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About Spammer

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    Senior Member: Divides Heaven & Earth

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  1. Hi. Thank you for the reply. I think I understand you better, now. I perhaps should have mentioned that I am currently associated with the Eastern Catholic Tradition, specifically that branch not in communion with Rome - Eastern Orthodoxy. I speak/write from that tradition, which is both Catholic and focused like a laser on deification. I agree that theosis is not commonly understood or accepted in Western Christianity, so from the perspective of the LDS church, it makes some sense to assert that Joseph Smith restored lost teachings. It's central in the East, however, and always has been. It's understandable that people would think the teaching was lost, since most Westerners are unaware of the Christian East and equate the Catholic church solely with Rome. This is a mistake. The historic Catholic Church comprises both East and West, churches in communion with Rome and those that aren't. In the West, people think 'Roman Catholic' when they hear or read the word 'Catholic.' Rome is just one, albeit the largest, of the Catholic branches. Erase the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world and you're still left with 500,000+ Catholics from other liturgical families, all of which accept Justin and Irenaeus as saints and assert vociferously the validity and ancient provenance of theosis. To members of the Eastern Catholic churches (those not in communion with Rome and those who are), that the Roman branch seems to have largely forgotten about theosis doesn't mean the doctrine of theosis was lost. To the contrary. It's believed that theosis was taught by the apostles and handed down to the present day, preserved in unbroken continuity. It was only lost (too strong a word. Kind of forgotten is better) in the West. Thus, everything you've said above applies exclusively to the Roman branch of the Catholic tradition (and its Protestant offshoots). The same goes for other things LDS church members commonly bring up when discussing apostasy and restoration (bad popes, crusades, inquisitions, etc etc). For members of the Eastern Catholic tradition not in communion with Rome (the Eastern Orthodox, the Copts, Church of the East, Armenian Christians), Rome is considered to be schismatic and every church that came out of Rome (including the LDS church, which came out of American Protestantism), broke off from a schismatic church. To the Eastern Orthodox, both groups are lumped together into a single category - the schismatic Church of the West. It's important for non-Catholics to keep this in mind when discussing a doctrine like theosis and whether it needed to be restored. For my tradition, the response is 'nope...it was only forgotten in the Western church. A restoration is unnecessary.' All of this assumes that it really was lost in the Roman church. I don't think it ever was. It's been deemphasized, sure, but you see it there in the Western (Latin) church fathers and the CCC. I think it’s commonly felt in Roman circles that the laity in general is woefully undercatechized, so maybe that explains Catholics who think theosis is heresy. It's seems it’s starting to come back, though, and not in response to LDS claims. It's because Western Catholics are beginning to rediscover the Eastern churches they used to be communion with. This is helped along by the fact that there are Eastern churches from the Byzantine and Syriac rites who do believe in theosis and who have long been in communion with Rome. They've always been there, fully Catholic and any Latin Rite Catholic can validly receive communion there and vice versa. They're a small fraction of the Roman communion whole, however, and the rank and file Roman Catholic who attends mass every Sunday doesn't know much about the Easterners in their midst. If they did, they would find theosis taught openly, the same as in Eastern Orthodoxy.
  2. Both St. Justin and St. Irenaeus stand within the Catholic Tradition. Other saints held heterodox views. Sainthood is a matter of sanctity, not orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is about true teaching and true worship and the umbrella captures saints and sinners alike. Justin and Irenaeus worshipped liturgically after the Catholic manner. Justin clearly describes an early form of the Latin Catholic rite. We can excuse his Platonism, since he gave up his life for the Church. Yes, Irenaeus taught ex nihilo. He also taught that God is an uncreated, spiritual essence, not the glorified, defied human male with his own heavenly father of LDS teaching. Justin and Irenaeus are more Catholic than LDS. It's interesting that you claim Justin's Platonism and Catholic liturgy, and Irenaeus' uncreated spiritual essence who created ex nihilo, to be analogous to LDS who stand in the tradition of the Apostles. If you mean they stand within the apostolic tradition of Catholicism, I agree with you. If you mean LDS apostles, I can't think of any LDS apostle or prophet who was a Platonist, valued Catholic liturgy, or believed the Father is disembodied spiritual essence who created ex nihilo.
  3. Thanks for spending the time to discuss these things with me. I wrote a lengthy reply but poof! it vanished. I'm too tired to recreate it so I'll boil it down to a couple of points. 1. I gave the restored gospel a try and found it lacking. I simply don't find Joseph's Smith's claims or the church's claims about an alleged ancient apostasy to be credible. I appreciate the sales pitch, though. 2. Whether you are saved is up to God alone. The teaching of the Church is that salvation is obtained only in and through Jesus and his church, which is his Body. Becoming a member of Christ's body requires uniting with it through reception of the initiatory sacraments: washing (baptism), anointing (confirmation/chrismation) and Eucharist. Whether there are people (Christian or not) who will be saved who do not belong to Christ's body is known to God alone. The general rule applies; applying the rule to individuals is sinful. This is the teaching of the Church. As you say, there is only one judge. 3. Everything else (which church is true, whether spirit is created or uncreated, whether Arius or Athanasius was right, whether there were always supposed to be apostles), is a matter of interpretation. You say that you rely on scripture and the guidance of the Spirit. So does every Christian. It can't stop there, though. How does anyone know that their spiritual promptings truly come from God? We need a God-appointed arbiter to tell us. If there isn't one, or we don't defer to it, there's no way to know whether what we believe are promptings really are promptings. We're forced to just take it on faith. This approach is self-referential and circular. For theological matters, I would never dream of relying solely on myself and my own interpretations. Who am I? I want to be like the Ethiopian eunuch who, in his humility, admitted that he needed someone to interpret it for him. I'm no apostle or bishop charged with preserving and handing down the apostolic teaching. To set myself up as my own arbiter of theological matters is hubris. I believe Jesus must have appointed someone to preserve his teaching. He loves us and would not abandoned us to the problems generated by universal reliance on one's own private interpretation of scripture. If there is no God-appointed arbiter, then every Christian is a pope or a prophet. That's a recipe for chaos. It's easy to distinguish between those who believe such an aribiter exists from those who don't. The latter always start quoting scripture at you to persuade you to accept their interpretation. That's why I think proof texting is a waste of everyone's time. It's beside the point. You first have to establish the criterion for determining which interpretation, which claim to possess Spirit-sourced promptings as evidence, is true. Personal spiritual promptings cannot be that criterion. It's self-referential. Circular.
  4. Constantine is considered a Christian in both churches. In the Greek church, he's considered a saint, along with his wife, Helen. This, despite his Arian baptism. I suppose he's given credit for the good things he did to preserve and advance the orthodox Catholic faith. Of course he was a man who was birthed, bled and died like other men. The matter that went into his body's creation was created, same as all matter, same as our bodies, but in his case through the power of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with Mary. The dispute with Arius wasn't over whether Jesus' body was created, but whether all of him, his divinity included, was created. Arius taught there was a time prior to his incarnation when the Son was not, in which everything about the incarnate Son is a creation. The orthodox teach there never was a time when the Son was not, in which only his human body is created - not his divinity. Jesus is the eternal God in the flesh. About his writings, they weren't all destroyed. There are three of his letters that survive (one to Alexander of Alexandria, another to Eusebius of Nicomedia and one to Constantine). I'm not interested in debating. None of this can be proved through science. We all have our interpretations. The orthodox teaching is that yes, matter did just poof into existence. That's a claim that cannot be proved, same as the claim that matter has always existed and didn't just poof into existence. How do you get outside matter to test the hypothesis? I see God's oneness and spiritual nature in scripture and in the church fathers. I see it in scripture and it follows from what Irenaeus taught when he said that God is uncreated and a spiritual essence who made matter out of nothing (poof!). You don't see it in scripture or before 325 because you interpret really old writings differently. I'm not interested in a game of scripture quoting. That's a waste of our time. Everyone interprets, even the Church Fathers. The question is whom do we trust. Ourselves or someone else (our authority)? There's only one way to reconcile our different interpretations in a way that isn't circular. There has to be a God-appointed infallible arbiter. Lacking this, it's vicious circles everywhere and no way out. That's why quoting scriptures at each other is a waste of time. Who knows? Without an arbiter external to ourselves to defer to, someone with the final say, that can't be determined. it's all guesswork and speculation. Or not. That's one interpretation. Since the pontiffs and church councils are the arbiter I trust, I have a different view. "The scriptures say repeatedly..." More interpretation. We all ask God and arrive at different conclusions. Without someone with the final say, we interpret in circles. A majority of bishops at the council sided with Athanasius against Arius. That majority was a minority of bishops, as you say. Do you have evidence that allows to you count how many of the total not in attendance didn't support the council's decision? We need more data on the preferences of those not in attendance so we can populate the numerator and denominator and derive the percentage. There isn't any. All we have is the count at the council, from two sources and they conflict. The evidence is sparse. We review the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions. The evidence that convinces me doesn't convince you. That's the way it goes. Regarding theology, as distinct from historical evidence, we read the same scriptures, cite the same verses, and interpret them differently. Without an external authority we both trust to break the impasse, there can be no resolution. I do have one feather in my cap, though. Fortunately for me, the external authority I defer to is the same one that compiled and authorized the Bible - placed into our hands the same scriptures that we both interpret when we talk about Jesus. If my Catholic church fathers had approved a different set of writings for the New Testament, the whole Christian world (you included) would consider them to be scripture. Finally, who's saying your not a Christian? You're a Christian, probably a very good one. You're just not currently in communion with the Body of Christ. That can be rectified, however.
  5. That's a good question. Growing up, I used to speculate about that a lot. See my reply to Nehor above. I don't do that know. God is Spirit and is not in time or space and becoming like him can't mean that I can become exactly like him. The incarnate Son became man, God in the flesh, so I can become like Jesus. That's my reference point when I think about theosis. I have no frame of reference for thinking about God's eternal life outside time and space. So, when Peter says we participate in the divine nature as Christians, to me that means we will literally be like Jesus in his humanity - a man of holiness. The difference is Jesus was the God-Man, both God and human. Two natures. I'll never be that. I'll never be anything other than a human being, a single nature. Theosis to me means uniting with God, not becoming God. There is only one 'capital G' God, God by nature. I will be a god in lower case, a divinized human being, not God by nature. Regarding what I think we'll be 'doing?' I don't have a clue. I have no frame of reference for thinking about life without the constraints of time and space. It would be silly to speculate.
  6. Au contraire, the church fathers and councils did benefit from revelation and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
  7. That makes sense. Remember 'Time Bandits?' Growing up, I loved that scene where the evil dude fantasized about what he would have done in place of the Creator at the beginning of time. "Spaceships!" "Lasers!" I would joke about creating and populating donut shaped planets and flying spaceships through the center. On my mission, my companion and I would debate whether exalted beings could play a meaningful game of chess or basketball. Can perfect beings ever lose? Contemplating theosis was a game, not a path to holiness.
  8. No, I don't consider Arius to be a church father since I belong to the Nicene Creedal church aka Catholic Christianity. It's a big umbrella that excludes Arianism. You're right, the battle with Arius' teaching didn't end at the council. Constantine himself later flipped and embraced Arius, exiling Athanasius and other outspoken Catholics who represented the majority view at the Council. It's not commonly known that the priest who baptized Constantine on his deathbed was an Arian. No doubt Arius wished to follow Christ; he's not a church father because he taught false doctrine. By the way, the dispute between Arius and orthodox Catholics was only whether the Son is a created being. Both agreed with Irenaeus that God is a disembodied spirit, outside time and space, who created everything out of nothing. You won't find any church father or Arian whose writings we have preserved who believed that the Father is embodied. We do have church fathers who believed matter is eternal (e.g., Justin Martyr), but that's because they were Platonists. LDS teaching has that in common with Greek philosophy. Was Arius right? Must you believe the early disciples really understood God better than you? There are many voices and interpreters, all of whom read scripture for themselves and are convinced that the author of a passage meant exactly what they think he meant. It's just disorganized chaos with no way to know the truth unless God appointed a human agency to be the arbiter. If I read scripture and conclude that my interpretation is correct, I set myself up as that arbiter. That's the way of Protestantism and LDS church members who rely on the Spirit alone (i.e., their own private interpretation) to determine what truth is. There's no way through the impasse without prophet, pope, or church council, is some other agent whose God-appointed job is to be the arbiter. I follow the ancient popes and church councils. That's why I don't consider Arius to be a church father. Yes, my belief in the objectivity of the arbiter’s pronouncements is subjectively determined. We’re all in the same boat. And to clarify, in case it comes up, I did not pray and ask God which church is true. After deciding I wanted to be a Christian again, I reviewed the ancient writings for myself and concluded that Mormonism is nowhere to be found. I followed where the weight of the evidence pointed. It was that simple.
  9. It seems that among many church members, if not yet officially, the view of theosis I was raised with in Utah is becoming passé. My patriarchal blessing states that the Lord himself will tutor me in the creation of worlds. This understanding of theosis, defined in my time as becoming literally just like the Father and doing what He does, e.g., govern a section of the universe; create planets; and, with your celestial spouse (or spouses, if you’ve been sealed to more than one woman), populate them with spirit children, seems to have been (or is being) deemphasized. We will be like the Son, if not exactly like the Father. If true, then LDS teaching is now somewhat closer to the teaching of the church fathers than it once was, though there’s still an ontological gap - no church father taught the Father is embodied.
  10. I think that’s reasonable. Some apologists I’ve read have quoted the church fathers to ground their claims about lost truths restored by Joseph Smith, but they do not acknowledge the Catholicism of the writer. Your take is much better; it does not abuse the source.
  11. Lol touché. Although....I’ve waited a long time to be pointed to an ancient Christian writer who believed the LDS version of theosis (where the Father is a resurrected, glorified man with a body of flesh and bones), instead of the Catholic version held by bishops like Irenaeus, Clement and Athanasius (who said “God became man so that men might become gods”). That seems to be par for the course though - LDS apologists quoting ancient Christians who belong to the Catholic tradition. Why quote Catholics? Why not quote someone who believed what the LDS Church teaches?
  12. The Lorenzo couplet does sound like Irenaeus, but he stopped too soon. If only he’d gone the rest of the way with Irenaeus, believing that God is an uncreated, immaterial spirit who made matter out of nothing. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
  13. Spammer

    Scaling back Church pageants

    Does anyone remember ‘Moroni?’ It played at the Salt Palace in the ‘70s, in all it’s cornball glory. My uncle provided the lipsyncing Moroni’s singing voice. That was a long time ago, the era of ‘My Turn on Earth,’ ‘Saturday’s Warrior,’ and the stake road show.
  14. Indeed, it's well worth your time to delve into the early church fathers! No matter the view of God you hold, there are many spiritual treasures there. Irenaeus is a good place to start, though he can be a bit technical when he relates and refutes gnostic teaching. It will help to have some familiarity with Plato and Plotinus to grasp the system Irenaeus was trying to refute. After plowing through Against Heresies, maybe start with the seven letters of Ignatius, martyred bishop of Antioch, who was a friend of Polycarp. These are letters of encouragement and counsel that he wrote while he was been marched across what is now Turkey to his execution in the Roman Coliseum. He wrote letters to most of the same churches God spoke to through John in John's Apocalypse (Book of Revelation). You should also read Polycarp's letter to the church at Philippi and the account of his martyrdom (he was stabbed and burned at the stake). Also check out Justin Martyr’s two letters defending the Christian faith, which he sent to the Roman Emperor, and his Dialogue with Trypho. After Ireneaus, if you really want to go nuts, maybe check out the second century theological treatises of Origen and Clement of Alexandria; the 4th century (pre-Nicene) ‘On the Incarnation’ by Athanasius, the great defender of Nicene Orthodoxy (yes, we have something written by Athanasius before the Council); and the three 4th century (post-Nicene) Cappadocian fathers: Basil, bishop of Caesarea; his brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa; and Gregory of Nazianzus (called the Theologian by the Greek churches). If you want to read some fantastic sermons, you can check out the homilies of John Chrysostom (Greek for 'golden mouthed') and Peter Chrysologus (Greek for 'golden words'), late 4th/early 5th century archbishops of Constantinople and Ravenna, respectively. There's so much in the Patristic literature; those are only a few selections that pop into mind. Thanks for taking the time to engage with me and happy delving!