commented that maybe Christ did away with all covenant making when he taught:

"Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matt 5: 33-37)

So, it could seem on the surface that Christ is saying that all vows and covenants should be done aways with when Christ says "swear not at all." But that interpretation leaves out a related scripture. Christ says just before this teaching in Matthew 5:17:

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matt 5:17)

So, in context of this statement which immediately precedes this teaching gives us a don't (thou shalt not) and a do (thou shalt). The prohibition is to not forswear. To forswear means to perjure yourself or not keep your commitments or lie under oath. The "do" part of commandment is that "[thou] shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths." Now, then Christ proceeds to expand upon these commandments but not overturn them. Remember that he came not "to destroy, but to fulfill."

Therefore, when Christ says, "swear not at all" by heaven and earth, nor by thy head because you cannot make one hair white or black, that is not saying there are no more oaths and covenants unto God. That means, when you commit to do something, do not say "By heaven and by earth, I will do it." Just say yes or no.

What the person who says "God willing" or "Si Dios Quiere" is saying is if God enable me to do it (the heavens)-- I will; and if chance or the elements allow (the earth)-- I will, or if my health allows (the head)-- I will. This kind of answer is what the scriptures call "luke-warm thinking" an example of not taking responsibility for ones agreements. If you don't know what God's will is with regard to the agreement then don't agree. But don't say, God willing, but if I fall through then it wasn't meant to be. How can anyone rely on that kind of commitment?

Instead, Christ is teaching that when we enter into agreements, we should take ownership. Before we enter into an agreement, we should hopefully already know or believe that it is God's will, and if it is then we can expect that He will assist, and then it doesn't matter what the elements of earth and chance do. So, if we believe that the agreement is in harmony with God's will then say "yea" and if not then say "nay." That way the execution of the agreement comes down to us fulfilling our word, and the exercise of our agency. And if we do this, we can expect God to assist because while we cannot make one hair on our heads black of white, God can.

And we know from great prophecies in the Bible that God is an unchangeable God and that He is a God of covenants and Gods people are a covenant people. And we read in Ezekiel 37 that in the Last Days that God will establish His tabernacle and sanctuary (temple) in Israel and establish his everlasting covenant among them to purify Israel.

"Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." (Ezek 37:26-28)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On Vows and Covenants

"Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them." (Ps. 76:11)

A major theme of the Old Testament is one of Covenants and Vows between man and God. In fact, the Old Testament itself can be interpreted as the "Old Covenant" while the New Testament can be interpreted as the "New Covenant." So, since covenants are made in the Old and New Testaments, the doctrine of covenants is critically important to understand.

Several examples of Old Testament vows include Jacob, Jonah, Samuel and Samson:

Jacob said, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." (Genesis 28:20-22)

Later on God reminds Jacob of his vow, He says, "I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land." (Genesis 31:13)

Hanna made a vow with God by offering her son Samuel for temple service, ". . . made a vow, saying, 'O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.'" (I Samuel 1:11)

Jonah also used the vow as a bargaining chip. While in the belly of a large fish, Jonah prayed, "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.' And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." (Jonah 2:7-10)

The most popular vow in the Old Testament involves the Nazarite vow:
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord:" (Num. 6: 2)

The Law of the Nazarite is complex but generally was associated with a person taking a vow or making a covenant to abstain from 1. grapes, alcohol, vinegar, 2. cutting of ones hair and 3. avoiding corpses and graves. There also may have been an associated vow of chastity or celibacy. Those who make and keep the Nazarite vow become separate or consecrated to God. Samson is a famous Nazarite in the OT was well as John the Baptist. Several other early Christians are thought to have been Nazarites.

Samson in association with his Nazarite vow was promised Gods Spirit which gave him great strength and success in battle against the Philistines. However, after Samson had violated his Nazarite vow he was captured by the Philistines, had his eyes put out, and served as a slave.

However, at the end of his life Samson repented of His sin allowing his hair to grow out. Samson prayed to the Lord, 'O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.' (Judges 16:28)." "Samson said, 'Let me die with the Philistines!' (Judges 16:30) Down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more as he died than while he lived." (Judges 16:30).

So, why does God choose to tell us about the Nazarite in the OT. What is God trying to teach us? Does the law of the vow still apply to us?

Paul taught that the Mosaic Law of Covenant was intended to teach us the impossibility of keeping the law. While it is impossible to keep all the Law of Moses, the Nazarite vow was something that could be kept 100% perfectly. Tithing is also a vow that can be kept perfectly. So, while we cannot keep all of Gods commandants, man can keep certain ones. And it turns out that both in the Old and New Testament God honors those vows.

Of course, ultimately, as all man fall short from the perfection of God; the New Covenant involves taking upon us the name of Christ who was the only being who was able to keep all the covenants and commandments of our Father in Heaven and paid the price for our disobedience and sin.

However, just because we are commanded in the New Testament to accept Christ because of our inability to keep all the commandments of God; that doesn't mean that God doesn't welcome covenant making and covenant keeping. And it doesnt mean that God doesn't expect us to perfectly keep those vows like chastity, the law of health, and tithing that we can keep perfectly. And, as we do so, we can be filled with a greater measure of the Spirit of God, and we will be blessed both temporally and spiritually.

However, when we fall short and break our vows with God like Samson, even when we believe in Christ, that doesn't free us from the consequences of our sins. Not until Samson truely repented, turned from his sins, and re-established his vow with God was he again filled with the Spirit of God and given the strength the destroy the Philistine temple.

For being in the Old Testament, Samson's story is a great example of the the New Testament concept of faith and repentance that is only made possible by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. While Christ did pay for our sins, He did not come to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. While all fall short from the perfection of God, by making and remaking covenants with God, we become more and more sanctified, purified, and perfected until at the day of judgement after the Millennium (or sooner), through the power of Christ, we will have become perfect and holy and ready to stand in the presence of God.

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 Jn. 4: 17)

Other scriptures which teach about keeping vows:
(Psalm 22:25) (Psalm 50:14,15) (Psalm 116:12-14) (Psalm 66:12-14)(Deuteronomy 23:21-23) (Ecclesiastes 5:4,5) (Proverbs 20:25)

Sections of this post are based on the following link:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on Psalm 82

I received a thoughtful reply on a previous post concerning the LDS understanding of Psalm 82. The commenter stated that the men are promised by God to become angelic but not become like god and become gods themselves and literally have Eternal Life or life and existence like God. This commenter like most well-meaning evangelicals parroted the typical response that "wasn't that Satan's plan to become like God?"

The passage Ps. 82: 1-8 says and means in English and in Hebrew: "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." To the LDS, there is a big difference between being God and being a god. Don't misunderstand that point. There is also a big difference between being a god and being an angel or angelic.

Now you are trying to tell me that Ps. 82: 1-8 doesn't really mean what it is saying. "Ye are gods" doesn't mean gods and being children of the Most High God really doesn't mean that and God being our Heavenly Father doesn't really mean that God is our Father in the literal sense. And in Gen. 3: 22 doesn't really mean what it says when "the gods" say that "man has become as one of us." Neither does the Bible mean what it says when Christ promises us that through Him we can know God and be like Him (Lev. 20: 7)(Matt. 5: 48)(1 Jn. 4: 17)(John 17: 3)?

Good thing that Christ verified the meaning of this very important passage in defending His divine Sonship. The pharisees asked Jesus Christ to plainly state His messiahship. When He did they wanted to kill Him for blasphemy which they errantly defined as man considering himself a god. Christ in John 10: 34, directly quotes Ps. 82: 6 and says if God referred to men as gods in Ps. 82: 6 then how can it be blasphemy for Christ to declare He is the Son of God.

Now about Satan. His plan was not just to be a god. Satan wanted to take away our agency and force us to choose the right here on Earth. No one would be lost. However, no risk, no reward. We would return to be in heaven in the same state we were before. But in return, Satan wanted Gods glory for himself. Satan wanted to take God's place.That is not what LDS Doctrine is about at all. God will always eternally remain our God and Eternal Father. But as gods, we will not only live with God but will be empowered to participate in the work of creation with God.

Heavenly Father promises through Christ that we will be made "better than the angels" (Heb. 1: 4). Christ promises that those who overcome will be given to "sit in His throne with Him" and not just circle the throne. We will be "glorified together" with Christ and will be "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8: 17).

If your religion only promises you that you that the highest reward in the next life is becoming an angel; and if your religion defines eternal life as endlessly circling God's throne and no more; and if your religion says that family relationships do not last forever and that love and relationship is finite and ends at death; then you are being short-changed from the fullness of blessings that God has promised in the scriptures. The scriptures reveal that men really are children of God (not pets), and God really is our Father. And that it does not threaten God for us to mature and become like He is but it adds to His glory; because Our God is a God of gods, a King of kings and a Lord of lords; He is the Most High God.