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Ryan Dahle

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About Ryan Dahle

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  1. Well, we can't give out any specific dates, but it should be months, not years, (perhaps even before the end of the year). We'll just have to see.
  2. As many of you know, I work for Book of Mormon Central. I just wanted to let everyone know about our new scripture app for gospel study called ScripturePlus. Right now it is only on iOS, but it will be on Android soon. It is completely free. Also, it is the first version, and so not every feature that we would want is in it (such as note-taking). Nevertheless, it has a lot to offer. Check it out, and let us know if you have any feedback. https://bookofmormoncentral.org/blog/new-free-scriptureplus-app-helps-you-experience-the-book-of-mormon
  3. This may have some insights worth looking into: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-are-rod-and-sword-connected-to-the-word-of-god
  4. Well, if it makes you feel any better, it seems you have almost completely missed my point in literally every post I have made. And I am genuinely trying to understand your position. In fact, I think I understand it very well. You just are misunderstanding my critique of it. Let me try to spell this out as clearly as possible: From the very beginning, my essential point has simply been that you came out too strong in your opening position. The issue of identifying what Abinadi taught is more complex and more ambiguous than you were presenting. My purpose in drawing attention to the Bruening and Paulsen article wasn't to demonstrate that the text clearly lends itself better to a Trinitarian or Social Trinitarian reading, but rather my point was simply to show that a Trinitarian or Social Trinitarian reading is easily just as valid as a Modalist reading. If that is the case, then it can be said that Abinadi's statements are consistent with Trinitarianism or Social Trinitarianism. And if that is the case, then your claim that Abinadi's statements are consistent with Modalism is of little significance. The text is consistent with all sorts of readings! It is our complex set of assumptions and biases about the text that will guide our preferred readings of it. (Now I'm not saying that everything in the text is so ambiguous; it's just that, IMO, this issue is very ambiguous.) All of this is to say that one of the parallels between Abinadi and Servetus that you seem to think is significant is not evident from the text itself, but stems from your assumptions about it. And if that is the case, then claiming that Abinadi and Servetus taught the "same heresy" is clearly too strong of a statement. If the author of the text actually had a Trinitarian or Social Trinitarian perspective, then clearly it wouldn't be the "same heresy," and your proposed parallel would be significantly weakened. That is why I advised you to back away from the equivalency argument (i.e. Abinadi's heresy = Servetus' heresy) and opt for a more generic claim that they were both martyred for teaching something about the Godhead that those in power disagreed with. That's it. That's my argument. I really don't have any interest in trying to demonstrate that Social Trinitarianism is preferred over Modalism because I don't think that such arguments can be convincingly made from the text itself. Thus, like you, I don't have a dog in the fight on that front. I prefer the standard Latter-day Saint version of Social Trinitarianism and apply that reading of the Book of Mormon for reasons besides (although not in contradiction to) what is strictly in the text itself. See, I think we are really on the same page. I suspect Abinadi believed a version of Social Trinitarianism, but was likely adapting his theology a bit so that it would make sense to a people who were familiar with deity complexes in ancient Mesoamerica, just like Paul modified his presentation about God when speaking to the Athenians or like when Ammon seemed to modify his teachings about God when teaching King Lamoni. I realize I can't demonstrate that my interpretation is accurate. But I see it as being easily as consistent as the assumption that Abinadi was teaching a version of 16th century Modalism. Other relevant assumptions about the text that would affect its interpretation are also unable to be demonstrated from the text itself. You seem, for example, to assume that one shouldn't attempt to harmonize passages in the text relating to the Godhead. You claim that such a reading is "ad hoc." Actually, it is simply a product of one's assumptions about the text. Choosing to interpret passages discretely could be just as "ad hoc," depending on the actual history, provenance, and authorship of the text. If the text was truly written by various prophets who generally held a consistent view of fundamental doctrines and principles, including a consistent view of the Godhead, then attempting to harmonize the text on that matter would be a reasonable exercise. Again, my point isn't to prove anything about the text itself. My point is simply to demonstrate that your opening position was too strong and that the critiques and labels (e.g. ad hoc or prooftexting) that you slap on others interpretations' of the text could apply equally well to your own interpretation if your starting assumptions aren't valid. Like you, I also care about Book of Mormon authorship. I literally wake up just about every work day and conduct extensive research on that topic. I see lots of evidence for ancient origins that are consistent with the text's own claims, and so far I haven't found your parallels with Early Modern figures to be superior to the research that I am familiar with. I think we certainly agree that the text utilizes EModE lexis, grammar, and syntax in ways that seem beyond what Joseph Smith would have been capable of, but we account for that evidence differently based on our assumptions about the true authorship of the text. For me, my assumptions about its authorship involve a very complex weighing and balancing of lots of categories of evidence (spiritual, historical, linguistic, archaeological, textual, scientific, etc.). I will probably never understand all the factors that go into your own interpretation. All I can do is sample aspects of your theory and see what I think of them. I've sampled this aspect, and think it is certainly interesting but not as persuasive as you seem to find it, for the reasons I outlined above. Again, that is why I am engaging with you about this issue. I really could care less about debating Modalism vs. Social Trinitarianism, at least not for its own sake.
  5. Again, I think you are speaking inaccurately. Bruening and Paulsen aren't presenting a non-standard version of modalism. Paulsen, in particular, is highly qualified to comment in this area. Modalism, like standard Trinitarianism and Social Trinitarianism, is not something that is explicitly defined in the Bible, much less the Book of Mormon. Thus whether or not modalism is a preferred reading or understanding of a text (which is one of the topics that Bruening and Paulsen were directly engaged in debating) necessarily involves interpreting that text's passages and comparing them to the established features of modalism. Bruening and Paulsen simply demonstrated that the type of passages that seem to favor (rather than are merely compatable) with modalism are outnumbered by passages that seem to be neutral or implicitly antimodalist. They write: I'm simply not seeing how they are misconstruing or misrepresenting modalism. Your argument that those who favor modalism can, from their perspective, potentially accommodate what Bruening and Paulsen refer to as neutral or antimodalist passages is a moot point. Of course a modalist will try to explain those passages, just like Bruening and Paulsen have a section in their article that tries to accommodate the passages that seem to implicitly support modalism. The fact that modalists will try to accommodate seemingly contrary passages isn't, on its own, good evidence that Bruening and Paulsen are wrong in their analysis. Yet, thus far, it has been your only rebuttal. What would really be needed is to go through the passages one by one and show how Bruening and Paulsen are wrong in categorizing them as "modalist" and "antimodalist" according to the criteria and definitions that they explicitly established for the purpose of their article. They aren't offering a different version of modalism at all, but instead are assessing the implicit support or non-support that various passages seem to lend to a modalistic interpretation of the text. Those are two different things. I cited the article from Bruening and Paulsen that sets out a detailed argument for why the Book of Mormon doesn't clearly teach modalism (contrary to Kurt Widmer's claims that it does) and which also addresses the 1916 issue and some of Abinadi's statements. The article directly relates to and pushes back against your thesis that Abinadi was teaching the "same heresy" as Servetus (who is understood to have espoused a version of modalism). So far, your response to those detailed arguments has basically amounted to, using your own words, "stomp[ing] around and saying you disagree." You haven't engaged with their detailed analysis at all, besides labeling them as employing logical fallacies. Therefore, you have literally given me nothing substantive to respond to at this point. You have characterized Servetus as teaching a version of modalism, and you have claimed that Abinadi was teaching the "same heresy." It seems that all that is needed for your thesis to be undermined is to demonstrate that Abinadi may very well not have been teaching a form of modalism. Besides, I doubt I would disagree with you about what Servetus was teaching. So that is rather irrelevant, in my view. But one thing that I think is important to point out is that Servetus' articulations about the nature of the Godhead are extensive, while Abinadi's statements on the matter are limited to only a few verses. Servetus elaborates upon things like the "personhood" of God and articulates their unity in ways that are akin to other versions of modalism. In contrast, Abinadi doesn't spend long pages elaborating distinctions about personhood or divine substance. His brief statements relevant to the nature of God are obviously far more open to interpretation, and therefore his intent (and not the intent of Servetus) is where the debate really lies. Actually, your argument started out (and strangely is continuing) to assert that Abinadi and Servetus taught the very same heresy, which goes well beyond it being merely consistent or compatible with the form of modalism espoused by Servetus. If you want to back peddle (essentially taking my advice) and only assert that Abinadi's statements could be interpreted as a form of modalism, then I agree with that, as long as your position responsibly acknowledges that Abinadi's statement could easily be accommodated by Trinitarian and Social Trinitarian perspectives, and by other views, such as deity complexes in a Mesoamerican setting. As it stands now, however, your thesis seems to be double minded, asserting equivalency in one breath and then mere compatibility in the other.
  6. Here is an indirect response to the matter from back in April. It doesn't really add anything substantially new to the conversation, but it is an attempt to articulate the limited ability that we have in determining the genuineness of a revelation, based on our mortal understanding of its context and purpose: https://bookofmormoncentral.org/blog/does-god-ever-change-his-mind It should be noted that this is written for a general, primarily Latter-day Saint audience and therefore necessarily simplifies some issues.
  7. Your original point was that Ari Bruening and David Paulsen incorrectly defined modalism. Now you are shifting the argument, claiming that these authors are simply engaging in interpreting whether certain passages in the text seem to lend implicit support to standard modalistic assumptions. Those are two very different things. And your redirect only emphasizes my original point that this issue is inherently ambiguous and therefore has limited probative value. The fact that modalists try to accommodate all scriptural passages into their theory about the Godhead is hardly the same thing as demonstrating that their metaphysical assumptions are somehow directly supported by the text itself. Of course, I don't think that standard Trinitarian or Social Trinitarian views are directly supported by the text either. All interpretations take different approaches to reconciling what otherwise seem to be contradictory passages, and all of them try to account for all relevant scriptural data. That being the case, your confident assertion that Abinadi was clearly teaching a brand of modalism that can be described as the "same heresy" as taught by Michael Servetus seems to be exegetical overreach. Of course, you are free to interpret the text that way. That isn't the problem, seeing that your interpretation is potentially valid. The problem is that you seem to think that your interpretation is somehow privileged or superior to a Social Trinitarian perspective. Yet, so far, all you have been able to do is label the Social Trinitarian explanations of the text as "ad hoc" or "proof texting" or "straw man." The logical fallacy known as "explaining by naming" comes to mind. IMO, your argument would be better served if you backed off this issue and simply pointed out that Abinadi and Servetus were both martyred because they taught views about the Godhead that diverged from the views of those in power. Of course, Christ was killed for essentially the same thing, and so were many others, which admittedly makes your point rather generic. But still, it is better than trying to argue that modalism is somehow a superior interpretation of the Book of Mormon's teachings about the Godhead. All you are doing by insisting upon such a position is demonstrating that your bias is making it hard for you to see the inherent ambiguity in the text.
  8. In other words, you disagree. That's fine. My personal view is that the text's presentation of the unity and distinctness of God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost can be interpreted in a variety of semi-valid ways, depending on one's assumptions and interpretive framework. IMO, the very nature of that ambiguity undermines your position. Exegetical arguments about metaphysical realities typically have very little convincing power on their own. You will, of course, interpret the text in a way that is "most favorable to [your] hypothesis," just like those you characterize as employing ad hoc and straw man arguments.
  9. Your claim that the 1916 statement is ad hoc necessarily assumes a history of interpretation. And I believe the articles I cited push back against your interpretation of the Book of Mormon, showing it is neither necessary nor privileged above other interpretations.
  10. The following blog post may shed some light on the question: "What good is it to have a prophet interpret scripture if the prophet is fallible?" https://www.sixteensmallstones.org/watchmen-on-the-tower-on-the-limits-of-prophetic-fallibility/
  11. But in what sense are the Father and the Son one? The 1916 statement offers several suggestions but they aren’t really found in the Book of Mormon or bible. That’s why I think the explanations are merely ad hoc. And certainly the Elohim/Yahweh dichotomy in Mormonism is not biblical. I think the history of exegesis concerning the nature of the Godhead in the Book of Mormon is more complicated than JarMan is presenting. The 1916 statement doesn't seem ad hoc to me. The following articles provide helpful background on this particular topic (I could only find a link to the second one, now that MI links are dead): David L. Paulsen and Ari D. Bruening, “The Social Model of the Trinity in 3 Nephi,” in Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, ed. Andrew C. Skinner and Gaye Strathearn (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Neal A. Maxwell for Religious Scholarship, 2012), 191–233. Ari B. Bruening and David L. Paulsen, “The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God: Early Mormon Modalism and Early Myths,” FARMS Review of Books 13, no. 2 (2001): 109–169. https://web.archive.org/web/20190213001244/https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1454&index=12
  12. I doubt many posters here have been as universally well-respected as Clark Goble. He will indeed be missed.
  13. I think you may be missing negation in that sentence. Probably should be: "do not believe them authentic."
  14. Well, yes, I think that generally all groups of defenders/apologists appeal to a loose translation to explain certain features of the text. However, there are also various types of evidence for a more literal translation that are generally accepted in the Latter-day Saint scholarly community. I don't think there is much tension or really much discussion at all around this specific issue. Most of the discussion revolves around the source of the English wording of the text. Both theories can accommodate a dynamic translation, so there isn't much to debate, IMO.
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