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Everything posted by Spammer

  1. Next time the missionaries knock on my door and say ‘We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ,’ I’ll respond with ‘Really? You’re Orthodox? Me too! Which jurisdiction do you belong to?’ Can’t wait! 😃
  2. Some, especially Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox churches (to this day), fast on Wednesday and Friday, probably the most ancient tradition. In Orthodoxy and Byzantine Catholicism, Wednesday fasting recalls the betrayal by Judas; Friday, the Crucifixion, as in the Latin Rite. E.g., fasting on these days is prescribed in the Didache.
  3. This was exactly my situation. I hung on secretly, pretending to still believe, for about 10 years. I didn’t leave until after the kids were born and the time I’d have to teach them that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration drew near. I could lie to church members easily to keep the peace at home, but found when the time came I could never lie to my kids. I left to become a Catholic and the rumor mill started. Apparently, since leaving and joining a different tradition on strictly intellectual grounds is in principle impossible, it must have been that I loved to sin, didn’t love my wife anymore and must have committed adultery. Why else would I violate my temple covenants? That this was my true motivation was news to me, but the faithful LDS church members of our ward were obviously able to read my mind and know my heart. What did I know? [ETA: someone once asked me if I left because I was offended by something. My response was “nope, I wasn’t offended until my wife told me after my Catholic baptism had become common knowledge that some relief society sisters asked her if maybe I was an adulterer.” That’s when I got offended. Oh boy did that offend me. I had to pray hard to suppress the violent imagery that popped into my mind after hearing that.]
  4. Sorry to intrude but, since I experienced a full faith collapse (and left the church), I want to say that although Rorty and Wittgenstein changed my thinking about religion, a degree of empiricism is still central to my paradigm. That is, for me, historical claims, whether made by a historian or a prophet, must have an empirical referent of some kind or I can’t/won’t accept the claim. The historicity of the BoA (said by the Prophet of the Restoration to have been written by Abraham’s own hand upon papyrus) and the historicity of Nephites is an issue for me. That’s why I’m not a Mormon. I chose to put my faith back in Jesus as something that might help me live a better life since it’s entirely possible he really did exist and maybe he really did rise from the dead. The existence and content of old writings proves nothing, but at least I have some indisputably ancient writings purporting to be eyewitness accounts and an indisputably ancient place called Jerusalem on which to hang my faith hat. If I was persuaded that Jerusalem or Rome don’t exist and never did, I’d drop Christianity in a hot minute and never look back, no matter how much participating in the Divine Liturgy makes me happier or a better person - even if leaving Christianity made my life more difficult. Going to church for me would be totally meaningless, akin to trying to find meaning and fulfilment by attending meetings with those ‘Chariots of the Gods’ whackos. So - I guess I’m saying there’s probably still a need for scholarship in LDS apologetics. You’ll never reach people like me without it. Show me the ruins of Zarahemla and we can talk!
  5. There was more unity among Roman bishops than you suggest. Sure, it was a process that took time and sometimes it was hard to obtain consensus among bishops, each of whom considered themselves equal in their apostolic authority. There were outliers, e.g. those like Irenaeus who used additional texts. Regardless, no one bishop spoke for the entire church and whenever a group of them did meet in council, the means for establishing doctrine and canonical rules, and the list of books suitable for use in the liturgy was on the agenda, the same list of books was affirmed - consistently - beginning in 382 and at every council that addressed the canon thereafter. That is the sign of unity that marks an established canonical rule in the Catholic Church: bishops meeting in council to work out differences. That outliers exist doesn’t change the mechanism for establishing canonical rules - conciliar decision making. It was no different when the Church first established the Bible canon anciently.
  6. The Roman canon confirmed at Trent is the same canon confirmed by the Roman church a century earlier at the Council of Florence, which was the same canon confirmed by the Roman church at the Council of Carthage (397), which was the same canon confirmed by the Roman church at the Synod of Hippo (393), which was the very first time a council of bishops from across the Roman church met to officially list and approve a biblical canon for use by the churches. Hippo confirmed the same canon approved at the Council of Rome in 382, the same year the pope commissioned Jerome to translate the complete Bible into Latin (this is the Vulgate), which, unsurprisingly, contains the exact same books approved at each of the aforementioned councils and in Catholic bibles today. The Vulgate is still the official Bible of the Roman Church. So, at each council, an identical list of books affirmed by the Roman church at Trent was declared to be canonical. Trent only officially defined what had already been officially defined by the Roman church as canonical in the 4th century (which, incidentally, is the same list of books listed by Irenaeus, Catholic Bishop of Lyon, in 180 as approved for use in the churches). On occasion, you'll come across a Protestant scholar discussing all of this history, but he typically won't use the word 'bishop' or 'Catholic,' for obvious reasons. Instead, reference is made to 'church fathers' or 'church leaders' who established the canon. Make no mistake: the 'church leaders' in attendance at those councils and who made all those decisions, were Catholic bishops and going to church with them was like going to a Roman Catholic church today: there were priests in vestments, altars, incense, chanted psalms, and the Eucharist. Here's a fun fact. When the King James version was translated, it was originally published (1611) using the exact same Roman Catholic canon, the same list of books in Jerome's Vulgate. The Anglican Church was Catholic at the time of the split, after all. The Anglican church of the KJV translators also had altars, priests, incense and chanting, you know, Catholic worship. The Anglicans just removed the pope, because the King wanted a divorce and the pope said no. That means the KJV in every LDS church member's quad originally followed the Roman Catholic canon, until most Protestants later removed the deuterocanonicals, along with priests, altars, incense and chants. Most still use vestments and all still read the psalms, even if they no longer sing or chant them, as in Catholic usage and the usage of the synagogues and in the ancient temple in Jerusalem, their original context. You can still purchase an original 1611 KJV, by the way. I have one. Regarding Trent (perhaps you're working with the common misconception that the Catholic Church = the Roman Catholic Church), it so happens that the Councils of Rome, Carthage and Hippo took place at a time prior to the 5th century Christological controversies, meaning the Roman canon was defined when the Roman church was still in communion with the other branches of the ancient Catholic Church: Greek/Byzantine (now Eastern Orthodox), Coptic, and Syriac (now Syrian Orthodox in the West and the Nestorian Church of the East). Rome and these other churches were all one big church, the one Catholic Church of the martyrs that had survived centuries of persecution, with representatives from each branch meeting in council at Nicea in 325. The bishops who attended these Roman councils, and the bishops from the other non-Latin Catholic churches who did not attend, were all Catholic bishops. Every branch of the one Catholic Church accepted the New Testament list confirmed at each of the Roman councils, but each of the non-Latin Catholic churches confirmed a slightly different list of Old Testament books at their own councils. The Orthodox churches use the Septuagint for their OT, quoted by some New Testament authors, and have a few more books than the Roman canon (including an extra psalm). The Coptic Church has all of those plus the Book of Enoch, also quoted in the New Testament. That explains Trent. After Luther sparked the Reformation and removed Bible books he didn’t like, and after Rome and the Orthodox Churches formally went their separate ways (once the final effort to heal the Great Schism failed at the 15th century Council of Florence), Rome officially re-confirmed it's canon, the original Western canon, as the only one to be used in any of the Roman churches. So, when I say the Roman Church established the canon used by Protestants today (minus the books Protestants eliminated, without any authority to do so), that's a true statement. The men making all of the decisions about which books should be included in the Christian Bible used in the West were all Catholic bishops of the Latin (Roman) Rite. There's no anachronism.
  7. All true, apart from that pesky ex nihilo teaching, which is the outlier to the Platonic philosophy’s ex materia creation. Platonic ex materia creation and the Neoplatonic emanationist variant have both been condemned by the Church.
  8. Yes, they reject the authority of their mother, but accept the Trinitarian doctrine AND the New Testament canon their mother authorized and gave to them. Go figure. It’s ironic.
  9. Is there an objective good against which our behavior is measured? How about an objectively best paradigm? If yes to either, can they be identified through experience, ie an internal subjective process? How does this work, if there’s no necessary correspondence between our inward experience and anything external to ourselves? For morality, perhaps we see the objective good inwardly. That’s CS Lewis answer, or the notion of the Light of Christ dwelling in each of us. On that ground, the Jim Jones cult did something very bad and we can validly judge it as such. I can accept that we inwardly perceive the good. Like 2+2=4 in our current reality, we see inwardly that it just is and always must be. Hence, the universal belief that murder and self-harm is wrong. How about assessing paradigms? Do we inwardly perceive the objectively best one? I say no. If no, how do you determine that your paradigm is best? Perhaps because in your estimation you think the LDS notion of eternal progression maximizes the inwardly-perceived objective good? Just curious about your process and thinking out loud. What I’d to know is how you determine your paradigm is ‘better’ or the ‘best,’ when the objectively ‘best’ paradigm is inaccessible to our subjective cognition and experience? I don’t think there’s any debate that murder is objectively bad. Whether your paradigm is objectively the best is debatable. I’ve evaluated paradigms relative to (what I think is) the Good and arrived at a different conclusion. Are you able to persuade non-LDS that your paradigm is objectively the best? If so, on what grounds? If through a subjective Alma 32 ‘taste and see’ process, does that yield objective evidence, evidence that transcends the subject? It seems not. If our experience=our reality, then varying experiences yield varying objectively best paradigms, each individually experienced and perceived. We’re going in circles, no closer to identifying the objectively best paradigm. Do you see a way out of the impasse? I don’t. The implication is that, on grounds of charity, a life of ‘live and let live’ is part of the objective good, since the one true paradigm - true because it’s independently true, not because you subjectively determined it to be so - is objectively indeterminate.
  10. It’s ironic. I read her at the suggestion of an anonymous, online BYU alum who claimed to be pals with Nibley. I read her book after delving into patristics. He suggested that since Barker uses terminology that her LDS readers get excited about that it would help me. Reading her stuff so soon after reading the pre-Nicene church fathers, who all sounded an awful lot like Catholics (which shocked me), wading through her careful documentation of the ancient temple roots of the oldest Catholic liturgies pushed me firmly into the Catholic camp. I was baptized the next year.
  11. No. I went from one arbiter, to atheism, to Buddhism, then back to Jesus. CS Lewis showed the way back to Jesus, but not to any tradition. That took reading the ancient Christian literature of the first three centuries and Margaret Barker’s ‘Great High Priest’. That convinced me that neither the LDS way nor Protestantism can be found anciently. Perceiving the need for an arbiter was icing on the cake and was rekindled by thinking about differences between the ancient Catholic tradition and the modern chaos of Protestantism. That’s just a gloss on a complex process involving many variables. Prayer was not one of them, not until I had first decided to unite with the ancient way I discerned through my research.
  12. I think you’ll find there’s plenty of questioning, interrogating, investigating and reforming within the RCC and Orthodoxy. The process happens in church councils, which have the final say. Rival councils and factions within them have split the Catholic world, but since it’s generally accepted that only bishops in council have the last word, the potential for fracturing is muted. Not so in the Protestant world, which makes every Christian and his Bible his own last word. Instead of one pope or binding conciliar decisions, there are billions of popes, all of them with equal authority, since each of them can determine the correct interpretation for themselves. Anytime a Protestant provides an interpretation, asserting it’s the correct one, it’s reasonable to ask ‘oh yeah? says who?’ Since everyone’s an authority, there is no authority. Everyone’s right. It’s a recipe for chaos, which is why I can never be a Protestant. There is no criterion for truth, except personal preference. I believe a loving God wouldn’t leave us in that state and must have appointed a human agency to be His official interpreter for human ears - since the Bible doesn’t make any sounds to tell us what God really thinks. The trick is to identify which of the claimants is really the one God appointed to that role. You’re right, it just moves the subjectivity upstream, but it makes sense to me that, if God loves us, he wouldn’t give us the chaos that sola scriptura produces. That’s why I went with the Catholic Tradition after ceasing to be LDS. God must have provided us with a human agency, whose job it is to represent Him and have the last word, or having any certainty that our interpretations truly align with His own mind is a pipe dream. As you said, to each his own. Good conversation!
  13. Yes, deciding on your personal arbiter is a subjective process. You identify someone whose subjective interpretations you believe are God-sourced and treat them as your objective standard. This is the Catholic way and the LDS way, for those who view the LDS prophet as having the last word. These individuals have an external arbiter, subjectively determined, in whom they place their trust. Someone else interprets the Bible for them, someone they believe God appointed to that role. LDS folks for whom personal revelation is the last word, and Protestants for whom the Bible is the last word, don’t have an external arbiter who has the last word. Since the former rely on testimony, they are their own last word - internal thoughts and feelings are interpreted as caused by God. Unless they allow the prophet to have the last word, the buck stops there. They are their own interpreter. They are their own arbiter. Sola testimony. It’s no different for Bible-only Christians. Protestants say the Bible is their external ground, that it gets the last word. The Bible doesn’t make sounds and interpret itself for you. You interpret it, which means the external arbiter who gets the last word isn’t the Bible, it’s you, the Bible’s interpreter. Your ‘something external’ turns out to be yourself. You are your own arbiter, unless you voluntarily submit to an external human agent who gets the last word. But then, if you do that, you would cease to be Protestant.
  14. I acknowledge all the issues you raise. Everything boils down to testimony. Same for me in my spiritual journey. The problem is, without access to an objective standard, an arbiter, testimony equates to personal preference. With no access to an objective standard for determining the objectively ‘best,’ changing paradigms is really no different than changing flavors of ice cream. There’s no basis other than personal preference for determining the truth, which is really only what’s best for me, what tastes best to me. Alma 32. What ever produces fruit that tastes good is good. Who’s to say Jim Jones’s followers didn’t believe their path tasted just as good as yours tastes to you? If they had a testimony, really believed God spoke to them through Jim Jones, then God really spoke to them, just as He spoke to you, since subjective belief and meaning creates our truth. If their paradigm tasted good to them and it brought them meaning (up until the point they were dead), then their path was just as true as yours. And mine.
  15. On what ground are you asserting some paradigms are better? Better for you personally? Ok, that’s great. But that’s just a personal preference. I like pumpkin pie, my wife doesn’t. She thinks apple pie is better. That’s the only sense of ‘better’ deflationary theory says we can work with. Whether one paradigm is better in an objective sense? That requires comparing against an objective standard (the objectively ‘best’, a ‘best’ that isn’t paradigm-bound) that’s accessible to our perception and experience. There isn’t one. So, your perception that the LDS paradigm is ‘better’ is on the level of preferring a particular flavor of ice cream. Is that how you see it? The LDS paradigm is better than others only for you? [Were having the same conversation on the other thread. Hope_for is making the same general point I am when I discuss the need for a God-appointed arbiter (turns out, if deflationary theory is ‘true’ and He appointed one, we can never really know who/what it is).]
  16. Good stuff. I'll see if I can boil all my rambling down to this: if all of our experiences and perceptions are subject to deflationary theory, on what ground can we ever say 'X is true always and everywhere, even if there are no minds to perceive it?' E.g., the proposition 'God exists'. I just responded to cksalmon saying that 'objective truth is objectively true, even if there are no human minds.' If I understand deflationary theory and the Pragmatic philosophy, whether that proposition is true or false, irrespective of context; outside, beyond and independent of all contexts, is in principle unknowable. If that's our situation, then we don't have any ground for asserting anything to be objectively true. Now I’ll ramble some more. As I said in an earlier post, so much for testimonies as they currently exist. E.g.,'I know my church is true'. Honesty requires appending 'true for me but maybe not for you' at the end, every single time you share it with others. I'm not speaking only of LDS testimony meetings. All of this applies to all truth claims everywhere, religious, scientific, whatever. That leads me to the big question: would God leave us in that state or would he appoint a human agency to be His representative (arbiter) to point us toward what is objectively true, i.e., truth independent of context? If yes (and it seems to me the answer is yes, if God is loving), how do we identify that arbiter? By definition, it would have to be that the arbiter is God-appointed in an objective sense and we would somehow have to perceive that arbiter through a process that transcends the limitations of our perception and contingent, contextual inner experience - the subjective bubble we live within. Deflationary theory says this is impossible. So, even if God did appoint an arbiter, we can never know who/what it is. We can never get outside our experience to see whether the subjective process we used to identify the arbiter aligns with God’s objective will. We’re trapped. Not even God can break through our subjective prison. Our contextualized, contingent perceptions of him will always get in the way, even if God were to present Himself to our perception directly, like the Joseph Smith story or Jesus, God incarnate, presenting himself to the apostles. We will still perceive God through contingent, subjective, self-colored glasses and, whatever God is, when He takes on matter so we can perceive Him, whatever He is, whatever He says to describe Himself, it won't be 'all of Him,' the 'objectively true' Him, God as He is in Himself outside and beyond all contexts and contingencies. I can't see any way out of this puzzle, if deflationary theory is true. I suppose that's one thing I appreciate about the ancient Catholic view of things. God is declared to be incomprehensible. From a deflationary standpoint, that's the most honest thing you can say about God. Even if God were to appear to you as a man, what you see is all you get. Whether God really is what you perceive Him to be, you'll never know. Maybe God is really the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but our brains process the data so He looks like man. Maybe we’re all fsm’s and don’t know it, subject as we are to the limitations of our perceptions. Do you have noodly appendages, Mark?
  17. I was RC first, then Orthodox. I consider both to be part of the one, Catholic and apostolic church, the same church, with some of the parts sadly not currently in communion with each other. Together, they comprise the ancient, Universal (Catholic) church. I sympathize with the views of Vladimir Soloviev, who perceived a need for the pope. His book 'Russia and the Universal Church' got him into a lot of trouble with the Russian church. It's an excellent analysis of the situation and a plea for unity between the Latin, Russian and Greek churches. A joke among the Orthodox says that the Orthodox churches couldn't organize a picnic. I think that's true. Recent events (Russia breaking communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople/Istanbul; recent failed efforts to establish the first ecumenical council in centuries) bear that out. I consider both the RCC and the Orthodox to be orthodox, hence my preferred use of 'orthodox, Catholic Christian' to describe myself.
  18. I don't speak for the RCC. I'm only explaining my understanding of what the Church teaches. Fundamental to that is my belief that objectively true truth is objectively true, even if there isn't a human mind to perceive it. God is the objectively true truth. Whether you, me or the RCC asserts that Y is objectively true, or 'that Z', is irrelevant to whether Y or Z are objectively true. If the RCC is God's appointed arbiter, then the Church has a special role in perceiving and defining what is objectively true for human minds using language. Whether the RCC infallibly defines a truth, or whether you or I agree with what the RCC declares to be objectively true, is irrelevant. If Y or Z are true, then they're true. If the RCC is God's appointed arbiter and the RCC were to disappear, Y or Z would still be objectively true. Whether there are human beings to perceive the objective truth and whether God selects some of those humans to be His designated declarers of His truth has no bearing on whether that truth exists. It does - it exists in God eternally. The issue at hand is how do human minds get at objective truth, since we're interact with things outside of ourselves solely through our perceptions. Objective truth is objectively true, even if no human mind perceives it. God Is.
  19. Yep, that’s how I see it. Coming full circle, it’s true the arbiter I defer to is my arbiter solely based on my own subjective calculation, but at least I can point to an arbiter that I follow. If God appointed an arbiter, and it makes sense to me to conclude that He must have, then whether there is one or isn’t one (the latter meaning we’re stuck with testimony, which isn’t self-authenticating), either way the self-authenticating Bible crowd doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
  20. Well put. I agree with this. So, if true, what business do any of us have asserting ‘the truth is x,’ without adding ‘true for me only?’ The arbiter is the sole exception.
  21. Ok. So, whether you rely on personal testimony or an authority, how do you test whether your decision objectively aligns with God’s will?
  22. My claim is there must be an arbiter whom we reference, if we validly want to remove ‘merely true for me’ from our personal assertions of truth.
  23. Sorry I missed this. Who’s to say Jim Jones’s followers didn’t have a testimony and that the paradigm they picked didn’t work best for them - even up to the point when they drank the kool aid?
  24. If He did, what are your credentials? Why should I believe you?
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