Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mormonism

Definition: A Restorationist movement lead by claimed prophets, starting with Joseph Smith (1805-1844), with distinctive beliefs and a unique scriptural canon in addition to the Bible: The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST).

Are their any problems with Mormonism?
Consider the following:
(1) Mormonism makes salvation impossible for this reason: It has a ‘no blood before Adam’s Fall’ doctrine, including no offspring or death in the pre-Fall Animal Kingdom.[1] Additionally, the Fall is described as a blessing in the Book of Mormon at 2 Nephi 2:22-5. (See problem 2 below.) The problem is that it presents blood as a product of Adam’s transgression, yet Jesus had blood (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:11),[2] but he was free of the affects of Adam’s transgression. (Luke 1:35; Hebrews 4:15) Therefore, what we have here may be called a soteriological contradiction, for Jesus was holy and sinless—he did not have any products of Adam’s transgression, but Mormonism gives him just that, blood from Adam’s transgression.

(2) 2 Nephi 2:22, 23 contradicts Genesis 1:28 which states this regarding Adam and Eve (NW): “Further, God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it.’” (NET Bible renders this “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!’” RS, Yg, NASB, NIV, as well as others, read similarly.) Thus Adam and Eve were told to have children, yet 2 Nephi 2:23 says “they would have had no children.” Exacerbating this is that Genesis 1:28 is found in the JST (see 1:30) as well as in another Mormon version of Genesis 1:28 found in Moses 2:28 in the Pearl of Great Price, which therefore also contradicts 2 Nephi 2:22, 23. This contradiction is a fatal flaw in Mormon scripture that alienates it from God. (Refer to Table 1 below.)

Table 1
Click to enlarge

Furthermore, 2 Nephi 2:22, 23 and 25 places Adam’s fall in a favorable, even liberating light, as verse 25 adds that “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” This contradicts Romans 5:8, 10-12, 15-19 where Adam’s fall is described in negative, debilitating terms, even called a “trespass,” or “offense,” and “disobedience,” leading to “condemnation.” This contradiction with Romans chapter 5 is another fatal flaw in Mormon scripture that alienates it from God.

(3) There is also the problem of the source language of the Book of Mormon, called “reformed Egyptian,” which is described as more compact than Hebrew in the Book of Mormon at Mormon 9:32-33. However, this is impossible. The book By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus, by Charles M. Larson (Grand Rapids, 1992), says: “Ancient Egyptian writing is composed of both phonograms (‘sound-signs’) and ideagrams (signs that convey their meaning pictorially). In this language a word was usually expressed by using one or more phonograms, followed by an ideagram. In this arrangement the ideagram is called a determinative, because it ‘determines’ the meaning of the foregoing sound-signs and defines their meaning in a general way. ... While some Egyptian words need no determinative, many have more than one; some words even require as many as three determinatives to express a single thought. Egyptian writing was thus cumbersome to use, and lacked any true depth of abstraction. ... Eventually its vast inferiority to other forms of writing, such as Greek or Hebrew, led to its disuse and ultimate disappearance. But no one realized any of this in Joseph Smith's time.”—Pp. 88, 89.

Thus, the weight of the evidence indicates that the Hebrew-speaking Israelites would not switch to Egyptian Hieroglyphics and reform that to be more compact than Hebrew which was a superior language and already more compact than Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

(4) Mormonism also retains the Latin name Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12 KJ) for Satan in its scriptures (see 2 Nephi 24:12, Doctrine and Covenants 76:26 and the JST at Isaiah 14:12). However, Bible scholarship post-dating Mormonism has shown that Lucifer is not Satan. Rather, Lucifer is merely the translation of the Hebrew word heh·lel′, “shining one,” which is not a name or a title but a term describing the boastful position taken by Babylon’s dynasty of kings of the line of Nebuchadnezzar. Yet, Mormonism cannot remove this error without serious consequences to its credibility, as divine revelation would not perpetuate error and confusion.

When Someone Says—
‘I’m a Mormon (or Latter-day Saint)’
You might reply: ‘I remember your “Truth Restored” ad campaign a few years ago. Clearly you value the truth about God, right? So do I. In this regard, notice what Jesus said in John 17:17. (Read it.) So we can trust God’s Word; is that how you feel?’ Then perhaps add: ‘I agree with you that there was a Great Apostasy from the truth, and consequently a need for a restoration. Also, I agree that the cross is inappropriate as a Christian symbol. But I do believe that Jesus was free of Adamic contamination to be the Ransomer. Do you believe that Adam was created without blood and that blood is a product of his transgression?’ (Note, do not use the word "sin" here, as they do not believe it was a sin but something Adam had to do.) ‘Yet Jesus shed his blood for us?’ (Allow for response.) ‘Would you agree that Jesus our Savior was free of the affects of Adam's transgression?’ (Read Luke 1:35 and Heb. 4:15.) Then why would Jesus have blood if it is the product of Adam’s transgression?’ (Turn to page 29 under the heading “If Someone Says” under “Adam and Eve” in the book Reasoning From the Scriptures, or to chapter five of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? on page 47, and use this as a basis for discussion, highlighting Jesus’ role as Ransomer. Both books are published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

Or you could say: ‘Do you look at Adam and Eve with great appreciation for what they did in the garden of Eden? (Allow for response. Then read Romans 5:18, 19.) How does this scripture describe what Adam did? Why do you think Paul used words like "condemnation" and "disobedience" if we are to appreciate what Adam did?’

Another possibility: ‘I appreciate the high value you place on knowing the truth, as your “Truth Restored” ad campaign demonstrated. Do you think that restoring truth would perpetuate error and confusion? (Allow for response.) That would destroy all credibility of restoring truth, right? Then why is it that Mormon scripture preserves the Latin name Lucifer for Satan when Bible scholarship post-dating Mormonism has shown that Lucifer is not Satan, but is merely the Latin translation of the Hebrew word heh·lel′, and is the Babylonian king?’ (Turn to page 361 under “Satan the Devil” in Reasoning From the Scriptures, or to chapter ten of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? on page 96, and use this as a basis for discussion.)

Footnotes:
[1] “Fall of Adam.” LDS Church’s Bible Dictionary. http://classic.scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/f/2 [Note: the latest edition of the LDS Church’s Bible Dictionary under the corresponding entry "Fall of Adam and Eve" has omitted reference to blood forming in the bodies of the primeval 'transgressors' Adam and Eve. This was doubtlessly done to soften the definition and make it more ‘milk-like,’ with the ‘meatier’ no-blood-before-the-Fall doctrine being presented later.] This ‘no blood before Adam’s Fall’ doctrine is also taught in the LDS Church’s Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, “Chapter 8 – The Fall," which quotes Mormon President Joseph Fielding Smith (http://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-8-the-fall?lang=eng):
“When Adam was in the Garden of Eden, he was not subject to death. There was no blood in his body and he could have remained there forever. This is true of all the other creations” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:76–77).
It is also taught in the LDS Church’s Ensign magazine in the following articles by Mormon Apostle Russell M. Nelson: “Constancy amid Change,” November 1993 issue, page 33 and “The Atonement,” November 1996 issue, page 33.

[2] "Christ." LDS Church's Bible Dictionary. (http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/christ?lang=eng) In order for Jesus to be the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), he would have to be what Adam lost and voluntarily sacrifice that to be the ransom. Mormonism makes that impossible.

(This was written by me attempting to mimic the general style of the book Reasoning From the Scriptures.)


Related blog entries:
Links to other blog entries:
Links:

Further reading:
The Religion of “More”
http://www.jimspace.000space.com/more-mon.htm

Labels:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Biblical monotheism is...

monolatrism, the consistent worship of only one divine person in the divine/supernatural realm inhabited by divine/supernatural persons. The one divine person who receives full devotion and worship is the almighty creator.
For instance, Psalm 8:5 calls the angels elohim, literally "gods" (the NET Bible translates it as "heavenly beings"), and the LXX replaces elohim with "angels," and Hebrews 2:7 confirms that these are angels by quoting the LXX, showing that the LXX translators understood it correctly.[1] Angels are also described as gods in the rest of the Bible, before and after Psalm 8:5, from Genesis to Revelation.[2]

Thus, regarding the "true God/false God" dichotomy of Trinitarianism, it must be known that such needs to be informed of the Biblical definitions of "god." One meaning is nature or being, the other is worshipful.

  • Thus, true Christians worship the one true God the Creator. Other competing objects of worship are false.
  • But in terms of nature or being, there are many supernatural beings or gods. (Refer to footnote 2.)

Additionally, any obeisance (proskuneo) given to Jesus is to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11) For example, Joseph's brothers also bowed to him in Genesis 43:28 (proskuneo LXX), but he was not a false god, because his brothers knew that full worshipful devotion belonged to the Almighty God Jehovah.

Some will say this understanding of "god" is henotheism, but this term has some shortcomings that the term monolatrism does not. For instance, regarding henotheism it is stated that:
"'a God' may refer to one personality (among others) of the supreme God, and also the God may be said to have the power of assuming many personalities. Max Müller [who coined the term] encountered these subtleties in the Upanishads and Rig Veda [of Hinduism], and posited the idea of henotheism as a way of explaining them. ... Henotheism is based on the belief that a god may take any form at any time and still have the same essential nature. The central idea is that one name for a god may be used in a circumstance where a particular aspect of this god is being represented or worshiped while a different name may be given to or used to describe or worship a different aspect of the god in a different circumstance. This example does not imply the superiority of one over another, but simply that a god can exist in many forms at once and offering worship or praise using different names does not have to imply polytheism." (underscore added)
Thus, it appears that henotheism has some extra baggage that monolatrism lacks. The later expresses Biblical monotheism more succinctly.

As Jesus said in the clearest possible terms imaginable at John 17:1-5, the Father is God, and He is the only one to receive full worshipful devotion.

Now, since Trinitarianism advocates worshiping Jesus and the Holy Spirit as persons of the Godhead along with the Father, it unwittingly advocates idolatry. Only the Father is to be worshiped. Thus, according to the Trinitarian "true God/false God" dichotomy, Trinitarianism unwittingly calls Jesus and the Holy Spirit false Gods and idols. Contrarily, Jehovah's Witnesses worship only the Father in monolatry.

Biblical theology is monolatrous and Trinitarianism is idolatrous.

Footnotes:
[1] Angels are called gods elsewhere too in Psalms 86:8 and 136:2.

[2] Some notable examples of such are found at Genesis 32:25; Judges 6:21; 13:19, 20; Daniel 3:25; 6:22; 7:10; 10:5, 6; Acts 12:6-10 and Revelation 8:5. Also note the supernatural power of the fallen angels, the demons, at Genesis 6:2 where they were able to produce male bodies for themselves, and at Job 1:14-19 where Satan directed groups of people and controlled the elements of fire and wind. Thus, all spirit creatures inferior to the Almighty God are described as supernatural and therefore are divine beings or gods by nature.

Appendix
  1. Isaiah 43:10
  2. Trinitarian View of Angels
Isaiah 43:10
Ones who object to anyone being called "a god" will often cite Isaiah 43:10, which contains the expression: "Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none." Notice though that "God" here is used as the Almighty Creator, and thus does not address the question of other lesser divine beings like angels. This interpretation is supported by the next verse, which similarly declares: "besides me there is no savior." As God's appointed judges were also called saviors in Judges 2:16; 3:9, 15, it can be seen that God is the Prime Savior who sends saviors. Thus, he is the only God by virtue of his almighty nature as the creator, and not due to being an inhabitant of heaven like the angels.

Trinitarian View of Angels
While Trinitarianism may object to angels being gods, it is noteworthy that they are acknowledged as being spirits. As one Trinitarian clearly explained: "An angel is a spirit being created by God" with "enormous, though limited (as a creature) power and knowledge." ("Angelology: Angels" by Greg Herrick https://bible.org/seriespage/angelology-angels. See also "Creation of Angels" by James Petigru Boyce http://www.founders.org/library/boyce1/ch18.html.) Therefore, since "God is a spirit" (John 4:24) and God is divine, and angels are spirits, then it follows that they are divine and gods by nature. As explained above, this arrangement is not polytheism nor henotheism, but monolatrism.

Additional reading:


Related blog entries:

A video did appear down here, but the owner removed it from his YouTube channel.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

In response to "Read the Bible not the Watchtower!"


Jehovah's Witnesses read the Bible first, the Watchtower second. The people who chant "read the Bible not the Watchtower" read the post-biblical creeds and other traditions of men and books and other material from their religion. So, their admonition is hypocritical. Frankly, it's laughable and dismissable.

It also betrays a frightened mindset seeking a trapdoor, which is what their shallow admonition amounts to.

(Introductory picture is from the cover of the February 15, 2011 Watchtower.)

Recommended reading:

“If you stop to kick at every dog that barks at you, you’ll never get very far.”C. T. Russell

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A simplified diagram of reality


The spirit realm transcends the physical realm, which Jesus called the “realms above” (τῶν ἄνω; twn anw), a realm “above” our “lower” realm (τῶν κάτω; twn katw) where our physical bodies cannot enter. (John 8:21, 23) A human needs permission to enter this transcendent realm, by resurrection into it.

The resurrected human has crossed the “line” into the spirit realm and is now a spirit creature. Intelligent creatures in both realms give full devotion to Jehovah God.

Theological terms:
Theography: the study of where God is.
Theocartography: the art of making maps that lead to God.

Link: My Thoughts on: The Spirit Realm
http://www.jimspace.000space.com/tsr.htm

Related Blog entry: Mapping the Greatest Missionary's Journey http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2011/09/mapping-greatest-missionarys-journey.html

Labels:

Monday, January 03, 2011

Are the Persons of the Trinity separate and distinct or distinct only?


In a televised debate between Trinitarian Dr. William Lane Craig and Rabbi Tovia Singer, moderated by Trinitarian Lee Strobel, Dr. Craig said that the holy spirit is "separate and distinct" as a person.[1] He is not the only Trinitarian to say this. One Trinitarian author makes the same claim, and even compares the divine persons of the Trinity to other separate and distinct people: angels, demons, and humans. He said: "the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate & distinct from one another as individual beings like these various other intelligent beings are separate and distinct from one another." (emphasis original)[2]

However, more astute Trinitarians disagree, and specify that the members of the Trinity are only distinct from one another and not separate.[3] To illustrate, picture a tricycle. The wheels on this vehicle are distinct from one another, but are still tied in to one another. The wheels are not separate from one another or the tricycle would be unable to move. The same principle is found in a housing complex, where the apartments are all connected by the outside walls. They are certainly distinct from one another, but they are not separate houses.

Thus, Trinitarians who state that the members or persons of the Trinity are "separate and distinct" should realize two things: The wording of that phrase implies tritheism: three gods, and that this wording troubles more astute Trinitarians who say the persons of the Trinity are distinct only. The ones who miss this crucial distinction should also consider their Shield of the Trinity diagram, which depicts each person of the Trinity as an angle of a triangle.[4] Each angle is distinct as they point in different directions, but they are certainly not separate from one another!
This bifurcation in Trinitarianism, the separate and distinct theology versus the distinct only theology, presents a serious problem of credibility. But this is to be expected, as Trinitarianism is a doctrine of the antichrist.

Addendum: Angle or Angel?
Trinitarianism may object to calling Christ an angel, but it inadvertently calls Christ an angle!

Footnotes:
[1] Refer to blog entry "Does The Trinity Make Sense? My Comments." http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2010/07/blog-post.html

[2] "The Number of Individuals in the Godhead." The Gospel Way. http://www.gospelway.com/god/persons_godhead.php

[3] "The three persons of the Trinity are distinct, yet not divided (distincti non divisi), different yet not separate or independent of each other (discreti non separati)." McGrath, Alister. Christian Theology: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing. Oxford. 2007. Page 250. http://books.google.com/books?id=tHlY94UWi3UC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA250#v=snippet&q=distincti%20non%20divisi&f=false

Additionally, Trinitarian apologist Matt Slick explains regarding them: "They are not three separate gods and are not three separate beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God." (Italics added) "The Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, and the Communicatio Idiomatum." (http://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/trinity-hypostatic-union-and-communicatio-idiomatum) And Trinitarian Kenneth Samples declares that "God is three distinct persons." (See "What a tangled web we weave" [http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-tangled-web-we-weave.html].) For another example, see the video "The Trinity Defined and Refuted (Part 1 of 7)" (1:10-1:27) by Sean Finnegan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlFZ9tz0MRA



Credits:
  • Introductory picture of the Trinidad trificela ("three-faced Trinity") from the brochure "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" The iconographic depiction of the Trinidad trificela fell into disuse after being outlawed as heterodox in the wake of the Reformation.
  • Shield of the Trinity diagram from "Biblical Doctrine: The Trinity, Four Essential Affirmations." http://theresurgence.com/2009/11/23/biblical-doctrine-the-trinity

Labels: ,