Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mormonism and Margaret Barker - Part 5

Four of my earliest posts here at AF (11/07 thru 01/08) were part of a series titled: Mormonism and Margaret Barker. This post will be the fifth installment of this series.

Yesterday, I received in the mail volume 56.1 (2017) of the BYU Studies Quarterly journal (see this link for full content). This issue included, "a lightly edited transcript of a lecture delivered by Old Testament scholar Margaret Barker at Brigham Young University on November 9, 2016" (p. 75).

Barker's contribution was titled, "The Lord Is One", which is an interesting one, given the primary content of the lecture—deification/theosis in the Bible. This topic of deification/theosis in the Bible is a common theme in a number of Barker's articles, books, and lectures. In part 3 (link) of my aforementioned series, I contrast some of Barker's reflections on deification/theosis with those within the Mormon paradigm. I concluded that post with:

A careful analysis of Barker’s teachings on first Temple deification offers little (if any) resemblance to deification/exaltation in LDS theology. Not only does deification take place prior to ones death and entrance into heaven, deification has nothing to do with the resurrection of the physical body; which is a non-negotiable element of Latter-day Saint deification/exaltation.

The edited transcript of Barker's 11/09/16 lecture presents no new material that would give me cause to change any of my previous assessments contained in the first four installments of this series. Though Barker's contributions are always an interesting read (IMO), her unwavering commitment to a number of liberal presuppositions and theories advanced by critics and skeptics of the Bible makes it extremely difficult for me to embrace, and/or endorse, the general thrust of a number of the conclusions she has reached—e.g. Yahweh is not the one true God of Israel, the "Deuteronomists" changed and corrupted the original teachings of the "First Temple Theology", the king of Israel was "the Lord in human form", et al. (See Barker's website for a listing of all of her contributions; a good number of her published papers are available there for free.)

One glaring flaw contained in the edited transcript is her belief that the, "Deuteronomists also denied the ancient belief that the Lord was seen in human form, what the Christians would later call incarnation" (p. 82). She appeals to Deut. 4:12 to support this belief, stating:

The Deuteronomists, however, said that no divine form was seen, even when Moses received the Ten Commandments: “The Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice” (Deut. 4:12). (Page 82)

Barker is unable (unwilling?) to harmonize Deut. 4:12 with those numerous verses contained in the Bible which state that God was "seen". Why is it that she cannot accomplish what so many other scholars/theologians have done? I cannot help but think that her liberal presuppositions and theories are at play here.

Complicating Barker's assessment is her enlisting of a number of verses from the Gospel of John which she believes contradicts Deut. 4:12, and the so-called teaching of the Deuteronomists. And yet, it is from the writings of John that one finds the strongest statements that God has not been seen, nor can be seen! (See my previous thread for germane references.)

Anyway, I wanted to bring to the attention of my readers this latest contribution by Barker. I am confident that my future posts concerning the visio Dei or vision of God will expose certain weaknesses in Barker's assessments, and also demonstrate that the verses she finds so contradictory are in fact harmonious.

Grace and peace,


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Dear Catholic Crusader,

Five hundred years ago in 1517, Martin Luther made public his 95 complaints against the Roman Catholic church (hereafter, RCC). Today, we shall do likewise, with another 95 reasons. However, in this critique, we will exclusively fixate on the nucleus of all Catholic doctrine called, Transubstantiation. This teaching is built on the premise that when the priest utters “This is my body” over bread and wine that the “combustible” syllables of these four words ignite with such power and energy that, unbeknownst to our cognizant senses, the substance of bread and wine miraculously change (“by the force of the words” says the Council of Trent; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1375). They are then abruptly replaced with something else entirely; namely, the very body, blood, soul and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ in some mysterious form which leaves only the outward appearance of bread and wine (i.e., the color, shape, size, taste, weight and texture -- or "accidental" properties, remain unchanged in objective reality). It is claimed that the supernatural power that creates this miracle on a daily basis, 24 hours a day in Masses worldwide, “is the same power of Almighty God that created the whole universe out of nothing at the beginning of time” (Mysterium Fidei, 47). The question is: does the sacred rhetoric of Jesus lead us to conclude He intended it be recited like a magician recites his incantations? (Reason 6, 74). That at the recitation of these four words, the world is obligated to be transfixed on Transubstantiation???

We should think that a rollercoaster of 95 reasons against this doctrine should at least pique your curiosity, let alone make you wonder if, like the calmness of a ferris wheel, you can so calmly refute them. The issue is far from inconsequential, since it’s claimed our very eternal destinies are at stake. So while sensitive to the fact that many are captivated by this doctrine, we are persuaded that the theological framework of the Bible conveys a persistent and vigorous opposition to this theory. God's word tells us to, "study to show yourself approved" (2 Tim 2:15) and we have indeed done just that.

The almost “romantic fidelity” to Transubstantiation springs forth from the opinion that consuming the “organic and substantial” body of Christ in the Eucharist is necessary for salvation (CCC 1129 & 1355; Trent, "Concerning Communion", ch. 1 and “Concerning Communion Under Both Kinds”, ch. 3; Canon 1; Mysterium Fidei, intro). Our burden here is to safeguard the gospel (Jude 1:3). If a religious system professing to be Christian is going to demand that something be done as a prerequisite for eternal life, it is vital to scrutinize this claim under the searchlight of Scripture and with “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Proverbs 25:2 says, "the honor of a king is to search out a matter". We shall do likewise.

Determined to test all things by Holy Writ (1 Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11, 2 Cor 10:5), the following 95 reasons have been compiled to an extravagant length to provoke you to consider the cognitive complexities of this doctrine which we conclude are biblically unbearable. We are so convinced the Bible builds a concrete case against this superstition, that we will not allow the things we have in common to suppress the more urgent need to confront the differences that divide us, such as Transubstantiation. We are told this issue directly impacts our eternal destiny, so it must not be ignored. The Lord Jesus came to divide and conquer by the truth of His word. He said, "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Luke 12:51-53).

For the full essay of 95 reasons, kindly e-mail me at