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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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    Canonsburg, PA

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  1. Kevin Christensen

    Theologians and the New Covenant

    And there is also Hugh Nibley on "The Meaning of the Atonement" https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1114&index=20 And more from Barker here: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/Atonement.pdf I am impressed by Loren K. Hansen on "The Moral Atonement" here (I saw him do a presentation at a Sunstone decades back), particularly for his notable observation on how theories of atonement have been either objective (necessary for some reason but occurring apart from our personal response) or subjective (not necessary but done to draw out a personal response). The Book of Mormon treatment turns out to uniquely demonstrate both qualities being both objectively necessary and inherently intended to draw out our personal response. The Book of Mormon also looks to the First Temple and the role of the anointed high priest and the Day of Atonement as best explaining the significance and purpose of the atonement, or reconciliation. Hansen wrote this before Barker came along, but his work is still relevant and enlightening. https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V27N01_207.pdf I would love to link to Eugene England's essay on "Shakespeare and the At-one-ment of Christ" but, alas, it is not online. But here is a hint. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  2. Kevin Christensen

    Theologians and the New Covenant

    There is this sort of thing: http://ecocongregationireland.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Everlasting-Covenant-Margaret-Barker-DD.pdf FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  3. Kevin Christensen

    Fallible and Infallible Prophets

    A few things missing in these discussions: D&C 1 making a blunt statement on "mine authority and the authority of my servants" especially declaring that "inasmuch as they have erred it shall be made manifest" Also Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets Notice that infallibility is NOT one of the tests, and that if it were, it would require an infallible person to infallibly declare the results of such a test (notice that various people claimed that Jesus was fallible, morally, doctrinally, prophetically), and that the Bible does not offer any examples of perfect prophets, other than Jesus. Because D&C 1 emphatically states that we should expect imperfection (as does the Book of Mormon in the preface and content, and the notable example of Mormon's letter to Pahoran in which the leader turns out to be dead wrong, fussing about imperfection in others is misdirected) the presence of these concerns is rooted in something other than Mormon doctrine. It is rather, an aspect of human behavior and development. I've elsewhere made the case that the issue is not LDS doctrine, but rather, human development, as noted by the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth. It's a strategy for dealing with complexity, to assume, demand, expect that the leaders know it all. Also, regarding GAs in conference talking about mistakes, in 1978 Bruce McConkie famously told people to forget everything he or others had said about the priesthood restriction. J. Reuben Clark, a famously conservative person gave a conference talk on the topic. https://scottwoodward.org/Talks/html/Clark, J. Reuben/ReubenJR_WhenAreWritingsAndSermonsOfChurchLeadersScripture.html Spencer Kimball, as I recall, also denounced the Adam God business. So there are examples here and there. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. On the formal definition of LDS authority and distinction, and the source of the common misreading despite the actual wording and explicit teaching about other faiths, try this essay, and read from the last paragraph of 131 to 140: https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/ Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  5. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Women for Ethical Government

    It's not just the sources we read, but the paradigms, the stories we select as exemplary (for instance, Paul Ryan's referring to "makers and takers" and drawing on Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, or Trump's famously launching his candidacy by claiming that immigrants were rapists and criminals being flushed out of jails by Mexico, or later coming from "s---hole countries") that provide the frameworks for how we subsequently order and interpret experience. Are those ideologically framing metaphors and exemplary stories generally applicable? Or are they drawn from exceptional events, distortions, prejudice, or in Ryan's case, Rand's ideological fiction? It requires a close look at the beams in one's own eye first. There is no escape from ideology, no objectively neutral approach, but self-awareness of one's tendencies and limits does make for a degree of humility and tolerance and openness to discussion and compromise. An ideologue is one who claims that they live in a "No spin zone" and that ideology only happens to other people. Joseph Campbell points out that the stories we choose to tell as paradigmatic support a particular social order. "Fine people on both sides" and "s___hole countries" supports what social order exactly? Regarding Trump and care and concern for the poor though. The US economy was doing very well when he showed up, had been doing so for years, and that trend is continuing for now, despite him and his dubious "Trade wars are easy to win." We were not comparable to Venezuala when he campaigned. So why bring them up? No famine, or hyperinflation, or populations starving and leaving by the thousands. He has removed the loan protections put in place in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, tried to kill health care with no alternative in place ("Who knew it could be so complicated?), pushed through a partisan tax cut (all Republican in a nation founded on "No taxation without representation") that primarily benefits the rich and increases the national deficit as part of a known long term strategy to force a financial crisis that will lubricate the dismantling of social security and medicare (to the detriment of who?), and has also dismantled cost effective environmental protections that benefited the poorest who had to work in the most unhealthy environments and jobs. Reagan spoke of "trickle down" economics. Well, that hasn't worked out, but it is popular with the Superpacs. His tossing a few paper towels in Puerto Rico and his insulting the mayor of San Juan who we saw up to her waist in flood waters while personally trying to help the directly affected is one of my paradigmatic images. The question is, should I hold those striking images (among all too many others) as paradigmatic for my ideology, or not? Are they exceptional, or distortions, or lies, or are they general and typical and accurate and apt? FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. Kevin Christensen

    Apostles and Prophets.

    There is a hierarchy of issues, and yes, the existence of God and the Divinity of Christ can come before the notion of prophets called by and testifying of Jesus. However, the potential existence of prophets who testify of God and Christ can provide what Alma 32 refers to as "cause to believe". There is more than one way to approach the situation, top down starting with God, or bottom to top, starting with his servants. The parable "by their fruits shall ye know them" refer to the pattern of telling figs from thistles and grapes from thorns. So the issue should not be, I don't like grapes, or that grape is sour, or that fig has a blemish, or I don't think figs exist since I've never seen a fig tree, or tasted one, but I have been pricked by thistles and thorns. Rather, what set of characteristics distinguish figs from thistles, and grapes from thorns? So I spent years collected a set of Biblical passages describing the set of characteristics that distinguish true from false prophets. It still amazes me that no one had done it before. And other parts of the essay explore why that is the case. If people make up their own subjective and personal tests for true and false prophets, it is much easier to control the answer. I provided a set of examples of what the Bible depicts as characteristic works, which in this case refers to behavior and production, as well as alternative examples. Regarding "appeal to authority" as an obstacle, here is the context: Appeals to authorities—“Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” (John 7:47) In this case, an appeal to authority circumvents direct consideration of the fruit that should be considered. It like saying that Joseph Smith can't be a prophet because if he was, the Pope and the Prime Minister and the King and my Academic advisor, and my favorite uncle would have believed on him. It's an alternative to personally and actually weighing direct evidence and relevant issues. And "sustain" yes the seventh definition is "to agree with." Which means that the previous six are more important. I list them all because I think it's important to know all of them when raising one's hand to "sustain" them in a calling. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. Kevin Christensen

    Mormon Women for Ethical Government

    The presumption of innocence ought to apply to both parties. Not the one that happens to align with one's ideological preferences, and that fit one's favored narrative. One of the most telling commentaries I have seen is this one, noting a clear difference in which party actually answered questions and which party evaded them. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/9/28/17914308/kavanaugh-ford-question-dodge-hearing-chart That confirms my impression while watching. One person was telling the truth as they experienced it. One person was trying to control he narrative and did so by avoiding questions, changing the subject, and memorably pushing back with "Did you?" And of course, "I got in to Yale." Plus, there is the issue of temperament. Do I want someone on the Supreme Court who could be so nakedly partisan as to suggest that he would use his court seat to take vengeance on his enemies? The temperament he demonstrated has caused many people to question his suitability on that alone. Ideology colors everything. I'm a democrat on grounds they that show much more concern and care for the poor. So it's best to acknowledge that, and not presume that ideology is something that happens to other people. Ideology shows up in the stories and examples we offer as generalizing frameworks. For example, there is such a thing as a false accusation. Is Ford making a false accusation because such things happen now and then and perhaps or necessarily happened this time, or because there predominance of evidence and patterns of behavior suggest that this is the case? https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/9/18/17874504/kavanaugh-assault-allegation-christine-blasey-ford The same essay also has this: In comparison, what kind of patterns show up with Kavanaugh, and not just in the afternoon testimony, but in his first statements when Trump put him forward, claiming that "No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination." In fact, Trump just looked at a short list of 25 provided by the Federalist Society in their ongoing strategy to pack the courts with their members. And Kavanaugh happened to be the one who had written opinions that might come in handy for Trump in light of the ongoing Russia investigation. So Kavanaugh was using what the Book of Mormon calls "much flattery" towards Trump and himself. And there is much more, already known and emerging. Much more. Including the Kavanaugh handwritten letter from 1983 describing himself and his friends as obnoxious drunks. "I think we are unanimous that any girls we can beg to stay there are welcomed with open ….” he wrote, adding the four-dot ellipsis himself." https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/nation/letter-kavanaugh-wrote-in-admits-he-and-friends-were-loud/article_b7145943-dff9-52f8-8013-d03300475063.html He has former friends backing up that picture, talking about how he has downplayed what they witnessed as his excessive drinking and loutish behavior. On the other hand, Trump mocked Ford at a Rally, in light of his own experience with what he calls false accusations. Sigh. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. Kevin Christensen

    Apostles and Prophets.

    Compare this list of issues with my list of 28 Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets Are the lists the same, or different? What difference do the differences make? And yes, we are supposed to have our own individual testimony. That is crucial. Another crucial point in that in the LDS church we covenant with God to "sustain" one another. I think that it is crucial to understand the full range of meaning. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  9. Kevin Christensen

    The Apostasy and the Restoration

    You are welcome. Against the eternal perspective of the Plan of Salvation as the LDS understand it, living and dying without the church is simply a matter of different timing, not eternal denial for lack of opportunity. The way I see it, mercy is the keynote. The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead is a formal part of our scriptures, the Harrowing of Hell is a longstanding Christian tradition, the preaching of the Gospel to the dead is in the Bible, the vicarious ordinances has a viable theological background, and, few, if any rivals among any other faith tradition. An inevitable consequence of the longing for perfection and the ideal is that imperfection, and only that, becomes significant and decisive. The longest and darkest and most miserable experiences of my life have been when my wife falls into the mode of seeing my imperfections as the only significant and decisive thing about me. There is a huge difference between asking what is Real and what is Perfect or Ideal. The very real qualities and virtues of the apostles and prophets are there to see and value as significant and important, but if the question is perfection none of that matters. Kuhn observes that "anomaly emerges against the background of expectation." That means if you demand perfection, only imperfection is decisive. And this colors our experience of life, changes what we see, and how we feel. The single most important paragraph I have ever read on this issue is from Betty Edwards in a classic book on art called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" We don't necessarily see things as they are, but we assign value and significance against a background of expectation. I learned many years ago that when I run across something I did not expect, it is always important to ask, "What should I expect?" This amounts to removing a beam from my own eye first, that I might then "see clearly." If I do not expect the prophets and apostles to be perfect, then I can see those imperfections as just the run of the mill "arm of the flesh", natural human weaknesses, as formally and bluntly stated in D&C 1 as exactly what I should expect from them, and not as the only things about them that matter. Most of the time my wife says, "I put up with your inconsistencies because your consistencies are important to me," and that makes a huge difference in the quality of our lives. Are my current set of expectations beyond repentance and correction? Or should I be willing to tolerate a bit of humanity in other people? Am I so perfect now that I can take the role of God and presume that I can infallibly judge not only the prophets and apostles, past and present, but also God? Or, might I have a bit to learn? There is a crucial difference between telling God, "That can't be right!" and asking God, like Abraham, "Is this right?" The film Tomorrowland did not do well at the box office, but I liked it, especially for the theme of feedback loops in human experience. A key is given at the start in the retelling of a Native American myth that every person has two wolves inside fighting for control, one dark and one light. The question is, "Which one wins?" And the answer is, "Which ever one you feed." I also disagree with the priesthood policy, but it's not the only thing that matters. I also have taken the time to understand it historical context, in the set of expectations and cultural mythos that the LDS inherited, and did not invent, let alone receive by revelation. And I was in Salt Lake City in July 1978 and at the moment I read the headline in the morning paper at Shauna's apartment, I heard car horns honking in the streets. There was genuine jubilation and excitement. I have a friend whose wife left him for a series of lesbian relationships, one lasting more than a decade, and he had a discussion with his worried daughters explaining that in their case, it would not have applied. Indeed, he had been inactive for a while, and he saw the moral outrage over the policy as largely manufactured, and that prompted to come back to activity. It happens that his ex-wife left that life style a few years back and is now in a temple marriage. I also have an ex-sister in law still in that lifestyle, and I know her two sons. I have also considered carefully an aspect of sexuality that is typically absent from most discussions, I think because it so undercuts the dominant narrative that to even mention it as a possible factor in behavior unsettles the grooves of normal discussions: http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleChristensenRashomon.html Yes, at every point, we are accountable for what we know, and but since all have come short of the glory of God, we are all needful of repentance. We ought to continually seek greater light and knowledge, which means we all ought to change, and to expect change, and accept the need for change. God grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Serenity comes with faith. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. Kevin Christensen

    Stan Larson interviews Hugh Nibley

    The whole interview is quite interesting and revealing. It dates to when Nibley was 80, so about 13 years before he died, so around 1991. I quite like the exchange towards the end where Larsen tries to insist that the Book of Mormon is not history because of the doxology in the Lord's prayer. (Larsen has a chapter in Metcalfe's New Approaches making his case that there is no evidence supporting 3 Nephi 11-28 as a historical account) For him, that detail in one verse is, apparently game over, check and mate, all you need to know, all the balance scale requires for a full and final decision, and Nibley does not agree. And I have to consider just how much else there is to consider in 3 Nephi that Larsen, despite his skills and interests, has not discovered. In particular, Jack Welch's stuff on 3 Nephi and the Temple. (Welch responded directly to Larsen in a detailed essay in RBBM 6, and much of his subsequent work on 3 Nephi and the Sermon on the Mount compared to the temple goes way beyond what he had there.) Nibley mentions aspects of the Book of Moses ( published in Enoch the Prophet), particularly the Mahujah story. Notice that this kind of thing makes to impact whatsoever on Larsen, who specialized in New Testament Greek. What does not emerge from his specialty and his chosen approach does not weigh in the balance. In the final chapter of the Improvement Era series on Abraham, Nibley talked about preferring the Big Picture rather than the little picture that comes through narrow focus and tight specialization. [Edited to add] I also love the discussion starting on page 46 in the pdf, page 41 internal numbering, about the human tendency to want other people to repent. "We never repent because we have a nice substitute for repentance, that's the witch hunt, you see..." He goes on, much in the manner of Rene Girard on the scapegoat, on how the Nephites are told that the Lamanites are not and never will be the real problem. It's whether the Nephites will repent. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. Kevin Christensen

    The Apostasy and the Restoration

    Joseph Smith's comment here strikes me as explaining that God never turns his back on anyone anywhere: The apostasy was in relation one part of the reason for our earthly experience, ordinances and covenants, but those, will ultimately be made available to all via the Temple and Post Mortal preaching. There is more to our mortal probation than finding and joining one church. The test of mortality is how we live relative to our given circumstances, not whether we live up to circumstances of which we have no access, knowledge, or experience. I think the most insightful and useful discussion of the apostasy is Early Christians in Disarray, very much worth reading: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/book/early-christians-in-disarray-contemporary-lds-perspectives-on-the-christian-apostasy/ And it's worth considering non-LDS scholars like Barker who also notice that much of worth had been lost. http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/TextAndContext.pdf And this: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/SecretTradition.pdf FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  12. Kevin Christensen

    Stan Larson interviews Hugh Nibley

    Unlikely IMHO, since Brown's once famous "Profile of a Prophet" talk (which became a Missionary pamphlet) was based in Nibley's Lehi in the Desert. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. Kevin Christensen

    Near Death Experiences and Out of Body Experiences

    I've thought so. One of the first NDE books after Moody's Life after Life triggered modern research was Michael Sabom's Recollections of Death. He did a set of interviews with people who reported watching their own resuscitation, and found that while they got all the details right, a control group all made major mistakes. I did an essay comparing Alma's Nigh Unto Death conversion to modern NDE accounts, including the aftereffects, and found they they fit perfectly. That's here: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1382&index=2 And it matters that Alma is the one who teaches about the afterlife in the Book and Mormon. It also matters that Brigham Young is the one who teaches the most detailed and particular accounts about the afterlife in LDS tradition, and that he apparently had an NDE at Winter Quarters. So that ought to lead us to reconsider the material in "The Spirit World" chapter of the Teachings of Brigham Young priesthood manual. https://www.lds.org/manual/... The source of his insights is not scripture, tradition or speculation but personal experience. And the most likely occasion for that experience was Brigham's vision of Joseph Smith, while very ill in Winter Quarters, 17 February 1847. https://www.sunstonemagazin...
  14. Kevin Christensen

    "What does it mean that this is the true Church?"

    I'm just pointing out that if "faith in Christ" has any binding meaning, then that should show up somewhere in how I value what Jesus says. I don't think that "anything that at one point or another... is part of doctrine." That is the whole point of Jesus making a notably restrictive definition is to try to get us to not treat everything that at one point or another is doctrine. It isn't. But Faith in Christ should mean something, rather than whatever is convenient or easy or manageable at the moment. If my faith is in Jesus Christ, rather than, say, My Personal Self Interest, or even My Personal Interests, that should take some form in how I response to what he says, especially when what he says involves a call to action and response on my part. And what he wants, in 3 Nephi starts with the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, which means in practice, a willingness to offer up what I think and what I desire in order to get closer to what is real. (When I studied over 70 arguments given in the scriptures by people who were rejecting Jesus or other prophets, I eventually realized that they all boiled down to people saying, "It's not what I think" ( for example, in John 6, "this is a hard saying, who can hear it?") or, "It's not what I want, or at least, what I want most" as in the rich young man who went away. According to Alma 32, it may just involve a desire to believe, and a subsequent experiment on even "a portion of my words" where Alma lets his listeners choose the portion for the first experiments. It's not about static absolutes, but about constraining principles, and growth. "and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand." FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  15. Kevin Christensen

    "What does it mean that this is the true Church?"

    Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ directly implies I ought to take him very seriously when he says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," rather than suppose it might be alright to imagine that what he really meant to say was, "Because I love you, I will let you make your own commandments, based on what you suppose it right for you. And I will see to it that nothing bad or unpleasant ever happens as a result of whatever choices you make." And Repentance is one of those gospel pillars, a bedrock doctrine, the literal meaning of which is turning our minds. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ means letting him set the boundaries, and that we are to make a real effort to change ourselves to conform to his will, rather than to find excuses to ignore his will in favor of our own, trying to get God to repent so we don't have to make the sacrifice. The concept of gender is a hot topic because that is an issue where many people have more faith in their own commandments, and where many quite vocally want Jesus to do the repenting. I prefer to take an altogether different angle on the question. http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleChristensenRashomon.html Toward the end of that essay, I quote Rene Girard: FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA