Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Thought for Easter


It is always interesting to hear the chorus of voices raised to claim that Mormons are NOT Christians. Last weekend I spent a good deal of time listening to LDS General Conference. Many of the speakers marshaled reason and faith to dispel this ludicrous claim, but several others seemed to go out of their way to support it.


I was dismayed that several of the speakers found it necessary to disparage the Nicene Creed. They talked very authoritatively about its “misbegotten” origin and its “errors”, but I was forced to wonder if the good brethren, who were so busy attacking this foundational doctrine of Christianity, had ever read it. That Mormons would try so hard to be accepted as “Christian” and then spend a good deal of the conference insisting that all other Christians are wrong in their understanding of God seems to be painfully self defeating.


Here is the Nicene Creed. Repeated readings have failed to reveal anything that contradicts Mormon Doctrine. If anyone can see a contradiction to the LDS articles of faith – which seem to be patterned to some extent after the creed – or to Scripture, please explain it to me.


The Nicene Creed


We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.


And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.


And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father (and the Son*) who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.


Change proposed 6/1999


In my salad days – The LDS Church used to present a parody of a sectarian minister teaching something about a God without body parts or passions, whose circumference is no were and center was everywhere, who was so large He filled the universe and yet was so small he can dwell in one’s heart. I have never found a religion which teaches that version of God, in fact, that Mormons no longer present the parody seems to indicate that Church leaders have also abandoned the notion.


As food for thought, in comparing Mormon beliefs to those outlined in the Nicene Creed consider these Scriptures from the “Standard Works”.


1st Nephi 13:41 [On God and Jesus being ONE God]


41 And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.


From Mosiah 15: 1 – 5


AND now Abinadi said unto them; I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.


2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the SON—


3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—


4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.


5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.


2nd Nephi 31: 21


21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen


3rd Nephi 9: 15


15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God, I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.


D&C 130: 22 [On the nature of the three manifestations of God – and His ability to live in our heart]


22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.


Please also consider that the most sacred of all prayers and oaths– the ones that have truly saving power are offered in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In this name of God were all Mormons baptized and promised all their eternal blessings.

It seems to me that the Mormon Church could make more headway in its effort to be an accepted Christian faith by carefully considering the Nicene Creed and pointing out to all who will listen that it is the very doctrine of the LDS faith. What stronger bona fideies could the Church display?

70 comments:

Aeneas said...

Lysis,

President Hinkley’s inability to understand the doctrine of the Trinity seems shared by Edward Gibbon and Thomas Jefferson, who, I have no doubt, did read the Nicaean Creed and probably in its original language . Jefferson points out the importance of politics in the creation of the creed...that it was more a product of politics then inspiration or reason.

"If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians . . . was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief." - The preface to Edward Gibbon's History of Christianity.

"No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded, was that of the early ages of Christianity . . . Nor was the unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government, wielded at the will of the Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands of martyrs . . . The Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such person, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck." -- Thomas Jefferson: Letter to James Smith, Dec. 8, 1822.

The confusion seems to stem from the consequence of not using and “I” in a word used in the Creed…

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 debated the terms homoousios and homoiousios. The word homoousios means "same substance", whereas the word homoiousios means "similar substance". The council affirmed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Godhead) are of the homoousious (same substance). This is the source of the English idiom "differ not by one iota." Note that the words homoousios and homoiousios differ only by one 'i' (or the Greek letter iota). Thus, to say two things differ not one iota, is to say that they are the same substance. - Wikipedia.

[However], when Constantine died in 337, Constans became emperor in the West and Constantius II became emperor in the East. The former was sympathetic to the orthodox Christians and the latter to the Arians. At a council held at Antioch (341), an affirmation of faith that omitted the homoousion clause was issued. Another council was held at Sardica in 342, but little was achieved by either council.

In 350 Constantius II became sole ruler of the empire, and other his leadership the Nicene party (orthodox Christians) was largely crushed. The extreme Arians then declared that the Son was anomoios (unlike) the Father. These Anomoeans succeeded in having their views endorsed at Sirmium in 357, but their extremism stimulated the moderates, who asserted that the Son was homoiousios (of similar substance) with the Father, and conservatives, who asserted that the Son was homoios (like) the Father. Constantius at first supported the Homoiousians but soon transferred his support to the Homoenas, led by Acacius. Their views were approved in 360 at Constantinople, where all previous creeds were rejected, the term ousia ("substance" or "stuff") was repudiated, and a statement of faith was issued stating that the Son was "like the Father who begot him". - Encyclopædia Britannica.

After much politicking and power-playing between the three major camps, i.e., (1) homoousios, (2) homoiousios, and (3) anomoios, use of “Homoousios” eventually won the day and became the very root of modern Trinitarianism. From 325 to the present, the predominant interpretation of the definition of homoousios has been that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are not three distinct individuals, but one person with three attributes, or something like that?!??!? It is the very use of “homoousios” that has confused every generation of Christian since it was penned in 325. I have often asked “Christians” what their understanding of the Trinity is, most often, after giving a definition not unlike the one I just gave, I was told that a belief in this “mystery” is part of the test of the Christian faith. Basically, man can’t understand it…it is a mystery. It is interesting to note that if the authors of the Nicene Creed had used the word homoiousios instead of homoousios we probably would not be having this debate since the notion that Jesus is “like” the Father seems much more align with Mormon doctrine in that in Mormon doctrine, Jesus can be a God and still not be God the Father, the individual we all pray to, even Jesus Christ.

If one reads the Nicene Creed in English, especially one who has the restored truth, a superficial reading and interpretation of the document can easily find similarities between the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and the Nicene Creed in so far as the three are “one” and are of a divine nature. But, the two doctrines do part ways. The Nicene Creed is not Mormon doctrine for the very reason that we believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct and separate individuals, with the Father and the Son having bodies of “flesh and bones as tangible as man’s,” and with the Holy Ghost being a “personage of Spirit.” (D&C 130:22.). It is this doctrine of the Mormon faith that runs counter to one of the most basic principles of the Christian notion of the Trinity: “One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons: nor dividing the Substance”, (emphasis added) as per the Athanasian Creed (the basis of the Nicene Creed), and “one only living and true God, … a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible…” (emphasis added) as per the Westminster Confession of Faith (used by Presbyterians and Congregationalists).

As for the meaning of “one” in the scriptures: I invite the reader to consider how Jesus has described what it means to be “one”: John 17: 21 . (Jesus invites us to be one with each other, just as he is one with the Father, which of course is impossible if Jesus and the Father really are “in” each other and really are “one” rather than “one” in purpose). Another good explanation for anyone still struggling with the concept of “one” in purpose: 1 Corinthians 3: 8-9. (Clearly, the person who plants a seed does not need to be the same person who waters the seed. However, the purpose of both actions is to produce the fruit, thus “one” in purpose).

There is much in the Nicene Creed that right thinking Mormons should not object to, but there is a fundamental difference between what the Creed states, and certainly how it has always been interpreted, and what Mormons believe in the very nature of God. We, therefore, can’t and should not say that the Nicene Creed is Mormon doctrine when it clearly is not. I also find the use of the word homoousios in the context of the Godhead incomprehensible. However, I do think that if homoiousios had been used in the Nicene Creed, I probably wouldn’t have had an objection to the Creed.

Lysis said...

Aeneas;

It seems to me that Elder Hinckley ought to get his opinions on God from the scriptures and not from either Jefferson or Gibbon.

I admit that I cannot read the Nicene Creed in the original language of its composers, however the translation posted above is the official translation of the Catholic Church. I don’t have the original language from the Book of Mormon either – but the English translation I have seems to be closely aliened with the Nicene Creed.

Just what Jefferson is railing against as monstrous and unreasonable is unclear from your truncated reference, but it appears that Jefferson did hold with the doctrine “of one God, pure and uncompounded”. This seems to be the verdict of those who have translated the Nicene Creed into English for the Catholic Church and two Nephis, Mosiah, and God.

As for Wikipedia – I don’t think Jefferson or Hinckley would approve.

I am not debating Greek or Latin words or meanings. The Creed is available and sanctioned by the Church, in English. The Book of Mormon has also been rendered into English and the two can be compared in that language.

Your hang-up seems to be one line in the Creed = “being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made;”

You and I are made of the same substance – the same matter, as are all mortal men – that God the Father and God the Son would be of the same substance seems easily understood. This disqualifying phrase is a stumbling block in your mind –not in the creed. The scripture stands – there is only one God. The Creed clearly describes three beings as this one god – one actually sitting at the right hand of the other. There is no difference between this description of God and the ones presented by in the Book of Mormon and D&C which I presented. If you claim there is, show me.

Hinckley and company did not choose to disparage other creeds, so I do not feel they are relevant to this discussion, if the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists choose to disagree with the Nicene Creed; it does not
mean that the Mormons have to.

A few Questions for you to consider:

1. What difference does it make?

2. Do Mormons believe in a different Jesus that other Christians?

3. If Mormons believe themselves to be Christians, and also believe Jesus to be different than other Christians do, does that mean that Mormons profess that other Christians don’t believe in Jesus?

4. Does either Father, Son, or the Holly Ghost care if the people who love and worship them understand if they are homoousios or homoiousios? Are only those who believe the right way going to make it to heaven? Will God really damn his children over their conception of his essence? If you think so – just which commandment is that under?

Many Mormons share the position you seem to hold. They want “other” Christians to accept Mormons as Christians, but they refuse to accept “other” Christians as true Christians. Why do they want to belong to the club if they don’t accept the bylaws?

Anonymous said...

Retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Cordingly said Monday he believes the sailors and marines were being used "almost as a propaganda tool" by the British government.

"I was depressed because I thought the team were so good on the press conference - they didn't overplay their unpleasant experience and we could all imagine what they had gone through," Cordingly said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview.

"I think it's unfortunate the (Ministry of Defense) are using the sailors and Marines in this way. They are using them almost as a propaganda tool and it seems to be encouraging us to feel irritated with Iran rather than dialogue going on," he said.


Bizzarro England...England is to be condemned for telling the truth about the 'benevolent' Iranian captors???

Anonymous said...

Hero's tale is 'too positive' for the BBC

By Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:56pm BST 07/04/2007

Amid the deaths and the grim daily struggle bravely borne by Britain's forces in southern Iraq, one tale of heroism stands out.

Private Johnson Beharry's courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.

For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.

The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.

The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism.

MindMechanic said...

I believe in Christ. I accept him as the son of God, the literal savior of all mankind. I believe the bible to be the word of God. I believe the book of Mormon to be the word of God. I do not worship Joseph Smith, nor do I worship Christ. I Worship God. I accept Christ as my savior.

My faith without works is meaningless for it is an indication OF my faith and paves the path for exaltation. However, my work without Christ is meaningless for he is the only path to salvation. Without salvation there can be no hope for exaltation.

I am a Christian. The rest of the world can define me as they will.

MindMechanic said...

"In the first three centuries, the church found itself in a hostile environment. On the one hand, it grappled with the challenge of relating the language of the gospel, developed in a Hebraic and Jewish-Christian context, to a Graeco-Roman world. On the other hand, it was threatened not only by persecution, but also by ideas that were in conflict with the biblical witness.

In A.D. 312, Constantine won control of the Roman Empire in the battle of Milvian Bridge. Attributing his victory to the intervention of Jesus Christ, he elevated Christianity to favored status in the empire. "One God, one Lord, one faith, one church, one empire, one emperor" became his motto.

The new emperor soon discovered that "one faith and one church" were fractured by theological disputes, especially conflicting understandings of the nature of Christ, long a point of controversy. Arius, a priest of the church in Alexandria, asserted that the divine Christ, the Word through whom all things have their existence, was created by God before the beginning of time. Therefore, the divinity of Christ was similar to the divinity of God, but not of the same essence. Arius was opposed by the bishop, Alexander, together with his associate and successor, Athanasius. They affirmed that the divinity of Christ, the Son, is of the same substance as the divinity of God, the Father. To hold otherwise, they said, was to open the possibility of polytheism, and to imply that knowledge of God in Christ was not final knowledge of God.

To counter a widening rift within the church, Constantine convened a council in Nicaea in A.D. 325. A creed reflecting the position of Alexander and Athanasius was written and signed by a majority of the bishops. Nevertheless, the two parties continued to battle each other. In A.D. 381, a second council met in Constantinople. It adopted a revised and expanded form of the A.D. 325 creed, now known as the Nicene Creed."

http://www.creeds.net/ancient/nicene.htm

Just a shot in the dark...but perhaps a creed that has to be negotiated, written, re-written, and tweaked till it is found acceptable to all, is more or less just a nice document to have and not the foundation of faith. Sort of like the family proclamation...a good document that clearly defines the LDS position on families.

I personally cannot for the life of me understand how or why people make such a big deal of the trinity. I could not give a tinkers damn if someone believed the Godhead was one or three seperate entities. The message is the same and regardless of position or vision, live the gospel!

We had a discussion last week with an individual that insisted Christ was black. (It started from a discussion of the recent articles suggesting Christ was gay...sheesh...make up your mind people...was he gay, or was he married to mary Magdelaine?). Anyway...the point...after pointing out that in 4 years in the middle east I had not met too many black jews I asked him if Christ was still Christ, regardless of his color, and then ceeded his point. Who CARES???

I swear...Satan must laugh his butt off at how easy we make it for him.

Silver Lining said...

First of all, I think there is more attacking going on here than there was in General Conference. Likewise, President Hinckley spoke with humility when he said that he found the Nicene Creed to be incomprehensible. I think you misrepresent a bit Lysis. There was no vilifying of said creed just an explanation of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes about the nature of God and of Jesus Christ. Surely it is not a mystery to you that many (I would say likely most) in what is considered mainstream Christianity do not believe members of the LDS church to be Christian. There has been much literature and recently a DVD passed around in the Southwest. In addition, the candidacy of Mitt Romney has brought the LDS faith into a spot light. In a climate where James Dobson professes that Fred Thompson isn't Christian or Christian enough, it isn't any surprise that many are reminding us that they don't view Mormon doctrine as capable of being Christian. You don't have to look far to find this. I read it regularly in the comment sections on many popular political blogs I frequent. Many who argue that Mormons are not Christian, refer to the Nicene Creed as evidence.

I admit to being surprised and incredulous that you would put off Aeneas' points about the meaning of substance in its original greek. I am perplexed, because his argument isn't simply the meaning of greek words, it goes to the historical context and understanding in which the Nicene Creed was written. Quite frankly, there is such a well understood historical context for this document and for its meaning (as it has been interpreted by what I refer to as mainstream Christianity for laci of a beeter term.) It is not too many posts ago that you cleared up a misunderstanding regarding Spartans and homosexuality by explaining to us differing Greek understandings and explaining the concept of the lover and the beloved. I will also note having been present on at least one occassion when you pointed out that in greek, there are several different words that we translate into English all as love. Yet, in greek, they have different meanings. The fact is that Aeneas has pointed out that the word substance as it is used in the Nicene Creed has a very particular meaning. When you couple that with the historical context of the document, it is clear that Aeneas is right. From its inception, it was understood that one substance as contained in the Nicene Creed meant literally one being. The roots of the word actually mean literally one being.

Therefore, your insistence that the english is fine enough compounded by the fact that you seem to refuse to consider the context in which it was written and in which it is interpreted by mainstream Christianity, appears to be obstinence and or wilfull ingnorance.

The fact of the matter is that if the LDS Church said that we hold the Nicene Creed as the very doctrine of our gospel and presented it as you have interpreted it, they would be told they don't believe in the same Nicene Creed and that they are distorting the true nature and understanding just as they argue that we do not believe in the same Jesus and distort his true nature and understanding.

You claim to Aeneas that you and he are made of the same substance. It goes back to explanation of the word for substance used in the original Nicene Creed. Scientifically, you aren't the same substance. You are made out of the same kind of substance. However, you each have your own mass and your own DNA. We can actually run tests that show you are both human but not brothers etc.

The Nicene Creed is interpreted in mainstream Christianity as meaning that God the Father and Jesus Christ are literally the same being. Jesus Christ, as the Nicene Creed has been understood to say since its incepetion, is actually God the Father in human form literally.

Aeneas offered statements from Jefferson and Gibbons to add to the debate. You replied that Hinckley would have done better to use scripture than these references. First of all, Aeneas added these thoughts to the debate. Hinckley did not reference them at all. I find it odd that you would suggest otherwise. You suggest Hinckley should point to scripture when discussing the Nicene Creed. He went to the heart of LDS faith. He pointed to the first vision of the prophet Joseph Smith. That is foundational to the beliefs of the LDS church. Without the first vision, there isn't anything that follows. In the first vision, Joseph Smith witnesses both the Father and the Son as separate beings of flesh and bone. This flies in the face of the Nicene Creed's reference to one substance as it has been understood since its inception. This is one of the very things that other Christian denominations point to to indicate that Mormons aren't Christian. If you wish, I can point you to evangelical pastors who suggest further that such a concept of the nature of God lowers his glory.

My long drawn out, and most likely pointless in purpose point is that your interpretation of the Nicene Creed is not that of Christianity as a whole. The LDS faith does differ from the Nicene Creed in its belief of the nature of God.

Now, as Mind Mechanic has pointed out, there are different philosophies about what constitutes Christian. Those who use the broader definition of believing Christ suffered and died for our sins, was resurrected, and will return again, include the LDS faith. There are many who are more exclusionary, and they exclude the LDS faith for, among other reasons, the fact that they don't subscribe to the Nicene Creed.

If you think about it, all that sat down at the Council of Nicea where Christian, but in developing the creed, the beginnings of exclusivity of the definition of Christian began. That was, in part, the purpose of the Nicene Creed.

The questions you pose to Aeneas are interesting, becaue they are the questions that many evangelicals ask about members of the LDS church. I would point out that it is generally, though not always, other claiming that members of the LDS church aren't Christian not the other way around.

You say if we want to be accepted so badly, we should accept the bylaws. I don't think it is a desire to be accepted. It is a frustration at beleiving in the Savior and being told that one does not. President Hinckley was not trying to be included in the club. He was stating for the benefit of frustrated members and any others that wanted to hear exactly what we do believe regarding the divinity of Jesus and the nature of God the Father and his only begotten son, the resurrected lord Jesus Christ.

Even as I type this, I question if I should post it.

I will repeat in closing that I am surprised that someone with your historical understanding seems so stubborn in his refusal to look at the history of the creed and what is does for our understanding of what it is supposed to mean. Your stubborn refusal to look at anything other than what you think the english translation means reminds me somewhat of those justices on the Supreme Court that would ignore context in the Constitution in order to make it mean whatever they want it to, whatever they say it means.

Aeneas has presented the roots of the confusion and incomprehensibility of the creed as well as any could.

Silver Lining said...

Lysis, I offer the following link, because it might interest you.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/opinion/09woodward.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

truth to power said...

I've been doing some reading lately on the points of doctrine that caused early Christian schisms. As I understand it, one of the sticking points of the Nicene Creed is the part translated as "being of one substance with the Father". Those 4th century Christians came to the point of excommunicating each other for heresy over the question of whether or not the Son was created by the Father and therefore at some point inferior to Him. Since Scripture doesn't answer the question directly (why would it?), the issue became a political one.

Later disputes got weirder, but this was one of the biggies.

I should think the Mormons would make hay of these doctrinal disputes and the resulting creeds as evidence for their claim of a general apostasy. Designing a god by committee doesn't seem to fit the pattern of Christ's church.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic;

I agree with you, there is no part of a rat’s anatomy that is worth less than this specious tiddle of dogma. I therefore continue to be amazed that the general authorities of the Mormon Church choose to bate their brothers and sisters in Christ over it.

Silver Lining:

First, I take some umbrage at your comment concerning attacks going on. It is my experience that when one can not to answer a question a desperate dodge is to question the motive of the questioner.

As for Hinckley’s humility: he is no “innocent babe in the woods” fresh out of apple munching in Eden. He is a life long theologian, and the leader of a major Christian sect. He could surely get some counseling from someone who does understand the Creed. It is not complicated in its language – either in Greek, Latin, or English.

On Aeneas’ advice I spoke with a colleague of mine who is an Episcopal Priest. She is very familiar with History, Mormonism, and argumentation. I must admit that her explanation of the Nicene Creed was much more like Aeneas’ than mine. I asked her if she believed that God had a physical body. She said no. When I asked her to describe God she offered the image of the water that surrounds, supports, and sustains a fish in an aquarium; the aquarium being the universe. I do not agree with this version of God, but her explanation was not a mass of confusion.

I asked her if God The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were the same being. She explained that the relationship of the trinity was like that of a flowing river; the springs and sources of the water being the Father, the flowing stream the Son, and the influences of the water the Holy Ghost. Again not the division of their substance I comprehend, but her explanation was certainly comprehensible.

I asked her how she explained the references in the New Testament and the Nicene Creed that placed God and Jesus as separate persons; for example, sitting side by side and speaking back and forth to each other. She said that such references, that seem to contradict her beliefs, were simply figures of speech. Not a confusing answer, and the same one I received concerning the Book of Mormon scriptures above seeming contradiction of present LDS doctrine.

In the course of our discussion, she explained to me that not everything about God is comprehensible to man. I did not agree with her in this point anymore than I agree with those who claim that there are ideas in the scripture that can only be understood by prophetic explanation. Both seem to disparage the one sure gift of God to man, the Spirit of Christ, the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, man’s divine ability to recognize right and wrong and comprehend the truth.

I agree that the questions I posed to Aeneas are interesting. I await their answer.

I have spent some time reading from a book supplied to me by “Cicero”, an erstwhile poster here in the Agora. It is called *The Closing of the Western Mind*. Its thesis is that blind faith excluded reason precipitating the Dark Ages. That man kind shares with the gods the infinite ability to reason and tell right from wrong is evident in Plato, Cicero, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Genesis. It is troubling to me to see so many willing to disparage reason and the requisite questions reason demands whenever they find their beliefs at hazard. I am also concerned whenever I see the holders of any specific tenant retreating behind the positions that either man is incapable of comprehending the truth or that only prophets are capable of presenting it to him. God did not rely on revelation to enlighten man on the working of the solar system, the development of Penicillin, or the crafting of the world’s most successful democratic-republic. Why then would He mock mans attempt to understand the nature of their Father.

You may well be surprised at my refusal to consider the historical setting of the Creed, if I had really done so. The Council of Nicaea was an important ecumenical gathering. Something Christianity might benefit from again, and which Mormons would benefit from attending. The Emperor brought together men of great faith and piety in an effort to clearly understand and dispel the differences developing in the body of Christ. Constantine sought to deal with these challenges. This seems like a worthy cause. The document, as presented in its original form, seems straight forward and unambiguous. But then, people determined to find cause for conflict will shark it up; those wishing to claim confusion will claim it despite all evidence to the contrary.

I am concerned that God choose not to enlighten these followers of Jesus through His attendance at their conference. Were their efforts unworthy of His help? Did He really desert them? In truth, I do not believe this to be the case. God has granted to all men reason. I am surprised that someone with your intellect and reasoning ability would be willing to condemn reason and logic as a divine tool for the discovery of truth. Your stubborn refusal to abandon the unfounded claim that the Creed is incomprehensible, in any language, reminds me somewhat of those justices on the Supreme Court that would ignore logic in their judgment and blindly follow precedent in the face of Natural Law; thus producing such injustices as Dread Scott, Plessey v Ferguson, and Roe v Wade.

Aeneas has not presented any justifiable reason for declaring the Nicene Creed either confusing or incomprehensible. That people disagree on its interpretation is a standard applicable to reveled scripture and the Constitution. Does this render these documents likewise incomprehensible masses of confusion?

Lysis said...

Truth to power;

I would think Mormons would be better off making hay through their Christ like actions than in attacking other religions in attempts to destroy the faith of others.

Dan Simpson said...

I have to say, though I am dissappointed, I am not in any way surprised. Though I didn't let it bother me while actually listening, before conference got under way I wondered to myself, "what will Lysis complain about this time around".

Last time it was that at the conference there was too much discussion of what he considers trivial, and not enough about the war on terror. This time he has dreamed up some attacking attitude that did not exist anywhere in the remarks of President Hinckley.

There was no disparaging. There was not bating. There was no denegration or condescencion.

Reading Lysis' second paragraph, I have to wonder if HE listened at all. "Several" speakers disparaged the Nicene Creed? The Nicene Creed is the "foundational doctrine of Christianity"????? That anyone spent "a good deal of conference insisting that all other christians are wrong"???

An interesting aside. I have always wondered why Lysis thought it more important to point out where people where wrong politically, then to point out fallacies in their religious thought or belief. Seeing as the one, in the grand scheme, means very, very little.

Lysis said...

Dan;

I have carefully read and reread your comment. To me, it is a mass of confusion.

Anonymous said...

Lysis,

How does your Episcopal friend reconcile the line, "And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church?"

Also, if Mormon doctrine is the doctrine of the creed, as you suggest, then why shouldn’t they claim to be the “one apostolic church?”

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lysis said...

Anonymous;

The word Catholic simply means universal. The question is rather how can anyone claim to be Christ’s church and be in conflict with other Christians?

I can understand the Mormons claiming to be part of the “one holey catholic and apostolic church”, but if they also claim that no one but they themselves constitute that church, then they should understand why others who believe they are part of that universal Christian, faith might claim that the Mormons have excluded themselves from the “club”.

Anonymous said...

Lysis,

If holding beliefs that conflict with those of other Christians disqualifies you from the church of Christ, then Christ’s church must not exist.

Lysis said...

Dan;

Now that I have a little time, let me ask some questions and make a few comments in an attempt to find clarity.

1. Define complaining. Are all questions complaints? I would point out, that other than a few general calls to bless soldiers in battle during invocations and benedictions, the Conference once again ignored a major issue in our world today – the War on Terror. Perhaps, like the Democrats in Congress the Mormon Church has banned the term. How is pointing that out, now or last October complaining? And if it is complaining, is it wrong to do so?

2. I would argue that the very claim of the First Vision, to which most speakers boar testamony – that all churches are wrong, that the hearts for their members are far from Christ - is disparaging to those who believe they are part of the Body of Christ. Claiming that God only talks to Mormons is denigrating and condescending to non Mormons, and implying that the basic article of faith (My Priest friend’s description of the Creed not my won) of Christian faiths is incapable of being understood, is bating.

3. What is the entire message of the restoration? Do you think other religious peoples, Christian and other, don’t get that Mormons claim that all other Churches are wrong (“Jesus” words, not mine).

In your last paragraph you say:

“I have always wondered why Lysis thought it more important to point out where people where wrong politically, then to point out fallacies in their religious thought or belief. Seeing as the one, in the grand scheme, means very, very little.”

First of all – is there anything wrong in pointing out were people are wrong politically? Secondly which do you imply means very little in the grand scheme? I would argue that both are important and that the truth in neither is damaged by pointing out the fallacies in either. Truth is the one thing that will make us free. (Jesus words, not mine)

Anonymous;

Differing views are probably not in general disqualify a sect from being “Christian”. But if one of thee views held by a sect is that none of the others are Christian, then either that is a right view or a wrong. If they are right, then the Mormon Church must be the only Christian Church, if wrong – they have disqualified themselves from membership in a club they now want to belong to.

Anonymous said...

Lysis said:

“If they are right, then the Mormon Church must be the only Christian Church.”

Then:

“I would argue that the very claim of the First Vision, to which most speakers boar testimony – that all churches are wrong, that the hearts for their members are far from Christ - is disparaging….. and claiming that God only talks to Mormons is denigrating and condescending to non Mormons.”

Then:

“Is there anything wrong in pointing out were people are wrong?”

Lysis,

Are you saying Mormons are wrong, or are you saying that there is something wrong in pointing out when people are wrong?

Lysis said...

Anonymous;

I’m just asking questions. I’m just trying to think things through and find the truth by applying reason.

To answer your questions; (a courtesy most do not extend to me) let me say:

1. I am not saying that the Mormons are wrong.

2. I am not saying that pointing out when people are wrong is wrong, but there really should be a logical explanation for such a claim.

3. Finally, I do feel that if Mormons are the only true Church, they should not care what the poor deluded masses of pretend Christians say about them. Mormons used to take pride in being a “peculiar people”, in pointing out that only their “church” was true and that all other churches were “the church of the devil”; now they want to fit in. My point is simply to consider the very real dilemma facing Mormons in the 21st century. As the major would say – they ought to fish or cut bate.

Lysis said...

And by the way! (recognize J. Golden?) that non-Mormons should really be offended by the things Mormons say about them also seems odd to me. It is only the opinions of those who you recognize as important that should really affect you.

a quiet listener said...

I agree that Pres. Hinckley is certainly not so innocent or unintelligent that he cannot understand the Nicaean Creed. I believe that as the leader of our such a major church and as the prophet of God he could understand it’s actual meaning as Aeneas has so eloquently explained it. I had no problem understanding what he was trying to say though. The God recognized by much of "Christianity" has some differences from the God we learn about in our church. I can’t recount all the times on my mission that I had to explain to people the true nature of the Godhead. Maybe the Nicaean Creed is more similar to our own beliefs that one would think, but if all the churches sprang from its doctrine why are they all so different. Look at the wide variety of erroneous beliefs that have come from misinterpreting its confusing language. That was the message I think that the speakers tried to get across. Instead of trying to get our understanding of God from a translated document written by erudites we have the restored gospel with the blessings of additional scripture, living prophets and the Spirit of discernment.

I think that were we sitting in an institute or Sunday school class a more in depth explanation of the Nicaean Creed would be appropriate. I don’t think that Conference is the time or place for such an in depth explanation. Why didn’t Christ himself explain all the mysteries and laws of his Kingdom? The people weren’t ready for it. Who is listening at Conference? New members, non-members perhaps, children. I agree with Dan. I didn’t find the remarks on the Nicaean Creed overly disparaging or denegration. Silver Lining pointed out the erroneous DVD that was floating around. If I truly had questions about the church after seeing that DVD I might want to watch Conference. I would then be very confused after hearing an explanation like the one Aeneas gave about the Nicaean Creed. Conference must not exist for the purpose of expounding such doctrine.

Lysis said...

A Quiet Listener;

Perhaps you would answer some questions.

1. Is knowing the true nature of the Godhead important for our salvation? If so, why? If so, why isn’t the Conference the place to explain these things to the world? Is it because they are still to stupid to understand it?

2. Would you consider the language of the Book of Mormon, (it is almost the same as that of the Nicene Creed) confusing?

3. In the less than two hundred years since its organization, how many splinters have fallen off from the Mormon Church? Would you consider that the fault of the confusing language of the Book of Mormon, the Articles of Faith, or that of the teachings of the living Prophets.

4. Was your question on Christ’s failure to explain all the mysteries and laws of his Kingdom rhetorical? I would like to know the answer to that one as well.

5. What makes people ready to hear the truth about God?

6. Do you think that non members might find the remarks about the Nicene Creed and the truthfulness (or lack there of) of their religions disparaging or denigrating. Perhaps the producers of the DVD you’re all on about don’t find it denigrating or erroneous either. How do Mormons feel about it?

7. When you say that people would have been confused by Aeneas explanation of the Nicene Creed and say that Conference must not exist for the purpose of expounding such doctrine, are you claiming that people – including members of the Church - are still not ready for the truth?

Rumpole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silver Lining said...

First of all, my comment about attacking was simply a comparison not an accusation. I went on to say that I think you mischaracterized the words of President Hinckley in your claim that he attacked other religions. I still hold that opinion. I didn't question your motives, but I don't mind your questioning mine.

Your response to my claim of Hinckley's humility was to tell me that he is not innocent and a life long theologian. One can be all three things simultaneously. What I saw was a man that claimed that he found the creed incomprehensible. He did not declare it universally so. However, if he had, he would have been in good company.

I don't think God chose not to enlighten the followers of Jesus at the Nicean council or found their efforts unworthy of his help. It is my sincere belief that all who attended, though they had differing views of the nature of God, were all Christians. I, however, fall into the camp that gives the broader definition for the term. I also believe that the Nicene creed from its inception was a tool for exclusion. I question if it wasn't the intent for it to be.

You state in your response to me that you are "surprised that someone with [my] intellect and reasoning ability would be willing to condemn reason and logic as a divine tool for the discovery of truth." I did no such thing. I simply didn't agree with your interpretation of the Nicene Creed in light of what we know about its meaning and interpretation. Thank you for your concern though. You also note my stubborn refusal to abandon the unfounded claim that the Creed in incomprehensible in any language. Again, I did no such thing. You make such a point of noting that questioning is necessary to our use of reason. Have I been deemed without reason because I chose to question your assertion that the Nicene Creed is the very doctrine of the LDS faith. That was/is my assertion. My assertion is that your interpretation of the creed as you read it at face value was not the interpretation accepted at its inception or by mainstream Christianity now. Given that fact, it is not the foundation of the LDS faith.

I strove to point out that though one could interpret the creed as you did, it would not be in keeping with its interpretation as it was originally written.

I personally find another passage other than substance to be the confusing part of the creed, but I don't hold myself to the level of any here, and I don't think my personal confusions whether they be the Nicene Creed, the scriptures I am reading, or the book I am currently reading are anything but a diversion from the point at hand. Nor do I believe that personal confusion that I experience regularly studying the scriptures, particularly the New Testament, means I am incapable of ultimately understanding them or any truths of God. It simply means that their meaning does confuse me at times. I am not ashamed of that nor should I be. Furthermore, my admission of being confused by the wording or their meaning does not mean I have abandoned my reason.

Like truth to power, I understand what the Prophet means when he states that he finds the creed incomprehensible. I also understand what Thomas Jefferson, (another great thinker who held that reason was the light of Christ and the gift of god to all man and tool that would enable the finding of all truth), meant when he called the Nicene Creed incomprehensible. That doesn't mean that I or either of these men has abandoned reason for blind faith or retreated behind a position of man's inability to understand the truth. It is quite the contrary.

You put a lot of emphasis on the word incomprehesible. I don't mean to make this a game of semantics but as it seems you have inferred that anyone who has deemed the creed incomprehensible has abandoned reason to blind faith, I must conclude with the question to you: is anything incomprehensible?

Finally, I don't agree with the contention that the church wants into the club or that we are no longer content to be a peculiar people. I am of the opinion that much has been stated regarding the beliefs of the church of late. That is why I posted the oped piece from the New York Times. Much of what is stated is misrepresentation. One of the largest claims, of course, is that we are not Christian. I don't think we are trying to make anyone accept us but are, as I stated before, clarifying in the light of so many misconstured arguments, what exactly it is we believe about our Saviour Jesus Christ and about the nature of God. An attempt to provide an opportunity to set the record straight is completely reasonable to me. I don't see how anyone was disparaged unless telling someone that you don't agree with them is now the equal of disparaging them. In fact, I don't see where any other faith was told they weren't Christians. Finally, I didn't hear anyone say that we couldn't find evidence of the nature of God in the scriptures. We were reminded of both the Book of Mormon and the Bible as such sources. We simply have an additional witness to the resurrected Savior, the Prophet Joseph Smith. If we believe the first vision and the account of God the Father and Jesus Christ described therein, it is another source God has given us for our enlightenment. We are, therefore, blessed.

Dan Simpson said...

You have more than one set of numbers, so the will be taken chronologically.

your 1st set:

1. Complaining has a lot to do with tone. This is a judgement call, your comments about conference, in my opinion, are complaints. They haven't talked about what you wanted to hear, that bothers you.

2. If pointing out that someone is wrong, no matter how humbly, lovingly, or with an invitation to come to find out for yourself, is disparaging, then according to your definition yes, all of the speakers were disparaging. Assuming also in your definition that testifying of the restoration is inherintly disparaging as well.

3. add in with above.

Last statement in that post.

No, nothing wrong with pointing out political wrongness. In conversations you have more than once said that missionaries shouldn't point out that others religions are wrong (ceding the fact that there are incredibly innappropriate ways to do so, I believe missionaries have the absolute obligation to point to such fallacy).

Many political opinions matter not at all in the grand scheme.

Trying for clarity (for Lysis), I will split this post.

Dan Simpson said...

AQL: Wonderful as always, succinct, and well put.

Now, these questions were more posted for AQL, but I will give my answers, he can answer his own way.

1. Yes, it is. It was explained very well at conference, in the very talk by President Hinckley that has been so referenced. In his simple, eloquent testimony of the nature of the Godhead.

2. Sometimes, and some parts, absolutely. Sometimes it depends on your mindset, and level of humility. Many aspects of the scriptures require the spirit of revelation to be truly understood. Or, one can merely miss things as one reads. Mosiah 15 was, at one time, completely incomprehensible to me. It has to be read, and reread. I think Rumpole has wonderfully pointed to one of the parts that must be understood.

5. Humility. Plain and simple.

6. They might. I could see them getting upset if one just said, you're wrong, stupid. Why can't you see that we have the truth, duh.

I have, on the other hand, been in several one on one, or small group discussions with people when this same concept, the restoration (thus the fact that other churches do not have the authority to act in God's name) has been discussed. When there is humility (on both sides), offense is not taken.

From conference talks, we have humility on the side of President Hinckley. If there is offense taken, I would suggest (as humbly as someone as prideful as me can), there is a need for humility on the side of the one offended.

The same could be said for one who is offended by the DVD that has been sent around. If it is wrong (as I believe it to be), than it doesn't matter what they say about me, Joseph Smith, The Church, or my beliefs.

Lysis said...

Rumpole:

I have read through your comment several times. To me it is a mass of confusion.

I long ago accepted Aeneas “interpretation” of the word “substance”. I even went to a Priest in preparation for my confession. I wish you would read the entire argument before you comment on its substance.

I am interested in your claim that Mormons believe in a different Jesus that other Christians. I believe in the Jesus who is the son of God and the Savior of the world. I think the truth of the matter is that Mormons claim to know more about that Jesus than others. Be that as it may, I can see how your Rameumptom like declaration of spiritual superiority could make for hard feeling.

I ask:

3. If Mormons believe themselves to be Christians, and also believe Jesus to be different than other Christians do, does that mean that Mormons profess that other Christians don’t believe in Jesus?

You say that it is double talk. It seems you are among the – if you can’t deal with the “question” call it names - school of “reason”. I guess you and Danny Boy are in good company there.

I find it ironic that, having condemned all other Christians to belief in darkness and ignorance of electricity, you then self-righteously pretend not to judge them. Now there is Sophistry

You do get to an important question. *Will God damn his children over their conception of his essence?* Your answer is, He will allow them to damn themselves because of their ignorance. I have lived enough summers without electricity to know that one can be in heaven without it. If God intends to throw all who have not figured Him out into eternal darkness, it seems to me He should have been a little clearer in the instruction manual. I am still looking for the commandment related to this one. “Love God and your neighbor as yourself” does not seem to entail a damnation default clause for those who cannot fathom electricity.

truth to power said...

"Will God damn his children over their conception of his essence?"

I believe in a God who is perfectly just and merciful. So do you. We can speculate about details, but the obvious answer to the question is no, lest "God cease to be God."

Lysis said...

Silver Lining;

Should your motives ever become questionable I will be glad to do so, and I am glad you do not mind.

I agree with you that a man can be innocent, a theologian, and humble – but Hinckley’s comment on the Nicene Creed did not demonstrate humility.

I would agree with you that the Nicene Creed was used as a tool of exclusion, as are all descriptions of God that claim that they are the only true perspective and all others are wrong. This would, of course, include the knowledge gained by Joseph Smith in the grove. That is surely the intent of all such judgmentally applied articles of belief. Either you accept or you are excluded.

My concern with your willingness to abandon reason comes from this paragraph:

I admit to being surprised and incredulous that you would put off Aeneas' points about the meaning of substance in its original greek. I am perplexed, because his argument isn't simply the meaning of greek words, it goes to the historical context and understanding in which the Nicene Creed was written. Quite frankly, there is such a well understood historical context for this document and for its meaning (as it has been interpreted by what I refer to as mainstream Christianity for laci of a beeter term.)

Your willingness to accept word definitions and historical context without applying logic to either dose trouble me. The words of the Book of Mormon so closely match the words of the Creed that it would be reasonable to point to their many commonalities rather than to speculate on their situational or linguistic differences. This sort of reasoned search for common ground would be particularly useful to a church seeking acceptance into the Christian Community.

Do you therefore abandon the claim that the Creed is incomprehensible in any language? Is it now your contention that only Hinckley can not comprehend it?

I would claim that being confused by the reading of difficult scriptural passages is indeed a part of reasoning them out. But to say – they are incomprehensible and therefore I will not discuss of think about them would indeed be an abandonment of that reason.

Thomas Jefferson was in open attack against Christianity – he chose not to understand the Nicene Creed in an overt attempt to belittle it. That is indeed the historical context of his comment. I would hope that the LDS Church would seek a better model in seeking ecumenical conversation with the vast majority of Christians in the world.

If neither the Church nor Jefferson intended to abandon the effort to understand the Creed; their actions and attitudes to not demonstrate such an open mind.

I agree with you that scripture is a source of understanding of the nature of God; I also agree that having a visit from Jesus and a living Prophet is indeed a blessing. But I also insist that there must be consistency between the teachings of the Prophets now and of those in the scripture; in the proclamations of the risen Jesus and of Jesus in the New Testament and Book of Mormon.

Lysis said...

Dan;

Nice to have you back.

I ask:

1. Is knowing the true nature of the Godhead important for our salvation? If so, why? If so, why isn’t the Conference the place to explain these things to the world? Is it because they are still too stupid to understand it?

You reply: Yes and Hinckley boar testimony to the nature of the Godhead.

But did he say why it was important to our salvation to agree with his testimony? He did not – do you think it is?

I ask:

2. Would you consider the language of the Book of Mormon, (it is almost the same as that of the Nicene Creed) confusing?

You reply: Yes

I agree. And you make my point. When something, be it the Book of Mormon or the Nicene Creed proves difficult to understand – it should be studied not dismissed as incomprehensible and therefore useless.

I ask:

3. In the less than two hundred years since its organization, how many splinters have fallen off from the Mormon Church? Would you consider that the fault of the confusing language of the Book of Mormon, the Articles of Faith, or that of the teachings of the living Prophets.

You answer: (NOTHING)

I ask:

4. Was your question on Christ’s failure to explain all the mysteries and laws of his Kingdom rhetorical? I would like to know the answer to that one as well.

You say (NOTHING)

I ask:

5. What makes people ready to hear the truth about God?

You reply; Humility. Plain and simple.

Now I ask: was Joseph Smith the first humble person to live on earth since the death of St. Andrew? Are there not multitudes of humble people who have lived and died throughout the world and its existence; who in humility wanted the truth and were not given it? Didn’t God see the need to bless them for their humility, or the importance of giving them this turht?

I ask:

6. Do you think that non members might find the remarks about the Nicene Creed and the truthfulness (or lack there of) of their religions disparaging or denigrating. Perhaps the producers of the DVD you’re all on about don’t find it denigrating or erroneous either. How do Mormons feel about it?

You say yes, and it’s their fault for being so un-humble. As to the taking of offence; I agree with you – if one does not value an opinion they should not take offence at it.

I ask:

7. When you say that people would have been confused by Aeneas explanation of the Nicene Creed and say that Conference must not exist for the purpose of expounding such doctrine, are you claiming that people – including members of the Church - are still not ready for the truth?

You say (NOTHING)

To almost half of the questions you either have no answer or chose not to give one. I hope you notice that I at least value your opinion on these and the other questions I have presented.

Lysis said...

Truth to Power;

I agree with you.

Silver Lining said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

When something proves difficult to understand it should be studied and not dismissed as useless.

Aye and what about when it has been studied and through reason proven to be unreasonable or in conflict with reason?

Why hold onto it if it does not reflect your reasoned beliefs? Wouldn't you then declare that you believe contrary to its statements and give the reasons why?

Isn't that what occured in conference?


Also, no offense Lysis, but what are you driving at? It seems that you are kicking up a fuss at something that simply isn't there. I haven't seen anyone here who has disagreed with Truth to power regarding God damning a soul for not understanding his correct nature. That is an argument made in the direction of the LDS church. Many who protest outside conference and pass out literature etc. argue that they are trying to save members of the LDS faith from damnation presummably because members of this faith have not come to know and accept Jesus as their Savior.

Lysis said...

Anonymous;

I would agree with you that WE can dismiss those things which WE have found to be unreasonable. But when we make such claims to people who still have questions about those ideas – it is reasonable to explain the reason behind our decision. Just to say – you can’t understand so trust me, is not a rational way of dealing with important issues.

Truth to Power’s point is much of what I am driving at.

It seems to me that both Mormons and non-Mormons of all religions should get to doing good in the world and stop trying to impose their beliefs on others. It is bad enough when religious zealots attempt to convert good people from one belief to another, it is sinister when people begin to kill and die in order to force their beliefs or attack the faith of others.

What I am driving at is the establishment of a truly pluralistic society, where all traditions about God are held in equal respect and there is no need to force Mormonism on non-Mormons with threats and bribes of lesser kingdoms and eternal lives or Islam on non-Muslims by promises of virgin sex partners or suicide bombs.

For years as a Boy Scout I have held to the ALL denominational ideal of Scouting (I would go further and count agnosticism as a denomination) – I long for the day when we can live together in an all denominational world.

Silver Lining said...

So looking at historical context and word definitions as tools of discovering meaning is not using reason? To examine them as evidence and evaluate how helpful they are in determining the meaning of a document or passage or statement or whatever is not the use of reason?

If one is to examine the Nicene Creed and desire to understand its meaning, is not examining the meaning of the words in the document and the historical context in which it was written not the very way in which to question and seek answers?

I am dumbfounded.

I never changed my position to that of now holding that only Hinckley can't comprehend the creed. I still hold that I understand both his and Jefferson's meaning in characterizing it as incomprehensible. I am still thinking that from the implications of your comments here, nothing can be truly deemed incomprehensible.

Finally, if one evaluates the Nicene Creed, finds they agree with Aeneas on its meaning, find that their reason and belief disagrees with the statement of that creed, for what reason is there to hold onto it?

Not that it matters, but I find Rumpole's post to be anything but a mass of confusion.

Anonymous said...

How is clarifying one's belief in the light of so much misinformation imposing their beliefs on anyone. For President Hinckley to state that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has other sources of references to look to regarding that nature of God and to state that our doctrine contradicts the interpretation of the Nicene Creed is a statement of belief. It in no way imposes on anyone.

Clarifying for the record what one believes to be the truth does not equate to disrespect of anothers beliefs. To willfully mischaracterize comes much closer.

It would be nice to have respect for each others beliefs. It would be nice to go to my dearest friend's wedding at the temple in Salt Lake and not have to nearly force my way through the protesters with signs heavy with dispresect. I am sorry. I respect you but do not agree with you that the LDS General authorities have shown disrespect in any way to persons of other faiths.

Furthermore, I would note that if you believe you have the truth about anything, shouldn't you share it? Impose it you cannot do. Do you not write this blog, in part, for that very reason?

Dan Simpson said...

"It seems to me that both Mormons and non-Mormons of all religions should get to doing good in the world and stop trying to impose their beliefs on others."

This is where your raving hypocrisy comes into play. And this is why I referenced before the idea that you find it fine to shout from the rooftops those political ideas that YOU find to be true, yet you find it distasteful and wrong to try to preach religious truths because you think we should all just be able to get along.

Lysis, you are a closet relativist. Your statements about religion are in every sense saying that however you want to believe is good, no problems because none of these are absolute truth, so believe as you will. (as long as they go along with whatever it is you classify as a 'good' religion.

"It is bad enough when religious zealots attempt to convert good people from one belief to another"

So, if people are good, then they don't need the truth? If I believe that I have more truth, or a more complete picture of the truth then I shouldn't share it with people who are good?

You have long established, by word and deed, that you believe in shouting, arguing, name calling, etc. to make your political points heard (you can't deny it, most of us here have done the same, be it in a fit of pique, or out of frustration or anger).

My earlier point stands. I don't believe that most of the political things argued about here are even half as important to a person, in the eternal scheme, as those truths that I know about God and His plan.

I refuse to hoard those things I know to be true because others have their own set of beliefs. I respect their beliefs, but that won't make me refrain from sharing with them my own. And your proclamation that

"It is bad enough when religious zealots attempt to convert good people from one belief to another,"

is hypocrisy at its heart.

Besides the fact that your statements drip with vitriol for the idea of missionary work, and sharing of the plan of salvation.

"there is no need to force Mormonism on non-Mormons with threats and bribes of lesser kingdoms and eternal lives "

"Just to say – you can’t understand so trust me, is not a rational way of dealing with important issues."

Its like you didn't even listen to his talk at all.

President Hinckley bore his testimony, he told us why it is important to understand the nature of God, and of Christ. Its unfortunate that you didn't hear that, maybe you were already composing this post, I don't know. But you can always go to lds.org and read it again. I did, its beautiful, simple, and true.

Anonymous said...

Cicero Says

Two obeservations:

1. It is anmazing that reasonable, bright, smart, intelligent people (all of you who post and I read on a regular basis)are having such a hard time with what Lysis has said. You believe in truth, you search for truth, you debate the truths of thoughts, ideals, words, etc...until someone questions/challenges someone you feel(by blind faith)is in daily communication with God...Hinkley. You suddenly become offended that a person thinks for themselves and asks questions that they feel are vital to their understanding and progress as a human being. The smaller issue is the comments on the Nicene Creed, but the bigger issue is that when it comes to what Hinkley and the Church Elders say you suddenly throw your reason aside and find ways to protect unreasoanble assertions of truth. It is amazing how religious people(not just Mormons)can provide reasonable arguments as to why immorality and sexual promiscuity are wrong, but support plural marriage as once a commandment of God. It is amazing how reasonable and intelligent people argue the immorality of racial discrimination, but support prophets who do not allow a group of people to hold the priesthood because of race. Why do reasonable people espouse the first great commandment to love your neighbor, but will support a Church that spends millions and millions of dollars a year fighting against those people of the same sex who want to marry and raise a family.

This issue is not about the Nicene Creed, Lysis agreed with Aeneas in his first response. It is about being willing to challenge what religious leaders say with reason and well thought out assertions, not defend blindly the so called opinions of church leaders. It is so easy to hide behind blind faith. Lysis is attempting, in a very respectful, and I might add, non confusing way, too get people to use reason in religious matters as well as civic matters. Why can't active, believing members of the church questions the words and sayings of Hinkley and not be labled a heretic and sinner who has lost his faith because he does not agree with the club president on some issues?

2nd observation to come later.

Anonymous said...

Who has questioned Lysis' right to question? Who has labeled him a heretic or a sinner?

Is engaging in disagreement simply because it is a matter of faith and we don't agree with Lysis' take an indication that only Lysis has used his reason?

None of this is the case Cisero. It is Lysis who has accused many others of not using their reason and with very little if any valid claim to do so. Though I don't think he does so intentionally, he acts with upmost pretention. Because we would dare engage in discussion and disagree with his conclusion sighting reason for our own is in no way condemning him for questioning. Is it not the very process of reasoning together?

Anonymous said...

P.S. Lysis did not agree with Aeneas in his first comment. He called into question Aeneas' use of reason just as he has many other posters here. He acknowledged that the priest he spoke to agreed more with Aeneas than with himself in his response to Silver Lining. You are correct that he did eventually say that Aeneas was correct though.

Dan Simpson said...

Cicero, you're funny. You remind me of liberals who want the freedom of speech, but expect there to be no consequences.

Lysis is free to disagree, but why should that mean I (or any here), can't disagree with him, strongly.

I think he is flat out wrong with many of the things he has said, and I have pointed to why I think he is wrong.

Why should he get a free pass under the idea of dissent? I have never heard him asking for one.

Lysis said...

Silver Lining;

You ask:

“So looking at historical context and word definitions as tools of discovering meaning is not using reason?”

“If one is to examine the Nicene Creed and desire to understand its meaning, is not examining the meaning of the words in the document and the historical context in which it was written not the very way in which to question and seek answers?”

Not if that is where you stop. All I am asking you to do is put aside the dictates of the claims of historians and dictionaries, even Hugh Nibbly, and see if there is a reasonable interpretation of the Nicene Creed that could satisfy both Mormons and non-Mormons. If it cannot be done – it is a least reasonable to try and not to abandon all hope because of what has happened in the past. In our struggle for pluralism, we should be logically seeking common ground, not excuses to hate each other.

I hope this reasoning has saved you from your dumbfounded state – it was my purpose.

I do not know if there is anything in the universe that is incomprehensible, but I clearly comprehend the Nicene Creed – both as Aeneas and my Episcopal Priest explained it and as the Book of Mormon agrees with it.

It is my suggestion that one should only reject unreasonable interpretations of the Nicene Creed, none of the above seem unreasonable to me at this time. One may be the truth – none could be – but at least I do not refuse to consider all of them by claiming they are impossible to consider rationally.

I have presented what I found confusing in Rumpole post. I invite either him or you to enlighten me. An option which is does not seem that Hinckley has requested from those how comprehend the meaning Nicene Creed. I would be glad to introduce him to my Priestly friend.

Anonymous;

I do not believe that clarifying one’s beliefs is imposing them, but threatening people with damnation for disagreeing seems to be rather heavy handed. I do not believe that President Hinckley attempted to state differences in Mormon Doctrine and the Nicene Creed – he simply said that to him, and thus implied to his followers as well, that they, could not understand it. That seems to me to be imposing a lot on everyone.

I agree with you that anit-Mormon protesters are not justified in their attacks on Mormons, nor are Mormons justified in their attacks on other religious groups.

Telling people that their foundational religious beliefs are incomprehensible without offering explanation or reason is also an attack. I would delight in a Conference talk explaining the flaws in the Nicene Creed and defining through reason the Mormon position. Claiming ignorance and bearing testimony fall short.

Dan:

I am entirely for converting people to political or religious truth through argumentation and reason. What I am against is unreasoned attacks on political positions or religious beliefs. I am also against bombs and guns. When conversions come through threats and intimidations of through bribes and promises I am skeptical.

If people are good – they already have the truth of religion – the purpose of religion being to make bad men good and good men better. Or so I have heard.

As for shouting and name calling – these are not the ways to win political supporters or religious converts. Are you actually saying that because Lysis calls names it is alright for Hinckley to do so?

I have nothing against missionary searching out those who are looking to find a religion, who are searching for something they do not have. For missionaries or picketers to attack others in order to draw off converts, does seem to me to be unworthy of true religions.

As for Hinckley’s talk – why don’t you just quote for us the lines that indicate to you the important “why” of understanding the nature of God? I would love to have a reasoned discussion on his claims.

Cicero;

You bring some very important topics to the discussion. I would love to hear the General Authorities rationally explain to the world the seeming inconsistencies involving Polygamy, Racism, and the Church’s anti Homosexual marriage position. I bet they could do it without shouting.

I also wish they would spend some time explaining to the world why the mass murder of unborn babies is wrong, and why good people need to stand united in their defense of freedom. Why they avoid these topics in order to discuss food storage, genealogical research, church basketball, and the inspirational power of driving around the block is a mystery to me.

Anonymous;

Eventually realizing that someone with whom you disagree is correct, AND CHANGING YOUR POSITION is one of the great benefits of reasoned discourse. It is an important part of the search for truth. It is hard to continue that search when ones questions are labeled name calling and hypocrisy, but one does one’s best.

a quiet listener said...

I don't know where you people find all the time to post so much! I sit and think about my argument and hours later have a few ideas ready.
anyways.
To answer your questions (and it’s a good thing Kinetics was cancelled so I have time to do so)

1) - Of course it’s important to have an understanding of the true nature of the godhead in order to be saved. That doesn’t mean that we have to have a perfect knowledge (in this life) of every detail. There are lots of questions about the Godhead which I have but don’t have any bearing on my living a righteous life and earning my reward. Will the Holy Ghost ever get a body for example? I don’t know. But I can still have faith on Christ and understand the Godhead well enough to be saved.

So much has been said about Hinckley’s denigrating the Nicene Creed. Here I present what was actually said:
“When the emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity, he became aware of the divisiveness among the clergy concerning the nature of Deity. In an attempt to overcome this he gathered the eminent divines of the day to Nicaea in the year 325. Each participant was given opportunity to state his views. The argument only grew more heated. When a definition could not be reached, a compromise was made. It came to be known as the Nicene Creed, and its basic elements are recited by most of the Christian faithful.
Personally I cannot understand it. To me the creed is confusing.
How deeply grateful I am that we of this Church do not rely on any man-made statement concerning the nature of Deity. Our knowledge comes directly from the personal experience of Joseph Smith, who, while yet a boy, spoke with God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Risen Lord. He knelt in Their presence; he heard Their voices; and he responded. Each was a distinct personality. Small wonder that he told his mother that he had learned that her church was not true. And so, one of the great overarching doctrines of this Church is our belief in God the Eternal Father. He is a being, real and individual. He is the great Governor of the universe, yet He is our Father, and we are His children.”
He later said…

“The second great certitude of which I am sure also has its foundation in the vision of the Prophet Joseph. It is that Jesus lives. He is the Living Christ. He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Messiah of the New. Under His Father's direction, He was the Creator of the earth. The gospel of John opens with these remarkable words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,49-1-690-30,00.html

That to me is a wonderful understanding of the true nature of the Godhead. He is certainly not “still too stupid as to not understand it” as you suggested. We don’t have to believe HIS testimony of the Godhead to be saved, only the truth therein.

2) – I agree after reading your scriptures that much of the same language found in the creed is also found in the Book of Mormon. I don’t necessarily think that it’s word for word though and much additional explanation is there. I do think that even some of the original wording of the book of mormon was confusing. Take 1 Nephi 11:18. “Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.” In the 1837 edition this was changed to: “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of the son of God, after the manner of the flesh”
http://www.mormonfortress.com/changeb3.html

3) – I see where you are going with this. Obviously more than confusion can cause a person to leave the truth. I agree. What I was trying to say is that I think that we have a great advantage to stay on the right path (it’s still not foolproof) with continued revelations and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

4) – I didn’t mean to say that Christ failed to teach about the kingdom of God. You misunderstood me. What I meant to imply is that when large groups gathered around him he purposely didn’t lay out the doctrine in its most complex form.

Remember what Christ told his apostles “And his disciples came and said to him: Why speakest thou to them in parables? Who answered and said to them: Because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: but to them it is not given. For he that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound: but he that hath not, from him shall be taken away that also which he hath. Therefore do I speak to them in parables: because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Mat 13:10-13

Could Christ explain the Nicene Creed as well or better than Aeneas? Absolutely. But I know many would probably be “hearing and hear not.”

It’s like you yourself said to me the other day when I was trying to make the story of the Selfish Giant too complex. It’s simple. Why take something so inherently simple and make it harder than it should be?

5) – What makes people ready to hear the truth about God? When they’re ready to act on it and do what’s right I’d guess. “13:15. For the heart of this people is grown gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 13:16. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. 13:17. For, amen, I say to you, many prophets and just men have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them: and to hear the things that you hear and have not heard them.”

6) – Dan’s remarks were spot on.
7) – Was anything in President Hinckley’s testimony untruthful? I think different people are ready for different degrees of truth. “13:9. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Mat 13:9 . You Lysis seem to have the ability to understand something which would have confused most people. So you went home and dug around and learned a lot I’m sure. I hope everyone would do the same

Cicero- turns out you're not a coward!

truth to power said...

When Lysis said:

"Truth to Power’s point is much of what I am driving at.

It seems to me that both Mormons and non-Mormons of all religions should get to doing good in the world and stop trying to impose their beliefs on others. It is bad enough when religious zealots attempt to convert good people from one belief to another,..."

he wasn't necessarily putting words in my mouth, but I would like to clarify. I do not share his distaste for evangelism. I believe in attempting to convert "good people"* to believe the truth. Perhaps that makes me a religious zealot, but I've never particularly tried not to be one.

*Matthew 19:17 - And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God...

Rumpole said...

Lysis,

Have you not suggested here at the Agora that words have meaning? Have you not suggested that one of the great fallacies of relativism is the promotion that words have no meaning? Wasn’t it Slick Willie who suggested “that depends upon what is, is?”

You suggest that men are all made of the same substance. When the creed was written, is that what was meant? Is that what “is, is?” Or when the creed was written did one substance mean only one single being? To your question #1, it makes all the difference in the world. It defines the intention of the creed.

This would lead us to your question #4; will God really damn his children over their conception of his essence? Before Franklin flew his kite, had anyone harnessed the power of electricity? Did that mean that it did not exist? When men were able to understand and harness its power, were they not better off? Would God damn men, or would men be damned because of their own lack of understanding?

Aeneas has offered a clear, researched definition of “substance.” You have offered only postulation as to the meaning of “substance.” I am interested in your view, but I need more “substance” before I can accept your definition of “substance” (that was pretty clever, wasn’t it!)

As to your question #2, I think Mormons do believe in a different Jesus than other Christians. Mosiah 15 continues on to explain how Jesus is the Father. “When his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. Who shall be his seed? Those who hear(d) the words of the prophets, who hearken(ed) unto their words, and look(ed) forward to that day for a remission of their sins, these are His seed.”

Is there another Christian sect that suggests that we can become His seed in this manner? If there is, then we can rejoice together! If this is what was meant by the Nicene Creed then we have agreement. But help me harness the “electricity!” I need more “substance” to believe!

Finally, you know I think you are the greatest, but your question #3 is double-talk. It is a sophist’s trick, and it is beneath you

I pass no judgment as to other Christians and their concept of Jesus. I desire the truth; you have on many occasions have offered that you have that same desire; there is no reason not to believe that Christians belonging to sects with differing views also have that same desire.

Remind me again of the creed that we embrace at the Agora. Do we not pledge to seek the truth through reason AND faith?

Manannan Mac Lir said...

Although I can not comment on the contents, of the mormon conference, because i fell asllep during the discourses i would like to say that i am in concordance with lysis.
The reading of the nicean creed can be considered confusing if it is read without the basic knowledge and understanding that there are three different beings being one in purpose and thought. It reminds me of when i was a young boy. I did not understand the scriptures mentioned (by lysis) in the "mormon standard works" Which speak of the nature of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I have also found that it is the same with many Catholics. They do not understand the nicean creed. But once both are read with that understanding they can be found to be the same. There are more than 2 ways to say the same thing.
Also how could one say that the men who made up council of nicea were not, just and righteous men who recieved inspiration from a god that loves them so dearly he sent his only begotten. That would then account for the similarity between the creed and the mormon scripture and doctrine.
Also the phrasein the creed which refers to god and his only begotton being of the same substance... When humans reproduce are the offsipring not made from substance/part of the father. Children are not made they are begotton of the fathers, they re made from the substance with the same traits as the father and also of the mother. Humans are begotten not made. I am of the same substance of my father, it was his sperm that created me, yet we are not the same person.
The nicean creed was an inspired document. If you have read the Ken Follet sermon by joseph smith you will also see more similarities between the two faiths about the nature of god.

Anonymous said...

Cicero says:

Dan:

Thank you for the response, it was articulate, well thought out, and in typical fashion (for you)reasonable. Gosh I love lawyers, they wrap themselves in reasonableness of the law, but live personal lives that are anything but. (not you aeneas)

Really Dan, I presented a very well thought out observation and you, in typical fashion just attacked my person and character (do you have a job lawyering, cause if you do not I can see why)and did not even answer the questions I presented. Are you going to answer them or not?

How does such a bright, reasonable man like yourself live a life that is not based on reason?

Dan Simpson said...

I am curious Cicero, what part of my comment was an attack on your character?

All I said was that your argument was like the liberal argument re freedom of speech.

You couldn't understand why anyone would have a problem with Lysis comments: why? Because we should all support questioning?

You say, "...until someone questions/challenges someone you feel(by blind faith)is in daily communication with God...Hinkley. You suddenly become offended that a person thinks for themselves and asks questions that they feel are vital to their understanding and progress as a human being."

I would like an example of anyone being offended that someone thought for themselves, or asked questions.

Many of us here disagreed with Lysis, and we have been debating the point with him. Why is it that you are so quick to say we are all out of order to question his question? Why are you so quick to cast aspersions at our dispute with Lysis because we disagree with him?

Lysis did not merely pose questions. He made judgements and ascertations, which he is free to do. What he is NOT free to do is make those judgements and ascertations free of any of the collective Agora questioning, or calling to question those comments that he makes. Again, he has never asked for the same protection that your comments proclaim we should give him (well that we should give him if we are reasonable).

I am surprised at the vitriol that you spew my way. Again, I don't see any character attack in my comment to you. I compared WHAT YOU SAID, to the arguments liberals make on the same topic. I didn't call you a liberal (if you would see that as a character attack). I didn't call you names, or reference you education, or employment status. Didn't claim that you rarely use reason in your arguments or assertations.

Nope. I did none of those things. But rereading your response to me, I cannot say the same for you.

I can see at least three specific jabs/insults followed by a backhanded compliment at the end. I don't know if you know me in real life or not, nor do I know if you are someone in real life that I know or respect, but it seems that you don't hold me in respect. That being said, go ahead and impugn my intelligence or reasonableness in any fashion you desire, it doesn't lend much to your argument, but it is fun for the masses

Dan Simpson said...

To Ciceros questions:

Technically, the only question you asked was

"Why can't active, believing members of the church questions the words and sayings of Hinkley and not be labled a heretic and sinner who has lost his faith because he does not agree with the club president on some issues?"

My answer is they can. We are told to question and find out for ourselves. No one here has labeled lysis either a heretic, or a sinner.

But, to the statements you made, that I assume you are wanting me to provide answers or defenses for.



"It is amazing how religious people(not just Mormons)can provide reasonable arguments as to why immorality and sexual promiscuity are wrong, but support plural marriage as once a commandment of God."

Interesting idea. The reasoning? Because sex outside of marriage is a sin, while sex within the bounds of marriage is not. So the question is not about sex, it is about whether or not one accepts prophets. If Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, then plural marriage was a command from God. If Brigham Young was a prophet of God, then plural marriage was a commandment. I could go over other arguments about plural marriage, point to old testament examples, quote scripture, etc. But all of that would avail us nothing.

If you believe that Brigham Young was just some lecherous old guy who liked power and told his followers whatever he wanted, then no other arguments I can give will ever seem reasonable.

"It is amazing how reasonable and intelligent people argue the immorality of racial discrimination, but support prophets who do not allow a group of people to hold the priesthood because of race."

This one is a much more complex issue, that boils down to the same basic tenet. Either you believe that some old guys who happened to be in power didn't like black guys, so kept them out of the priesthood, or you believe that the Church was run by revelation. If the first, the discussion is pointless, because there will never be any explanation that will satisfy. If the latter, the the question is, why would the Lord hold his priesthood from blacks until 1978. Answer: I don't know.

Sorry, you may have been hoping for something more monumental, but thats what I have. I do not know. I have heard some ideas, I have some of my own. None of them are without flaw, so I have not latched on to any specifically.

For me, it comes down to faith. (or as you call it blind faith, a phrase I have never understood, as if one has proof to base their faith on, its not faith). I believe that the prophets of the church have been directed by the Lord to lead His church.

"Why do reasonable people espouse the first great commandment to love your neighbor, but will support a Church that spends millions and millions of dollars a year fighting against those people of the same sex who want to marry and raise a family."

Ah, here you have come to a much easier one. The following of course is my own opinion, but then, what else that we all right isn't.

A common misconception in this day and age is that love = acceptance. This is not true. One can love without accepting the actions, or lifestyles of individuals. The scriptures tell us that God does not accept sin, so, does this mean he doesn't love the sinner, no.

The church's stance, and I agree wholeheartedly, is that marriage should be defended both on the religious, and legal front. I would refer you to the Proclamation on the Family (lds.org), there are many great comments on this in that.

It really comes down to this:

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." D&C 1:38

When the prophets speak, it is from the Lord. Of course, we have always been counseled that we should find out for ourselves. My opinion is so that we can gain testimonies of the truthfulness, not so that we can decide whether or not we want to obey a given principle. My faith may be seen as unreasonable. It may be 'incomprehensible' to others that I believe as I do, and that I believe that when the prophets speak, it is from the Lord, and I should act accordingly. If I held contrary opinions before, I can choose to stubbornly, and pridefully continue to hold those, or I can submit humbly. It is not easy, but I believe it is necessary.

The beauty of it all, and the part that seems to be missing in Lysis' disgruntlment, is that agency allows me to choose what to do with the message. It does not, however, remove the consequences of those choices.

Dan Simpson said...

One last thought, I had while driving in to work this morning.

I wonder if anyone listening to the Sermon on the Mount thought, "Why isn't this guy telling us about how to get rid of Roman oppression, or how to clean up the corruption that plagues the throne and the church heirarchy. This meek stuff is all well and good, but lets get down to the important current events discussions."

Cameron said...

Beautiful

Anonymous said...

Cicero says:

Dan:

Thanks! That was a very nice response. That was all I wanted in the first place...a response that was well thought out and reasoned. Now I do disagree with you on some of the issues, however, I cannot respond at this momment work prevents me to do so.

Dan Simpson said...

Well, apparently all you have to do is insult me, and I respond the way you want.

You didn't really ask those as questions you know, so there was no reason to become so insulting about it.

To AQL: The reason I can post so much is that I don't have a real involved job, I work at a place that I can be online basically all the time. As Cicero has so aptly pointed out, I don't have the capacity for any employer to actually want me as a lawyer.

a quiet listener said...

great posts dan. even if you couldn't get hired that might not be so bad if it meant you could post more often.

along the same line of your post. i'm sure that there were people back in Christ's day who were wondering those same questions. Not very long ago in this very forum similar questions were asked "Where have all the prophets gone?" Lysis i wonder if you'll only accept Hinckley once he really does show which cave Osama is hiding in. Didn't we learn from Alma and Amulek that God allows awful things to happen to righteous people? We simply don't have the vision that God now has. As Dan said it's not "blind faith" just trusting that God does know what he's doing.

Anonymous said...

Cicero says:

Dan:

It is evident from your post and past ones that you are a true believer in the Mormon faith. Based on what you posted you believe that you are encouraged by church leaders to search out truth for yourself. How is it possible that one who believes in the prophetic mantel and seership of Hinckley really search out the truths of his words and utterances? It this really possible for a true believer? It seems to me that what true believers do is develop an unreasonable belief in the man, because of his position, and then once believing in him, just believes all he says. What happened to the member who questioned Joseph Smith’s prophesy on plural marriage, who used his reason and said “Jospeh, I disagree!” What happened to the merchant member who did not want to sell all he owned to ZCMI? Brother Brigham threw him out! The heart of the issue is that dissent is not tolerated in the Mormon Church or any other religious organization. The fact is when the leaders of any church say to question what they mean is ask the question to God and I am absolutely sure that he will tell you the same thing he has told me. Now if I get an answer that is contrary to what the prophet believes I am labeled a heretic and sinner who has “lost the faith.”

The nature of religion and revealed word prevents one from truly seeking answers to truths. It requires one to hang on the very words that are dripped from the lips of the one in charge. I cannot have my own experience with God unless I use the Church to help me! Do you every notice that all Mormons do is testify to the truthfulness of someone else’s experience with truth?

Man I would love to write more but like AQL says…where’s the time?

Dan Simpson said...

Cicero-

"How is it possible that one who believes in the prophetic mantel and seership of Hinckley really search out the truths of his words and utterances?"

Two ways, that I can think of. First, is to experiment on the word. One can gain a testimony of something by doing it. Second, to take that question to God. It is very easy to dismiss this, "I got a different answer". Well, thats the point. I can't prove it to you, and I can't force you to live by it. I know what answers I have received, and that is good enough for me.

To your example of dissenters, I am not really sure what your point is. If one did not believe that Joseph or Brigham were prophets, why would they WANT to be a part of the organization. Secondly, if the church requires, requests, commands any action guess what, just don't do it. Again, as I said about agency, you are free to act according to your own decisions, you are not free, however, from consequences of those actions.

I am not sure what your point is when you say those who don't believe are kicked out. Again, if you didn't believe, why would you want to be in?

Again, going back to the scriptures, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself", the church isn't a democracy. It doesn't depend on you or I or anyone else agreeing with its decisions or dictates. It rolls forward, we can choose to go with it, or not, but we cannot change its path, or its destination.

Who is it that keeps labeling you? Did you get like a heretic plaque or something? Did someone publish names in a newsletter?

"The nature of religion and revealed word prevents one from truly seeking answers to truths."

That is a very condescending attitude. While it may be true that there isn't a verifiable scientific method way to prove religion, I am not sure what that proves. I find much more truth in those things revealed to me by the spirit than by any scientific theory espoused by man.

"Do you every notice that all Mormons do is testify to the truthfulness of someone else’s experience with truth?"

No. Because this is a completely untrue statement.

I am wondering if you are going to ever point to anything in my original post that was a character attack? If you are merely ceding the point by silence that is fine.

You seem to be attempting to be as condescending and snide to the idea that someone could POSSIBLY be religious as you can manage with polite language, but calling someone a fool, whether couched in polite prose or not, is still calling someone a fool.

Lysis said...

A Quiet Listener;

I am sorry I haven’t gotten back to you comments – I actually had to go to work today. I have been learning about the Advisory Groups we will be setting up here at the high school next year. A lot like scouting and the patrol-method to be honest with you.

I ask;

1. Is knowing the true nature of the Godhead important for our salvation? If so, why? If so, why isn’t the Conference the place to explain these things to the world? Is it because they are still too stupid to understand it?

You tell me that of course it is – but you do not tell me why. I was speaking with a friend last night who had the same problem – he said if we didn’t understand the nature of God we couldn’t be like him. But his answer fell short for me; for by the time we are like him – then we will know. What is the sin, the damnable flaw in not knowing in this life? Hinckley’s speech is- as you quote it - is no more enlightening. Surely God owes us the “why” behind those requirements that we need to follow to stay out of hell. A parent, Camp Director, or teacher knows that, “Because I say so,” is never an adequate reason. A reasonable God will be reasonable. Most commandments are self-evident in their reasonability, and even those He explains.

I ask;

2. Would you consider the language of the Book of Mormon, (it is almost the same as that of the Nicene Creed) confusing?

You say it is, and I agree. Therefore the Book of Mormon falls pray to the same critiques and the Nicene Creed and it is silly to condemn one, on this point, and not the other.

I ask;

3. In the less than two hundred years since its organization, how many splinters have fallen off from the Mormon Church? Would you consider that the fault of the confusing language of the Book of Mormon, the Articles of Faith, or that of the teachings of the living Prophets.

You say that living prophets and the Holy Ghost are helpful – I agree, but we also mist agree that the fact that a religion splinters is not proof that it is not true. This is logic.

I ask;

4. Was your question on Christ’s failure to explain all the mysteries and laws of his Kingdom rhetorical? I would like to know the answer to that one as well.

You say that Christ spoke in simple parables, and quote Jesus in Mathew; that he does not give all the mysteries. Does he withhold salvation from those from whom he withholds the mysteries? Is salvation a function of those Christ chooses to tell the secrets to, or is it a gift to all who believe in his name? Is it alright to “keep it simple” and not worry about the nature of God which we can not see nor agree upon?

And could not Christ explain the Nicene Creed to the bishops at Niceae or at least to his Prophet in SLC?

I ask;

5. What makes people ready to hear the truth about God?

You say that people are ready to hear the word when they are ready to do what is right. Can people do what is right without knowing the nature of God’s substance or without having a living prophet or holy book for that matter? I think they can!

I ask;

6. Do you think that non members might find the remarks about the Nicene Creed and the truthfulness (or lack there of) of their religions disparaging or denigrating. Perhaps the producers of the DVD you’re all on about don’t find it denigrating or erroneous either. How do Mormons feel about it?

You, like Dan, blame the hurt caused by Mormons mocking the beliefs of other faiths on the lack of humility of those who are mocked. I suppose the same standard applies to Mormons who, in their arrogance, refused to admit that they are NOT Christians. Both you and Dan are “spot off” on this one.

I ask;

7. When you say that people would have been confused by Aeneas explanation of the Nicene Creed and say that Conference must not exist for the purpose of expounding such doctrine, are you claiming that people – including members of the Church - are still not ready for the truth?

You respond with the question “was anything in President Hinckley’s testimony untruthful?”

No it was not – but he could have recited the times tables and met that standard. The question should be, did anything in Hinckley’s talk explain why God will damn those do not accept that Joseph Smith saw two flesh and bone Gods in the Grove? He could have explained why God is so touchy about the subject.


Truth to Power;

Thanks for the clarification.


Manannan Mac Lir;

Welcome to the Agora. It is very helpful to hear a voice that can put things in perspective from a point of view other than that which dominates the majority of us who post here. Thank you for taking the time to share these ideas with us. I also find inspiration in the Nicene Creed and in the obvious power of the reasoned and inspired minds of those who provided it.


On Cicero and Dan; (Sounds like a name for a good movie) to those who are reading from “the outside”.

I agree that Cicero’s questions where not, at first, answered. I am glad that Dan did get to that.

A story: When I was a boy at camp, one of my best friends was Mohonri. We argued constantly, and hashed out every possible idea – political, religious, and beyond. Our discussion often became very heated. Those who did not know us often thought we did not like each other. One summer, our Camp Director called us in after “work week” and asked why we were so mean to each other. We were “flabbergasted’. It had never occurred to either of us that we were being anything but best friends. We had a good laugh, but I also came to realize that there is a danger in speaking openly with friends in front of all people. Some take attacks on their ideas as attacks on their persons and respond with real vitriol, real anger, and not the “shoulder slug” of boys who know no better way to show their love. It is like those court room battles Scout describes in *To Kill a Mocking Bird*, to the uninitiated there seems to be enmity – to those in the know, it is business as usual.

The Agora is a “high pitched” forum. If one enters here they must be ready to take and to give hard knocks. Where they sitting face to face, I am sure Cicero and Dan, having given their best (and worst) to the discussion, would get up and walk out arm in arm.

Now to –

Dan;

There are plenty who have called me a heretic, and I join with many as a sinner.

For what it matters –

1. I do not believe plural marriage to be a sin, nor do I believe that sex is, of it’s self, sinful (original or otherwise). Much of our bias against sexual activity is, as Dan pointed out, traceable to the cultural morays of the ancient Middle East. I imagine that our attitudes toward it will evolve as we become more reasonable. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were a bit ahead of their times; still too many Puritans in power in the 1800’s.

2. I do not believe that there was ever a revelation preventing blacks from holding the priesthood. I have never seen it in any of the scriptures of the Church! Yes, the bigotry of 19th Century was responsible for this mistake by church leaders. Unlike the Pope – Mormon Church leaders have never claimed to be infallible. In 1978, reason and perhaps revelation, prompted President Kimball to take the heroic step necessary to begin to reverse this shameful error in Church policy.

3. On “gay Marriage” I have posted before. My opinions have not changed. The government needs to get out of the Marriage business. Legal contract between anyone are acceptable for united lovers or business partners, parent or children as far as the law is concerned. The government and the law can work this out. Let churches stick to marrying whom and how they see fit. If the LDS Church chooses not to marry gays in their temples or their out of temple ceremonies, same sex couples can find plenty of folks who will tie the knot for them. Allowing gay marriage is not accepting sin. Taking the Lords name in vain may well be a sin, I may not accept it – but I certainly allow it.

As for the Lord never changing His mind – my interpretation of plural marriage, racism, and gay marriage allows the D&C to be unchallenged. Requiring the “Prophets of today” to be bound by the “Prophets” of the past would produce an unreasonable conundrum for a church that now condemns actions that Prophets once insisted would stand forever.

As to Roman oppression - It was better than Jewish oppression, Persian oppression, the atrocities of the Dark Ages, Communist oppression, or the coming reign of the Mullahs. I think Jesus did preach about it once – “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. As for His avoidance in dealing with the corruption of the Church, that put Christians at odds with Rome, in order to restrict His teachings to the Beatitudes. Could He not have done the one and not left the other undone?

A Quiet Listener;

I accept Hinckley as a prophet in spite of the fact that he has not reveled the location of Osama, or announced OBL’s death. That does not mean that I do not continue to wish that he would do so. I think he should also be more aggressive in spreading the Lord’s condemnation of abortion. Hinckley doesn’t ask for my opinions – so I give them to him without the asking.

MindMechanic said...

I can understand the Mormons claiming to be part of the “one holey catholic and apostolic church”, but if they also claim that no one but they themselves constitute that church, then they should understand why others who believe they are part of that universal Christian, faith might claim that the Mormons have excluded themselves from the “club”.

I really haven't been that much into this thread, but I see this somewhat differently.

The LDS church dares to make this claim that while many are 'true', this is the ONE true church. And I think that sticks in peoples craw and for the life of me I have never understood why. I think it also bothers others when they call members of the church on the "one true church" position and they don't back down.

And heres the thing I don't understand. i accept that there many GREAT catholics...probably far better emissaries of their faith than I am of mine. And I respect their position. But...if I believed their church was the one true church, I would convert to catholicism, wouldn't I? And shouldn't I EXPECT them to make the same claim of their faith?

Maybe that is what is more puzzling to me...why they don't.

MindMechanic said...

Just a thought...

'Intellectuals' (not meant with the seemingly obvious implied derogatory intent) have a particular knack of placing their OWN thoughts and interpretations just slightly higher on the pedestal of discourse for the sake of authority. We see it in the church, we see it in academia. Intellectuals 'allow' for authority, just so long as the authority knows who is really right.

Somebody mentioned a word earlier in the discussion...a word that looses meaning and place. A word that is critical to understanding the teachings of Christ and mans role in time and cosmos...

humility.

MindMechanic said...

It is very easy to dismiss this, "I got a different answer".

Dan...

I often wonder (and this has nothing to do with anyone here) if people are truly asking the question, if they are truly asking it of God, if they are truly listening to God for a response, and do they have the humility to heart the answer, even if it is an answer they disagree with on this earthly plain. AND THEN...do they have the faith to act on the answer...even if it isn't the answer they want.

I counsel with individuals and couples that make claims that are so obviously opposed to the position set forth by their faith (not just LDS individuals) but then INSIST that they have prayed and received a different answer. I'm not suggesting it isn't POSSIBLE...but just that too often it is very UNLIKELY.

MindMechanic said...

"how many splinters have fallen off from the Mormon Church? Would you consider that the fault of the confusing language of the Book of Mormon, the Articles of Faith, or that of the teachings of the living Prophets"

I suspect it is the result of human pride, a lack of humility, and people believing what they WANT to believe.

Anonymous said...

To your last point MM, I would argue that most of the splintering in Christianity (and Judaism for that matter) from the time of Christ onward was the doing of man not the confusing nature of the various works of what would be (and some that wouldn't be) scripture.

That might be a fair explanation for Lysis' needling regarding why God was absent from the Council of Nicea. Not necessarily absent just hard to hear through all the agenda pushing.

Anonymous said...

Cicero says:

What is the responsibility of an individual who feels that a church position is absolutely wrong? Do they have a moral duty to speak out or just go with the flow and internally disagree? My frustrated with the position of MM on the splinters that have fallen off of the Mormon Church, is that he is assuming that the absolute truth always rests with the church. He therefore has created a situation that, no matter what the religious ideal in question is, automatically makes the questioner/splintee wrong and not humble. Long ago I quit arguing with my mother because she would always counter with “well god said and you cannot argue with god.” That is how I sometimes feel when I listen to the argument by many concerning religious matters. Their total acceptance of the leader/church as correct, because of their faith, in their mind automatically makes the person who disagrees not humble, while they are girded with the amour of humility, only because they take the church position. Arrogance and pride is a two way street, and it is my opinion that leaders of the church, in some cases, arrogantly hide behind the pulpit of the institution, knowing good and well that members will never challenge their “words.” This is arrogant and prideful, but it is never recognized because it is automatically assumed that the prophet or apostle must be humble or they would never have risen to the position they are in.

MindMechanic said...

Cicero...

I cant speak to your faith or testimony and do not challenge it. But...when you ask "what do you do when you absolutely disagree with the church" my position is simple. Leave it. Don't take the pieces you like or want to be OK...just leave it. THAT is where the splintering comes from...I like everything BUT that decision...so THAT decision is wrong. The polygamists sects practiced it pretty well...but then...look where that has gotten them.

OR...take the military position...disagree...then salute smartly and press on.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting what YOU should do...you asked...I answer.

I have close family members that struggle with the churches position on homosexuality. OK...but lets not fool ourselves. Those that disagree do so from a worldly perspective and that has a tendency to cloud our vision based on our acquaintances, our own passions, even something as inane as this idea of politics and what we are SUPPOSED to believe by affiliation.

There are LOTS of things I would love to not have to do. LOTS of principles I would love to not have to live. Heck...I'll be honest...there are some I struggle with and some I fall far from perfect with. The fault is not the church...it is me.

MindMechanic said...

Anon...

"I would argue that most of the splintering in Christianity (and Judaism for that matter) from the time of Christ onward was the doing of man not the confusing nature of the various works of what would be (and some that wouldn't be) scripture."

Coupled with the lack of authority...I couldn't agree more.

Boy said...

I´m having trouble finding the `no more vietnams`post do you know what mounth it was posted in?

Lysis said...

Boy;

The "No More Vietnams" stuff begins November 2004. Please let me know if you can’t get it. I’ll cut and paste.

Colton McBride said...

I think the point made by rejecting the Nicene Creed is that it is not an inspired writing, and a person who is not a prophet is not in authority to say what a christian is or is not.

It is unimportant what it says when you take into consideration that is was not written by a servant of God, (according to the Mormons, of course.) and therefore not in any position to declare doctrine.

Crowley's Dog said...

This whole Godhead business is getting to a critical point outside the enclave of the Wasatch Front. It comes down to the notion that Christians pray to Jesus. Historically mormons address God the Father in the name of Christ. Trying to explain this distinction, especially to members who have not been raised in the church is difficult. In a recent Gospel Doctrine class the discussion almost came to blows as the instructor tried to explain this point. Obviously the GA's are trying to pull folks back into core mormon concepts.
The pendulum can only swing so far, it is either going to break or swing back. We have all this to place on nearly four decades of Gordon Hinkley creeping around re-shaping/re-writing church history and what it means to be a mormon. Amen to being a peculiar people. Brigham Young would have convulsions knowing that ZCMI was sold to the Jews. LOL

It is amazing what web pages come up when surfing the "internets". I was looking up a friend I had not seen nor heard from in years and came across this blog. Reading a paragraph or two I think to myself I had to have crossed this Lysis person's path at some point, reading on I realized who Lysis is. So, of course I had to leave a comment.
Unfortunately time does not permit me to bring you to task on some of your ranting. Anyhow you and I both know that'd be pointless, whether right or wrong you would be the last person to ever acquiesce.