Monday, August 11, 2008

Was that really false doctrine?

Last night I went with my wife to visit some of her friends that she had not seen for a few years. They are all members of the LDS church so a discussion about religion was inevitable. There were a few things that were said that made me raise my eyebrow.

At times they said some really honest/transparent statements which was refreshing. One of the first things mentioned was that Joseph F Smith (I think that is who he said is was) actually took the “History of the Church” that was written and took out all of the embarrassing or negative parts. I must say he is the only one who I have ever heard actually admit that their history has been hidden or whitewashed. The thing that puzzled me though is that it did not seem to bother him. He just passed it off as fact but of no real significance. I don’t understand how they can openly say that the Mormon church is not being truthful but not see that as a red flag.

The other thing I thought was interesting was that one of the guys there was a seminary teacher for the church. He told a story about how one day he was teaching and he inadvertently taught “false doctrine”. It happened to be on a day when he was being observed and after class, he was called out on it and had to correct his statements the next day. I asked what the false doctrine was and he said that it was the idea that God was once not just a man but a “savior” like Jesus. Oddly enough, I had earlier this week read the King Follet Sermon which was given by Joseph Smith in the Conference of the church in April, 1844 (just 2 months before he died). It is in this sermon that the Mormon belief on the nature of God was defined and the topic he said was a “false doctrine” was addressed. Here are some quotes from the sermon.

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; and I will show it from the Bible.

The scriptures inform us the Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power – to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious – in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.

I tried to find where Jesus says those things and the closest thing I would find that was in John 10.

17.Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

18.No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

If that is what he is talking about then I think it is a bit of a stretch.

Why am I writing about this particular part of the King Follet Sermon? Because it points out not only the outlandish claims of Joseph Smith but it also shows how there is no unity in doctrine amongst the members today. Joseph Smith clearly states that Jesus laid down his life and took it up again “as my Father did”. To me, that cannot be taken any other way but to say that Joseph Smith taught that God was once a savior and that he laid down his life when he was on his earth like Christ did on ours. Somehow, the person who was observing the seminary teacher took it upon himself to correct a teaching that really was not out of line with what Joseph proclaimed. This teacher believes to this day that he was in the wrong, even after going over the quotes again.

The LDS church really has failed to solidify their doctrine and make it clear what they really do believe. That fosters an atmosphere of confusion and really makes conversation hard. I’ve heard it said a lot of times that getting a firm answer on doctrine is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Impossible!


  1. John 5: 19-20 get a little closer:

    19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

    20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

  2. This is typical…yet again Mormons fail to take into consideration the context in which something is written. You cannot just take a random verse and say it proves your point. In this chapter, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and was responding to those who said he was in the wrong for working on the Sabbath. What he says in the versus you quoted, is referring to working miracles and healings. In the following verse he says…

    21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

    Jesus had just shown them that He could heal the sick and lame but at the end of verse 20 he says that He will show them greater works then that and then speaks of raising the dead.

    I did a little more searching and found that the passage you quoted is the one that is cited in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith but nowhere in the passage or context of it does he refer to laying down his own life and then raising it again like His Father had done. The verses that follow talk about the power/authority to judge and testify of The Father.

    If you look at the cross reference to the word “seeth” in verse 19 you will see that it takes you to John 8:28 that says that he was “taught” by God what to do. I can teach my child things without doing them first or demonstrating them. I don’t do flips on my trampoline but I taught her how to do them.

    Even if I was to believe that Jesus saw God give his life as a savior and then take it up again, that would imply that Jesus existed at the same time our God lived on his particular planet. That would then mean that Jesus could not be God’s first born in the spirit. That train of thought leads down a long path that I don’t think anyone wants to go down.

    Look, Joseph Smith on many occasions made claims that are so absurd that no matter the assumptions you make or how many passages you twist, you still can not justify them. In order to make verse 19 mean what he said, one would have to engage in such mental gymnastics. It just does not work.

  3. you get um soy yo!

  4. I grew up thinking that there was a solid doctrine in the LDS Church. And in certain core ideas, there is. But as I grew older I discovered that there was a far greater range of opinion in the membership and far greater latitude for personal belief than I had previously been aware of.

    Nowadays, I don't see the LDS Church as primarily about codifying doctrines that everyone needs to fall in line with. Instead, I view Mormonism as following a divine history and narrative that the worshiper seeks to model in his or her own life.

    In short, we don't have a "doctrine." We have a history, and a destiny.

    Unlike those who have bought into the expectations and prejudices of the dominant American Protestant culture, I see this as a good thing.

    Americans are far too hung up on intellectualizing religion. They want creeds, they want theology, they want the whole package tidied up, explained-away, double-checked for inconsistencies, marked with the God stamp of approval, and served up on an intellectual platter for them to admire in long pointless blog posts.

    In short, they want virtual religion.

    To hell with that, I say.

    I want my religion to have enough latitude to allow me to explore the undiscovered country without some Bible-study teacher telling me what I can and can't believe. Evangelicals can take their exegesis, their hermeneutics, and their theological boondoggles, and shove it.

    What I want, is not a theological straitjacket. I want a cause, a religious destiny, and chance to pioneer new ground in understanding God and the heavens.

    You will never get that by picking over the antiseptic bleached bones of mainline Christianity.

    So Mormonism is too vague on its theological boundaries? Excellent!

    Finally! A real messy, interesting, controversial, and living religion that I can belong to.

    I think it's fabulous. I couldn't stand having to worship under all the pompous, self-satisfied, intellectual dead ends served up by the rest of the Christian world.

    Joseph Smith pioneered a new frontier in religion. Sure he left a trail of wreckage in his wake. But damn... the guy was inspiring! He was alive! He wasn't afraid go for the longshots and risk losing big for the chance to win big. And he scared the hell out of the rest of the Christian world.

    Now, that's a prophet! Why wouldn't you want to be a part of that? What an absolute trip!

  5. I have no idea what seth r is talking about, none. It sounds like insanity to me.

  6. I went and researched mr. interesting himself "seth rogers" and found out that his "two primary vices are computer games and making bold assertions without backing them up. Pleased to meet you."

    I would not expect much but crap from this dude!

    His whole nine moons website is ridiculous at best.

    -faithful reader-

  7. Oooh... Name calling.

    That'll show me.

  8. The only name I called you was your own "seth rogers" that sure is mean.

    Oh and "mr interesting" there are so many many things I am holding back.

    At least you aren't anonymous. I will give you that.
    -faithful reader-

  9. I guess I'll take what I can get.

  10. I think that when you are engaged in a discussion it is important to address the issue and not the person. Seth said some interesting things which I will give my thoughts on but if people want to counter what his view is, they should talk about his comment and not him personally. Attacking a person and not the issue gets us nowhere.

    I obviously have some issues with what Seth said. Do I think he has the right to believe how he thinks best? Absolutely, but that does not mean that I don’t think his thought process is flawed. I think it is good to have some latitude to be able to worship in the way that is best for you. That is actually what really attracts me to the church I currently attend. I think that there needs to be some congruity though in doctrine and beliefs. One of the things the LDS church prides itself on is its continued revelation. It is believed that this is used to correct false teachings and restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If they do not base that on His doctrine, then I do not see how they can say they are His church.

    Timothy 4:2-4 (KJV)
    2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
    3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    Matthew 15:8-9 (KJV)
    8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
    9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

    This is my view of Mormonism. On the surface, they talk a good talk but underneath it all you will find hollow fables and very little truth. Their doctrine changes with the tide of public opinion. They want to be seen as mainstream Christians but never get invited to the party. I used to hate hearing people say that Mormons are not Christians but after really looking at its teachings, I can see why they say that.

    You are right, Joseph Smith was a loose cannon and did leave a real mess in his wake for others to explain and clean up. That is something they are still trying to do to this very day. If what you want is a “chance to pioneer new ground in understanding God and the heavens” in a “real messy, interesting, controversial” religion, then I guess Mormonism is for you.

  11. Thanks soy yo,

    I can understand why traditional Christians refuse Mormons the coveted label. I also understand that what a lot of them mean when they say "you aren't Christian" is actually "you aren't orthodox or traditional." In that sense, I completely agree with them and even celebrate the difference to some degree.

    Where I have hang-ups on the label is when someone uses the "you aren't Christian" line to mean - you don't believe in Jesus or his atonement. Which, of course, we do.

    But that's the extent of my concern on that issue really.

    As for your other points... To tell the truth, I am open to a variety of possibilities with my faith. I have, on occasion, entertained the possibility of Joseph Smith as a "fallen prophet" (similar to King David or Soloman), or that he was a mistaken prophet (like Jonah, or even Moses on occasion). I have also considered the claims of other offshoot branches of Mormonism who claim the "Brighamite" branch went apostate (like the Strangites, who only accept Joseph) or that the Grantite branch went apostate (like the FLDS claim in rejecting Grant and the Church that rejecting polygamy).

    I have a firm conviction of the Book of Mormon, and I find a lot of personal resonance in Joseph's additional revelations. I personally like Brigham Young as a historical character and a lot of what he said and did has personal weight with me.

    As for the modern Church... well, it's hard to top Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and I'm not going to pretend that Thomas S. Monson and his recent predecessors are even half as compelling as the founders. But neither do I really require them to be.

    Believe it or not, I'm actually open to the possibility that the current LDS Church I belong to is in it's own process of apostasy. Or that it is misguided or wrong to some degree.

    I'm open to it. Haven't found a compelling reason to firmly reach that conclusion though.

    In any event, I find the complacency and impulse to self-congratulation among the LDS membership annoying. I think our own scriptures warn against assuming that "all is well in Zion." Zion can fall, it can err. As has been shown countless times in past scripture. Just because Joseph Smith and the Book or Mormon are true doesn't give the LDS a free hall pass in my book, although many of them certainly seem to act like it does.

    That said, I can't get over my gut instinct that, for all it's flaws, the LDS Church is "where the action is at." God is causing big things to happen in His interactions with humanity. The LDS faith (if not the LDS Church) simply strikes as a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

    I think the LDS Church may turn out to be a bit more robust and dynamic than many people give it credit for. It has changed in the past, and it can change again - I think for the better. Internet Mormonism is an even more rapid process of change and growing up.

    Like I said, it feels like the place where the action is. But that's not a conclusion I can force on anyone. You'll all have to figure out your own conclusions of course.

  12. Kind of like being a Jew when Christ was born.

    Yes, the Jews were dwindling in error. Yes, the Pharisees and Sadducees had a lot of downright incorrect and wrong notions.

    But hey - if you were going to be where the action was at 1 B.C., being a Jew was unquestionably the place to be!

    That's kind of how I feel about being a Mormon.

  13. I just have one question about this post Doug. When you asked the LDS friends about what they thought about the history what did they say? I assume you asked them before coming here to discuss them and their feelings and comments. This is probably a great conversation to have with them live and not here. That's what friends do, isn't it?

    ~~ curious in tx ~~

  14. You know what happens when you assume? You make an ASS out of U and ME.

    devil's advocate

  15. Seth,

    "I can understand why traditional Christians refuse Mormons the coveted label. I also understand that what a lot of them mean when they say "you aren't Christian" is actually "you aren't orthodox or traditional." In that sense, I completely agree with them and even celebrate the difference to some degree.

    Where I have hang-ups on the label is when someone uses the "you aren't Christian" line to mean - you don't believe in Jesus or his atonement. Which, of course, we do."

    You believe in something and call it Jesus, but lots of people believe all sorts of false things about Christ, but those things won't save them. We refuse to call mormons Christians because they aren't. Mormons believe in a false god. Christ is not an amorphous, malleable concept that you can feel free to squish around until it fits your desires or gets you closer to where the action is at, whatever that means. Christ is not about how He makes you feel or what He can do for you, it is about what He has done for His sheep to redeem them.

  16. Mormonism's Christ is compatible with the Bible. Most of the differences between Mormonism and the rest are ones of emphasis and degree.

    The only place we REALLY disagree is on creation ex nihilo, which we reject. But that's an unbiblical invention designed to meet the needs of Greek philosophy anyway, so...

    For the record, I don't care if you want to go around telling people we worship a "different Jesus." Just as long as you are willing to make it clear that we DO believe in him.

  17. amen arthur! bravo!

    and seth r
    you are ok with believing in a different jesus? that is so weird to me.

    ~nobody special~

  18. The mormon religion is a clever fraud, well ok maybe not so clever. It is a frankenstein monster cobbled together out of various and sundry parts that the mos have breathed life into.

    And it is always getting a face lift or a makeover. It's like a bunch of guys who did a crime and who get together to make up their cover stories. All the stories need constant work to keep them from unraveling.

    And they keep it all together with coercion: If you don't go along, then go somewhere else. Don't ask questions just toe the party line. And when it changes, you change.

    1Jo 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
    1Jo 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

    And so what you believe about God is important, very important. Make sure you get it right.

  19. soy yo,

    Your rant in the second comment confuses me. You start out by saying,

    "This is typical...yet again Mormons fail to take into consideration the context in which something is written."

    First of all, I consider myself a Mormon in name only. I don't believe in any of the history or introduced doctrine.

    Second, I didn't take anything out of context and didn't even make a supporting statement.

    All I said was, these verses get a little closer...which they do.

    I don't think the tone and direction of that comment was justified.

  20. how can you hear the tone in a blog comment? it doesn't exist. it is what you make up in your brain at the time of reading.

    what soy yo says is true, mormons take any verse they want from the bible and twist it to work in their favor and sometimes even title it "revelation".

    ~mormonism is a lie~

  21. My comment was addressed to soy yo.

  22. Uh huh... Sure...

    I'm noting a lot of insults, bitter griping, and unsupported statements.

    Is that all you got? Or are you going to make fun of my underwear now? That would be a guaranteed slam dunk.

    Can't wait to see what brilliant jabs you folk have in store.

  23. bishop rick

    If you comment in public, everyone has the right to read and comment back.

    seth r.

    can't we all just get along?

    faithful reader

  24. anonymous,

    (If you are going to comment regularly on this or any other blog, you should have the courtesy to get a handle. Soy Yo has even made this request.)

    I usually don't have conversations with anonymous people because it is too hard to know if you are addressing the right person, but what the heck.

    You don't think that a blog post or comment can have a tone. I have to disagree. All comments are a result of some level of emotion and are written with a tone in mind. That tone doesn't always come across in writing as it was intended, but it definitely exists.

    Now, I agree with you that what Soy Yo wrote is valid when speaking in general terms about the LDS audience, but that was not the case here. He was responding to a comment that I made, calling my comment a typical mormon response that was taken out of context.

    That was incorrect for the reasons I have already given. I agree with practically everything Soy Yo writes about. This is the first time I have disagreed. I think that is a pretty good track record.

  25. Seth,

    "Mormonism's Christ is compatible with the Bible. Most of the differences between Mormonism and the rest are ones of emphasis and degree.

    The only place we REALLY disagree is on creation ex nihilo, which we reject. But that's an unbiblical invention designed to meet the needs of Greek philosophy anyway, so..."

    Have you read Genesis 1? There was nothing and then there was something. Thus creation ex nihilo. There was nothing that was made that was not maade by Him. And the idea that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is the only difference between the Christ of the Bible and the Jesus of Joseph Smith's imagination is either willfully deceitful or woefully ignorant. The Christ of the Bible IS God, not a god, but THE God. He is eternal and uncreated. The Jesus of mormonism is a created being, not eternal and but one of many gods. That is just one of the differences, but it seems to be a pretty big one. It is not a difference in emphasis to describe a being as created and one of a plurality of gods versus being eternal and the one true God.

  26. BTW, what does Es Pura Mentira mean? I tried looking it up by I am not sure what it translates into.

  27. I'm no expert on mormonism, but don't the mos believe that all human beings are eternal and uncreated and therefore gods in some sense.

    It's just that some are further along than others.

    So mormons are really polytheists who don't believe in the creation of an all powerful God, or in the one true God, but believe that the worlds and humans have always existed and are either progressing or digressing.

    If this is the case and I believe it is, then true Christianity and mormonism are about as different as they possibly could be. To say that mormons are Christians is a fabrication of the highest order.

  28. es pura mentira means

    it's all lies

  29. Still your wife only better! I decided to look offical since everyone is doing the anonymous thing ...there is always the chance of an imposter!
    love ya honey!

  30. Arthur Sido, it is you who misreads Genesis.

    Genesis 1:1

    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    The key word here is “created” and what it means. The Hebrew word for “created” is “bara.” You might also see this verb rendered “barau” or “b_r_.” Bara means to separate or divide. This refers to the idea that God divided the formless primordial waters to create a place for the earth in the midst. This is why Gen 1:6 and 7 speaks of God separating the waters above from the waters below. Primitive Jews believed that the entire world was surrounded by chaotic waters – above and below.

    But Jewish superstitions are beside the point. The main point is that the author of Genesis envisioned God dividing already existing matter to make space for the earth. Namely – creation from something. NOT creation from nothing.

    Some traditional Christian scholars have claimed that use of the verb “bara” is reserved for God alone. This is untrue. There are at least three uses of the verb bara in the Old Testament where humans, not God, are the subject of the verb. First is Joshua 17:15, 18:

    "If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country and cut down (bara) for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.... The mountain shall be thine; for it is wood, and thou shalt cut it down (bara) ...."

    The subject of the verb bara here is clearly the people of Israel. Second, in Ezekiel 23:47 the verb bara is used to denote a command to a company of people to "hack to pieces (bara) with swords" those who had committed adultery.

    Bara is also used in Isaiah 43:15 for the creation of the children of Israel, and in Psalm 51:12 for the creation of a new heart, but in neither case is the word bara supposed to be read as ex nihilo. In the case of the children of Israel, God “creates” them out of existing peoples and in the case of the new heart, God “creates” it from the existing one.

    Clearly Genesis 1:1 has NOTHING to do with creation ex nihilo, but rather seems to support creation ex materia (creation from something).

    Then we have 2 Peter 2:5, which seems almost specifically directed at people who think God created earth out of nothing:

    “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.”

    Again, the chaotic primordial waters make an appearance. It almost seems directly targeted at those who advocate creation ex nihilo.

    Nowhere in Genesis 1 do you EVER get any requirement for creation ex nihilo. It's purely an artificial construct that early Christian thinkers came up with to satisfy the demands of Greek philosophy (which was fashionable in those days).

  31. To state that Mormons are not Christian is false. Mormons are Christian. They believe that Jesus came to earth to redeem them from their sins and that thru him they may reach heaven. Now their definition of heaven, and where we all came from (including Jesus) and many other doctrines/interpretations lie outside of traditional Christian thinking. That does not make them not Christian. It makes them not Orthodox Christians. There is a difference.

  32. Seth,

    "Then we have 2 Peter 2:5, which seems almost specifically directed at people who think God created earth out of nothing:

    “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.”

    Uh, Seth 2 Peter 2:5 reads:

    if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:5)

    Either your scripture reference is wrong or that must be one of Joe's Bible "corrections"

    By the way, before I post on your misinterpretation of Genesis 1, where did you get your training in Hebrew?

  33. Rick, mormons deny the diety of Christ, and His eternal nature and that alone makes them not Christians. Until recently mormon leaders rejected the name Christian, it is only in the PR blitz of Hinckley that we see the reaching out to be included with Christianity. That is driven no doubt by the availability of old mormon source materials and apologetic materials to equip Christians to evangelize mormons aand counter their false claims. It is not coincidental that mormonism's growth is mostly overseas where people don't have the same readily available access to materials about mormonism.

  34. Back to Seth,

    I assume that you meant to quote 2 Peter 3:5, which says:

    For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,(2 Peter 3:5)

    Does 2 Peter 3:5 say that the material was eternal? Nope. Certainly God created the universe and then organized it, that is compatible with the Genesis account. We read in Genesis 1 that after God CREATED the heavens and the earth that it was not in the form it currently is, and He formed them into their present state. But the key is that there was nothing and it was created from nothing. Before creation, which has a definite starting point, the Triune God existed and then for His own pleasure and purpose created everything and everyone. He did not have to take preexisting material and organize it, but simply spoke it into being.

    By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. (Psalms 33:6)

  35. Best to have it clear up front. I have no personal training in Hebrew. I'm simply quoting sources that I've already read. In this case, Blake Ostler (a Mormon theologian). Sorry for neglecting to mention it immediately. You can find a comprehensive listing of his stuff here:

    The article I summarize is "Out of Nothing: A History of Creation ex Nihilo in Early Christian Thought" which can be read there online or in PDF. Ostler also responds to work from Paul Copan and William Lane Craig's critique of Mormonism (which they published as part of the book - "New Mormon Challenge" - a traditional Christian critique of Mormonism).

    There's lots of reading there you might find interesting. He's also published two books, with a third and final planned, attempting a systematic treatment of Mormon theology.

    I imagine some here would simply dismiss him as "an apologist" which is a rather stupid response, but whatever. If you want to engage the latest in Mormon theological arguments, you're probably going to have to deal with Ostler's stuff.

    The reading of Genesis 1 as being more compatible with creation ex materia than creation ex nihilo is not unique to Ostler however. The argument was first discovered by Joseph Smith when he was studying Hebrew from a Jewish Rabbi. Joseph was purely an amateur. Although he picked up Hebrew pretty quick, I would expect no one to take his word for it. But the creation ex materia read isn't just Joseph's idea either. Ostler quotes numerous scholars of Hebrew and the Old Testament who have independently reached the same conclusion Joseph did nearly 200 years ago.

    As for 2 Peter 3:5...

    Copan and Craig try to make an argument similar to yours with respect to the passage. Ostler refutes it thus:

    "There are five crucial points in 2 Peter 3:5 that support the view that the author of this scriptural passage believed that everything was organized from a preexisting chaos. First, the text addresses the formation of "heaven and earth," or all that is said to be created by God in Genesis 1:1—2. Indeed, the parallel with Genesis 1:1 is unmistakable and clearly signifies that 2 Peter speaks of the same creation spoken of there. Second, the heaven and earth are said in 2 Peter 3:5 to be formed 'εξ υδατος και δι ' υδατος (ex hydatos kai di hydatos), both "out of water" and also "through water." The double reference to water as the material substrate used in creation "out of" and "from" which the heaven and earth are formed appears to be an intentional emphasis. Third, the fact that we are dealing with the entire scope of creation is indicated by reference to God's Word as the power by which the heaven and earth are formed from water?τω του θεου λογω (tō tou theou logō). The text is referring to Genesis 1:1—2, which states that God spoke and heaven and earth were created, and also to John 1:1, which mentions that God creates all that there is by the power of his Word. Fourth, the heaven and earth are formed from water, which is recognized in the very next verse as the principle of chaos causing the flood or the deep in Genesis 1:2. The earth was created from water, and it was destroyed by water through the flood because water represents the unformed and chaotic—the deep that is never said to be created in the Genesis account of creation but is presented as already present at the time God undertakes to create the heaven and the earth. Fifth, the verb used in 2 Peter 3:5, συνεστωσα (synestōsa), is a form of the verb συνιστημι (synistÄ“mi), meaning to organize by combining together and not by creating out of nothing."

    (See "συνá½·στημι," in Joseph H. Thayer, trans., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977), 605.)

    (See also Richard J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (Waco: Word, 1983), 297—302. Bauckham is an evangelical who admits that 2 Peter draws upon the worldview of the ancient Near East and Genesis to form a concept of creation of the world out of water.)

  36. all this talk is boring me

  37. Also arthur,

    If I understand your argument, you posit a two-step process of creation: first creation ex nihilo, then an "organization" of further elements - such as the earth in 2 Peter 3:5.

    The problem with your argument is that the "first step" of creation is simply assumed by you (and other Christian scholars). It is not demanded of the Bible. Copan and Craig, for instance, cite Proverbs 8:24 as evidence that the "the deep" did not always exist, but that God created it, and then used it to form the rest of the earth and heavens.

    But this won't do since a reading of Proverbs 8:26-27 does not say that "the deep" was ever created out of nothing or ever started with God. Quoting Ostler:

    "Proverbs doesn't teach that God created the waters or "deep" out of nothing; rather, it expressly states that before God created the earth and thus before there was water anywhere on earth, God "prepared the heavens" and he organized the waters not by "creating" them, but by setting "a compass upon the face of the depth"—and this before he created the earth (Proverbs 8:26—27). "While as yet he had not made the earth. . . . When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.""

    You simply beg the question. At best, you can only assert that 2 Peter 3:5-7 does not expressly refute creation ex nihilo - since you could still imply a two-step process of creation to work around the passage. But this is faint support for so crucial an idea as creation ex nihilo if the best you can do is lamely declare "well... it isn't expressly disproved by the Bible..."

    Yeah. Neither is creation ex materia. In fact, it seems to be more in line with how the Bible's authors actually saw the world.

    Creation ex nihilo, by contrast, was invented well after the ministry of the Apostles to frame debates with Gnostics, Stoics, and Middle Platonists.

    Either way arthur, I'm not sure whether either of us has independent training in Hebrew or Greek we can call our own. I simply read the arguments of others and judge for myself how much force to give to them. Perhaps you would be better served to read Ostler and the authorities he cites and decide for yourself, rather than having me paraphrase them for you.

  38. There are christian people who view the account in genesis 1 as a recreation, not the original creation.

    That there was a "fall," before the fall and that genesis one was the recreation of an already existing heavens and earth.

    If you look at genesis one in this way it seems to me to make more sense, although I have not studied the issues involved enough to hold to that position. It is not the orthodox position. I am not recommending it.

    Those that hold it, I believe, still believe in creation ex nihilo.

    If you believe that matter always existed you make matter equal with God or God, which of course you can not do and be Christian. Only God is God.

    Which by the way is why mormons are not Christians or even theists, they are polytheists or more accurately atheists.

  39. "If you believe that matter always existed you' make matter equal with God or God"

    Says who?

    God gets to boss the rest of matter around.

    Doesn't sound "equal" to me.

  40. So you are saying in effect that matter is not dependent on God for its existence, it has its own existence or aseity.

    Well aseity is an attribute of God. Only God has always existed, will always exist, and exists.

    As I said and I repeat mormons are polytheists, they take away from the glory that God only possesses.

  41. "So you are saying in effect that matter is not dependent on God for its existence, it has its own existence or aseity."


    "Well aseity is an attribute of God. Only God has always existed, will always exist, and exists."

    So says philosophy-obsessed traditional Christianity. But not according to the Bible.

    "As I said and I repeat mormons are polytheists, they take away from the glory that God only possesses."

    Positing that something besides God is eternal doesn't "detract" from God any more than saying God can't create a rock so big He can't lift it.

  42. "So says philosophy-obsessed traditional Christianity. But not according to the Bible."

    I would like you to show me where the bible says that anything has always existed, except for God.

  43. Obviously you didn't read my earlier comment.

    What? Was it too long for you or something?

  44. Regardless, I don't have to prove that the Bible specifically demands creation ex nihilo. All I have to prove is that the Bible doesn't rule out creation ex materia.

    If I can establish that, then you guys are operating outside the Bible, and adding your own assumptions and philosophical systems to the text. Which is exactly what creation ex nihilo is.

  45. Since we have devolved into quoting other people's arguments, here is one from a Christian perspective:

    By the way, Blake Ostler is also completely unqualified to speak authoritatively on Hebrew...from his bio on his own webpage...

    "Blake T. Ostler is a partner in the Salt Lake City law firm of Mackey Price Thompson & Ostler. Mr. Ostler concentrates his practice in the areas of civil litigation, education law, special education, employment law, construction law, intellectual property litigation and real property law.

    In 1981, Mr. Ostler graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (summa cum laude) and a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology (magna cum laude). He then graduated in 1985 as a William Leary Scholar from the University of Utah with a Juris Doctorate (cum laude)."

    Now, if I have a question about civil litigation, I might ask Mr. Ostler. If I had a question on Hebrew I would ask someone who has at least a modest training in the language. I live near Detroit and drive a car, but that doesn't make me an expert on the internal combustion engine. Virtually every Christian pastor with a seminary degree has at least several semesters of Hebrew and Greek.

    You should do some research on the authorities you quote before you quote from them.

  46. true dat! arthur!

  47. To claim someone is not Christian based on your own unfounded opinion is elitist.

    In essence you are saying that my 12 year old daughter, who has the purest of hearts and the greatest love for Jesus, is not Christian.

    That is pure bullshit.


    Proving that the Bible doesn't rule something out proves nothing. That only leaves the door open for your unsubstantiated opinions.

  48. So arthur,

    Am I to read this as an admission on your part that you are unable to address the actual argument? I have put out an argument. In response, you have put out nothing worth reading.

    Perhaps the article you linked to will be more profitable. You seem unable to do much more than attack the messenger.

    And yes, I already knew that about Mr. Ostler. It hardly matters to me. Are you going to address the argument? Or are you going to chicken out and hide behind lame attacks on who has what degree?

    As if that mattered as to who is right.

  49. Not to mention, I've personally read people with PhDs in philosophy and theology praise his work and agree with his conclusions.

    If you're looking for degrees, Mormon apologists have all of them. Hebrew, Aramaic, Egyptology, Greek, Philosophy, Theology (learned at respected traditional Christian institutions), Archeology, History.... It goes on. We have the full repertoire.

    Mormon scholars are doing some of the most groundbreaking and internationally accepted work on the Dead Sea Scrolls for instance.

    Again, not that it matters, because you should be addressing the argument and not the degree to begin with. Ostler is right or he isn't. If he is wrong, you'll have to show it in some way other than calling him a lawyer.

  50. sure can't wait for a new blog topic so we can move on from these two arguing fools.

    soy yo can you hook us up please

  51. So Seth, do your mormon apologists have degrees in Reformed Egyptian? Do they teach that at BYU?

    Imaginary languages, imaginary geography, imaginary history, imaginary peoples, imaginary battles, that joseph smith sure did create a lot of things out of nothing. Or do you think that other people had these ideas and he just reformed and shaped them?

  52. Wow…look what happens when I go away for the weekend.

    Pop’s this last comment has to be the funniest thing I have ever heard you say and you tell a lot of jokes. It is pure genius.

    So, did Joseph Smith create Mormonism ex nihilo or ex materia?

    A new post will be up later today. Thank you for all of your comments.

  53. pops,

    I would have to say that Joseph Smith created the BofM ex materia. He just reorganized all the other materials (Bible, View of the Hebrews, names of towns in his neck of the woods, etc.) that was available to him.

  54. Even assuming it was from God, that would have been ex materia.

  55. Pops is brilliant! That is awesome! You stole the whole show with that one. Way to go!

    ~can't take no mo~

  56. pops is far from brilliant, just because he is supporting your agenda/arguement doesn't make him some brilliant scholar. he says plenty of completely ridiculous things too. he is going on his understandings just as everyone does. alot of assumptions are made here and in religion everyday and taken to the heart and made some sort of fact when the reality is WE DON'T KNOW FOR SURE. religion is an emotional thing for everyone real. argueing about it and ganging up on someone who is crazy, when did that ever prove anyting anyway. you can say whatever you want and it doesn't necessarily make it true. thats probably why these conversations happen here instead of in person. its easier to be rude and mean spirited on the internet. grow up and have a real conversation with a human and not a keyboard. denying that someone had or has a spiritual experience in any church is just wrong. you just don't know for sure what they had. pops you can say what you want about this but the truth of it is that you would never say it to anyone's face along with the rest of you. well, thats assuming that everyone is an adult. could be a big assumption.

    all this crap about i don't believe your source is just crazy. no one is going to agree here, its not set up like that. its suposed to be an arguement thats why its on the internet instead of face to face. i actually know doug and amy and was just curious about some of the reasons they left the church. thats why i came here in the first place. we are friends, and if they ever want to talk i would.

    if God really loves the way we are taught and is often spouted here then doesn't he love everyone, even mormons? really its a pretty boring cult, lets see, we are taught to be nice and love everyone, we tithe, which goes to help people and have wholesome activities for family, we are taught not to kill, ok cant do that, hmmmmm, can't have sex outside of marriage and then only with your wife/hubby. ok so really, where's the problem with mormons again....... pretty boring cult if you ask me or anyone else. yes you can bring up the church history all that you want but the reality is that is the past, things were different then. alot different, and none of you really know what happened then anyway. you have read people's opinions about what happened. yes things were not always perfect but newsflash no one is perfect. in 150 years how will you be known to people? if you are known at all....ummm lets see, i argued really good on the internet about people's opinions. GREAT LEGACY!!!

    doug another question....where in taoism is argueing on the internet a good thing? i haven't studied it i don't know, maybe it is a good spiritual thing.

    ~~still curious in tx~~

  57. Ummm...


    That was a bit random.

  58. (Curious in tx) is always random. If you have ever read their comments before you would know they are always an attack on the blog author and his family. And yet soy yo still doesn't know who that is. Or does he?

  59. that was random but nothing i have ever said was an attack. always, really. that's really funny. explain this attack, i just don't get that one anon. of all the comments made that was the one that was an attack....really? i have made exactly 2 comments here. not a very attacking stance. the first one i asked doug if he talked to his friends of his concerns at the top if this post. and this one is just random thoughts about fighting, no name calling, common here, no attacks on beliefs, what its all about here, no anger which is common with attacks too. me out anon, really don't get it. feel free to explain.

  60. Dear Still Curious in TX,

    In regards to the "random" comment you wrote I would like to say, as the daughter of pops and the wife of soy yo, that we thought his comment was brilliant for sarcastic reasons and nothing more. You may not have understood the tone correctly.

    Also my dad would absolutely say anything he writes here in anyone’s face. That is one thing I admire about my dad. He could care less what people think about him. He spoke all these things to me before and after I joined the mormon church. That is a lot of the reason I couldn’t stand to be around him. Because you are not supposed to listen to anti stuff as a member of the mormon church.

    You say you are friends with me and my husband but our friends who are mormon don’t ever get on this blog to comment the way you do. None of them support our decision to leave, but none of them treat us like this. You have gone above and beyond and you are offensive even though you say you aren’t. There is no other way to read your comments. Your feelings have been hurt because of what my husband writes and I would like to apologize for ever saying that he started a blog, and for inviting you here . I can see now that my actions have hurt you tremendously and for that I am sorry. I told you about this blog when I was hurt and well I do believe truth is spoken here so I felt the need to tell you.

    “ grow up and have a real conversation with a human and not a keyboard.”- still curious

    I would say the same to you my “friend”. If you want to have a real conversation ..let’s talk. Then you can hear my tone and my love for my friends. God Bless!

    P.s. I did not feel attacked by this one only concerned that you may not have heard the tone right:)

  61. Is this a private family/social blog?

    I usually try to avoid blundering into those uninvited.

  62. **Seth, this is a public blog and you and everyone one else interested is welcome here.**

  63. my husband rocks!

  64. Seth,

    "Am I to read this as an admission on your part that you are unable to address the actual argument? I have put out an argument. In response, you have put out nothing worth reading."

    You haven't made an argument, you have cut and pasted someone else's argument. There is a difference. It is relevant to look at his academic background, because you are basing your argument on statements made by someone passed off as an expert by you. If that person is not an authority on the subject, that impacts your argument because you claim that the Hebrew word for created means something other than what it has been accepted to mean by actual Hebrew scholars for centuries.

    Not only did Christ create all things, such that nothing was made that was not made by Him, but it also gives us the nature of Christ as being uncreated and eternal. Where mormonism deviates from the Bible gets right to the heart of who God is, and if you think He is just a really old mormon then it makes perfect sense that He had to reorganize existing matter. The Bible tells us that He is eternal, uncreated, without cause. There is no beginning with God, because He is eternal.

    (I thought pops comment was funny too, not just because he is right but because he pokes fun at mormon pomposity and self-importance)

  65. "The Bible tells us that He is eternal, uncreated, without cause."

    Indeed it does. Which is exactly what Mormon theology says as well. How much do you really understand our theology.

    And again, you dodge addressing the actual argument behind appeals to credentials. It is becoming clear that you have no response. Which is fine, I am aware that other Christian scholars think they have one. I just don't find their arguments convincing, that's all.

    As for accusations of pomposity... I suppose you think Evangelicals are never pompous or self-important. Hardly a very self-reflective remark for you to make.

    We always see strong belief and conviction as "pompousness" when it's in the side we disagree with.

  66. Seth,

    The way Mormons believe God has existed for eternity is not the same as how arthur is describing it.

    arthur believes that God has always existed in his current form. Mormons believe that matter has always existed and that God was created from that eternal matter by his heavenly creator.

    Personally I don't see how either works, because neither explains how it all began.

    Oh and Seth, arthur did comment on credentials. You just didn't listen.

  67. Oh, I listened. I just thought it added nothing he hadn't already said. All he did was explain why he felt that credentials are nifty, which did not address the actual argument.

  68. Just wanted to go on record here and say that it has been 4 days and still no personal contact from “still curious in tx”. I still don’t know who this “friend” is nor have any plans been made to meet face-to-face and talk about the merits of Mormonism. ~sigh~