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Kevin Christensen

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About Kevin Christensen

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    Separates Water & Dry Land
  • Birthday 04/28/1954

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    Bethel Park, PA

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  1. A Prophet of God

    There are a great many statements in LDS scriptures and from LDS leaders that point out that revelation is not restricted to the LDS members. Revelation does not have to be unique to be real. I should have included the description in Alma 32:23 of how “he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men, but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have given unto them many times which confound the wise and learned.” My own readings in comparative religion, near death experience research, and personal [Page 131]experiences with people of many faiths has left me both confident and comfortable with the notion that God speaks to “others.” Joseph Smith famously said, “Have the Presbyterians and truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in world and treasure them up, or we should not come out true ‘Mormons.’”65 http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/image-is-everything-pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain/#more-7755 FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  2. A Prophet of God

    I'm more about finding that I experience revelation as such, and do not need to have it validated for me. This is not daily, but such experiences add up over time. Most experiences have been subtle, and a few have been dramatic, though not as dramatic as some I have heard or read about. But a revelation experienced as such is much more a sublime experience than complaining. I listened to this talk on Revelation in the church back when I was a young missionary in England. It had the effect of helping frame my expectations. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1974/05/we-believe-all-that-god-has-revealed?lang=eng FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg
  3. A Prophet of God

    Yes. But I expect that such revelation is conditioned not just on human desire (the "I Want it Now!" song from Willy Wonka should be cause for reflection), but on human inquiry and effort, on God's will and designs (which is why Isaiah 55 is important), and on that interesting word that recurs in the Doctrine and Covenants, "expedience" from God's perspective. And I see a considerable amount of evidence from life and the scripture that it is expedient at times to let people make their choices and walk by faith and learn from experience what is sweet and what is bitter. Just because a person becomes a prophet, that does not mean they stop being human. Acts 14:15 " We are men of like passions with you." FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. A Prophet of God

    It is better to test the claim that someone is a prophet against a viable definition of what a prophet is, rather than against what our expectations or desires are. For instance, in John 11, when Jesus comes to the tomb of Lazarus: These people judge Jesus against what they arbitrarily decided that he could have and should have done. In the process they demonstrate that even the good they acknowledge is not enough. They want more, they want it yesterday. If you make the pedestal tall enough, and narrow enough, it's easy to topple. That is why I learned long ago, whenever I come across something I did not expect, I ask, what should I expect? That shifts my attention from my personal frustrations, directed outward, toward beams in my own eye, which always turns out to be enlightening and mind expanding, and changes my perceptions. FWIW Kevin Christens
  5. A Prophet of God

    One of the consequences of "either/or" thinking is that it can so easily overlook obvious evidence and information, and short-circuit careful analysis. D&C 1, for instance, in formally stating "mine authority and the authority of my servants" does not declare that we should expect that everything that church leaders do or say is what Christ himself would do or say. Nor does D&C 1 say that other churches always lack inspiration. Quite the opposite. So in stating the problem this way, you demonstrate that the map you are using does not actually correspond to the territory that actually exists. It's easy to get lost when you follow an inaccurate map. And there is the issue of supposing that you don't have to define "doctrine" or respond even to the way Jesus defines and limits what "doctrine" means. And the issue of defining what a prophet is, and is not. And there is the issue of supposing that just about any Tom, ****, or Harriet can authoritatively judge whether a "doctrine" is or is not from God, or even ought to be called a doctrine by an informed person in a public setting, or whether something that a committee or a prophet is or is not inspired, and whether this or that hot-button issue represents all the evidence and all the sampling that should be considered in making the judgement. Isaiah 55 is notable for explaining that God's perspectives and ways take a much longer, process-oriented view of things, suggesting that singing "I Want It Now!" like the apt song sung by the rich girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory demonstrates a lack of vision, a lack of discernment, a lack of faith, a lack of patience, a lack of empathy, a lack of wisdom. There is a difference between looking at various goings on in LDS and Christian and human societies, and declaring "That is not what I expect!" and looking at the same societies, and seriously exploring "What should I expect?" It amounts to first removing the beam from one's own eye, to enhance the possibility of seeing clearly. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. Discerning true and false prophets - how?

    What's the point of even asking? Has anyone ever made the claim that they are? FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. Discerning true and false prophets - how?

    Of course I believe that statement. It is consistent with direct statements in the Book of Mormon on the limits of what we should label "doctrine" and that extending that label willy nilly to anything else is like building on sand rather than rock, as well as direct statements in D&C 1 that formally define "mine authority and the authority of my servants" that expressly allows for error, weakness, repentance, and points out that the possibility of further revelation has conditions including our asking the right questions. It is also consistent with Joseph Smith's express statements that explain the problem with creeds as "setting up stakes and bounds to the work of the almighty, saying "hitherto thou shalt come, and no further" rather than always being open to further light and knowledge. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    On the topic of apocalypticism in Judaism as anachronistic in the Book of Mormon, see: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/BeyondtheVeil.pdf And then, for more details and background, see this essay: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/OurGreatHighPriest.pdf And this book: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Publications/OlderTestament.htm FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  9. Discerning true and false prophets - how?

    I wrote the FAIR essay on Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets. I have notes for more in the Book of Mormon, and the D&C and there are other things in the Early Christian Fathers, such as the Didache and the like that Nibley surveys in The World and the Prophets. In the Book of Mormon, we have discussions of Lehi and Nephi and Jacob versus Laman and Lemuel and Sherem, as well as the First Temple versus the Deuteronomists. Then we get Nehor and Korihor as bad examples versus Alma and Amulek, with Zeezrom as an example of transformation. The story of the unobserved murder in Helaman 9 involves a test for a true prophet. And Samuel discusses the kind of flattering prophets that people want, the kind that says all is well, rather than repent. And after Samuel leaves, Helaman 16 discusses again the rationalizations people use to reject the true prophets. 3 Nephi begins with the story of fulfillment of prophesy, and then shows what happens after people forget what they saw, showing the kinds of thinking that supposes we could have steady faith if only we had constantly re-enforced absolute certainty, and therefore knew that what we doing is the right thing even when we have to give up what we want right now. That sort of thinking misses the point of faith as something necessarily and by definition, something short of absolute certainty, but is built rather on cause to believe and hope for the future. Alma 32 is a crucial discourse on discernment, including an important contrast between "cause to believe" and absolute certainty, and really blends into the narratives of the Zoramites that show contrasting modes of thinking. Alma's discourse to Corianton can be seen as addressing differences between true and false teaching. And Mormon and Moroni also provide more food for thought. The point of doing the essay was to provide people with the Biblical Keys, and since one of the Biblical keys involves the recommendation to "examine the works" then, I assume that readers of the Book of Mormon and the D&C will run into the additional material. And it turns out that using the Biblical Keys quickly narrows the field of candidates to Joseph Smith, which, I think, is why people prefer to roll their own, personally customized and subjective tests (that is, "It's not the way I would do it if I were God,") since that makes it easier to control the answer. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. Jerry Pournelle passed away today

    I'll always have a soft spot for Jerry Pournelle for putting my sf novella "Bellerophon" in his Endless Frontier vol. 2 SF anthology. Basically, I retold the myth of Bellerophon, Pegasus, and the chimera in an L5 colony setting. It was the combination of my success in selling two SF stories (the other short story went to Scott Card in Dragons of Darkness) combined with my failure to sell anymore that turned me towards Technical Writing, which I have been doing since 1984. I'm quite fond of both Inferno and the Mote in God's Eye. Goodnight sweet libertarian and technology advocate. Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. Prophets to guide us

    "Disingenuous" is a fancy word for liar. I'm an English major and a professional writer, and that is the sort of thing I tend to pick up on over the span of that kind of life. How about providing a better test? I would have thought that the way to test a claim to be a prophet in the Biblical sense would involve using the Biblical tests for true and false prophets. Perhaps you think that using the 28 distinct Biblical tests is itself rigging the results? Should we exclude the Bible tests as a matter of course? Without even considering the possibility that they might be useful in a contemporary setting? Without even examining them or mentioning that they exist as a potential resource? One of the things that surprised me when I assembled them is that no one had done it before. Perhaps you have a better way to test prophets, something more reliable, less subjective, less subject to the charge of "rigging" by persons who don't like how the answer comes out? I'm interested. Sterling McMurrin, for example, famously tested Joseph Smith on the basis of a something he realized when he was younger than he can remember, that "You don't get books from angels, and translate them by revelation. It's just that simple." And McMurrin famously admitted that he had never read the Book of Mormon. And if I notice that Jesus recommended that his followers test his claims by "examining the works [of my Father, works none other man did] though ye believe not me, believe the works that ye know and believe" and Luke contrasted that behavior of close examination with those who tested this way: "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not." It strikes me that there is an organic relationship between McMurrin's not bothering to read the Book of Mormon and his view that Joseph's story was an idle tale that he didn't believe. I could even argue that McMurrin's test is rigged to provide the answer that he arrived at, not through his formidable education and scholarship as an adult, but what he had concluded as child, younger than he could remember. It strikes me that the Biblical tests for a prophet are far more rigorous than a skeptical young child's intuitive suppositions about the nature of reality. I can say that because I have been a young child, learned since that I ought to discard a lot of childish thinking, and I have also carefully read the Biblical tests for a prophet. It happens that I made the claim that you object to based on my observations of contemporary human behavior in relation to the Biblical tests for prophets, the Biblical recommendations for seeing truth, and the Biblical examples of Biblical peoples arguing against the claims of Biblical prophets. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  12. Prophets to guide us

    It's easy to assert that I'm a liar. How about an actual demonstration? I'd find that much more persuasive than off-the-cuff slander. My case from the FAIR Mormon essay is this: I have noticed that rather than use the whole armory of Biblical tests for prophets, most people prefer to compose their own personal and subjective tests. That makes it far easier to control the outcome. And of course, it all boils down to people saying, "It's not what I think, not what I want." Which is why the voice in 3 Nephi calls for the "sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit," that is, a willingness to offer up what you desire and think, rather than to hunker down behind personal wants and opinions as if they were inviolate and sacred. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. Prophets to guide us

    Such conversations would be helped by defining "sustain": It also helps to consider the Lord's formal declaration of "mine authority and the authority of my servants" in D&C 1: And it helps to know what a prophet is, and is not: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets And finally, it helps to remove the beams from our own eyes, before setting out to perform eye surgery on others. "Then shall ye see clearly." FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  14. No death before the fall refers to the garden. And I can see no reason to suppose that a garden for two people filled the entire planet. "Tend and keep this set of continents and oceans and polar chaps, and islands?" Nor do the scriptures spent any much time on what went on before the garden or outside the garden or what was happening on the worlds without number that had been created and destroyed previous to an account of happenings on this earth. It ought to be clear that different conditions existed outside the garden than inside which is why leaving involved such a notable change. Nor is it necessary or wise to confuse a ritual drama with a science text. Nor is it wise to suppose that one can read an ancient text in translation with modern presuppositions and understand it as the ancients did. Nor is it wise to suppose that the express limitations on "the authority of my servants" bluntly spelled out in D&C 1:24-28 don't exist and have no application in trying to shore up one's pet theories and authorities. FWIW Kevin Christensen Bethel Park, PA
  15. How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

    Thanks Tom. I've often wished your essay on NDEs had been published. I hope it is online somewhere. I've mentioned several times over the years when the topic has come up. And I'd love to see you contributing to the Interpreter. It was fun see Zina review Mother of the Lord . Margaret was impressed, dubbing it a masterpiece. And yes, it has been amazing to be part of introducing Barker's work to the Saints. I've met her again a few times since she came to BYU in 2003. And being able to introduce her to you there was a highlight. Shauna and I met her when she went to Yonkers, NY where she spoke to the Greek Orthodox there. During the Q&A after her talk some of them wanted to know, "What is it about the Mormons?" And she told them "If you are serious about the temple, you'll need to swallow your pride and ask the Mormons. They have the best scholars on the topic, bar non." Last Fall, Shauna and I managed our first trip to Europe since our Missions in the 70s, and in the midst of managing some of the essentials like Paris, a Harry Potter Studio tour, a Shakespeare play in Stratford, a Beatles tour, lots of Jane Austiny things, the little Cornwall town where Doc Martin is made, we managed to meet Margaret and her husband Hugh for Tea at their home in Derby. I'm convinced though, that despite my book and essays, it all would have happened anyway. Shortly after Paradigms Regained was published, Noel Reynolds decided to while away the time on a flight from the Vatican by reading The Great Angel. He burst into the FARMS offices and asked if anyone had heard of Barker. Midgley replied that they had just published Paradigms Regained. So he contacted me, and I put him in contact with Barker, and so Provo 2003 happened. But he also told me that my writing the book had saved him the trouble. So, it all was going to happen one way or another. My favorite Book of Mormon prophesy is in 1 Nephi 13:39-42, on the restoration of plain and precious things, based on ancient texts to come forth from the gentiles after the publication of the Book of Mormon. I think it points directly to her work. Indeed, when she was at BYU, presenting the material that appears in her essay on "Text and Context", I saw Jack Welch loose his characteristic reserve, and leap towards her and pop open her newly monogrammed Triple Combination to First Nephi 13, and say, "Have you seen this!" And of course, later, after I sent her a copy of my essay in Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem, she decided he had to read what all the fuss was about herself, and read the Book of Mormon, the D&C and the Pearl of Great Price in one day. "Big job, she said and, "I was amazed at how much I recognized." Best, Kevin Christensen Bethel Park, PA
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