by Edward K. Watson
A systematic examination and rebuttal to the attempted refutation of the Oct 1998 issue of Apologia from the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, Inc. (Volume 1, Issue 7) by James Juris with an article by James David, found at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/3750/rebuttal.apologia.html.
I was invited by Kerry Shirts to write an article refuting an attempted rebuttal of FAIR's latest newsletter, Apologia despite I'm NOT a member of FAIR. I gladly accepted the invitation due to my familiarity with the issues raised and desire to share what I perceive is the Truth of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I, like Prof Tvedtnes of FARMS, am grateful for the Tanners for their effort of bringing awareness to the early historical writings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No other faith in the world has had its early historical writings so openly paraded, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Jerald and Sandra Tanner. One can only imagine what would happen to the Southern Baptist Convention or the Reformed Churches, if their early historical writings received 1/10th the exposure the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has received.
The Tanners would probably be upset to know that they've been a tremendous AID to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since they force our members to have greater awareness of our roots and heritage. A TREMENDOUS WEALTH exists in the early Latter-day Saint historical writings, but most Mormons aren't aware of it, just as most Traditional Christians aren't aware of the amazing and insightful writings of the early Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant writers. After all, how many Protestants today are familiar with Charles Spurgeon and John Chrysostom? How many Catholics read the brilliant and fearless Tertullian, Cyprian and Athanasius?
Perceptive Mormons realize that the negative introduction they received from the Tanners concerning our historical literature, by their very nature, can only tell PART of the story or else the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wouldn't have survived. The Tanners then become the unwitting foundation for the Mormon determined to understand early Mormonism and this Mormon is given something tangible to hold on to (whether it be the Journal of Discourses or Parley P. Pratt) and his serious study begins. After a period of detailed examination of the early documents, including the milieu and context they're in, the Mormon rejects the conclusions of the Tanners and becomes proud of his pioneer ancestors, their faith, sacrifices and goals.
Such was the case with me. The Tanners were the ones who introduced me to early Latter-day Saint historical writings, but I didn't lose my newly found faith, instead, I was stimulated to examine the early writings for myself. The more I studied the less I could see what the Tanners wanted me to see. I subsequently moved on to Patristic writings and loved the writings honored by most Traditional Christians.
Some anti-Mormons gleefully make Mormons squirm by citing historical writings a regular Mormon is unfamiliar with while they themselves are unfamiliar with historical writings of great importance to their own faiths. I remember how intimidated three Baptist pastors were who initially wanted to debate me when I told them I study the Patristic Fathers, and the Three Cappadocians, Athanasius and Tertullian in particular.
I do have a serious problem with the Tanner's methodology. I find their methodology of focusing on historical arguments at most, a red herring, at worst, deceptive, because of the difficulty one encounters when doing historical refutations. This difficulty causes most readers to either accept them at their word or absorb doubts about the legitimacy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because they don't desire to invest the time, effort and money needed to verify the accuracy of how the Tanners interpreted those particular historical documents. It will take a researcher years and thousands of dollars to validate the accuracy of how the Tanners present early Latter-day Saint history and who wants to go through that much trouble?
The Tanners are smart and have known for over thirty years that human nature ensures they will rarely encounter a Mormon who can systematically refute their portrayal of Mormonism when it's based upon historical writings. I'm surprised other anti-Mormons never bothered to ask: "Why do the Tanners focus on historical issues if Mormonism is false biblically?"
I determine Jerald and Sandra Tanner's credibility on how they use *easily* accessible material, (i.e., the scriptures). This is where they blatantly and repeatedly display either an *inability* to comprehend proper hermeneutics and exegesis or are merely engaging in dishonesty.
Since most Christians have Bibles and there are hundreds of easily accessible Bible-study tools; why do the Tanners spend so much time and effort using incredibly hard-to-find historical writings in order to disprove the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If an anti-Christian Jew predominantly used Rabbinical writings such as from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, Tosepta, Midrash Rabbah, Mishna and Midras Tehillin in arguing against the divinity of Jesus Christ; what chance does a regular Christian have of effectively refuting him? How would this Christian even begin his search for answers?
Furthermore, since when has historical writings superceded the importance of recognized Scriptures in determining the authenticity of a religious faith or person? How would Christianity and Jesus fare if all that were used to determine authenticity were historical writings? Jesus would be called "Yeshua-ben-Pantera" from an adulterous union of Mary with the Roman soldier Pantera. Jesus would be a gang leader of hooligans and a practitioner of black magic that he learned in Egypt and was executed by the Romans for being a sorcerer and terrorist.
If the Tanners are 100% correct in all their historical arguments against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on materials that are extremely difficult for the regular person to examine first hand; why is it that they are nearly 100% erroneous on easily-accessible materials that derive from their biblical arguments against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
***If Jerald and Sandra Tanner display terrible scholarship on easily-accessible sources; what are the odds that they would suddenly improve when using obscure references?***
Mr. Juris makes an intriguing statement: "The thing that I find most interesting about all of these Scholarly organizations is that none of them officially represents the church. I could speculate many reasons for this, yet I believe that it is most aparent (sic) that the church doesn't want to get involved."
The notice most Latter-day Saint writers (such as myself) and organizations use that state we aren't official representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is proper since we may erroneously act or say things that aren't "official." I fail to see why Mr. Juris has a problem with this. Would he want anyone in his current church write and do whatever they want as "official" doctrines and practices of his church when they may say and do things that he believes aren't in accordance with his church?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints's official position of not responding to anti-Mormon attacks seems to be very frustrating to the Tanners and those who constantly fight against Mormonism. It appears they desperately want acknowledgment of their existence and effectiveness. They want to know their stabs are being felt by their victim. ("Hey! Look at me, look at me! Tell me I'm hurting you, tell me it hurts!!!") It must be despairing to constantly fight against a church for over thirty years and it doesn't even seem to know they exist.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has very good biblical scholars and researchers but their teachings aren't widely distributed among the membership. Latter-day Saint theology is amazingly biblical and logical, indeed, it is the most biblical and logical theology in the world. Its resolution of the problem of evil is an astonishing achievement and is without parallel in any other faith. Its view on the origin of God avoids the fatal flaws inherent in Traditional Theism's conception of God that originates from Aristotle's "Unmoved Mover." Its definition of Mormonism to mean "whatever is true and right" ensures a Mormon can never have a conflict between his faith and what he knows is true.
As far as I know, the only official web site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is www.lds.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like most other churches has members, leaders and departments who are hostile to scholarship. This doesn't make the church wrong, it merely means short-sighted and foolish members exist within the church, which, by the way, isn't unique to Mormonism.
James David in his "FAIR Authors Have Lost Their Yellow Socks" relates an e-mail discussion he had with a Mormon apologist. What I found interesting was his stance that Mormon apologists won't criticize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when it is demonstrably wrong.
As a Mormon apologist, I will ALWAYS tell the Truth. My loyalty is to the Truth because God is the God and source of all Truth, Jesus is "Truth," the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth and the Gospel is "Truth." I serve God by my loyalty to the "Truth." If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is demonstrably wrong; I will say so. It was wrong on prohibiting those of sub-Saharan Negroid ancestry from possessing the Priesthood. It was wrong on its earlier prohibition and condemnation of contraception, oral sex, intermarriage and sexual pleasures. It's experienced "Doctrinal Reversals." Does this mean the church is wrong? Of course not. The first century church likewise experienced doctrinal reversals (the requirements for Gentile admission, the importance of circumcision, the proper relationship with the Gentile members, the extent of adherence to the Mosaic Law) but these modifications never invalidated the legitimacy of the church.
I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ, and secondly, a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My loyalty to God supercedes my loyalty to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why? Because God is "infallible" while his church, being comprised of fallible humans, is "fallible." While I fully believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "the only true church" and is Christ's body and the prophet is the only person authorized to speak for God for the whole earth; I am always open to the possibility that humans, whether they be prophets, apostles, bishops or home teachers can make mistakes whereas God can't.
How do we explain the doctrinal reversals that have indisputably occurred in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Simple. By pointing out the fact that there are two kinds of doctrines in the church:
(1) Doctrines based upon eternal principles from oral or written revelations given by God (which can't be modified and are inerrant).
(2) Doctrines based upon societal standards (which are derived from the milieu the church was in and the leaders and members of the church assumed they were based upon eternal principles despite God didn't specifically say they were).
James David's claim that articles in FAIR contains conflicting logic, contradictions, inconsistencies "and in some cases, blatantly wrong" is exactly how I describe every single anti-Mormon book I've read, including Mr. David's own article. This can be demonstrated by his misunderstanding the significance of parallel passages in the Book of Mormon found in the Septuagint (LXX) but not the Authorized King James Version (AV). I don't know of any Mormon biblical scholar who would claim the LXX itself was the source for these particular Book of Mormon passages, which of course, is impossible. The point is on the SOURCE-TEXTS that the LXX was based upon. I happen to have three LXX versions (Brenton, Univ Penn & Rahlfs'), all of which contain discrepancies with the sixth century Masoretic Text (MT) that the AV is (mostly) based upon and they all contain passages closer to the Book of Mormon Bible quotations than what exists in the AV.
In my opinion, there isn't any question Joseph Smith used the text from his AV Bible in writing parts of the Book of Mormon. A textual comparison of 3 Nephi 12-14 with Matthew 5-7 shows a gradual convergence of the texts with the greatest deviation existing at the very beginning of 3 Nephi 12.
This gradual dovetailing reveals Joseph Smith "cheated"; not in the sense of committing fraud, but in shying away from the painstaking and difficult translation process of examining each engraved character, trying to discern what it meant by relying upon God's inspiration, and then verbalizing the revealed impression. When he realized he was quoting the Beatitudes, he "popped open his Bible"; continued the slow translation but eventually acquiesced to a wholesale importation of the remainder of the Beatitudes after deducing minimal difference between the two accounts.
This also explains the similarities of the Isaiah and Malachi quotations from what's found in the AV and why some Book of Mormon passages that parallel those found in the Bible contain the same textual errors found in the AV.
Does this mean the Book of Mormon is false? Of course not. Why should a later prophet's unacknowledged usage of the writing of an earlier prophet be grounds for invalidating his own writings? Don't the anti-Mormons know biblical writers frequently copied or paraphrased from earlier writers without acknowledging their "plagiarism"? [e.g., Heb 8:8-12 cf. Jer 31:31-34; Matt 13:13/Mark 4:12 cf. Isa 6:9-10; Heb 3:7-11 cf. Ps 95:7-11; Matt 10:35-36 cf. Micah 7:6; Luke 19:40 cf. Hab 2:11; Acts 13:41 cf. Hab 1:5; 1 Cor 4:13 cf. Lam 3:45; Jas 2:9 cf. Prov 28:21; 1 Pet 3:10-12 cf. Ps 34:12-16; Rev 1:15 cf. Ezek 43:2; 2 Kng 18-20 is actually copied from Isa 36-39 and Mic 4:1-3 is copied from Isa 2:2-4; etc.]
Why should Joseph Smith's actions of "cutting corners" be grounds for invalidating what he wrote? Is Paul likewise condemned for "cutting and pasting" (Rom 3:13-18 cf. Ps 5:9/140:3/ 10:7/ Isa 59:7-8/ Ps 36:1) by these anti-Mormons? Which NT writer DIDN'T use older writings as their own? Will they throw away the Gospels of Matthew and Luke since they copied a huge portion of their books from Mark (of Mark's 661 verses, Matthew copied over 600 and Luke copied over 330)? They're not called the Synoptic Gospels for nothing.
There are problematic statements like non-sequiturs such as when Mr. David writes, "If the Book of Mormon passages could be subject to Biblical deletions through Nephite transmission, then it's very logical that the Book of Mormon would not only have transmission errors but also have other errors in it too, and could not possibly be the word of God, but the work of man - and likely one man, Joseph Smith." The conclusion doesn't follow the points he raised since:
(1) "Biblical deletions" are "biblical" which means if fatal to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, they would likewise be fatal to the Bible from which they came.
(2) The existence of errors can't invalidate the Book of Mormon's status as derived from God's inspiration provided they are of non-salvific importance.
It would be silly to think the Bible's uninspired just because Lev 11:6 has God saying hares have cuds when we know they don't. What about Lev 11:21-23 which says locusts, grasshoppers and beetles have four legs or 2 Sam 24:1,10,15,17 which describes God as punishing David for obeying him or Ps 121:5-6's really amazing non-existent medical malady called a "moonstroke"?
The point is, the presence of demonstrable non-salvific errors in a religious text isn't grounds for automatically dismissing the *potential* validity of such a text. The writers, whether they be Ezra, Ezekiel, Paul or Joseph Smith are human, can make mistakes and misunderstand the concepts given to them by God. In other words, the writers are FALLIBLE while the divine source (i.e., God) is INFALLIBLE. No human tongue can fully express the divine and any divine message will suffer degradation the moment fallible humans try to explain it.
Mr. David's claim that the "Latter-day Saint teachings regarding polygamy, baptism for the dead, that man can become a God, and that God is of flesh, contradicts many of the passages of the Book of Mormon" only demonstrates how poorly his understands what the Book of Mormon says. Jacob's condemnation of polygyny (Jacob 2:23-30) was in reference to his people and not as a principle or else his conditional statement in verse 30 doesn't make any sense. The descriptions of God as a "Great Spirit" (Alma 18:24-28; 22:7-11) doesn't mean God is nonmaterial (asomatos); incorporeal or formless since King Lamoni initially thought Ammon was the "Great Spirit" (Alma 18:2-4,11,18 cf. 19:25) despite he was in humanoid form and possessed a material body. Furthermore, the word "spirit" does NOT mean "nonmaterial, incorporeal or formless." (See my book, MORMONISM. The Faith of the Twenty-first Century Vol 1. Specifically MORMONISM: Section 1, Chapters 4 & 5).
However, Mr. David does give valid criticism as to the necessity of peer review, editing and proofreading of articles. FAIR does need to improve the writing quality of its articles but it is merely undergoing the travails of youth and will perform the needed improvements as soon as it's able.
Mr. David cites Heb 11:27 and Col 1:15 which say "God is invisible" but doesn't seem to realize the word "invisible" simply means "not seen." It does NOT mean "nonmaterial, formless or incorporeal." The opposite side of the moon was "invisible" before Luna 3 went around the moon in 1959. The air is "invisible." I'm puzzled as to why Mr. David used Heb 11:27 since it destroys his argument. He would've been safer using 1 Tim 1:17. Moses saw the "invisible" God because he was holy (Heb 12:14). The "invisible" things of God can be seen (Rom 1:20). Mormons believe Jesus is "invisible" despite he has a physical body (D&C 38:7).
The existence of material objects such as gases, glass and plastics whose ontological natures are transparent or "invisible" disproves Mr. David's argument that "invisible" means ontologically nonmaterial and incorporeal.
I found it refreshing that he stated: "I try to stay away from purely scriptural arguments because I have learned that people, both Mormons and Mormon critics, interpret scriptures differently. I don't think disagreeing is necessarily bad, but I think that personal interpretations of scripture makes proving an argument next to impossible on purely a scriptural basis."
The problem Mr. David faces is obvious. Utilizing scriptural argumentation causes the anti-Mormon to lose when debating a knowledgeable Mormon. Why? Is it because of the inherent problem of divergent interpretations? No, it is because THE BIBLE VALIDATES MORMONISM. Shrewd anti-Mormons will always steer away from sole reliance upon the Bible and will focus on historical and peripheral issues because they realize knowledgeable Mormons can furnish numerous biblical passages for support that are valid contextually and linguistically.
I find the Tanner's methodology baffling and purely subjective. They create a structure and state that if the Book of Mormon is true it has to contain [x, y and z] but this is an artificial standard because they *start out* from the position the Book of Mormon is wrong and subsequently look for items that are non-existent in it but exist in the NT. Whatever they find become the criteria for disproving the Book of Mormon. A dishonest person who only believes the Book of Mormon and not the Bible can reverse the tables and demand the presence of the coming Messiah's name prior to his arrival as the proof needed for authenticity. Since the OT doesn't contain the name of "Jesus"; the Bible is consequently fraudulent. See? Anyone can demand conditions for authenticity provided they are the ones picking the conditions.
I have two things to say concerning the Passover issue. (1) The practices of the people in the Book of Mormon is obscured because the focus and intent of its editors (Mormon and Moroni) was on the centrality of Jesus Christ. Since they only used less than 1% of the writings of their people, we can't possibly know what the other writings contained. (2) I subscribe to several e-mail discussion groups headed by James Trimm, a Messianic Christian who's pseudonym is "Rabbi Yosef ben Yehudah." He *isn't* a Mormon but finds an amazing amount of authentic "Jewishness" in the Book of Mormon text that point to its authenticity. See his website at www.itstessie.com/jewishbom. I'm also aware of the statements of several non-Latter-day Saint scholars like James Charlesworth and Harold Bloom who've taken the time to seriously examine the Book of Mormon text and their conclusions are the opposite of the Tanners and the anti-Mormon community.
I now wish to address the third article concerning "Biblical Inerrancy" by James Juris. He alleges "Mormonism has rejected many of the teachings found in The Bible ... [and] have ignored the teachings of The Bible."
I find his claim to be preposterous since I know from first-hand experience that this isn't so. Mormonism is repeatedly condemned by anti-Mormons for believing the Bible is the Word of God "as far as it is translated correctly" but Mr. Juris sidesteps inerrancy by focusing on biblical infallibility which he understands to mean "incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals." He then adds, "This is what most Christians believe, that the Bible has not been changed in regard to the doctrines that lead to salvation."
It's interesting Mr. Juris avoids the traditional understanding of inerrancy, which has been repeatedly understood to mean "the Bible doesn't contain any errors of any kind be it theological, historical, geographical, scientific, doctrinal, grammatical or clerical. It maintains that the entire Bible was dictated, word for word directly from God to the writers (based upon a literal reading of theopneustos), and because of this, can't contain any errors whatsoever." I actually like his dodge since it shows he realizes the traditional Fundamentalist understanding of the term is unsupportable. What does infallibility have to do with believing in the possibility that the biblical texts may have suffered corruption? Nothing. I freely concede that no doctrine of salvific importance was removed from the Bible. All 1 Ne 13:24-32 says is many plain and precious things were removed from the writings of the Jews by the Great and Abominable Church (those who follow wickedness) which caused the purity of the gospel to be obscured, but NOT removed completely. Many "stumble" and don't know the truth because this "plainness" was removed.
This fact is hardly worth elaborating since it's self-evident the Bible lacks a "plainness" that has resulted in millions of Bible-believers who don't understand what it's trying to say. How many Christians disbelieve the biblical truth that Jesus is fully "God" as well as a man and that he was the God of the OT? How many Christians disbelieve the Holy Ghost is a self-aware personage who is the alter-ego of Jesus, who is also "God" just as Jesus and the Father are "God"? How many Christians disbelieve the necessity of belonging to a specific church which acts as Christ's body that has a specific hierarchy? How many Christians disbelieve the biblical description of God as a corporeal God?
Mr. Juris shouldn't muddy the issue since he is merely beating up a straw man. All that is meant by Mormonism when we say "we believe the Bible is the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly" is we are open to the possibility that errors may exist within it and some of its plain and precious teachings were removed prior to the mass-distribution of the biblical texts. Since no one has any "first editions" or original manuscripts, it is impossible to disprove such a stance. No matter how often anti-Mormons try to obscure this Latter-day Saint belief, the fact still remains that it ISN'T an attack on the Bible.
Most Traditional Christians unquestionably accept the notion that the Bible they hold in their hands is a word-for-word translation of what the biblical writers wrote. More problematic in my view is the tolerance these Christians give to anti-Mormons who make the most outrageous claims such as the Dead Sea Scrolls show the Bibles we have today are near-perfect replicas of the originals.
Critics of the Mormon church always use the Dead Sea Scroll Isaiah in trying to disprove our assertion that the biblical texts have been modified early in their existence. It's conceded Dead Sea Isaiah is virtually identical with our present Isaiah but anti-Mormons avoid Dead Sea Scroll Jeremiah (4QJerb), 1 Sam (4QSama & 4QSamb), Exodus (4QExa) and Daniel (4QDana) because they show the biblical books have been edited and a lot of these differences agree with the Septuagint,(1) which confirms the biblical texts we have today have been corrupted.
The LXX was the only "Bible" of the first century Christians and the distinction between the Greek LXX and the Hebrew versions didn't occur until the fourth century with Jerome. Aside from the Apocrypha being included in the LXX, here are examples of differences between the LXX and the MT with the LXX receiving support from various sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and other older Hebrew vorlage. These show the different OT books have definitely been modified by others after they were initially written or else there should only be one textual version of each book:
(a) The LXX Jeremiah is very different from the MT and is missing 10:6-8,10; 17:1-4; 27:1,7,13, a great part of 17-22; 29:16-20; 33:14-26; 39:4-13 and the order of prophecies are dissimilar with chapters 46-51 being inserted in a different order after 25:13.(2) The Book of Jeremiah in the LXX is shorter than the MT and the Dead Sea Scroll 4QJerb agrees with it. Scholars view the LXX and Dead Sea 4QJerb to be based upon an earlier edition of the Book of Jeremiah and the MT version is based upon the Second Edition or one that's been "revised and expanded."(3)
(b) The LXX Job is one-sixth shorter than the MT version.(4)
(c) The LXX 1 Kings (our 1 Sam) omits 17:12-31,41,50,55-58; 18:1-5,9-11,17-19 and the rest of the references to Merab. It agrees with the Dead Sea 4QSama [before the beginning of chap 11 and 2:13ff] and 4QSamb. It also lacks individual clauses and phrases in 1:9; 4:17; 6:4,11; 10:16; 12:13; 21:10; 23:23; 26:4; 30:7b: 31:6.
(d) The LXX 3 Kings (our 1 Kings) lacks 5:17; 6:11-14,22; 7:1-12; 13:27; 14:1-20; and 15:32.
(e) 1 Chr in the LXX also lacks 1:11-23 (except a portion of verse 17).
(f) The LXX omits 2 Chr 3:12 and 27:8.
(g) The LXX lacks Prov 1:16; 8:32-33; 11:3-4; 13:6; and 21:17.
(h) The LXX lacks Ezek 33:25-26.
(i) The LXX Joshua 20 is also different from the MT version.
(j) The Book of Esther has also suffered errors that needed "corrections."(5) Its LXX version contains an additional portion not present in the MT.(6)
(k) Our Bible doesn't contain Psalms 151 & 154 today but the ancient Syriac and the Dead Sea Scroll versions do.(7)
(l) Finally, the Samaritan Pentateuch differs from our Hebrew in about 6,000 places of which 1,600, the LXX, Dead Sea
and other older Hebrew texts support the Samaritan texts.(8)
The Book of Ecclesiastes has continually been revised and paraphrased initially by Jews and subsequently by a Christian scholar under Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgos (the Wonder-Worker).(9)
Justin Martyr also claimed that the Jews deliberately expunged certain passages from OT that gave support to Christianity. Where in the OT is a passage which says,
"The Lord God remembered his dead people of Israel who lay in their graves, and he descended to preach to them his own salvation."?
According to Justin Martyr(10) and Irenaeus,(11) this was one passage the Jews removed from an OT book (for its importance, see 1 Pet 3:18-19; 4:6). Where in the OT do we find a passage that says, "The laborer deserves his reward" (1 Tim 5:18)?
Origen created his Hexapla (a book with six versions of the OT in six columns side by side) because he believed the OT Scriptures have been corrupted by the Jews.(12) Lucian of Antioch (d.311) produced a version of the LXX which "smooth(ed) out difficulties and contradictions" present in the various versions of the LXX of his time. His version became the standard of the Greek speaking church.(13)
One doesn't need to take my word for it. All one needs is to verify the references I cited in these disparate writings to demonstrate that there are textual contradictions between the LXX, MT, DSS and Samaritan Pentateuch. Which then is correct? The only recognized Bible by the first century Christians, the LXX? The earliest known, the Samaritan Pentateuch? The one mostly used by Protestants, the MT? What say you Mr. Juris? Which family, or specifically, Codex (out of over 5,000), is the one that's "infallible"?
I found Mr. Juris' declaration that Mormon scripture contradicts itself to be too dogmatic over something that is only his opinion. I can equally declare the Bible contradicts itself, but it's another thing to prove one's allegation. He identified a number of "contradictions" in the Latter-day Scriptures but none of them are valid:
(A) He claims our belief in "One God" contradicts our belief in the "plurality of gods" but this is hardly the case. The word "one" (echad) doesn't automatically mean a mathematical "oneness" since it is used many times in reference to a complete unity, whether it be of will, purpose, desire, harmony, goal and so forth (e.g., Gen 11:6; 34:16,22; Jer 32:39; Ezek 11:19; etc.). "We are one in welcoming you to our country Mr. President." "A husband and wife are one." "A Christian is one with God."
Jesus said "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) despite he was ontologically separate from the Father which means two separate entities were somehow "one." What was this "oneness"? It CAN'T be a mathematical oneness or else Jesus would be teaching Modalism and his later inclusion of his true followers into that "oneness" (i.e., John 17:20-23) would entail we lose our individuality and become swallowed up into God's being.
It's really quite simple: Jesus has a NONMATHEMATICAL "oneness" with the Father and whatever this "oneness" is; this same "oneness" is given to other separate entities.
This means we don't limit the number of "persons" (i.e., *self-aware entities* not ousias) in the "One God" to only three, but allow an INFINITY of persons in "One God." We call the plurality of ontologically separate entities "Gods/gods." What's wrong with this? Such words don't detract from the glory and honor that is solely due Heavenly Father. If no contradiction exists in the minds of Traditional Christians who believe in "one God" despite acknowledging THREE separate persons (self-aware entities, not masks); why does Mr. Juris think our Scriptures are contradictory?
(B) Mr. Juris argues the Book of Mormon passages that call God a "Great Spirit" contradicts the Doctrine and Covenants' claim he possesses a physical body. This argument doesn't make any sense since "spirit" and "body" AREN'T exclusionary (God IS a spirit entity who resides within a physical body) and the context of Alma 18:24-28 and 22:7-11 has King Lamoni thinking Ammon was the "Great Spirit" DESPITE he had a body (Alma 18:2-4,11,18 cf. 19:25).
(C) Alma 34:36 says the Lord dwells in the hearts of the righteous but D&C 130:3 says the Father and Son don't dwell in the hearts of men. It looks like a contradiction were it not for the fact that the Father and Son do not constitute the entire Godhead but there is still the Holy Ghost. D&C 130:22 states the Father and Son have immortal bodies and aren't just [incorporeal] spirits whereas the Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit (i.e., is incorporeal), "were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."
Since we accept the Holy Ghost as a member of the Godhead and as God, it is he who can dwell in the heart of the righteous not the Father and Son. Alma 34:36 would then be talking about the Holy Ghost, not the Father or Son. It should be logical to understand why they cannot dwell in a person's heart literally but can symbolically just like my wife is always in my heart.
Furthermore, both the Bible and the Latter-day Scriptures repeatedly teach the true followers of Christ enjoy interpenetration with him, the Father and the Holy Ghost. Somehow, we are united to the Godhead, dwell in them and they dwell in us. Interpenetration doesn't mean "God dwells in our heart" but "God dwells within every portion of our being." At the risk of sounding facetious, "If God only dwells in our heart, what about our brains? Our kidneys? Our lungs?"
(D) Mr. Juris commits the common error of equating the word "God" to have reference to a mathematically one sentient entity but the Bible doesn't use it in this sense. "God" is from the Hebrew "El," "Eloh" and the plural "Elohim" with "Elohim" being the most common. The Jews used the context of "Elohim" to determine whether it referred to YHWH or to the other "gods." The incorporation of Greek philosophical concepts into the NT Triad of the Godhead resulted in most Christians being unable to grasp the simple message of the NT, which is, Jesus, while being a separate entity from Heavenly Father, both with independent will (Matt 26:38-39,42; Luke 22:42-44; John 5:21,30; 6:38; 7:16-18) is part of "one God," and the Holy Ghost is likewise an ontologically separate entity with independent will (John 16:7-8,13-14; Rom 8:16,26-27; Eph 4:30) who is also part of this "one God." Can this "oneness" be a mathematical one given that there are a mathematical "three entities" comprising it? Of course not. Consequently, the "oneness" of God is a NONMATHEMATICAL "oneness" just as a husband and wife, despite being mathematically "two" are somehow "one."
This means there is a plurality within "God" and this plurality can be called "Gods" provided the focus is on their mathematical value ( which is >1) or they can be called by the singular "God" because of their singular authority, complete and perfect unity of will, desire, love, goal, drive, etc., despite being ontologically more than one. Consequently, the Book of Abraham depictions of numerous entities participating in the creation (organization) of the earth can never contradict passages that describe "God" as creating the earth.
I was troubled by the specific references Mr. Juris used since 2 Nephi 2:14; Jacob 4:9 and Moses chap 2 don't explicitly state "one" God created the earth. He would've had a better argument using Isa 44:24 which explicitly states a singular entity was responsible for creation, but even then, these passages aren't contradictory since they're about the different stages of creation. When Jesus created the universe, all matter and energy were created at that point. The singularity before the Big Bang was smaller than an atom and if Quantum Creation occurred, even smaller. Jesus caused the Big Bang and he was by himself. This is what Isa 44:24, is mentioning and the resultant materials that made the earth inevitably came from materials that originated at the Big Bang. Billions of years later, during the "Council in Heaven," Jesus took others with him and gathered some of these materials and created the earth which is what Abr 3-4 is about. In other words, Isa 44:24 is referring to a period before the events mentioned in Abr 3-4.
The anti-Mormon practice of isolating a particular passage that appears to contradict others is an improper way to perform valid hermeneutics since it can easily be done to them. This can be likened to isolating 1 Tim 2:5 which says "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Does this mean Jesus is only a man and not "God" because it explicitly states there is only "One God" and Jesus is our mediator with him, which places Jesus *outside* this "one God"? How do they solve this passage? Simple. By utilizing other biblical passages with describe Jesus as "God" and then argue that this passage must be understood in the sense that Jesus is not only a man but is also "God."
Traditional Christians harmonize conflicting biblical passages all the time and claim this is the only way to arrive at the truth. The least anti-Mormons should do is display the same consistency they demand for themselves.
(E) Mr. Juris claims Book of Mormon passages that mention God can't lie contradicts the Book of Abraham account that has God counseling Abraham to tell the Egyptians his wife Sarah was his sister (Abr 2:22-25) but this can hardly be equated with God himself lying just as God's approval of the spirit to lie and deceive (1 Kng 22:20-23; 2 Chr 18:20-22) isn't the same as God himself lying. Furthermore, it's puzzling why Mr. Juris would use this incident as an example of lying since Abraham clearly said in the Bible that Sarah was indeed his sister, or more accurately his half-sister (Gen 20:12).
Lying is nothing new to men of God and the Bible repeatedly describes authentic prophets and representatives as lying or deceiving others:
1. Abraham - Gen 12:10-20.
2. Isaac - Gen 26:7.
3. Jacob - Gen 27:19,24,32,35.
4. Jeremiah - Jer 38:24-28.
5. David - 1 Kng 2:8-9.
6. Micaiah - 1 Kng 22:14-15; 2 Chr 18:13-14.
7. Elisha - 2 Kng 6:19; 8:10,14-15.
8. Peter - Matt 26:69-75.
(F) Mr. Juris seems confused as to the difference between God's Word and his commandments. God's commandments and prophecies are always *conditional*:
1 Sam 2:30-31 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
Jer 18:7-10 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
The question must now be posed to Mr. Juris, Did God's Word "change"? Of course it did. WHY? Because of the free-agency of humans. *Humans* are the ones that cause God to change his initial declarations but God himself will never change them *on his own* provided we keep our side of the covenant.
It's easy to illustrate this. Imagine the crucifixion scene with Jesus just telling one of the crucified thieves, "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). This thief then changes his repentant stance and promptly begins cursing God and Jesus, rejecting him, and exclaims he now worships Satan. Both die immediately afterward. Question. Is this thief still going to Paradise with Jesus? Naturally, Jesus' initial statement that this thief will enter Paradise with him no longer applies because the CONDITION for giving that statement has changed.
A good rule of thumb is to realize all the blessings and commandments God gives us are conditional upon our obedience.
(G) Mr. Juris' claims Jac 4:9 and Alma 18:28, 34-36 teach there isn't a pre-existence of man but these passages are obviously in reference to man's physical existence, not spiritual existence. This example of a contradiction blatantly displays just how poor Mr. Juris' understanding of the teachings of the Book of Mormon really are.
(H) Mr. Juris claims Mosi 2:36-39 and Alma 34:32-35 contradict D&C 76:106-112 and 88:99 concerning second chances after death but this so-called contradiction fails on four points: (1) Mosi 2:36-39 and Alma 34:32-35 explicitly identify those who will forever be damned as apostates, meaning, they already know the truth but rebel and reject it whereas D&C 76:106-112 and 88:99 don't have this clarification. (2) The D&C explication of the three degrees of glory after the final judgement resolves the mercy and justice of God and explains how those who've made mistakes on earth can at least receive some eternal glory after undergoing punishment and paying for their sins, even though they can never attain the highest level reserved for Christ's true followers. (3) Those who sin and apostatize are "damned" but damned from what? Naturally, from residing in Heavenly Father's kingdom. What if they maintained faith in Christ, did many good works, were charitable and merciful? They are still damned from entering God's (Celestial) kingdom but they will receive eternal residence in the other kingdoms and avoid an eternity in Outer Darkness (lake of fire). Consequently, they are "damned" in one sense but "saved" in another. (4) The damnation Mosi 2:36-39 and Alma 34:32-35 refer to is punishment in "hell." This is the opposite of paradise in the "spirit world" which is the intermediary stage between mortality and the kingdoms after the Final Judgement (what D&C 76:106-112 and 88:99 are referring to).
(I) His claim that Moro 8:22-23; 2 Ne 9:25-26 and Mosi 15:24-27 teach heathens can be saved without baptism is wholly without merit and not only contradicts the context of these passages but also conflicts with numerous other passages in the Scriptures that emphasize the necessity of baptism.
(J) He also claims 3 Ne 30:2 contradicts D&C 42:18 concerning the forgiveness of murderers but 3 Ne 30:2 is addressed to those who didn't know the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ whereas D&C 42:18 is written to the members of the church, who already know the severity of murder. These passages are hardly contradictory.
(K) Mr. Juris claims the condemnation of polygyny in the Book of Mormon contradicts the approval of polygyny in the D&C but this is also erroneous. (1) The Book of Mormon people were specifically prohibited from entering into polygamous marriages for whatever reason, but the PRINCIPLE of plural marriage wasn't condemned as evidenced by the CONDITIONAL statement Jacob made in Jac 2:30 "For *IF* I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I *WILL* command my people; *OTHERWISE* they shall hearken unto these things"; meaning, monogamy is the rule, polygamy is the exception. (2) Both the Book of Mormon and the D&C condemned the UNAUTHORIZED polygynous marriages David and Solomon entered into (Jac 2:24; D&C 132:38) which shows the condemnation was against UNAUTHORIZED polygynous marriages; NOT polygynous marriages themselves.
(L) Mr. Juris's argues the Book of Mormon prohibition that ministers be paid contradicts the D&C passages that state a minister can receive some compensation for services rendered.
An impressive feature of Mormonism is the fact its ecclesiastical ministers aren't salaried. They serve free of charge and have non-pastoral occupations to support their families. However, they can be compensated for expenses they incurred while performing their pastoral duties or to alleviate loss of income but this isn't the same as receiving a salary. What is a "salary"? It is an *INCREASE* in one's economic status. What is a "compensation"? It is to *MAINTAIN* one's economic status.
This means it isn't right for the church to demand a bishop's family go hungry because the father loses income while performing his religious obligations. This means a high councillor who took a day off (that he couldn't afford) to attend an obligatory meeting CAN *if he so desires* receive compensation for his loss of income. The relief society president who jeopardizes her family's security because she spent so much on gas attending to her church duties is entitled to a refund of those expenses.
What kind of church would we have if it causes so much unnecessary hardship on its members who strive to perform what is required of them? Again, it isn't a *salary*; merely *compensation.*
(M) The Book of Mormon says false churches will exist that claim people will be saved *FOR* the money they gave to these churches (Morm 8:32) but the D&C says those who are tithed shall not be burned (D&C 64:23). God commanded us to tithe (Mal 3:8-11; Matt 23:23; D&C 119:3-5; etc.), which means we have to obey. It isn't the *money* that gives salvation; it's the *obedience* to God. Morm 8:32's focus is the *money.* D&C 64:23's focus is the *obedience.* Why Mr. Juris thinks these passages are contradictory is beyond me.
(N) Where was the Garden of Eden? D&C 107:53; 116 and 117:8's "Adam-ondi-Ahman" is where Adam "dwelt." Mormonism believes the Garden of Eden existed in what is now known as Missouri but the story of Noah and the ark ensures no one can say for sure where the Garden of Eden existed since the survivors of the deluge named their new environment and features AFTER places they knew prior to the flood. If the universal deluge is to be believed, WHERE did Noah and his family originate from? All that can be determined is where they landed (Ararat-in the mountain ranges of the Near East probably Turkey). Since the Scriptures don't mention the ark as having an anchor to keep it in place while floating on the water, it is impossible to use the places identified BEFORE the flood as being the *same* places AFTER the flood.
Mormonism is hardly unique in attributing a locale outside the Near East as being the area in which the Garden of Eden existed. Rev Elvy E. Calloway, a Baptist minister, taught it was in Bristol Florida. Rev D. O. Van Slyke taught it was centered on Galesville Wisconsin (between La Crosse, Wis. and Winona Minn. on the east bank of the Mississippi) and stretched from the Allegheny Mountains to the Rockies. Some believe it was in Sinkiang, China, on Java or on Praslin Island, Seychelles. Others believe it was in eastern Turkey, Egypt or East Africa. Still others believe it was on Lemuria before it sank and some think it was actually on Mars.
Since we have no idea where any of the ante-delugian sites exist, the fact remains that it could've been anywhere in the world.
The final segment is another attempt by Mr. Juris to refute the Mormon belief that God has a physical body by dismissing the notion that Jesus currently has a glorified physical body. He then goes off onto a tangent and focuses on the First Vision and the varying accounts of it which really have nothing to do with the issue on hand.
I freely admit that there isn't a single *explicit* biblical passage that states God has a physical body. Despite this absence, this inference can be supported by examining the status of Jesus Christ.
Mormons, many Church Fathers and many Traditional Christians believe Jesus currently has his glorified resurrected body in heaven. Anti-Mormons, and those Traditional Christians who've been conditioned into fighting against materiality in the Godhead believe Jesus no longer has his physical body but is purely a nonmaterial, incorporeal, spirit entity.
While many biblical passages exist that attest to Jesus possessing a *physical* body after his Resurrection (Matt 28:9; Luke 24:39) and CONTINUES to do so in heaven by following the inevitability of logical causality (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11,22; Eph 4:8-10; Phil 2:9; 1 Pet 3:22; Rev 12:5; Jas 2:26; Rom 6:9; Col 1:19; 2:9), the most significant passages in the Bible that teach Jesus is in an *INSEPARABLE* union with his glorified *human* body, by far, are 1 Jn 4:2-3 and 2 Jn 1:7. Unfortunately, most Christians don't realize what they are actually saying because Gnosticism and Docetism were exterminated by "Orthodox" Christians over fifteen hundred years ago, and one needs to understand Gnostic and Docetist teachings in order to understand what John's shibboleth entails. Fortunately, the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library in 1945 validates the anti-Gnostic writings of Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Tertullian and we can hear the Gnostics themselves explain their beliefs.
Here's a portion from my book [MORMONISM. The Faith of the Twenty-first Century. Volume 1. pp. 15-20.
MORMONISM: Section 1, Chapter 1 #23 & 24] where I discuss these two remarkable passages:
(23) 1 Jn 4:2-3 & (24) 2 Jn 1:7 These passages emphasize the fact that Jesus Christ possessed a physical body during the first century. They were combating a heresy similar to Docetism, which denied the divine "Christ" possessed a material body.(14)
The milieu of First and Second John must be ascertained to thoroughly understand these two passages.
The gnostic rivals of orthodoxy during the earliest period of the church separated the human "Jesus" from the divine "Christ":
"... virtually all [Gnostic Christians] separated Jesus the Man from Christ the Redeemer, believing it impossible for a representative of the true, high God to incarnate in the corrupt material world."(15)
The Gnostics tried to grapple with the problem: "How do you kill a "God"? The answer is "You can't." What then died on the cross? If the Savior and Redeemer was "God," he can't die and he can't experience suffering and temptation. The person known as "Jesus" was clearly a man. He suffered. He was tempted. He died! But "God" was in him! Therefore, these Gnostics reasoned, it was the human "Jesus" who suffered and died while the divine "Christ" that was in him didn't.
Unlike Christians today who easily say "Jesus Christ" and interchange "Jesus" with "Christ," the Gnostics viewed the divine "Christ" to be a separate entity from the human "Jesus." For them, the human, fleshy "Jesus" was merely a container for the divine "Christ." It was the human "Jesus" who suffered and died on the cross, not the divine "Christ" because the divine "Christ" couldn't experience suffering and death. The divine "Christ" entered and left the human "Jesus."(16) The man "Jesus receives the Christ."(17)
The Man "Jesus" was separate from the Divine "Christ."(18)
This basic premise is the heart of all early gnosticism. This generated a faction who are known as the "Docetists." The Docetists basically advocated Jesus didn't really suffer on the cross. He only appeared to suffer and die by creating a mass hallucination on the onlookers. They gave various explanations for this. The most prominent is the divine "Christ" didn't really encase himself in flesh because he is holy and matter is evil. Therefore what the people saw was an illusion.
We can finally understand 1 Jn 4:2-3 & 2 Jn 1:7 now that the background has been identified.
John is fighting against apostate teachers. They were probably the spiritual forefathers of the further developed Gnostic and Docetist groups of the early centuries.
1 Jn 2:22 sets the stage for the test to determine true prophets:
1 Jn 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
The Gnostics would understand John's statement "Jesus is the Christ" to mean "the divine Christ became the human Jesus" which conflicts with their belief. This causes us to realize the stance of orthodoxy in the person of John contradicts that of the Gnostics:
John: The divine "Christ" became the human "Jesus."
Gnostics: The divine "Christ" entered and left the human "Jesus."
John insists "Jesus is the Christ"!(19) This statement is a direct repudiation of the Gnostic belief that "Jesus isn't the Christ." He wasn't merely the Gnostic "Jesus" who was a container that the divine "Christ" possessed for a brief period.
John then condemns anyone who denies this and equates this with denying the "Father" and "Son." He who denies such is "antichrist"! To John, the term the "Son" is a combination of both "Jesus" and "Christ." In other words, John believed:
The Son = "Jesus" + "Christ."
All Gnostics are condemned as "antichrist" by John's statement because they separate the human "Jesus" from the divine "Christ."
John initially condemns all Gnosticism in general as "antichrist" in 1 Jn 2:22 but later focuses specifically on those Gnostics who taught a Docetist-type teaching that the divine "Christ" didn't really enter flesh in 1 Jn 4:2-3 and 2 Jn 1:7:
1 Jn 4:2-3 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
2 Jn 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
John's entire point was to make a statement of faith that he knew his opponents wouldn't be able to pass! He chose his words very carefully. He knew no true Gnostic or Docetist could ever affirm the phrase, "Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ is come in the flesh?" It is only after examining what these opponents taught that we realize the significance of his test. John's inclusion of the word "Christ" proves he was opposing those who were teaching Gnostic and Docetist doctrines because they wouldn't be able to affirm his condition.
The language of 1 Jn 4:2-3 and 2 Jn 1:7 is clearly built upon John's previous statement in 1 Jn 2:22. John again combines "Jesus" with "Christ" but this time adds come in "flesh." This is a specific attack on those Gnostic teachers who not only separated the human "Jesus" from the divine "Christ" but also denied the divine "Christ" really became flesh, not just an assumption of the human nature, but actual flesh itself, the most vile and evil substance known to the Docetists. John also said it in such a way ("is come") to combat those Gnostics who were open to the possibility that the divine "Christ" did link with flesh but that it was only a temporary arrangement.
The condition to determine the authenticity of these prophets or teachers was their reply to the question:
"Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ is come in the flesh?"
The answer is either "Yes" or "No."
The way John wrote the condition for acceptance shows the Gnostic Docetists he's opposing will have to abandon three cherished beliefs in order to find acceptance among the true Christians. These are:
1) They need to abandon the separation of the human "Jesus" from the divine "Christ."
2) They need to abandon the ontological separation of the divine "Christ" from material flesh.
3) They need to abandon the temporary linkage of divinity with the material body of Jesus.
In contrast, the true prophets and teachers will teach:
1) The human "Jesus" and the divine "Christ" are one and the same entity.
2) Jesus, who is "God" became wholly man and really possessed flesh.
3) Jesus will always have his physical body.
All who refuse to confess "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" with its three implications have the spirit of antichrist according to John.
Most Christian bodies subscribe to these three points concerning Jesus Christ but some deny the third point. Nonetheless, there isn't any doubt it was part of what John was trying to say because the consequence of this stress on Jesus Christ having a physical body in the past, carries over to the future (i.e., "the permanence of the Incarnation")(20) due to John's usage of the perfect participle in these passages.(21) This means, the reality of Jesus Christ having a physical body during the first century (esp. after his Resurrection - Luke 24:39) implies his Return will have him still possessing this same glorious, immortal physical body.(22) " ... the Greek present participle implies both the first and second advent of Christ."(23)
"The emphasis is not simply on the past fact of the coming of Christ in flesh, but also on the continuance of his humanity and even on the future manifestation of the Lord. Christ is never said to come into flesh, but in flesh; the former would leave room for saying that deity was united with Jesus sometime after his birth."(24)
Why was John so concerned on this issue? Why did he demarcate the person of Jesus Christ along such a narrow definition? Why was it so important to John for the Christians to view Jesus Christ to be both God and Man and to insist that he has an eternal possession of a fleshy body?
Jesus Christ's possession of "flesh" "sarx" (4561/4922), a "human" body,(25) is one of the central teachings of the Scriptures. This isn't an optional belief. Those who deny this are "not of God but have the spirit of antichrist" (1 Jn 4:3) because:
Jesus Christ couldn't save us without becoming a "Man"!
John's concern is the fact that Jesus Christ wouldn't be able to perform the Atonement if he didn't become human as well as being "God." We can't be saved or exalted without his possession of the human nature (Col 1:21-22; Heb 10:19-20). His taking of a human nature causes him to identify with humanity (Heb 2:14-18; 4:15). A human needed to redeem humanity (Rom 8:3; 1 Cor 15:21; Acts 17:31). His humanity bridged the gap between the "God" and "Man" natures,(26) effectively becoming the founding member of the new "God/Man" species, those who fully possess both "God" and "Man" natures. Jesus Christ's humanity enables his true followers to share his "oneness" with the Father and to be exalted (see MORMONISM: Section 5).
The Church Fathers understood the humanity of Christ to mean he deified his human nature which enables us to become deified (i.e., become "God/Gods/gods") because we are members of the human race.(27) The coming of Jesus Christ in "flesh" entails he initially possessed a mortal human body and subsequently became immortal after the Resurrection.
It is very serious to deny Jesus Christ becoming human (1 Jn 4:3) because denial of his humanity denies the purpose of him being a Savior and the effectiveness and scope of his sacrifice. The stress of his Incarnation means he was initially mortal; subsequently immortal and he enables all of us to have our mortal bodies transformed into resembling his glorified immortal body.
The significance of 1 Jn 4:2-3 and 2 Jn 1:7's statement that Christ possesses "flesh" isn't a focus on him being "subjection to suffering and temptation"(28) but means he has a material human body, both in the past and in the future.
I encourage James Juris and anyone who thinks the same way to seriously re-examine this issue because they fail John's shibboleth if they claim Jesus no longer possesses a *physical* human body in heaven, which would label them as "antichrist" according to John.
Mr. Juris' dismissal of the Mormon concept of an anthropomorphic God by merely citing Isa 46:9-10 doesn't really cut it since Second Isaiah's cosmology, or the entire Bible for that matter, is limited to a "universal cosmology" whereas Mormonism possesses a "multiversal cosmology" (an infinite number of universes without beginning or end). This means whatever applies to this universe doesn't necessarily apply to others, especially to the ancestral universe God came from.
He cites biblical passages that describe God as all-knowing and all-powerful but we Mormons believe likewise so I fail to see his point. He cites Ps 139:7-10 in arguing God is ontologically omnipresent but its context shows this is about God's omniscience, not omnipresence. He claims God is "eternal" by quoting Ps 90:2. We agree but point out this passage DOESN'T teach God is aseity as "God." It merely says he was already "God" before creating the earth or will always be "God" during the entire existence of our universe which Mormonism whole-heartedly agrees. Mr. Juris and other anti-Mormons should be careful when they use "olam/aion" because they don't refer to a limitless past:
'[olam usages] generally point to something that seems long ago, but rarely if ever refer to a limitless past ... None of these past references has in it the idea of endlessness or limitlessness, but each points to a time long before the immediate knowledge of those living ... That neither the Hebrew [olam] nor the Greek word [aion] in itself contains the idea of endlessness is shown both by the fact that they sometimes refer to events or conditions that occurred at a definite point in the past, and also by the fact that sometimes it is thought desirable to repeat the word, not merely saying "forever," but "forever and ever."' (29)
"The philosophical concept of eternity is not clearly expressed in either OT or NT. The Hb olam and the Gk aion both signify primarily an indefinitely extended period of time, beyond the lifetime of a single person."(30)
This means, just because a biblical passage may describe something as "eternal" or "everlasting" doesn't necessarily mean it's "without beginning." (See MORMONISM. The Faith of the Twenty-first Century. Vol 1., pp. 121-123 [MORMONISM: Section 1, Chapter 13].
Mr. Juris also cites John 4:24's "pneuma ho theos" to mean "God is a spirit" but Mormonism agrees. Of course "God is spirit"! He is a spirit entity just as we are spirit entities but just because God and humans are "spirits" doesn't necessarily mean we don't have physical bodies. Mr Juris falls into the trap of DEFINING "spirit" to mean "incorporeal" (doesn't have a physical body), "nonmaterial" (not comprised of matter) and "formless" (doesn't have three-dimensional form) but he can't furnish a single passage out of over 760 instances in the Bible where "ruah/pneuma" are defined to mean "incorporeal, nonmaterial and formless"!
His citations of Eccl 12:07; Ps 31:05 and Jas 2:26 are puzzling since they don't help his attempted refutation of the anthropomorphic material God. His usage of Matt 16:17 in arguing God doesn't have "flesh and blood" isn't detrimental to Mormonism since we don't believe he has "flesh and blood" but "flesh and BONES."
For a detailed examination of the Mormon anthropomorphic God and on the origin of God, see my book, MORMONISM. The Faith of the Twenty-first Century Vol 1 [MORMONISM: Section 1, especially Chapters 1-3, 14].
For one who's devoted a lot of time studying how to refute Mormonism, and by virtue of trying to refute articles written by Mormon biblical researchers, Mr. Juris SHOULD'VE expected knowledgeable Mormons to examine his "rebuttal" and SHOULD'VE been more careful and selective in his arguments. Perhaps now he realizes Mormonism can't be easily dismissed as the Tanners would like everyone to believe and that we can buttress our faith by using the Bible and by reason.
However, after examining his website, I must give credit to Mr. Juris for his gumption in identifying pro-Mormon sites, which is sadly lacking in nearly all anti-Mormon sites.
I, for one, am grateful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attest to its authenticity as the Lord's true church.
1. THE OLD TESTAMENT WORLD. (Rogerson & Davies). p.41; EMPIRICAL MODELS FOR BIBLICAL CRITICISM (Tigay Ed.). pp.116,119, 130f. The Book of Jeremiah in the LXX is shorter than the MT and the Dead Sea Scroll 4QJer[b] agrees with it; The LXX Version of 1-2 Samuel (or more properly 1 & 2 Kings) agrees with the Dead Sea Scroll Version in 4QSam[a][before the beginning of chap 11 and 2:13ff] and 4QSam[b].
2. THE OLD TESTAMENT WORLD (Rogerson & Davies). p.41; EMPIRICAL MODELS FOR BIBLICAL CRITICISM (Tigay Ed.). pp.116,119, 130f.
3. The LXX Jeremiah, Dead Sea 4QJer[b] and MT Jeremiah have been examined in detail by Emanuel Tov (see EMPIRICAL MODELS FOR BIBLICAL CRITICISM (Tigay Ed.). pp.211-237) and he shows where the differences and similarities are between the three.
4. OUR BIBLE AND THE ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS (F. Kenyon). pp.91-92,133; THE OLD TESTAMENT WORLD (Rogerson & Davies) pp.373-374; EMPIRICAL MODELS FOR BIBLICAL CRITICISM (Tigay Ed.). p.101.
5. PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS (Fox). p.471.
6. EMPIRICAL MODELS FOR BIBLICAL CRITICISM (Tigay Ed.). p.57; THE SEPTUAGINT WITH APOCRYPHA (Brenton). pp. 650-651.
7. RESPONSES TO 101 QUESTIONS ON THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS (Fitzmyer). p. 39; THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS UNCOVERED. (Eisenman & Wise). p. 277.
8. OUR BIBLE AND THE ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS (F. Kenyon). pp.91-92,133; THE OLD TESTAMENT WORLD (Rogerson & Davies) pp. 373-374.
9. PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS (Fox). pp.522-523; PATROLOGY Vol 2 (Quasten). pp.123,127.
10. Justin Martyr. Dialog with Trypho. Chapter 71.2; Chapters 66-67.
11. Irenaeus. Against Heresies. Book 3, Chapter 20.4.
12. Origen. Letter to Africanus. 4,5; Eusebius Eccl. Hist. Book 6, Chap. 16. NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS Second Series (Schaff & Wace). 1:263, f.8; THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY (Frend). p. 375.
13. EARLY CHRISTIANITY (Hazlett). p. 89.
14. THE JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY. 62:23; THE EERDMANS BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1272; THE NEW BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1159; ELLICOTT'S BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1200; ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERESIES AND HERETICS (Clifton). pp. 20, 31, 36, 50, 90-91. [from EHH p. 36] "Docetism represents a persistent attempt within Christianity to solve the logical paradox of how God could suffer and die as a man. The term has been used in different eras to describe any teaching that says that Jesus did not physically suffer and die on the cross, but only appeared to do so, producing through his divine power a collective hallucination on the part of the onlookers ... There was no one set of Docetists. The teaching appeared at various times and places as non-Jewish Christians in particular attempted to cope with the unheard-of notion that a divine being could suffer death at the hands of humans." cf. THE COLLEGEVILLE BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1027 "Although these elements still do not allow us to paint a completely clear picture of what 1 John is arguing for and against, it must be that the opponents are challenging Jesus' humanity and its salvific function. A little later in the history of the church, Cerinthus would teach that the supernatural Christ descended upon the man Jesus at baptism, revealing God during Jesus' ministry, and departing from Jesus before his death. This presented an antiseptic Christ, hardly touched by Jesus' humanity, and not touched at all by his death. If the opponents of 1 John have not quite arrived at the position of Cerinthus, they're well on their way. For them, Jesus' humanity was not of salvific importance."
15. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERESIES AND HERETICS (Clifton). p. 50. cf. GG. p. 18 "These writings [of the Valentianians] tell countless stories about the risen Christ-the spiritual being whom Jesus represented-a figure who fascinated them far more than the merely human Jesus, the obscure rabbi from Nazareth."
16. Gnosticism didn't appear certain as to when the divine "Christ" entered the human "Jesus" since there are three main possibilities: (1) The divine "Christ" entered into the human Jesus at conception (2) The divine "Christ" entered into the human "Jesus" at birth (3) The divine "Christ" entered into the human "Jesus" at his baptism. The most prominent Gnostic view, by far, was the divine "Christ" entered into the human "Jesus" at his baptism. This view means "Jesus" wasn't "Christ" before the divine "Christ" entered his body. All agree that the divine "Christ" wasn't the one who experienced suffering and death. That one was solely the human "Jesus."
17. Val. Exp. (XI, 2). 39. THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY. (Robinson) p. 440.
18. See Gos. Tr. (I, 3). 30-34; Tri. Tra. (I, 5). 58-59, 65-67, 75, 87, 111, 113-114, 125, 127, 133-134; Apoc. John. (II, 1). 2; Gos. Phil. (II, 3). 57-58, 68; Gos. Egp. (III, 2). 63-64; 1Ap. Jam. (V, 3). 31; C. Gr. Pwr. (VI, 4). 40, 44-45; 2Tr. Seth (VII, 2). 51-52, 55-56, 58; Apoc. Pet. (VII, 3). 76, 81-83; Ep. Pet. Phil. (VIII, 2). 133, 136, 138-139; Tes. Tr. (IX, 3). 30, 39; Int. Know. (XI, 1). 12, 14; Val. Exp. 26, 32-33, 39, 41. THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY. (Robinson). pp. 43, 59, 62-63, 67, 73, 85-87, 92, 93, 95-96, 99, 135, 203, 245, 286, 288, 330-333, 342, 344-345, 395-397, 407, 409, 431-432, 437-438, 440-441; Irenaeus. Con Haer. Book 1: 6:1; 7:2; 9:2-3; 10:1; 11:1; 12:4; 14:4-6; 15:2-3; 21:2-3; 24:4; 25:1; 26:1; 30:12-14; Book 3: 9:3; 10:3; 11:1,3-4,7; 12:2-4,6; 16:1-9; 17:1,4; 18:1-7; 22:1-2; Book 4: Preface 3; 2:4; 23:2; 33:3,5,7; Hippolytus. Phil. 6:14, 29, 30, 31, 46; 7:14, 21, 23-24, 26; 8:3, 10; 9:9; 10:10, 12, 15, 17-19, 25, 29. These references show all the major Gnostic groups separated the divine "Christ" from the human "Jesus."
19. John wasn't fighting against nonexistent opponents. Why was he insisting "Jesus is the Christ"? Naturally, because some were denying "Jesus is the Christ." Was he opposing Jewish or Gnostic opponents? His combination of "Jesus" with "Christ," the equating the "Son" to mean Jesus + Christ, his later emphasis on "Jesus Christ" becoming "flesh" and the permanence of his union with flesh all point to the Gnostics as his opponents, not the Jews. The Gnostic claim "Jesus isn't the Christ" is different from the Jewish claim. What then did it mean?
20. THE INTERNATIONAL BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1581; THE NEW TESTAMENT AND WYCLIFFE BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1022 "If [Jesus Christ] had not taken upon himself a human body, he could never have died and been the Saviour."
21. THE INTERNATIONAL BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1587; COMMENTARY PRACTICAL AND EXPLANATORY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown). p. 1507; THE NEW TESTAMENT STUDY BIBLE. 9:403.
22. THE INTERNATIONAL BIBLE COMMENTARY. pp. 1587-1588 " ... one might think that the new teachers were simply denying the historic Incarnation. But the contrasting use here of the present participle (which, as in English, has frequently future significance: e.g. the 'who is to come' of Rev 1:8) may suggest that the heretics were taking the logical next step in denying the personal return of the Lord Jesus at the end of the age. Both beliefs stand or fall together."
23. COMMENTARY PRACTICAL AND EXPLANATORY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown). p. 1513.
24. THE NEW TESTAMENT AND WYCLIFFE BIBLE COMMENTARY. p. 1033.
25. THE COLLEGEVILLE BIBLE COMMENTARY. pp. 1024-1025 '[1 Jn 4:2-3] is a clarification of the doctrinal difficulty first expressed in 2:22: "Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ." The faith statement "Jesus is the Christ" is nuanced now in verse 2 to insist that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. The emphasis falls on the humanity of Jesus'; NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY. 21ST CENTURY EDITION. p. 1406 "the human Jesus is nothing less than the divine Christ. in the flesh underlines the reality of the Incarnation; it is not simply that Jesus took human nature, but flesh (cf. Jn 1:14; 2 Jn 7). The essential point about the antichrist is his refusal to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, 'come in the flesh.'" [Italics in originals]
26. Irenaeus. Con. Haer. 3.18.7; 4.20.4.
27. e.g., Origen C. Cel. 3:28; 3:41; Athanasius Ep. Adel. 60.4; Orat. 1:38-39; 1:41-42; 2:70; De Decr. 3.14; Hilary of Poitiers De Trin. 9:4; 9:38; 10:7; 11:49; Gregory Nazianzen Theo Orat. 3:19; 4:3; Orat. 7:23; 38:7; Gregory of Nyssa Orat Cat. 19; 25; 37; C. Eun. 5.5; Gin. An. 2.2; Beat. 7; Augustine Serm. 57.3; En Ps. 118.10; John Damascus De Fid Ort. 2.12; 3.12; 3.17; 4.13; 4.15. For complete and additional quotations see MORMONISM: Section 5, Chapter 7.
28. [Deleted endnote concerning Baha'i theology].
29. THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. 1631a.
30. DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE (MacKenzie). pp. 247-248.
Note: In this copy, the older abbreviations for the church have been replaced with "Latter-day Saint" or "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
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