Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the diminishing relevance of “the Great Apostasy”: part 3 – Orson Pratt, the Great Apostasy was “total" not "partial"


Orson Pratt was one of the original twelve apostles appointed by Joseph Smith. Orson was a gifted mathematician, astronomer, surveyor, missionary and writer. More than one author has legitimately identified him as Mormonism’s "first intellectual”.

Orson went on at least eighteen missions during his lifetime. It was on his first mission to the British Isles (1839-1841)—in conjunction with the entire quorum of the twelve apostles—that he wrote and published his first apologetic work, A [sic] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records (1840). Upon his return to the United States, this work was republished under the title, History of the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (1841). During his second mission to the British Isles, it was republished under the shortned title, Remarkable Visions (1848 – link to PDF copy HERE). This 1848 edition—16 pages—added the following introductory synopsis:

Visions of Joseph Smith—Discovery of Gold Plates, filled with Egyptian Characters and Hieroglyphics—Their Translation into the English Language by the aid of the Urim and Thummim—The Sacred History of Ancient America, now clearly revealed from the earliest ages after the Flood, to the beginning of the Fifth Century of the Christian Era—A Sketch of the Rise, Faith, and Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition to being the first published work to contain an account of the ‘First Vision’, the pamphlet provided in creedal form—i.e. ‘we believe’—"a sketch of the faith and doctrine of the Church” (pp. 12-16). This section contains the following take on the issue of the ‘Great Apostasy’:

We believe that there has been a general and awful apostacy from the religion of the New Testament, so that all the known world have been left for centuries without the Church of Christ among them; without a priesthood authorized of God to administer ordinances; that every one of the churches has perverted the gospel; some in one way, and some in another. For instance, almost every church has done away ”immersion for remission of sins.” Those few who have practised it for remission of sins, have done away the ordinance of the “laying on of hands” upon baptized believers for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Again, the few who have practiced the last ordinance, have perverted the first, or have done away the ancient gifts, and powers, and blessings which flow from the Holy Spirit, or have said to inspired apostles and prophets, we have no need of you in the body in these days. Those few, again, who have believed in, and contended for the miraculous gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit, have perverted the ordinances, or done them away. Thus all the churches preach false doctrines, and pervert the gospel, and instead of having authority from God to administer its ordinances, they are under the curse of God for perverting it. Paul says, Gal. i. 8, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

During his second mission to the British Isles, Pratt published other apologetic works. In his, Divine Authority—or was Joseph Smith Sent of God? (Sept. 30, 1848 - 1891 reprint available online HERE), Orson published a letter he received on July 15, 1848, of which he wrote:

The author of the above letter has carefully examined the present state of the world, and declares himself fully convinced of the awful apostasy which now so universally prevails. He unhesitatingly admits that all authority to teachto administer ordinancesto build up the church of Christ, has entirely ceased from the earththat “ all is uncertain.” (1891 reprint, pp. 10, 11 - bold emphasis mine)

A bit later, he writes:

If Joseph Smith was not sent of God, this Church cannot be the Church of God, and the tens of thousands who have been baptized into this Church are yet in their sins, and no better off than the millions that have gone before them. The form, without the power and authority, is no better than the hundreds of human forms that have no resemblance to the ancient pattern; indeed, it is more dangerous, because better calculated to deceive. Other churches do not profess to have inspired apostles, prophets, prophetesses, evangelists, etc., hence we know, if the New Testament be true, that they cannot be the church of God. But the Latter- day Saints profess to have all these officers and gifts among them, and profess to have authority to administer in every form, ordinance and blessing of the ancient church; hence we know, that so far as the officers, doctrines, ordinances, and ceremonies are evidence, this Church can exhibit a perfect pattern. In these things, then, both ancient and modern Saints are exactly alike. By the New Testament then we cannot be condemned.

If the Latter-day Saints are not what they profess to be, one thing is certain, that no one ever will be able to confute their doctrine by the scriptures; however, imperfect the people may be, their doctrine is infallible. Can this be said of any other people who have existed on the eastern hemisphere during the last 1700 years? No. Their doctrines have been a heterogenous mixture of truth and error, that would not stand the test one moment when measured by a pattern of inspiration; some disparity could be seen and pointed out—some deviation either in the organization or in the ordinances of the gospel could be shown to exist. And now after so many centuries have elapsed, and when human wisdom has been exerted to its utmost strength, and the most exalted and gigantic talents displayed to lay a stable foundation whereon to build, we awake and behold all an empty bubble—a vain show—a phantom of man’s creation, with scarcely a vestige of the ancient form to say nothing of the power. In the midst of all this thick darkness, a young, illiterate, obscure and inexperienced man announces a message from heaven, before which darkness flees away; human dogmas are overturned; the traditions of ages are uprooted , all forms of church government tremble like an aspen leaf at its approach, and the mighty fabric of popular sectarianism is convulsed and shaken to its very foundation. How happens all this? If Joseph Smith were an impostor, whence his superior wisdom? What power inspired his mind in laying the foundation of a church according to the ancient order? How could an impostor so far surpass the combined wisdom of seventeen centuries as to originate a system diverse from every other system under heaven, and yet harmonize with the system of Jesus and His apostles in every particular? What! an impostor discover the gross darkness of ages, and publish a doctrine perfect in every respect, against which not one scriptural argument can be adduced! (1891 reprint, pp. 11, 12 - bold emphasis mine)

We then read:

John, nearly one hundred years after the birth of our Savior, saw the wonderful events arid sceneries of unborn generations displayed in majestic and awful grandeur before him. He saw the churches of Asia, then under his own personal watch-care, lukewarm, corrupted, and about ready to be moved out of their place. He saw the universal apostasy that was soon to succeed arid hold dominion for ages over all kindred and tongues, under the name of the Mother of Harlots—the great Babylon that should make all nations drunk with her wickedness. He saw that after the nations had been thus overwhelmed in thick darkness for ages, without the church of God, without apostles, without prophets, without the ministering of angels, without one cheering message from heaven, that there would be one more proclamation of mercy made to all people—one more dispensation of glad tidings from the heavens, to be ushered in by an angel restoring the everlasting gospel, which was to receive a universal proclamation to all the inhabitants of the earth, followed with a loud cry, that the hour of Gods jugdment is come. (1891 reprint, p. 17 - bold emphasis mine)

A little over two years later, Orson published his Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon (Oct. 15, 1850 - 1891 reprint available online HERE). Once again, the topic of a universal apostasy is presented to the reader. Note the following selections:

if investigation should prove the Book of Mormon true and of divine origin, then the importance of the message is so great* and the consequences of receiving or rejecting it so overwhelming, that the various nations—to whom it is now sent, and in. whose lan¬ guages it is now published, should speedily repent of all their sins, and renounce all the wicked traditions of their fathers, as they are imperatively commanded to do in the message: they should utterly reject both the Popish and Protestant ministry, together with all the churches which have been built up by them or that have sprung from them, as being entirely destitute of authority, they should turn away from all the priestcrafts and abominations practiced by these apostate churches (falsely called Christian), and bring forth fruits meet for repentance in all things: they should be immersed in water by one having authority, and receive a remission of their sins, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. (1891 reprint, pp, 125, 126 - bold emphasis mine)

Without new revelation every office in the Church would necessarily become vacant. It is true, that those who held office at the time revelation ceased, would still, during their natural life, continue to retain it, unless through transgression they should be legally deprived of it. If revelation ceased at the close of the first century, it is not at all likely that any of the officers, then holding the authority, would be alive a century afterwards; and as they would have no authority to ordain others without new revelation, when they died, the authority upon the earth would necessarily become extinct. How overwhelming the thought! Yet there is no conclusion more certain. If all offices became vacant there could be no additions to the church by baptism; for it would be a great sin for private members to assume the authority to baptize ; hence, as soon as those who had been baptized by authority were dead, the world would be entirely destitute of both the officers and private members of the Church of Christ. But when officers and members both cease, what is left? nothing at all. Hence, without continued revelation, the Church could no more continue in its existence on the earth, than a body could live with¬ out the spirit. (1891 reprint, pp, 159, 160 - bold emphasis mine)

Whilst on yet another mission to the British Isles, Orson published a series of eight tracts/pamphlets, with the seventh being entirely dedicated to the issue of the “Great Apostasy’ under the title, Universal Apostacy, or the Seventeen Centuries of Darkness (1856 – online PDF copy HERE). The entire contribution is a must read (IMO); but for now, I would like to focus on paragraph 3ff., which delineates a distinction between a partial apostasy from one which is universal. Pratt maintains that the history of the “Jewish Church” was characterized by a number of partial apostasies, whilst the “great Apostacy of the Christian Church”, was universal. As such, the only remedy for this universal apostasy was a restoration, rather than a mere reformation.

Now, with the above in mind, I would like to reproduce a question, that Rory and I began to delve into, from the combox of the previous thread: “what atrocities did Jesus’ followers commit in the first through the early fourth century that approached the depravity of OT covenant people?” [Link]

Framed another way, why only a partial response by God in the Mosaic dispensation to apostasy, whilst His response is universal in nature concerning the Church founded by His Son?


Grace and peace,

David

19 comments:

Nick said...

There has been a new Catholic - LDS discussion group on Facebook that began the past few months and these discussions have come up. I didn't see your posts until today, but I was just in the process of writing up a post on Mormonism from a breakthrough that I had. I think a lot of what you're seeing here with the de-emphasizing of Universal Apostasy as well as more toleration for other "Christian denominations" is part of a recent campaign from a year or so ago by the LDS to re-brand themselves as more friendly. I think this new approach is someone dangerous for their cause (since it waters themselves down and can look like any other denomination), and somewhat disingenuous (since they don't actually consider Catholics/Protestants to be Christian). But it could also be an upper management campaign attempt to stop the decline of Mormonism. Such groups likely have an expiration date, and as Mormonism became less American/White, so too has the original appeal and basis for the religion, which is White American Exceptionalism. As American slowly becomes less White and less patriotic and less about the free for all and wild west, so too the whole 'meta' culture of the LDS faith has nothing to get its nutrients from. The "new world" is no longer America, but the millions of souls in Africa, India, and China. And with the internet making research all the more easier, it is a lot harder to feed people bad information and shallow arguments, because a simple Google search can uncover a lot of issues.

Nick said...

On a more practical level, I think the key behind truly understanding the LDS faith is what Smith saw in the First Vision. People get too hung up on the idea that Smith made it up, but what they are missing is that Smith saw not only Jesus with a glorified body, but also saw the Father with a glorified body. Only Mormons realize the significance of this. What this First Vision means is that the Incarnation is not unique, and rather that everyone who has ever lived can become a god. We all start off as spirit children of goddess father and mother, and we all become Incarnate, and we all have the chance to become gods. What this means is that Christianity has completely hidden this truth from the world by limiting Incarnation to only the Son, and thus Christians have deprived the world of this crucial Gospel that everyone can actually become a god. This is where the logic of the Apostasy comes from, because of course it must be true if all churches out there are teaching the Incarnation is unique. This is why talking the Great Apostasy with a Mormon is futile, because in the back of their mind they see that it has to be true by the fact Christendom has lost the central dogma of Biblical Religion, which is self-deification. The only topics that can really make an impact is questioning how death/resurrection fits into this scheme, as well as why the Holy Spirit is considered god despite not having a body. LDS don't actually care about this latter question though, because what matters to them is becoming a god themselves, not whether the Holy Spirit ever gets that chance.

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

Good to see you back. Thanks much for taking the time to comment. You wrote:

== There has been a new Catholic - LDS discussion group on Facebook that began the past few months and these discussions have come up.==

Sounds interesting, I would like to check it out. Could you provide a link?

== I think a lot of what you're seeing here with the de-emphasizing of Universal Apostasy as well as more toleration for other "Christian denominations" is part of a recent campaign from a year or so ago by the LDS to re-brand themselves as more friendly.==

I am inclined to believe that there is a lot of truth to your above assessment, though I think this development has some roots in Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency. My longtime Catholic friend, Rory, noticed this change during his frequent discussions at the Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board (link). If memory serves me correctly, he starting noticing this change over a decade ago.

==I think this new approach is someone dangerous for their cause (since it waters themselves down and can look like any other denomination), and somewhat disingenuous (since they don't actually consider Catholics/Protestants to be Christian). ==

Agreed. It certainly makes it very difficult to defend a total apostasy and the need for a restoration.

==But it could also be an upper management campaign attempt to stop the decline of Mormonism. Such groups likely have an expiration date, and as Mormonism became less American/White, so too has the original appeal and basis for the religion, which is White American Exceptionalism.==

Food for thought for sure. I would add Mormonism was also part of the millennial fever of the 19th century which created other dynamic sects like the JW’s and 7th Day Adventists. I have wondered for quite a number of years now how long these millennial groups can survive given the emphasis of there message.


Grace and peace,

David

Dennis said...

Hi David,

Pretty "heady stuff" & some good argumentation by Orson, in the same vein of the "spirit that rules this world" as Arius or other great heretics.

I noted in the scriptures he quoted about the Church falling away, he "glossed over" the word "many" & "some" by asserting the scope of the apostasy was by "all".

His conjecture pivots on the idea of restoration & revelation vs any sort of reformation.

Sure swathes of Christianity has collapsed into adherance to dogma or embracing heresy to the extent that any original illumination has been extinguished. But this doesnt necessarily equal a total collapse. To assert this is to imply that Christ lied when He said hell would not overcome the church.

When the church has begun to fall away, there has always been a prophetic voice calling it back to what it once received. The various monastic an lay movements prod the Church to go back to its first love, the visionaries warn of turning away and the charismatics stress being open to the Spirits gifts and walking in His fulness.

Can the church function to some extent without an intact Apostolic succession. I would say yes, as long as it adheres to the other "checks & balances" that keep it orthodox.

I think we can see this as Israel had periods without an incorrupt or correctly functioning priesthood and there were time where it lost memory of the Law. God still sent the prophets and He still had a faithful remnant.

So why the need of revelation ? The revelation is complete in Christ. The scriptures & tradition show the path we need to follow.

The claim to revelation is that the "falling away" has caused the previous church to embrace doctrinal error & the Mormons are restoring the true faith with Spiritual power. However the truth they are "restoring" is missing from the church of the first centuries. There was never an idea of an "enfleshed" God, meaning God is human and can suffer.

The Eucharist was always understood as Christ being really present & feeding us with Himself. The Holy Spirit was always a Person. Humankind is called to become as God in unity not by obtaining His essence.

It matters not that the signposts on a path have the correct labels, it is the final destination that confirms the path.

Cheers
Dennis

David Waltz said...

Hi Denns,

Thanks much for your comments. You wrote:

==I noted in the scriptures he quoted about the Church falling away, he "glossed over" the word "many" & "some" by asserting the scope of the apostasy was by "all".==

Good observation. I have mentioned this numerous times in my discourses with Latter-day Saints. Personally, I am aware of only 2 verses from the Bible that suggest a total falling away:

John 9:4 - I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Revelation 13:7 - And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

But then, I think one must keep our Lord’s parables of the kingdom in mind, especially the ‘wheat and tares’. The kingdom parables sure seem to indicate that there will always be some true disciples between Jesus’ first and second comings. It is a very difficult task to place a total apostasy into those parables.


Grace and peace,

David

Dennis said...

Hi David,

I would take John 9:4 to mean Jesus predicting His death & the urgency to complete His work before His light is extinguished.

As to Rev 13:7-8. I take that as Satan taking the upper hand in his rule over the earth. Even though he wins over the saints, he doesnt completely as verse 8 attests. He takes a majority with him.

So I dont think the the church goes into complete apostasy.

Cheers
Dennis

Dennis said...

...furthermore, I think this Carmelite lectionary for May 11 sums up their original error. They contradict scripture in saying the Father appeared in that first vision: "John 14:21: I shall love Him and reveal myself to Him. This verse presents the summary of the response of Jesus to Philip. Philip had said: “Show us the Father and
then we shall be satisfied!” (Jn 14:8). Moses had asked God: “Show me your glory!”
(Ex 33:18). God answered: “My face you cannot see, for no human being can see Me
and survive” (Ex 33:20). The Father cannot be shown. God lives in inaccessible light (1 Tim 6:16). “Nobody has ever seen God” (I Jn 4:12). But the presence of the Father can be experienced through the experience of love."

There is no need to see the Father as He is in the Son & is Himself transcendant. The love the Son gives in His actual works on earth, both in the past & now in the Spirit, expresses the Father.

The apostasy is claiming Christ's mystical Body to have died completely as if His Spirit had stopped His work on earth for a time.

Cheers
Dennis

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

I am pressed for time today and tomorrow, so a more in depth response on my part will have to wait until Thursday; until then though, I would like a share some brief comments. You wrote:

==Moses had asked God: “Show me your glory!”
(Ex 33:18). God answered: “My face you cannot see, for no human being can see Me
and survive” (Ex 33:20). The Father cannot be shown. God lives in inaccessible light (1 Tim 6:16). “Nobody has ever seen God” (I Jn 4:12). But the presence of the Father can be experienced through the experience of love."

There is no need to see the Father as He is in the Son & is Himself transcendant. The love the Son gives in His actual works on earth, both in the past & now in the Spirit, expresses the Father.==

But then:

And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. (Ex. 24:10, 11)

For Jehovah is righteous; He loveth righteousness: The upright shall behold his face. (Ps. 11:7)

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. (Isa. 6:1)

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matt. 5:8)

The theophanies of OT ‘complicate’ the issue of ‘seeing’ God. Especially interesting was the theophany related in Gen. 18. Some CFs believed that the “three men” were a theophany of Trinity.

Have much more to comment on, but alas, it will have to wait until Thursday, the Lord willing.


Grace and peace,

David

Nick said...

Just to clarify, I didn't say that, it was Dennis.

David Waltz said...

Hi Dennis and Nick,

Big oops...I was in a huge hurry this morning. My 8:48 AM post was to Dennis and not Nick. Sorry about that. Thanks much Nick for pointing that out. Back to my much needed list of chores. Hope to be able to spend more time on the blog Thursday.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Dennis,

First, want to apologize again for referring to you as Nick. I was in a hurry to head over to his blog and comment there after I typed up my brief response to you, so my fingers were thinking ahead (grin).

Now, back to the LDS concept of the apostasy. On one level, it is quite simplistic in that without living, functioning apostles, you have no valid church. But other aspects are a bit more complex. First, Latter-day Saints believe that at least 4 ‘translated’ apostles/disciples—John and the 3 Nephites—retained full priesthood authority after priesthood authority was lost/removed amongst mortal mankind. Second, though authority was lost, not ALL doctrine/truth vanished; some truths remained amongst the evolving false teachings. Third, Christ’s Church remained intact in the heavenly realm. And finally, the ‘Light Christ’ continued to strive with mankind.

Returning to the NT, if one looks close enough, signs of wholesale apostasy can be found. Paul wrote:

This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Tim. 1:15)

Returning to John 9:4, note the following from Andreas J. Kostenberger’s commentary on John:

>>The statement that “Night is coming, when no man can work” (cf. 11:9-10; 12:35-36) has the ring of common sense, if not a proverbial saying. It conveys the notion that Jesus’ time to work is short (Ridderbos 1997: 334). Apart from rare exceptions (such as shepherds, night watchmen, or special messengers), no one works in the dark (not even he who is the light of the world!). Here, “night" also connotes the world’s spiritual darkness apart from Jesus (cf. 9:5).>> (John, 2004, p. 282).

Further, John 9:4 has a very important textual variant. The later manuscripts read, ἐμὲ δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι (I must work), but the earliest manuscripts read, ἡμᾶς δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι (we must work). As such, the “we" would have reference to Jesus and his disciples.

In John’s Revelation, 5 of the 7 churches that Jesus speaks to are devolving into apostasy, such that He warns them if they continue on that course, their ‘golden candlesticks/lampstands’ will be removed; and this whilst John is still alive and exercising his apostolic authority. What will happen when John is gone?

Need to head over to Nick’s blog, so I shall end here for now.


Grace and peace,

David

Nick said...

As I noted in my blog post, I think that along with the Great Apostasy, a companion issue has arisen, the Great Chastisement.

I have been talking to some Mormons about why they aren't in Missouri when Smith and D&C expressly say Jackson County Missouri is the "Promise Land" of "inheritance" (cf Abraham's promises) where Zion is to be (re)established. I told them that going to Utah seems to be against the goal/mission of Smith, and indeed going to Utah would thus be more of a chastisement than a blessing. They only went to Utah because of persecution and infighting in Missouri, so it was a reluctant relocation to the non-Promise Land.

To my surprise, some LDS are saying being in Utah is indeed a chastisement from God, which means that the past 150 years have been a chastisement for the LDS! What? That's astonishing. The LDS and their leaders have been giving off nothing but a positive vibe about their mission and status. No indication they are supposed to be in penitential mode, and no indication they are living in sin (which they aren't). So why chastisement? It would mean the Restored Church has been crippled and on pause for most of it's existence, which is twice as long as the 70 years in Bablylon for some pretty blatant sins by the Israelites.

Any information or thoughts on this?

David Waltz said...

Hi Nick,

Last night, you wrote:

==I have been talking to some Mormons about why they aren't in Missouri when Smith and D&C expressly say Jackson County Missouri is the "Promise Land" of "inheritance" (cf Abraham's promises) where Zion is to be (re)established.==

The topic of “Zion” is an interesting one (IMO). Bruce R. McConkie identified no less that 7 different—though related—uses of the term “Zion” within the LDS paradigm. The 1st/primary meaning from his second edition of Mormon Doctrine is as follows:

>>1. Zion is the name given by the Lord to his saints; it is the name by which the Lord's people are always identified. Of the saints in Enoch's day the record says: "And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." (Moses 7:18.) "This is Zion - THE PURE IN HEART," he said in this day. (D. & C. 97:21.) Thus The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Zion. Joining the Church is becoming a citizen of Zion. Many revelations speak of Zion in this sense. Before the organization of the Church, the command was given to a number of brethren, "Seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion." (D. & C. 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6.) On the day of its organization, the Lord commended The Prophet for his diligence, prayers, and labors in bringing forth Zion. (D. & C. 21:7-8.) After its organization various brethren were commanded to labor in Zion with all their power and strength. (D. & C. 24:7; 30:11; 93:53.)>> [For the above and the 6 other meanings see pages 854, 855 in Mormon Doctrine, 1966]

==I told them that going to Utah seems to be against the goal/mission of Smith, and indeed going to Utah would thus be more of a chastisement than a blessing. They only went to Utah because of persecution and infighting in Missouri, so it was a reluctant relocation to the non-Promise Land.==

Many Mormons first fled to Commerce/Nauvoo, Illinois. After the death of Joseph Smith, the migration to Utah began.

I think we need to be a bit careful when attempting to interpret the germane passages from D&C—e.g. 57, 58, 101. I see some parallel between how Mormons now interpret those passages when compared to the understanding of the contemporary generation wherein they were given, with how Christians now understand the Biblical passages concerning Jesus Christ’s second coming when compared to the 1st and 2nd century understanding—i.e fulfillment was to be much later than initially thought.

For some interesting comments by Joseph Smith concerning the Missouri conflict, expulsion, and future return see pages 33-37 in the Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Cont’d

David Waltz said...

Cont’d

From the same book we read:

>>President Joseph Smith’s Remarks—The Whole of America Zion—April Conference, 1844

President Joseph Smith said:—It is just as impossible for me to continue the subject of yesterday as to raise the dead. My lungs are worn out. There is a time to all things,6 and I must wait. I will give it up, and leave the time to those who can make you hear, and I will continue the subject of my discourse some other time. I want to make a proclamation to the Elders. I wanted you to stay, in order that I might make this proclamation.7 You know very well that the Lord has led this Church by revelation.8 I have another revelation in relation to economy in the Church—a great, grand, and glorious revelation.9 I shall not be able to dwell as largely upon it now as at some other time; but I will give you the first principles.10 You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion-- where it is,11 and where the gathering of the dispensation is,12 and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader ground. The whole of America is Zion13 itself from north to south, and is described by the Prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord14 should be, and that it should be in the center of the land.15 When Elders shall take up and examine the old prophecies in the Bible, they will see it.

6. Eccl. 3:1; D&C 88:58.
7. D&C 124:2-3.
8. D&C 102:1; D&C 107:58-59.
9. D&C 110:13.
10. Heb. 5:12.
11. D&C 84:2-4.
12. D&C 57:1-3.
13. Alma 46:17.
14. Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2; Joel
2:1; Joel 3:17; Zech. 8:3.
15. D&C 57:3.>>

[Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1976 - p. 362]

Anyway, like so many things Mormon, answers are rarely easy/simple.


Grace and peace,

David

Dennis said...

Hi David,

No probs as long as its not "old Nick" as I haven't grown my horns & tail yet ;)

Good point about Exodus 24 by have u seen this https://focusmagazine.org/did-moses-see-the-face-of-god.php ?

Also NT revelation Trumps OT. The NT states that God cannot be seen.

Also the way God is revealed in that passage is from afar.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/under-gods-feet/

Cheers
Dennis

David Waltz said...

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for those links. From the first, we read:

=To see some aspect of God is not to behold the fullness of His glory. That honor belongs only to the “blessed” in heaven. Jesus promised, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).=

That is exactly what I believe. The appearances of YHWH in the OT were certainly not "the fullness of His glory”. But, they were still real appearances.

In addition to the Matt. 5:8, we must not forget what David said:

“For Jehovah is righteous; He loveth righteousness: The upright shall behold his face.” (Ps. 11:7) [I quoted both of these passages above.]

Moving on to the possible corporeality of God, I was finally able to afford a book I have been wanting to read for few years now. I have just started reading it, and plan to create a new thread once I have finished it. Until then, check out the following Google preview:

Stephen H. Webb - Jesus Christ, Eternal God-Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter

The following is a chapter from the book, with some minor changes:

Godbodied-The Matter of the Latter-day Saints


Grace and peace,

David

Dennis said...

Hi David,

I had a quick look at the excerpt. This alone causes consternation: "To what extent does it truly matter whether Jesus was always God or at a certain point in the pre-mortal realm he became God?” It probably does not matter"

But it does matter to Trinitarian theology and the Incarnation. This I think is the humanisation of God and justifies the fleshly God theory. If Jesus has flesh and becomes God, then obviously God has flesh.

It also means a creature can take on the essence of God or it remains a demiurge. If Jesus had flesh already, how could he be born and take on flesh ?

It also effects the transcendence of God, which is affirmed by all major religious traditions, as demonstrated by Bentley Hart in "The Experience of God".

Obviously Stephen Webb is trying to welcome Mormonism into the "Christian fold" but is playing to the same apostasy the Mormons are complaining about.

Cheers
Dennis

David Waltz said...

Good morning Dennis,

I have a little time before I head out for my run on the beach. Earlier today, you posted:

==I had a quick look at the excerpt. This alone causes consternation: "To what extent does it truly matter whether Jesus was always God or at a certain point in the pre-mortal realm he became God?” It probably does not matter"==

Webb was quoting Millet. And importantly, Webb does not agree with Millet on this important issue. The following is a bit more context:

>>Millet tries to soften the inevitably negative reaction by insisting that “when he was God, he was God.” What he was doing before that time is hard even for Mormons to say. Millet, rightly or wrongly, tries to downplay the practical implications of the mind-boggling nature of Mormon Christology. “To what extent does it truly matter whether Jesus was always God or at a certain point in the pre-mortal realm he became God?” It probably does not matter much to everyday faith and ethics. It certainly does not matter to evangelism, because Mormons take the Great Commission more seriously than most creedal Christians. For the pursuit of truth, however, the consistency of this position needs careful scrutiny. Christocentricity here has an infinite depth, it seems, and a breadth to match—to the point of theological eccentricity perhaps, but does it cross the line and leave behind traditional Christianity altogether?>>

Webb, a convert to Catholicism, never questions the eternal divinity of Jesus Christ. What he does question though is any Christology that does not affirm the FULL humanity of our Lord.

Off for my run. Will try to get to the recent posts that you and Rory published in the newer thread later today, but it may be tomorrow before I can do so.


Grace and peace,

David

Unknown Soldier said...




Matthew 13 [4] And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Revelation 13 [5] And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

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