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Robert F. Smith

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About Robert F. Smith

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    Creates Man & Woman

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  1. Scholars generally consider Thomism to be a grand systematic theology and use it as a prime exemplar not only of scholasticism, but of how a systematic theology can be both internally valid, yet not descriptive of the real world, or of actual biblical theologies. I mentioned Euclid only to compare the systematic way in which he formulated internally consistent and logical axioms and postulates to create a wonderful way of understanding plane geometry. That does not mean that there are not others sorts of dimensional geometry, only that a system can be constructed which is internally consistent. You apparently entirely missed my point, and that is also why you don't understand the fundamental nature of a systematic theology. I know of no Mormon or non-Mormon scholar (except you) who even suggests that any LDS systematic theology has ever been written, much less that LeGrand Richards wrote one. Your take on expositions of Mormon theology are certainly novel. Yes. Yes. No. I was first introduced to that useless ladder notion by Prof. Nathan Rotenstreich, when I was a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1966. Not only was Wittgenstein self-contradictory in that instance, but he was making a point common among philosophers today that analytic logic has little value in exploring reality, leaving us without much faith in those wonderful systems which rest on a foundation of sand. My take on all that is that the existentialist dilemma is understandable, and that the rejection of a god based on such a crumbling foundation is likewise understandable. The systematic theologies of the world are no substitute for an epistemology worthy of the name. No tradition, no matter how magisterial and august, is a substitute for an adequate way of knowing for oneself. Ignoring that issue is the primary cause of rampant secularization in the West. At least science and reason seem to have actual value.
  2. Baptisms for the Dead in the Second Temple?

    That was the main point, Erik: That Paul was using the same argument he found in II Macc, i.e., if there is no resurrection, then why bother to engage in such rites? He didn't say whether he approved of such intercessory rites. We have to look elsewhere to seek evidence on that score, which is why I cited Peter, and scholars like Tvedtnes & Nibley, and the vast assemblage on esoterica available free at http://fortydayministry.com/ . Of course, and it is not the only time great scholars have attacked Nibley (but why take note of someone who is so unimportant?). Another noteworthy instance was Nibley's article in Church History, 30/2 (June 1961):131-154, about what the Mormons call “The Great Apostasy,” reprinted in Nibley's Collected Works IV:168-208. Hans J. Hillerbrand replied in CH, 30/3 (Dec 1961):481-482, followed immediately (482-483) by a rejoinder from Robert M. Grant on behalf of the non-Mormon editors and in defense of Nibley. Grant skewered Hillerbrand for offering fallacies in place of substantive argument from the patristic material itself. No such reply has ever been forthcoming.
  3. Results of BYUs climate survey

    Elizabeth Smart has done a good job of showing how self-defeating and idiotic that idea may be. It isn't only LDS tradition which has taught to prize female virginity, but many cultures do that. I recall our reading Scott's "Ivanhoe" in English class in High School in which the Jewish girl threatens suicide by leaping to her death if the predator-knight comes any closer (Elizabeth Taylor played her in the movie).
  4. Is that how you understand Thomism? Do you understand Thomistic catechism as logically consistent, based on normative assumptions and postulates? The way we understand Euclid? That reminds me of Wittgenstein using the ladder of logic (philosophy) to get up into the loft of understanding, and then kicking the ladder away -- saying that one cannot use logic or philosophy to gain understanding. More than a touch of nihilism there, which I do not credit to either Wittgenstein or Rorty.
  5. Results of BYUs climate survey

    Sounds like some "climate" change is called for.
  6. Baptisms for the Dead in the Second Temple?

    Sorry, Erik, but you are attributing to me claims I did not make. The rite in 1 Cor 15:29 is an early Christian practice, which I placed in its larger context. It may make you uncomfortable to deal with the fact that it makes perfect sense in context, but you need to calmly accept the facts as even non-Mormon scholars see them. As I explained, the temple sin-offering and prayers offered on behalf of those dead Jewish soldiers are not the same thing as baptism for the dead outside a temple context, but both entail intercession by the living for the dead. These are not LDS rites, but Jewish temple and early Jewish Christian rites, demonstrating yet again that early Christianity was a Jewish sect carrying on Jewish rites taught by a Jewish rabbi named Jesus -- all in the larger context of a complete Christian liturgy (later the entire Roman Catholic liturgy) which is fully Jewish at its core, as demonstrated systematically by a number of non-Mormon scholars (Gavin, Oesterley, Werner, and Barker). Sorry if that doesn't make you happy. If it is such awful twaddle, why did Roman Catholic priest Bernard Foschini see fit to answer Nibley at length in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 13/1 (Jan 1951):51-53,70-73, online at https://www.jstor.org/stable/43720275?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents .
  7. Satan's reaction to Moses

    In Mormon understanding, at the great premortal Council in Heaven, Satan made his case, and fully one-third of the Host of Heaven followed him. A cataclysmic loss, and instructive for parents who feel they failed to raise their children correctly. In the end, everyone gets to choose his own fate.
  8. The Flawed Conceit of "The Book of Mormon" Musical

    Man proposes, God disposes.
  9. Satan's reaction to Moses

    Yes, it is metaphorical, even though Satan clearly must have non-functional spiritual teeth. His cry that he is the "Only Begotten" means that he claims to be the legal heir to the throne of God. Milton's "Paradise Lost" is the best depiction of Satan's plight.
  10. Pronoun help with Isaiah 53:10-11

    Yes. That is how scholars reconstruct it from the bare consonantal Tetragrammaton YHWH, because the vowels accompanying it are the vowels for Adonai ( which is to be the reading in place of YHWH).
  11. The Flawed Conceit of "The Book of Mormon" Musical

    Sounds like a lot of loose talk to me. Not only are claims of "revelation" quite rare, but LDS leaders mostly avoid it -- unless discussing specific items in canonical Scripture. And that is as it should be.
  12. Where are we now in Book of Mormon timeline?

    It is a tradition within Judaism that God does not immediately destroy the world only because there are 36 Righteous ones on Earth (the Lamed-Vavim, based on the Hebrew letters lamed and vav = 36). Another tradition is that only the continual study of Talmud-Tora by Yeshiva students and scholars prevents destruction of the world. Of 14.5 million Jews in the world, 44% now live in Israel, and 40% in the USA. That gathering has been extraordinary and constant, with over 75% of Israelis now native born in the Holy Land. The Jews still have to build their temple in Jerusalem, and the times of the Gentiles must end, among other things, before Jesus returns. As we sing in our hymn "Redeemer of Israel": "The tokens already appear, . . The hour of redemption is near."
  13. Where are we now in Book of Mormon timeline?

    Well, you know I could be wrong. Best to be on the safe side.
  14. The Flawed Conceit of "The Book of Mormon" Musical

    Those same items you excerpted caught my attention as well. I don't find the Brethren saying "this is straight from God and should not be questioned." Nearly all of them have a far more nuanced message, and they are also not in lockstep with one another. Of course it does depend on the issue under discussion. Not everything is clear-cut.
  15. Pronoun help with Isaiah 53:10-11

    One good rule to follow is that (1) whenever the KJV has LORD (in caps) that translates YHWH/Jehovah. That should help make sense of the rest of the passage. However, always bear in mind that YHWH is a title, not a name. Jewish scholars have recently noted that such Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah are messianic in nature, and were so interpreted at Qumran by the Essenes -- thus predating Jesus and the Christian Church. Knohl, Israel. The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls, trans. D. Maisel, S. Mark Taper Foundation Book in Jewish Studies. Downloadable as an eBook at www.ebooks.com . Berkeley: U.C. Press, 2000. Wise, Michael. The First Messiah: Investigating the Savior Before Christ. S.F.: Harper San Francisco, 1999.