Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Beast Shall Devour the Harlot

Rev 17: 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

I was listening to an Evangelical preacher on TV the other day talk about His love for FOX News and the alliance of Christian Evangelicals and FOX against the formation of a "one world government" which he and other Christians understood the Bible prophesies about. This isn't the first time I have heard Evangelicals on TV talk about this. Jack VanImpe and Pat Robertson on the 700 club has been talking about this since I can remember.

My late maternal grandfather served our country in the navy during WWII as a sub spotter on a destroyer in the Pacific. He was a hardworking, honest, man of few words. And those few words usually involved some sort of humor. On one occasion near the end of his life, he made a brief comment to me about his concern for the creation of a one-world government and about his concern that certain ultra-elites were organizing things in this nation and around the world which threatened the freedoms that so many had fought and sacrificed for.

Rumors of some sort of one-world government have been around since the days of Woodrow Wilson who regretted establishing the Federal Reserve and putting monetary policy and credit into the hands of a select few unelected individuals. Since then we have seen an ever increasing number of the masses enslaved to both debt and socialism. And most recently, these social elites are attempting to control and tax the nations of the world under the false pretense of anthropogenic global climate change. While credit should be extended to 3rd world countries to allow them to industrialize and prosper, outside companies and banks fear investing because of the risk of regulation and taxation of these industries. Instead of allowing the poor nations to learn to fish, climate treaties are seeking to just throw them an occasional fish from the basket of the richer nations.

Now, I really didn't buy into the conspiracy theory of a one-world government either until I read the biography of Edwin Teller, the inventor of the Hydrogen Bomb. In that book there are several instances where the nuclear scientists need to convince the President to support nuclear research and the nuclear and hydrogen bombs. To help sway the President, these scientists on one occasion obtained a personal letter from Einstein himself. However, what Teller describes is that the letters by prominent scientists did very little to convince the President. What made all the difference was not Einstein's letter, but encouragement by the investment bankers.

The Beast in Revelations and Daniel represents a government or empire. In fact, these passages apply to the time of Christ and the Last Days at the same time. During the time of Christ, the Beast with the 7 heads and 10 horns is the Roman Empire and Emperor Titus who destroys the temple, crucifies Jews, and feeds Christian martyrs to the lions. In the Last Days, I am less certain of the specifics, but there is one very fascinating point that John makes about the relationship between the Beast and the Harlot in Revelations.

While the Beast represents corrupt government, John uses the symbol of the Harlot or Whore to represent false religion and likens the true Christian Church to a Virgin or virtuous woman dressed in white clothing. While, no single religion can be singled out exactly John begins by saying earlier in Revelations that the Beast and the Harlot were in bed together. Then in Revelations 17, John tells us that the Beast will become angry with the Harlot and devour and destroy her. So, the same false religious institutions which brought the Beast into power, those leaders will then turn against those religions and destroy them.

Up to this point, I had thought of ends times prophecies as describing the rise of false governments, false economic systems, false religion all focused on persecuting the true believers. Until now, I had never realized that John in Revelations makes it clear that all these false institutions would start fighting each other. According to Rev 17, the Beast will fight against and destroy the Harlot. So, according to the Apostle John in Revelation, the future, false one-world government will persecute, devour, and destroy the false religions, Christian or otherwise, who helped it rise to power.

Signs of the fulfillment of this prophecy can already be seen as Evangelical Christian-supported FOX news leads the opposition against socialism and liberalism in America and world-wide. I love FOX NEWS and their cause in support of conservative values. And I am sad that John foretells that the Beast may prevail initially. But this only serves God's higher purposes of having the wicked destroy the wicked. But while false religion will be burned with fire, John promises that Jesus Christ, His Church and His people will prevail because they are called, chosen, and faithful.

Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Spiritually Begotten or Made?

The Nicene Creed says that Jesus Christ was "begotten and not made." Many Evangelical Christians on CARM have told me that this spiritual begetting does not apply to man. Man is, according to their interpretation of the Bible, a created being "made" no different than a "dung beetle" and not spiritually begotten like Christ who the Bible names "The Firstborn of many brethren" and the "Firstborn of every creature."

LDS understand that the Bible does talk about being adopted a son of God upon being born again, accepting Christ. However, we believe this adoption is referring to Christ becoming the Father of our eternal life. The God referred to here is God the Son and not God the Father. LDS would differentiate this from our understanding of the Bible that all men regardless of belief are spiritually begotten of God the Father who is named "The Father of Spirits". (Acts 17: 28-29, Heb. 12: 9. Eph 3:14-15, Heb. 2: 11, Ps. 82: 6, Col. 1: 15, Rom. 8: 29)

"The Value of Believing in Free Will" by Kathleen Vohs and Jonathan Schooler, Psychological Science, 2008:53

In the following study, Vohs and Schooler demonstrate that belief affects moral behavior. In this study the researchers had college students read some information about genetics. Half the students had the following quote placed within the material by Nobel Laurette Francis Crick "We are nothing but a pack of neurons." The other half read the same information without this quote. The researchers then had the students take a math quiz where it was possible to cheat. The results of the study were that the students who were exposed to the deterministic statement were much more likely to cheat than the others who were not.

So, my question, is how is evangelical doctrine that men are made a created like "dung beetles" or Calvanist doctrine that our fate is already predetermined or predestined before we were born any better than evolutionists who say man is "evolved from pond scum" or "just a pack of neurons"? The Book of Mormon foretells and explains this false doctrine with the following prophecy:

2 Nephi 28: 7-8 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Aaronic and Melchisedek Priesthoods

LDS are aware that the Aaronic Priesthood is the right of the descendent's of Aaron. Since we don't know specifically who they are yet (Cohen-modal haplotype, patriarchal blessing, genealogy), the priesthood operates within the LDS church until it can be returned to the rightful holders. Not every Jew with the last name of Cohen is "Kohenim" and very few of these are LDS.

While Blood sacrifice is no longer necessary as part of the Aaronic priesthood, sacrifice itself is still a indespensible and integral part of the Aaronic Priesthood and the higher priesthood. Paul says that only the "commandments" of this "unprofitable" and "changeable" yet "preparatory" and "everlasting" priesthood and covenant were disannuled. Therefore the requirements of blood sacrifice had an end and was replaced by water baptism and the Lord's Supper which serve the same purpose to 1. remind us of our sinfulness, 2. remind us of our need for a Savior 3. Bring us to Christ for justification

The Melchisedek priesthood is to draw us near to the Father by Sanctification. Sanctification or Perfection or the Son preparing us to return into the presence of the Father is the purpose of the LDS New Testament Temple and its sanctifying ordinances and covenants (gifts of grace). Many Evangelical churches do a great job preaching our sin nature, grace, justification, and bringing people to Jesus Christ the Son, but these churches neglect the doctrine of empowered sanctification; that Christ would prepare us to come unto, see, and enjoy fellowship with the Father. Many Evangelical churches still preach a corrected OT message but neglect the NT purpose.

Heb 7:11-19 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. . . .For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

People forget that God invited all the Elders of Israel up into the Mountain with Moses. God wanted a sanctified and perfected kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people. But the people feared God and told Moses "You go and speak for us, lest we die." While Moses was away, the people said that Moses delayed his coming, and gave all their filthy lucre (mammon) to Aaron to fashion a golden calf (false religion). Then the voice of God came to Moses and told him to hasten his returning because the people were defiling themselves. (Notice this is an allegory of the Second Coming and the Antichrist). Moses found the people in sin and the people lost the rights to the higher Melchisedek/Abrahamic Covenant. Instead they were given a preparatory covenant. The purpose of the Aaronic/Levitical Priesthood and its associated requirements/commandments (Law of Moses) was to make the people ashamed, remind them of their continual sinfulness, continual need for forgiveness and a Savior/Messiah, and to point them to Jesus Christ. While the preparatory priesthood prepared Israel to receive the Son, the Aaronic priesthood did not sanctify or prefect and therefore did not prepare Israel to progress from the Son to the Father.

This preparatory and changeable covenant and priesthood of Aaron still operates in the Kingdom, remember that only the commandments were disannuled; but the higher Melchisedek Priesthood and its associated ordinances, temple, and covenants promise sanctification through the blood of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Gal. 3: 17 And this I say, that the covenant (higher Abrahamic/Melchisedek), that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law (preparatory Aaronic/Levitical), which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

LDS Temple Marriage and Ring Ceremonies

LDS believe that a husband and wife can not only be married "for as long as you both shall live" but also "for time and eternity." However, eternal marriage can only be done in LDS temples. LDS Temple sealings can result in hurt feelings when younger siblings and even non-LDS parents are not permitted to enter the LDS Temple and witness the ceremony. While God is no respecter of persons, and everyone is invited to enter the LDS Temple; like the Jewish temple in the Bible, an individual must meet certain requirements of purification before doing so. While families generally accept this explanation, someone asked me recently about why LDS discourage LDS couples from having a public civil marriage before the temple sealing and even punish those who do by not allowing them a temple sealing for 1 year afterwards. Instead of a full marriage ceremony, couples can do a simple but meaningful "ring ceremony" preceeding a wedding reception. The exchange of rings is not part of the LDS sealing, and is purely seen as a good cultural tradition. Therefore, a "ring ceremony" can be a sincere, and meaningful way family can participate and witness the union. Doing a faux or sham wedding ceremony would be meaningless to the LDS couple and everyone involved.

Q: The God of the New Testament would never cause hurt feelings, offend, or cause discontent within a family.

A: I agree that no true Christian would maliciously hurt or offend another without cause. However, God is known as the great physician. And as a physician, sometimes a small bit of pain is required up front for healing to occur down the road. While individual members decision to come unto Christ may cause discontent among others in the family because of what they perceive is an misguided, unthankful and even arrogant "holier-than-thou" rejection of their cultural heritage, values, and tradition, the end promise of God to families is that they can be unified and sealed together for eternity.

Matt 10: 34-37 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.And a man ’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Q: The God of the New Testament would never be exclusive about who can be saved, who can enter a church, or who can enter heaven. We are all sinners and all have need of a physician and all who seek to come unto Christ should be welcome.

A. The LDS temple serves a different purpose than the LDS chapel building does. While the general public is welcome to LDS Sunday and weekly services, the temple is reserved for only those who have met certain requirements of sanctification and purification. Yes, while we are all sinners and are initially "rescued," "saved" and "justified" from sin, death and hell by the grace of Christ alone and not works, after coming to Christ, Christ promises us that He will begin and empower the process of "sanctification" and preparation to enter into the presence of, commune with, and fellowship with The Father. After the initial Justification in Christ, the Sanctifying and purifying empowerment of Christ is exactly what the LDS and New Testament Temple and Covenant is all about. This is why there are rules about who can enter the temple. 1 Cor 5:11 and revelation to living prophets is the basis for the requirements to enter into the New Testament Temple.

1 Cor 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

As far as being selective about who can attend a wedding, no one should forget the lesson of the 10 virgins where only the 5 with extra oil were permitted into the wedding. The lesson of this parable is precisely why LDS maintain a strict policy with regard to who can enter into LDS temples. Temples symbolize entering into the presence of Our Father in Heaven and enjoying Fellowship with the Father.

Temple requirements aside, why can't the LDS Church just permit couples to do a civil marriage before or after the temple sealing so that parents and grandparents are not shut out of what is one of the most important events in their child's life.

A: The reason LDS do not generally approve of civil unions before the temple sealing, is to not lessen the importance of the temple sealing. If the LDS church were to make it routine to do civil unions before the temple sealings, the generally extravagant out-of-temple ceremonies would likely drown out the quieter impression that the simple temple sealing is to elicit.

While the LDS do not approve its members from doing civil unions before or after the temple sealing, LDS do approve couples to do a simple "ring ceremony". The "ring exchange ceremony" is a great idea that allows the entire family to expericence a couples wedding without detracting from the importance of the temple sealing itself. The ring ceremony has always been treated separate from the temple sealing. Usually LDS couples will stand to the side of the alter after the sealing and exchange rings after the sealing ordinance is complete. Therefore, there is no problem doing the ring ceremony later outside the temple. Again, the ring ceremony shouldn't be extravagant and shouldn't be an attempt to outdo the temple sealing.

Q. Okay, so the LDS want to protect what they think is the superior marriage ceremony by discouraging civil unions before or after the temple sealing. But why punish those who decide to do a civil ceremony anyways? Why do they have to wait a year? That seems harsh.

A. Remember that the temple and temple marriage is about the process of repentance and sanctification. LDS couples know that God and His living prophet has commanded them to get married in the temple and to not do a faux marriage ceremony. Therefore, if a couple decides to knowingly go against the wishes of God and His Church, then they will need to repent of a very repentable sin before they are permitted back to the temple. Therefore, there is a 1-year wait. You don't have to be perfect to enter the temple, but when there are commandments that can be kept or repented of according to 1 Cor 5:11, then they should be kept or repented of with Christ' help.

Q: The LDS policy prohibiting and punishing civil unions before the temple sealing is just another instrument of control and abuse.

This question reveals the real issue here. Many approach this issue from the point of view and paradigm that the LDS Temple is not God's House, and that the LDS prophet is not God's prophet, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not Christ's church on the Earth. Therefore, the policies of the LDS church seem to be just a bunch of oppressive rules a bunch of cranky old men thought up one late night to exercise control and unrighteous dominion over the people of the church. From the LDS perspective, we wish no one was inconvenienced, hurt or offended; especially our families. However, we believe and each have personal spiritual witnesses by the Holy Ghost that our temples, church, prophets, and eternal marriage and policies are of Jesus Christ. So, we are constrained by our love of Jesus Christ to follow God when sometime all we can say when asked why we do certain things is "I know not, save the Lord commanded us."

It is also interesting that anti-theists and atheists number one rejection of God is that the idea of the existence of God for them is oppressive. They don't like the idea of being accountable to anyone. And they use the same argument that the belief in God allows man to contrive false religion which only serves to oppress, repress, abuse, manipulate, exploit and control others.

Also, the issue LDS allowing civil unions is akin to supporters of traditional marriage not wanting gay and lesbian couples who have civil unions to call themselves married. The goal of proponents of traditional marriage is not to be mean, or offend others, but to protect the definition, essence, and institution of what is traditional marriage. Civil Unions grant same-sex couples all the rights they expect and deserve. I support civil unions. However, after all this some are not satisfied and are still pushing to encroach on the traditional definition of marriage. One is left to wonder if it is really equality they seek or to destroy traditional marriage. The same thing applies to this issue of sham weddings vs. ring ceremonies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eternal Life and Exaltation Q & A

Q: I've heard many Mormons say they will become gods or that they will bear children in the Celestial Kingdom. Is this taught in the Bible?

A: I understand the Bible and the Early Church Fathers to teach than man, through Christ, can become more than an angel and be glorified together with Jesus Christ who according to Heb 1 was made "higher than the angels" and "given a more excellent name than they." Therefore you may see LDS writings and ECF writings say that through Christ men can become gods and children of God. "God became man so men could become gods." This does not mean that we take God the Father's place. There is a big difference in being "called gods" and being the One True God.

What LDS mean by our hope for Eternal Life and Exaltation is that God will empower those who receive this gift with the power to participate with Him in His work of creation and eternal parenting. If you think about it, the Bible says that to have Eternal Life is to know God. Well, i can not imagine really coming to know Our Father in Heaven until I have been blessed to participate in the kind of work that He does. I think that is why God calls us to be parents and to be missionaries here on Earth. By participating in His work, we come to know Him better.

But more on Eternal Parenting. You used the words "bare children." There is much more to being a parent than gestation. If fact, you can be a parent without gestating a child at all. That is called adoption. I really am not sure if any type of physical mechanism would be involved, especially since LDS believe intelligence and spirit always existed and that we also believe in a physical resurrection. Therefore, I am not sure how a physical being would "gestate" and "bare" a spirit. But, if something like that were required, it would most definitely be painless and not cause stretch marks.

Don't you consider it arrogant (Proverbs 11:2) to believe that only "temple Mormons" are headed for godhood. Isn't this the same sin as Satan? Wanting to be God (Isa 14:13-15)?

A. I know we are nothing without Christ, but please tell me how the Evangelical doctrine that mankind is a created being no different than a "dung beetle" is any different than the Darwinist/Evolutionist doctrine that man evolved from "pond scum"? Are we just fish swimming around in a fancy fish bowl? What are we to God? Are we pets or are we children?

Lucifer's sin was in His desire to take God's place and thinking He knew better than God. It is not at all the desire of any LDS believer to take God place but to believe in every promise and receive every gift that God the Father desires to give to His children.

Q. We are God's crowing creation - made by Christ Jesus, Our Lord, as the object of God's love. He came to save us by His Blood, laying down His own life, for those whom He had created. Praise God! It's very sad that Mormons cannot understand that.

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

A: So, we are children and not pets. What makes a child different than a pet? If children, than what kind of work may God give us to do in heaven do you think? Are you going to just sing in the choir (I enjoy singing in the choir BTW)?

Q: It seems to me that Mormons believe they will be the children and the gentiles (like me) will become the pets in a lower kingdom or "ministering angels" to the exalted ones.

God in the Bible made the distinction between saved beings as either "ministering angels" and "children of the bondwoman" or "heirs of God" and "children of the promise" in Heb 1, and Gal 4. It is God in the Bible who speaks of the wise and unwise virgins, the sheep and the goats, the lukewarmers, and the children of the bondwoman vs. children of the promise. It is entirely up to you if you are going to be like Hagar's son Ishmael and be a child of the bondwoman, or will you receive the greater gift/glory/kingdom/seat/crown that God is offering you if you but receive it?

Also, I would like to compare and contrast the fairness of LDS belief with regard to the salvation of those of other faiths with the commonly held Evangelicals belief that LDS will "burn in Hell" and suffer the "blackness of darkness forever" for believing in, what some consider, a false Christ and a false gospel. And I should also remind you that LDS will even go out of their way to offer you an LDS baptism and temple ordinances after you have died. How's that for fair?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lucifer the Brother of Jesus?

During Mitt Romney's 2008 candidacy for President, Mike Huckabee took a jab at Romney's LDS faith by asking the loaded question in a New York Times interview, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" This question and the tone and context in which it is asked has been a popular attack on the LDS faith by Evangelical Christians.

1. The question is asked in an attempt to elicit a very negative "shock and awe" emotional response in those naive of true LDS doctrine by twisting a beautiful and simple doctrine into something sorted and evil.

2. The question and it's tone and context attempt to convey that LDS believe that the power of Satan is equal and opposite to that of Jesus Christ.

4. The question purposefully attempts to convey that LDS believe that Satan is the child of God in the same way Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father.

5. Those that ask this question in this context and tone are trying to convey that LDS diminish the Divinity, Godhood, glory, and power of Jesus Christ while at the same time elevating Lucifer.

What do the LDS really believe:

6. Satan and Satan's power is not equal and opposite to Jesus Christ. Lucifer before becoming Satan, was an archangel about the same statue as Michael and Gabriel. Notice that the Bible says that Michael fought against the dragon in Revelation and not Jesus Christ. If Christ were fighting alone, it wouldn't be a fight for Satan has zero power against God.

7. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of the Father. Jesus Christ is the only Being that has this literal and direct relationship to the Father.

8. Jesus Christ is God and a member of the Godhead.

9. The origin of the Lucifer and Christ are brothers is a corruption of the LDS belief that all angelic beings and humans are spiritual offspring/creations of the Father. Jesus Christ in addition to being the Only Begotten Son of the Father according to the Flesh is also spiritually begotten of the Father and is called by the Bible the Firstborn of the Father.

10. Therefore, because of our common kinship as children of the Same Heavenly Father, all mankind can be considered spiritual brothers and sisters even if we do not think the same or share the same religious beliefs. In other words, "you don't have to be Christian for me to call you my brother."

Acts 17: 28-29 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Heb. 12: 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Eph 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Heb. 2: 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Ps. 82: 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Col. 1: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Rom. 8: 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate dto be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

11. Yes, LDS believe that Jesus Christ and Lucifer and both spiritually begotten of God the Father. God spiritually beget Lucifer, mankind, and Jesus Christ who is referred to by the Bible as the "First Born." That said, Lucifer does not share the same power or unique relationship with the Father as the only Begotten Son in the flesh.

12. I think the dilemma is some Christians are taught to believe that only Christ is begotten while all other spiritual beings are made no different than plants and animals or "dung beetles" (as an Evangelical friend of mine put it). How is the Evangelical doctrine that all human kind in relation to God are created beings the same as "dung beetles" any better that the Evolutionist belief that man are evolved from "pond scum"?

13. The purpose, beauty and power of the underlying doctrine behind the question is meant not to diminish God, or elevate Lucifer, but to elevate all mankind as spiritually begotten children of our Heavenly Father.

14. Finally, the Bible teaches that anyone who is lead by the Spirit of God is considered a son or daughter of God. Because Satan no longer follows the Spirit of God, Satan and Jesus Christ are no longer brethren in this sense.

Polygamy in Scripture

Speaking to friends about the LDS faith, it is no surprise that the issue of polygamy comes up at times. While only a minority of LDS membership were ever even called to practice polygamy, the early historical practice of polygamy is an issue all LDS wrestle with. The following is a few thoughts I had on the subject after the topic was brought up in conversation recently.

1. LDS believe in and covenant to observe strict and absolute chastity/abstainance before marriage and complete fidelity within marriage.
2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden demonstrate an ideal; one man and one woman.
3. The Nephites in the Book of Mormon were commanded that they should observe marriage as one man and one woman.
4. In the New Testament, Bishops and Deacons were to be the man of one wife. Elders could possibly be permitted more.
5. According to the Doctrine and Covenants, mankind in general are not called to practice polygamy. Polygamy was to be permitted by a calling (assignment) only.
6. Adultery is not about just having relations with more than one woman. Adultery is about having relations for purposes other than unifying a marriage relationship or having offspring and taking full and complete responsibility for your spouse and for those offspring.
7. The Bible does permit the practice of polygamy under specific circumstances.
8. Abraham and Jacob practiced polygamy which came with its own set of unique challenges.
9. Early in LDS history, a minority of LDS were called to practice polygamy. For those who were called or assigned, their acceptance of that calling or assignment was critical to their sanctification and eventual exaltation. Today, we are called to practice traditional covenant marriage and our exaltation is dependent upon accepting the calling into traditional covenant marriage.
10. Most of the women sealed to Joseph Smith likely were only "spiritual wives" and the marriage was not consummated. meaning a person participated in a simple ceremony sealing themselves as part of an eternal family. This would cover women who were married to other men and younger women. We know of no children by Joseph Smith by other women other than by Emma. So far, even hearsay cases where a person claimed someone else to be the offspring of Joseph Smith, the DNA evidence does not support the claim. That said, Joseph Smith likely did consummate several polygamist marriages and practiced polygamy "in very deed."
11. Polygamy was a great trial of faith for Joseph Smith and others. I do not expect the issue to be any less a trial of faith for us today.
12. Having spoken with many descendants of Mormon pioneers and polygamist, my wife being one of them, the practice at that time seemed to be a blessing with no ill-effects on future generations. In fact, most descendants of LDS polygamists have warm regard for these faithful forbearers.
13. Polygamy was only justified if commanded by God, for the purpose of raising righteous seed unto the Lord, and for the higher purpose of caring for the fatherless and the widow.
14. God at times has commanded prophets contrary to the 10 commandments for higher purposes and as a trial of faith.

Abraham commanded to offer his son Isaac
Moses called to make a graven image of the brazen serpent
Joshua was commanded to "utterly destroy"
David permitted to have many wives and concubines by Nathan
Hosea commanded to marry a harlot.
Joseph Smith called to practice polygamy

15. There are many scriptures in the Old and New Testament which discuss the past and even future practice of polygamy.

Ex. 21: 10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. (speaking of the first wife).

Deut. 25: 5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. (likely would be a second wife).

Isa. 4: 1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

Ezek. 44: 22 Neither shall they (Priests of Aaron) take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before. (likely a second wife).

1 Tim 5: 14-17 I will therefore that the younger women (widows) marry (re-marry), bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman that believeth have widows (second wives), let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour (a double portion from the bishop's storehouse like the birthright son), especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (Bishop and Deacons should have one wife, but some Elders may have had multiple)

16. There are certain laws that because of their potential for abuse, cannot be fully and generally instituted in a fallen Telestial world. This may include the full institution of the Law of Consecration and its corresponding economic system known as the "United Order" where society lives as the Early Christians with "all things in common." This concept may apply to polygamy and covenant marriage.
Historically, an LDS couple who were called to practice polygamy had to be both equally consenting to it. There are some critical statements out there about polygamy, but there are also positive reports critics fail to acknowledge like those of my wife's ancestry.18. Divorce rules were more liberal in Biblical polygamy. If your husband wasn't able to provide food, raiment, and duty of marriage that wife was free to leave (Ex 21:11). And since the practice of polygamy creates a shortage of woman and raises the bar for males, there is no shortage of eligible suitors.
19.The purpose of this post is not meant to condone or advocate the practice of polygamy. According to how I read the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants, the practice of polygamy should not be generally practiced because of the inherent difficulties and possibility of abuse. However, you can't read the Bible and ignore the fact that in some specific cases and circumstances God condoned the practice. I am really not sure why anyone would even desire to practice polygamy at all. I can't even keep up with one "honey-do" list.
20. Therefore, the question that remains with regard to the historical practice of Polygamy in the LDS church is, did God command it. And that question can only be answered by faith and prayer.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sanctifying Ordinances and Gifts of Grace

All of us have accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ and our personal Savior. All of us were sinful, fallen and lost and we were "rescued/saved" by the condescension of God who turned us from our path leading straight to death and hell. Thus, all of us are immediately justified and saved from Hell/Gehenna/Blackness of Darkness Forever. God made the first move, and only by His grace and mercy alone were we "rescued" and not by anything we did.

Now that we have been "rescued" and "justified" and "saved", Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, and we can enjoy the "indwelling" of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, we begin the process of grace-empowered sanctification.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: [up unto salvation].

However, in spite of our acceptance of Christ, and in spite of the "indwelling" of the Holy Ghost, we still sin. How could sin still be possible? Isn't Christ and the Holy Ghost more powerful than the flesh? Why the battle?

Galatians 5:17: "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

The issue here is not that the Holy Ghost and Christ cannot overcome our flesh, but that sanctification is a process, and as we become more committed to Christ, and our faith in Christ increases, the light and power and grace and influence and indwelling of the Holy Ghost will increase. And by the increased empowerment of the Holy Ghost, we will be increasingly strengthened against sin, purified like silver, etc.

LDS attitude about "works" and ordinances, and covenants is not these produce salvation, but that they are gifts of God which refocus and orrient our lives better towards Christ. The problem is that man forgets, so LDS consider proper daily prayer, scripture study, partaking of the Lords Supper, baptism, and the temple a great way to remember and refocus our lives on Jesus Christ.

Therefore, LDS "works" are not about saving ourselves. And although some call them "saving ordinances." These works are really "sanctifying gifts of grace" that we are invited to receive. And by these "sanctifying gifts of grace" we are promised and hope we can better remember, refocus, and re-orient our lives toward Christ, and receive by grace a more powerful "indwelling/measure" of the Holy Ghost which will empower greater good works, sin protection, and sanctification.

Moro 10:30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift,

What is the importance to bother with the process of sanctification? LDS believe that the better we progress in the process of sanctification here in this life, and the greater degree of the Holy Ghost/light/grace we accept/receive, the better gift/crown/kingdom/glory/seat we will be given in Heaven.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) (1 Peter 1:15) (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7) (2 Corinthians 7:1) (2 Timothy 2:20) (Matthew 5:48) (Romans 6:19-22) (2 Thessalonians 2:13) (1 Corinthians 6:11) (2 Corinthians 3:18) (1 Peter 1:2) (Romans 8:13) (Ephesians 5:25) (1 Peter 1:22)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Legalism vs. Antinomianism

Antinomianism: The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.

Legalism: strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit. The doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

Some of our friends of other faiths have claimed on many occasions that LDS theology is purely legalistic. However, if you look at the definition of legalism vs. antinomianism, its opposite, I think it is clear that LDS theology is a balance of grace and works in the same way Christ, Paul, and the other Apostles taught principles of righteousness that stressed both grace and good works.

Rom. 6: 1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 Cor. 9: 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

James 2: 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

1 Jn. 2: 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Rom 2: 6-10 [God] will render to every man according to his deeds:To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons

Eph 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Matt. 12: 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Luke 6: 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Matt. 7: 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Rev. 20: 12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

LDS theology finds balance and harmony between grace and works by understanding that what Paul was saying about being "saved" by grace and not works was the initial "rescue" which turned us from our sinful ways. No one has ever been able to take even one step towards God alone. All of us have sinned and have turned completely away from God and Christ. Therefore, if it wasn't for God's condescension and mercy to reach down and "rescue" us from death and sin, all of us without exception would be doomed to suffer "the blackness of darkness forever."

However, God has reached down to knock on each of our doors, and if we open up that door to Christ, and repent, and return towards God, we are then justified. Justification is a legal term that means that even though we are guilty of sin, we are given a judgment of acquittal or "not proven." Our final judgment and guilty verdict is then postponed (acquittal is not covered by "double jeopardy"). In the meantime, Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. Accordingly, with Christ's righteousness imputed to us, we can enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and can then begin the process of sanctification in which we are empowered by the Holy Ghost to repent, and receive sanctifying ordinances and covenants. We are then promised that these covenants and ordinances will further empower our repentance such that we will eventually lose all desire for sin and become blessed with the desire for continual righteousness.

This is how the atonement of Christ is not just grace that overlooks and sweeps our sins under the rug, but also power that will empower us to forsake sin, purify us like silver, and purge the desire for sin from our very being. In this way, Christ not only initially "rescues" us in our sins, but eventually will "save" us from our sins. Therefore, on the theological spectrum we may be more legalistic, but I think LDS doctrine finds the perfect balance on the principles of grace and works in accordance with the Bible.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Arguments for Eternal Marriage

1. Adam and Eve given to each other in perfection in the presence of the the Father. This was on Earth, but Earth will become a part of Heaven.
2. Explanation that Jews will be as the angels and not married nor given in marriage doesn't apply to Christians who will be made "higher than the angels" (Heb 1, Gal 4).
3. Told to love our spouse as Christ loves the church, and tthe love of Christ does not end in death. (Eph. 5: 25-27)
4. Christ resurrection ended the sting and victory of death (1 Cor 15:55).
5. In heaven we will know as we are known, so why would the love for our spouse not be magnified instead of just diluted. If you love your spouse, you will want to be with them, and if that be the case, you would in effect be common law married anyways.

1 Cor. 13: 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

6. Paul's explanation that woman are free to remarry and its not adultery (1 Cor. 7: 39, Rom. 7: 2-3) suggests they had eternal marriage and felt committed still to their eternal spouse even after death. Ezek 44:22 proves the Jews had no problem with remarriage after death. Even priests could remarry the widows of other priests. So, Paul bringing the issue of remarriage up, doesn't make sense unless the circumstance of the Christian marriage was different than that of the Jews.

Ezekiel 44:22 They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests.

7. Paul says that man is not without the woman neither women without the man in the Lord.

1 Cor 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

8.The keys given to Peter say "what is bound on Earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matt 16:19).
9. The Bible says "What God hath joined, let no man put asunder" (Matt 19).
10. If this doctrine were clearly set forth in the Bible, there would be no need for the Restoration.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family Responsibilities Lesson

The Family: A Proclaimation to the World

Each person has an important place in his or her family. Through prophets the Lord has explained how fathers, mothers, and children should behave and feel toward one another. As husbands, wives, and children we need to learn what the Lord expects us to do to fulfill our purpose as a family. If we all do our part, we will be able to live together as a family forever.

[Discuss why children need a family, emotional needs, all needs, need mom and dad. Kids born into families, not businesses, not churches, not schools. Its a civil right. Failings lead to ignorance, addiction, crime, illness, accidents, illegitimacy, poverty. Talk about the ER and basic life skills not transmitted to next generation]

[God is a Father, Our Heavenly Father. Parenting is the most important work that he does. If we desire to know God, then there is no other work we can do to know Him better then my parenting.
If we are faithful over a few things, we will be made ruler over many things.]

Discussion: What is the purpose of a family?

Responsibilities of the Parents

In marriage neither the man nor the woman is more important than the other. They are equal partners and should work together to provide for the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of the family.

[In our church, its not "I have to priesthood and you have to do what I say"]

Some responsibilities must be shared by the husband and the wife. Parents should teach their children the gospel. The Lord warned that if parents do not teach their children about faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the sin will be upon the heads of the parents. Parents should also teach their children to pray and to obey the Lord's commandments. (See D&C 68:25, 28.)

[Parents have a duty to impart the truth to their children. Children are not free unless enticed by one side or the other. If parents do not speak for right, Children will only have the enticement of wrong].

One of the best ways parents can teach their children is by example. Husbands and wives should show love and respect for each other and for their children by both actions and words. It is important to remember that each member of the family is a child of God. Parents should treat their children with love and respect, being firm but kind to them.

[I cannot hear your words over the sound of your actions. Kids see hippocracy. They see how important the words of the prophet is to parents as parents do family nights and scripture reading or not. They will remember our example when it comes to dating, drinking, and rated-R moves].

Parents should understand that sometimes children will make wrong choices even after they have been taught the truth. When this happens, parents should not give up or become discouraged. They should continue to teach their children, to express love for them, to be good examples to them, and to fast and pray for them.

[We never abandon, disown, or withdraw our love from our children. We do not enable sin, but we never withdraw love]

The Book of Mormon tells us how the prayers of a father helped a rebellious son return to the ways of the Lord. Alma the Younger had fallen away from the teachings of his righteous father, Alma, and had gone about seeking to destroy the Church. The father prayed with faith for his son. Alma the Younger was visited by an angel and repented of his evil way of living. He became a great leader of the Church. (See Mosiah 27:8-32.)

Parents can provide an atmosphere of reverence and respect in the home if they teach and guide their children with love. Parents should also provide happy experiences for their children.

Discussion: Discuss the responsibilities of the parents.

Responsibilities of the Father

The father is the patriarch of the family and has important responsibilities that are his alone. He is the priesthood holder and has the duties of priesthood leadership. He should guide his family with humility and kindness rather than with force or cruelty. The scriptures teach that those who hold the priesthood should lead others by persuasion, gentleness, love, and kindness (see D&C 121:41-44; Ephesians 6:4).

The father shares the blessings of the priesthood with the members of his family. When a man holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, he can share these blessings by naming and blessing babies, administering to the sick, baptizing children, and giving special priesthood blessings and ordinations. He should set a good example for his family by keeping the commandments. He should also make sure the family prays together twice daily and holds family home evening.

[Why both Mom and Dad have the priesthood through the temple, but Dad officiates and has responsibilities in the priesthood outside the home]

The father should spend time with each child individually. He should teach his children correct principles, talk with them about their problems and concerns, and counsel them lovingly. Some good examples are found in the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 1:14-3:25; Alma 36-42).

[Example of Personal Interview with children, bullying at school, Daddy dates], Talk in Priesthood Session of Conference]

It is also the father's duty to provide for the physical needs of his family, making sure they have the necessary food, housing, clothing, and education. Even if he is unable to provide all the support himself, he does not give up the responsibility of the care of his family.

Responsibilities of the Mother

President David O. McKay said that motherhood is woman's noblest calling (see Treasures of Life, p. 54). It is a sacred calling, a partnership with God in bringing his spirit children into the world. A mother's most important responsibility is to bring children into the world and to care for and teach them. Bearing children is one of the greatest of all blessings.

Elder Boyd K. Packer praised women who were unable to have children of their own yet sought to care for others. He said: "When I speak of mothers, I speak not only of those women who have borne children, but also of those who have fostered children born to others, and of the many women who, without children of their own, have mothered the children of others" (Mothers, p. 8).

A mother needs to spend time with her children and teach them the gospel. She should play and work with them so they can discover the world around them. She also needs to help her family know how to make the home a pleasant place to be. If she is warm and loving, she helps her children feel good about themselves.

[The best person for the best job. We don't appreciate the role of motherhood enough. Eve called an "ezer" or "divine help" to Adam]

The Book of Mormon describes a group of two thousand young men who rose to greatness because of the teachings of their mothers (see Alma 53:16-23). Led by the prophet Helaman, they went into battle against their enemies. They had learned to be honest, brave, and trustworthy from their mothers. Their mothers also taught them that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them (see Alma 56:47). They all survived the battle. Later they expressed faith in the teachings of their mothers, saying, "We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:48). Every mother who has a testimony can have a profound effect on her children.

Discussion: Why is motherhood called a partnership with God?
Assign someone to tell the story of Helaman's young warriors.

Responsibilities of the Children

Children share with their parents the responsibilities of building a happy home. They should obey the commandments and cooperate with other family members. The Lord is not pleased when children quarrel (see Mosiah 4:14).

[do not permit contention]

The Lord has commanded children to honor their parents. He said, "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land" (Exodus 20:12). To honor parents means to love and respect them. It also means to obey them. The scriptures tell children to "obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1).

President Spencer W. Kimball said that children should learn to work and to share responsibilities in the home and yard. They should be given assignments to keep the house neat and clean. Children may also be given assignments to take care of the garden (see Conference Report, Apr. 1976, p. 5; or Ensign, May 1976, p. 5).

[teach children to work, give them responsibility, have them work for and earn things]
Discussion: What should children do to honor and respect their parents?

Accepting Responsibilities Brings Blessings

A loving and happy family does not happen by accident. Each person in the family must do his or her part. The Lord has given responsibilities to both parents and children. The scriptures teach that we must be thoughtful, cheerful, and considerate of others. When we speak, pray, sing, or work together, we can enjoy the blessings of harmony in our families. (See Colossians 3.)

Discussion: Have class members tell how they can help make home a happier place.

Additional Scriptures:

Proverbs 22:6 (train up a child), Ephesians 6:1-3 (children are to obey parents)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Justin Martyr: The Father and Son

Many Evangelical Christians say LDS are not Christian because we worship a different God and Christ. They say because we do not accept the Nicene Creed of the First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church in the 3rd Century AD (which is the basis for the Trinity/Triune God Doctrine) that we worship a false Christ and a False God. LDS openly reject the Nicene Creed and and point out that our doctrine better reflects that of 1st Century Christianity than 3rd Century Christianity and tradition as reflected in the Creeds.

Back then when the debate raged over the Nicene Creed. Arians have been described as trying to deny the deity of Christ. While the denial of Jesus as God is wrong, the opponents of the Nicene Creed were correct in their objection to the word "homoousious" or "of the same substance" which is used in the Nicene Creed. While the whole of the Nicene Creed is an accurate description of the Godhead, the word "homoousious" is interpreted to describe a mysterious and incomprehensible relationship between the Father and the Son. Many feel that the mystery of how God can be 3 Persons but 1 Being is wrong because it is by definition incomprehensible. Instead, many felt the Nicene Creed should have said that God the Father and God the Son were not "homousious" or "of the same substance" but "of similar substance". To put it in other words, the Father and the Son could be said to both be composed of pure gold but separate and distinct gold bars. The Son was not divided off from the Father but as Justin Martyr would say, the Son stands next to the Father in the same way a fire can be kindled from another fire and stand separate from the first without diminishing from the first.

A major issue dealt with in Justin's argument with Trypho is that the Jews rejected the Christian's acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah because Jesus Christ and the Christians claimed that Christ was God. Before the Babylonian captivity the Jews had a serious problem with Baal and Ashtoreth worship. These idols are excavated in Israel today. But after the captivity, the pendulum swung too far the other way, and the Jews became hyper-monotheists to the point that they could not accept Christ as the Messiah because Christ also claimed he is the Son of God. Therefore, Justin takes care the argue that it was the pre-existent Jesus Christ who appeared in the Old Testament to Moses and Abraham. According to Justin, Jehovah of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter 56. God who appeared to Moses is distinguished from God the Father
Justin: Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavour to persuade you, that He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things—numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world—above whom there is no other God—has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with. . . . It is not on this ground solely that it must be admitted absolutely that some other one is called Lord by the Holy Spirit besides Him who is considered Maker of all things; . . . 'Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. A sceptre of equity is the sceptre of Your kingdom: You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.' If, therefore, you assert that the Holy Spirit calls some other one God and Lord, besides the Father of all things and His Christ, answer me; for I undertake to prove to you from Scriptures themselves, that He whom the Scripture calls Lord is not one of the two angels that went to Sodom, but He who was with them, and is called God, that appeared to Abraham.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter LXI—Wisdom is begotten of the Father, as fire from fire.“
I shall give you another testimony, my friends,” said I, “from the Scriptures, that God begat before all creatures a Beginning,[who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word means both the thinking power or reason which produces ideas and the expression of these ideas. When we utter a thought, the utterance of it does not diminish the power of thought in us, though in one sense the thought has gone away from us. [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter 59. God distinct from the Father conversed with Moses
Justin: Permit me, further, to show you from the book of Exodus how this same One, who is both Angel, and God, and Lord, and man, and who appeared in human form to Abraham and Isaac, appeared in a flame of fire from the bush, and conversed with Moses . . . . Have you perceived, sirs, that this very God whom Moses speaks of as an Angel that talked to him in the flame of fire, declares to Moses that He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob?

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter 75. It is proved that Jesus was the name of God in the book of Exodus
Justin: Moreover, in the book of Exodus we have also perceived that the name of God Himself which, He says, was not revealed to Abraham or to Jacob, was Jesus, and was declared mysteriously through Moses. Thus it is written: 'And the Lord spoke to Moses, Say to this people, Behold, I send My angel before your face, to keep you in the way, to bring you into the land which I have prepared for you. Give heed to Him, and obey Him; do not disobey Him. For He will not draw back from you; for My name is in Him.' Exodus 23:20-21 Now understand that He who led your fathers into the land is called by this name Jesus, and first called Auses Numbers 13:16. (Oshea). For if you shall understand this, you shall likewise perceive that the name of Him who said to Moses, 'for My name is in Him,' was Jesus.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter LXII.—The words “Let Us make man” agree with the testimony of Proverbs."
And the same sentiment was expressed, my friends, by the word of God [written] by Moses, when it indicated to us, with regard to Him whom it has pointed out, that God speaks in the creation of man with the very same design, in the following words: ‘Let Us make man after our image and likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creeping things that creep on the earth. And God created man: after the image of God did He create him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and said, Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and have power over it. And that you may not change the [force of the] words just quoted, and repeat what your teachers assert,—either that God said to Himself, ‘Let Us make,’ just as we, when about to do something, oftentimes say to ourselves, ‘Let us make;’ or that God spoke to the elements, to wit, the earth and other similar substances of which we believe man was formed, ‘Let Us make,’—I shall quote again the words narrated by Moses himself, from which we can indisputably learn that [God] conversed with some one who was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational Being. These are the words: ‘And God said, Behold, Adam has become as one of us, to know good and evil.’ In saying, therefore, ‘as one of us,’ [Moses] has declared that [there is a certain] number of persons associated with one another, and that they are at least two. For I would not say that the dogma of that heresy which is said to be among you is true, or that the teachers of it can prove that [God] spoke to angels, or that the human frame was the workmanship of angels. But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with Him; even as the Scripture by Solomon has made clear, that He whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten as a Beginning before all His creatures and as Offspring by God,

Justin Maryr comments to Trypho Chapter Chapter 128 The Word is sent not as an inanimate power, but as a person begotten of the Father's substance
And do not suppose, sirs, that I am speaking superfluously when I repeat these words frequently: but it is because I know that some wish to anticipate these remarks, and to say that the power sent from the Father of all which appeared to Moses, or to Abraham, or to Jacob, is called an Angel because He came to men (for by Him the commands of the Father have been proclaimed to men); is called Glory, because He appears in a vision sometimes that cannot be borne; is called a Man, and a human being, because He appears arrayed in such forms as the Father pleases; and they call Him the Word, because He carries tidings from the Father to men: but maintain that this power is indivisible and inseparable from the Father, just as they say that the light of the sun on earth is indivisible and inseparable from the sun in the heavens; as when it sinks, the light sinks along with it; so the Father, when He chooses, say they, causes His power to spring forth, and when He chooses, He makes it return to Himself. In this way, they teach, He made the angels. But it is proved that there are angels who always exist, and are never reduced to that form out of which they sprang. And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same.

While some say that Justin is making a point here about the Father and Son being one essence. What Justin is saying is that the Son is not a chip off the ol' block or a piece of the Father. The Father is complete and separate alone. Yet while the Son stands as a separate Being and Person and Personage and Individual of the Father, the Son did nothing of Himself, but came to do the will of the Father, speak the words of the Father, and manifest the full power of the Father in all things. Therefore, God the Son is one in purpose, unified will, and power with God the Father.

Justin Martyr discusses several other interesting doctrinal points such as Jewish scribes altering the Septuagint and the Old Testament and removing plain and precious portions. Justin also discusses the office and work of the Seventy. And Justin discusses why Christians worship on Sunday, the 8th day or first day of the week instead of the Jewish Sabbath.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baptisms for the Dead by Vicarious Proxy

1 Cor. 15: 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Mal 4: 5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

1 Peter 3: 18-19; 4: 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; . . . For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

LDS practice an ordinance referred to as baptism for the dead. This sacred ordinance is one of the ordinances done in LDS temples. LDS believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on the Earth with authority to baptize in the name of Christ and the only church with the fullness of truth. For the LDS people, it is not enough to become baptized ourselves by God's priesthood authority which was restored to the Earth by angelic messengers after long years of apostasy and spiritual darkness. LDS understand the Bible to teach that true believers have responsibility to make this truth available to our kindred dead as well as every person who has ever lived on the face of the Earth.

Christ was very clear to Nicodemus that unless an accountable individual was baptized by water and the spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of heaven. However, during the dark ages and until the Restoration, the authority and sealing keys had been lost from the Earth. Consequently, there have lived and died millions of faithful Christians who God knows would have received the proper baptism by the proper priesthood authority had they had the opportunity.

Because God is faithful and just, Baptism for the dead performed by vicarious proxy is the way God has provided for those of us living to do for those who have died, something they could not do for themselves in life, and that they cannot do in death. According to the Bible, Christ promised to preach the gospel to the disembodied spirits in prison. Then the Bible says that Elijah would return and turn the hearts of the children towards our fathers. And then the Bible says that Christians would enter into baptism on behalf of the dead by vicarious proxy.

A friend of mine expressed the sentiment that, in his view, the idea of baptizing a faithful Catholic, or person of Jewish faith was disrespectful not only to them but to their other living relatives who may not be LDS. This friend claimed that baptizing in the name of a person who was of another faith would be like someone burning a Book of Mormon or an effigy of Joseph Smith. According to my friend, baptizing in the name of someone who was not already LDS was very rude and disrespectful to the memory of that person and what they stood for. In response to that sentiment, I had the following thoughts.

1. When an LDS member enters into baptism on behalf of someone who has died, it is done in a spirit of love, honor and respect. LDS believe that we enjoy the fullness of truth and consider baptism for the dead to be an expression of honor and respect to those who have gone before. Baptism for the Dead is also an expression of God's love and perfect justice and mercy. LDS understand that we stand on the shoulders of giants and without the faith and courage of those who have gone before, we would not be where we are today. So, it is important for others to understand that baptism for the dead is wholly meant to honor our forbearers and not disrespect them or their culture, faith, and beliefs.

2. When a member of the LDS faith is baptized on behalf of someone else who has died, that baptism does not make the person who has died LDS. This baptism only provides the ordinance to be accepted by that person if they so choose. Therefore, the act of the baptism really does nothing to the deceased other than invokes their name and memorializes them. If they wish to accept the ordinance, they are free to accept, decline, or ignore it altogether of their own freewill and choice.

3. On the other hand, if God has not yet revealed to you that the LDS church is His true Church on the Earth, and you do not believe that God restored His sealing power and priesthood keys necessary for baptism to Joseph Smith and modern prophets and Apostles, then our using that authority that you do not recognize shouldn't bother you. If there is no authority, our actions do nothing. Instead, you may do better expressing sorrow at what you consider an unfortunate waste of time in researching geological and family history records and in doing the ordinances.

4. There really isn't much of a difference between LDS Baptism for the Dead and the Christian belief that Jews will one day become Christian after Armageddon. Many Christians interpret the Bible to teach that in the Last Days, the nations of the Earth will gather to a great battle around the city of Jerusalem. According to mainstream Christian belief, right before the city of Jerusalem is completely destroyed, Jesus Christ will appear, divide the Mount of Olives, save the surviving Jews who will run to their Savior and then declare in wonderment, "what are these prints in your hands and in your side." In response, we are told Christ will say, "these are the wounds I received in the house of my friends." At that point, those Jews will be converted to Christ and become powerful witnesses who will convert Jews across the Earth to Christianity. This belief in the eventual conversion of the Jews to Christianity is taught by every major Christian denomination and non-denomination. And as you can guess, this kind of belief is very offensive to many Jews just as LDS Baptism for the Dead is also offensive to some for similar reasons.

5. Remember that all LDS beliefs involve both a spiritual and temporal aspect. This goes back to our belief in God who is both a physical and spiritual reality. Accordingly, Baptism for the dead is a physical or temporal representation of the LDS belief that the Bible prophecy will be fulfilled that one day "every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ."

6. Above, I stated how my friend likened Baptism to the Dead to Anti-Mormons demonstrating outside the Conference Center or at the Manti Pagent and burning Books of Mormon or effigies of Joesph Smith for LDS members to view. While an Anti-Mormon can claim he is showing disrespect for LDS beliefs our of a spirit of love and concern, the difference between this behavior and Baptism for the Dead is that LDS Baptism are done in private and Anti-Mormon demonstrations are done in public for LDS to see.

The publicness on the one hand, and the private nature of Baptism for the Dead really makes all the difference. We all believe in the God-given, self-evident freedom of speech and religious expression. But we also believe in the golden rule that we should not do unto others what we would not want them to do to us. Accordingly, I respect another persons freedom and right to burn all the Books of Mormon they want to and to throw as many darts at a picture of President Monson that they desire, so as they do it privately and not with the intent to do it in my sight so as to shock me or offend me. In the same way, I hope others would recognize our God-given right of religious expression. LDS Baptism for the Dead is done privately and unfortunately only made public by a few anti-Mormon adversaries who are really the ones guilty of creating the offense by making this ordinance not only public but casting it in-the-face of living non-LDS relatives.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

An Answer to the Question "Did God Sin?"

Recently, a fellow CARM poster named Aaron Shaf has been creating threads and youtube videos asking LDS about our understanding of the nature of God as it relates to a comment by Joseph Smith in what is called the King Follett Discourse who said, "It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, . . . and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did.' The Father is a glorified, perfected, resurrected, exalted man who worked out his salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given to us so that we may do the same."

However, aside from a few other sources which comment on the King Follett Discourse, Pres. Hinkley, who was asked about this subject, was correct in saying that this statement and speculation in what Joseph Smith meant by this statement are not emphasized in the church. Therefore, I think a few persons enjoy asking LDS on this issue precisely because LDS members don't have much to say on the matter. That said, I do have a few things to say in response to Aaron's question of whether LDS believe that God sinned.

1. First, when I read this quote by Joseph Smith, I think it's important to focus on how this passage, like the Bible, describes God in anthropomorphic terms and teach us to pray to God as if He were standing beside us listening to us pray like Moses who was said to have spoken with God face to face. I think there is value in praying this way and I think this is a major point of the statement.

2. Aaron makes the assumption that being worthy of praise as God is dependent upon the quality of omniscience or omnipotence. However, the Bible does not teach that omniscience or omnipotence is the most important defining characteristic of God. While these attributes are necessary, according to the Bible, what makes God God, is His Love. God is love.

3. Accordingly, the Love of God which LDS and the Bible refer to as charity is said to be the greatest of all, for all things pass away, but charity never faileth. What did Paul mean when He taught that all things pass away and having all knowledge and spiritual gifts was like the tinkling of cymbals? What Paul meant, I believe is that in heaven, in the pre-mortal existence, and in the eternal world, there is no sickness, we probably all speak the same language, and we have access to all knowledge that we can perfectly retain. Additionally, time does not exist. God and all heavenly beings dwell in the ETERNAL NOW. Therefore, without time, just think of the implications. Anything can be known, and anything can be done perfectly NOW.

4. Let's say for example that Aaron and I were both given the assignment to design and create a gazelle. And lets say that it took Aaron 2 years and me 5 million years to finish the job. We could even say that I started on the gazelle project for a year, and then took 2 million years off, but then came back to it. In the end, both jobs would be perfectly completed NOW because time doesn't exist. So, the point of Aaron finishing sooner is irrelevant in heaven. There is no sooner in heaven. The only important and relevant fact is that we both produced a finished and perfected gazelle.

Maybe if time to finished gazelle didn't matter, maybe least gazelle mistakes would matter. Therefore, what if I was careful, and although I spent longer on my gazelle, my first gazelle was perfect, but Aaron had 5 failed gazelles but by trial and error was able to produce a perfect and completed gazelle sooner. Would I be more worthy of praise as a gazelle creator than Aaron?

What if Aaron already knew how to design and create gazelles but I didn't. What if I spent my 2 million years off attending gazelle design and creation school? On the other hand, because time doesn't exist, that 2 million years in gazelle school wouldn't even be a nanosecond on the eternal clock. If time doesn't exist, can it be said that Aaron knew more about gazelles than I did if at the same moment Aaron designed his gazelle, I earned my gazelle design degree, and designed my gazelle? My point here is that these criteria may not be relevant in heaven.

5. How does this relate to sin? We have all been commanded to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. Christ was able to achieve this perfection at the start with the divine help of His Father. Yet the Bible still says He grew and matured in wisdom and favor with God and man. And the Bible teaches that Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered. But we know that Christ is God and stood next to the Father in the beginning, so, how could Christ learn anything. Well, we learn from the Book of Mormon that the Spirit knoweth all things, nevertheless, Christ suffered according to the flesh so that he could know in the flesh what he already knew by the Spirit. So, Christ did know it perfectly already, he just learned it again in a different way.

6. So, Christ was perfect from the beginning, but it will take the rest of us, with the divine empowerment of Christ, a full 1000 years in the Millennium to finish the work of our sanctification. Through the process of sanctification and the atonement of Christ, all sin will be disannulled, made void ab initio, and made like it didn't even happen. According to the perspective of heaven, does it matter that it will take us longer to arrive at perfection than it took Christ? Or will we be less worthy because we required the divine empowerment of Christ to become perfect who will become the Father of our Eternal Life than Christ who required the divine empowerment of His Father to be perfect?

7. Again, what makes God worthy of worship and praise is His love, and His ability to make us like He is, to give us all he has, to withhold nothing from us, to make us heirs of God, to exalt us and empower us to participate with Him in His work of creation and eternal parenting. God will be forever worthy of worship and praise because He is our Father in Heaven who empowered us who are gods en embryo already to become eternal parents. God said "ye are gods". Therefore what we become and what God empowers us to be is Fathers and Mothers and to participate with Him in His work of creation and eternal parenting. By participation in this work is the only way to truly come to know God. And according to the Bible, knowing God is the definition of Eternal Life. Well, how can you know someone, unless you are empowered to participate in the kind of work that they do? Is there anything about God's nature, or power that He cannot transmit to those He calls His children?

8. Regardless, the Bible says that Christ could do nothing but what he had seen the Father do, and Joseph Smith taught that God lived on an Earth like Jesus Christ. Therefore, since Jesus Christ is fully God and did not sin, LDS can also say that God the Father never sinned if we are to assume that Joseph meant what we are speculating he meant by the above statement.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Early Church Authority

Q: What is the Mormon position about the original church authority? Were the apostles the only real authority? Or were others allowed some? Who was authorized to baptize new believers? Who had the authority to make important decisions? Did everyone have some authority but others had more? Or did new believers have no authority and had to wait to be given it by others who already had it? This is important because (correct me if I'm wrong) the Mormon position is that all such authority was lost and thus in need of a restoration. Therefore, I am wondering what exactly that authority was.

A: To answer the question we need to differentiate between priesthood authority, priesthood keys, and priesthood power.

We know that the original church was organized with a chief apostles Peter at the head of 12 apostles (Eph. 4: 11). The church also had 7 evangelists or presidents and had seventy elders. On the local level we have individual bishops (episcopate) who had authority over elders (presbyter) and deacons (deaconos). We also get a clue from the Bible that Elders were authorized to do things deacons didn't do. When the Bible says who can bless and annoint, it says call upon the elders (James 5: 14).

Clement criticizes those in Corinth who removed their Bishop, and said Bishops were to be appointed by eminent men in the hierarchy and not voted in by the congregation. And then the appointment, Clement said, was to be presented before the church for a vote of consent and sustaining (1 Clem 41:1, 42:5, 44:1-5).

Ignacius tells the church to do nothing without the Bishop including baptisms, lords supper etc. So if there is a priesthood of all believers, there still is the issue of keys (Epistle of Ignatius to Hero: 3,Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans: 8). You should remember that while the sealing authority was given to all the Apostles In Matt 18, only Peter was given Keys (Matt 16:18-19).

Okay, so what's the difference:

Priesthood Authority
Priesthood authority is the authority to act in the name of God and perform an ordinance, sacrament, covenant marriage, Lords Supper that is valid in heaven in the eyes of God.

Priesthood Keys
Priesthood keys are not just the authority to administer an ordinance, but it is the the authority to authorize that a baptism, Lords Supper, or covenant marriage can be done. A person may have the authority to administer the ordinance, but keys are necessary to authorize that the ordinance be done. The concept of keys is genius because it prevents a person from receiving priesthood authority and then splitting off and thinking he can form his own authorized church. All authority is derived from the same keys. And only Peter and all the Apostles together held all the keys.

Priesthood Power
Even with priesthood keys and authority, there still is the issue of power. Just because someone has authority, a person must empower that authority. This empowerment of priesthood authority is based on the atonement of Jesus Christ, repentance, and personal righteousness. And the power of the Priesthood is the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost does not dwell in unholy temples (1 Cor. 3: 16). This is why the Apostles were unable to cast out devils on one occasion and Christ told them these did not come out but by prayer and fasting. There wasn't a problem with authority but empowerment (Matt. 17: 21).

So, after the death of the Apostles and many of the Early Church Fathers and Bishops, the keys of the Priesthood, which are passed down in succession by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4: 14), was lost to the Earth. While individual Bishops are given some keys to preside over a local congregation only the Chief Apostles, and the Twelve Apostles as a group hold and exercise all Priesthood keys. Another important aspect of the kingdom of God is its hierarchy. The Bible and the Early Church Fathers made it abundantly clear that church leadership was supposed to be appointed from the top down and not elected from the bottom up. Voting does not represent and does not always reflect the mind and will of God.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trinity: Logical Proof or Contradiction

Some of my Evangelical Christian friends have tried to use the following argument to support their belief that God the Father is only a spiritual reality and has not physicality or physical reality. They used the following New Testament scriptures as a kind of logical expression that they solved to say that God the Father was spirit only in favor of the Trinity doctrine put forth in the Nicene Creed. Here are the three scriptures:

1. John 4: 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
2. Luke 24: 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
3. John 10: 30 I and my Father are one.

Using these three scriptures, I asked my wife's cousin who is currently working on a PhD in Methematical Logic if he could express these statements as logical mathematical arguments, and what would be the result? He responded with the following in an email.

Your scripture/logic question is interesting. Here is how I would formalize the argument, and the result is a contradiction.

Sx: x is a spirit
Bx: x is/has a body
g: God
j: Jesus

Logical symbols:
^: conjunction (AND)
~: negation (NOT)
->: implication (IF/THEN)
<->: iff (IF-AND-ONLY-IF)(x)(p(x)): for all x, p is true of x (where p is some logical formula);the overall formula is said to be universally quantified
=: equality

John 4:24 (ignoring the part about worshiping God in spirit and truth): Sg
Luke 24:39: Bj^[(x)(Sx -> ~Bx)]
John 10:30: g = j

The most natural deduction (to me, anyway) is the following:
1. Sg Given
2. Bj^[(x)(Sx -> ~Bx)] Given
3. g = j Given
4. (x)(y)(x=y <-> [(F)(Fx <-> Fy)])

Leibniz's law:
Any x and y are equal/identical iff for every property F, F holds of x iff F holds of y (i.e., equality means having all identical properties)

5. g=j <-> [(F)(Fg <-> Fj)] from 4 by axiom for universal specialization
6. (F)(Fg <-> Fj) from 3 and 5 by Modus Ponens
7. Sg <-> Sj from 6 by axiom for universal specialization
8. Sj from 1 and 7 by Modus Ponens
9. (x)(Sx -> ~Bx) from 2 by axiom for eliminating conjunction
10. Sj -> ~Bj from 9 by axiom for universal specialization
11. ~Bj from 8 and 10 by Modus Ponens
12. Bj from 2 by axiom for eliminating conjunction
13. ~Bj^Bj (a contradiction) from 11 and 12 by axiom for introducing conjunction.

Most logicians, including me, prefer to avoid contradictions (though there is a branch of logic that studies "paraconsistent" systems), so I would disagree if your friend claims that these verses, taken together,constitute an obvious, meaningful argument. I think that when logic breaks down in the real world, it is usually because there are some hidden axiomsa nd subtleties of definition. Probably both you and your friend would be reluctant to say that one or more of these verses is false, so resolution of the contradiction hinges on the interpretation of key phrases. The verse from Luke seems entirely straightforward, so in a Bill Clinton-esque way the matter depends on what "is" (or "are") means. Again, "God is a Spirit" seems straight forward (even if we don't know exactly what a spirit is, from Luke we know that it doesn't have flesh and bones), so I would conclude that "I and my Father are one" does not mean equality in the sense of Leibniz. Whether that is consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity would be something your friend would have to (try to) answer.

Take care, William

I also had a mathematical and logic computer science professional try the same experiment letting him interpret and convert the 3 verses into logical arguments in computer language and he came up with the same result.

What can we conclude from this exercise? The point here is that it is not logical for logical Evangelicals to use these 3 verses of scripture as logical arguments to somehow prove the doctrine of the Trinity and that God the Father is only a spiritual reality and only a spirit.

The truth is that the nature of God is the unification and harmonization of both the spiritual and physical and that God is both a spiritual and physical reality. This may seem trivial, but it happens to be the number one misunderstanding concerning the nature of God and leads many Christians to infer and interpret other scriptural truths as only spiritual realities. Many Evangelicals extrapolate this misunderstanding and apply it to their understanding of the Church not being an organization or hierarchy but only a spiritual body of believers. They extrapolate this misunderstanding to believe that their exists a general priesthood of all believers but ignore that there also is order and an actual priesthood authority. Evangelicals see the temple as the body of the believer only, and salvation is by grace without the need for any type of works, repentance, or ordinances. All these spiritual points are true, and the correct spiritual reality, but they are not correct apart from the associated physical reality. LDS doctrine recognizes both the physical and the spiritual reality of all these truths.

When you consider the historical context of John 4: 24, the verse stresses the spiritual nature of God. That is because the Jews being spoken too had swung the pendulum, with regard to their understanding of the nature of God, too far towards the physical. They knew God spoke to Moses face to face, and they were looking for the Messiah who would come and physically and politically redeem Israel from the oppression of Rome. And the Jews misunderstood the physical and outward requirements of the Law of Moses thinking they resulted in salvation alone. John 4:24 was spoken to remind the Jews that God was also a spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth, word and deed, outward ordinances, and inward commitment and devotion. grace and works.

Now Satan has deceived many Christians by getting the pendulum of belief to swing too far to the spiritual side of things to the exclusion of any physical reality to Scripture and Religion. John warned of this in the Bible saying that the spirit of the Anti-Christ would deny that Christ came in the flesh, and that the mouth of the Beast would blaspheme the tabernacle (physicality) of God. This kind of things started with the Gnostic's but is perpetuated thanks to the Nicene and other non-Biblical Creeds that were contentiously debated, politicked, voted upon and ratified by slim majorities and split decisions resulting in later schizms and not a promised unity of the faith. Unfortunately, voting on doctrine doesn't make that doctrine true and voting does not represent the pattern God has set forth to reveal truth to man.

I hope that accepting the physical and spiritual nature of God and God the Father will lead all Christians to a proper understanding of the physical and spiritual realities of all doctrine and all truth. While my Evangelical friends were trying to use these 3 verses to make a logical argument to say that the Father is spirit only. Another scripture, Matt. 5: 48 says:

Matt 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Therefore, with this understanding I would reject a recent statement by Ravi Zarcharias that only the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost together constitute the perfect expression of deity. Matt 5 says that God is perfect and complete alone. Christ came to perfect man and not the Father.

Also, Justin Martyr to Trypho used the creation story in Genesis which says: "Let us make man in our image" and "Now man has become as one of us" to disprove the "Royal We" argument and to prove that the Father and the Son are seperate, distinct, rational and intelligent individuals, persons, personages, and beings present. Even Pastor Ken Clause on the Luthern Hour radio program recently taught that the Father and the Son were separate and distinct "individuals".Therefore the word "homoousios" in the Nicene Creed saying that God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ are "One Substance." is incorrect and Stephen in the New Testament and Joseph Smith really did see God the Son standing on the right hand of God the Father.