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JarMan

Michael Servetus: Early Modern Abinadi

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5 hours ago, The Nehor said:

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I'm beginning to think that you know far too much about games than is healthy. (I am interested in the Here I Stand game, though.)

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15 minutes ago, JarMan said:

I'm beginning to think that you know far too much about games than is healthy. (I am interested in the Here I Stand game, though.)

I assure you that I can quit any time!

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Here's another similarity between these two stories. This one is a little more oblique, but I think it's interesting nonetheless. After Servetus' execution Calvin was heavily criticized in some circles. One of his biggest critics was a French theologian named Sebastian Castellio who wrote a book Should Heretics be Persecuted. Castellio is similar to Alma in this story. As a fellow Frenchman he was part of Calvin's circle in Geneva ten years before the Servetus incident. He fell out of favor with Calvin after insisting that the clergy should stop persecuting people who they didn't agree with and that they should be held to the same standards as everybody else. He was forced to leave Geneva. He finally ended up coming back to Geneva, coincidentally, the day after Servetus' execution. His book was published a few months after Calvin's defense of the execution. Here's a snippet so you get the idea.

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Pride is followed by cruelty and persecution so that now scarcely anyone is able to endure another who differs at all from him. Although opinions are almost as numerous as men, nevertheless there is hardly any sect which does not condemn all others and desire to reign alone. Hence arise banishments, chains, imprisonments, stakes, and gallows and this miserable rage to visit daily penalties upon those who differ from the mighty about matters hitherto unknown, for so many centuries disputed, and not yet cleared up.

But now here's the interesting passage:

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This is cruel enough, but a more capital offense is added when this conduct is justified under the robe of Christ and is defended as being in accord with his will, when Satan could not devise any-thing more repugnant to the nature and will of Christ! Yet these very people, who are so furious against the heretics, as they call them, are so far from hating moral offenders that no scruple is felt against living in luxury with the avaricious, currying flatterers, abetting the envious and calumniators, making merry with drunkards, gluttons, and adulterers, banqueting daily with the scurrilous, impostors, and those who are hated of God. Who then can doubt that they hate not vices but virtues?

Now compare this to Mormon's (presumably from Alma's account) of Noah and his priests in Mosiah 11.

Quote

2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.

6 Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.

7 Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them.

14 And it came to pass that he placed his heart upon his riches, and he spent his time in riotous living with his wives and his concubines; and so did also his priests spend their time with harlots.

15 And it came to pass that he planted vineyards round about in the land; and he built wine-presses, and made wine in abundance; and therefore he became a wine-bibber, and also his people.

So we basically get the same description of Noah and his priests (with some dramatic exaggeration) as we do of the Geneva clergy and their associates. And both accounts come from a former member of the inner circle who opposed the execution and was forced to leave over differences with the leaders.

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14 hours ago, JarMan said:

This is easier to show than you might imagine. The MI article begins by identifying three categories: 1) passages that are antimodalist, 2) passages that are neutral, and 3) passages that are modalist. They claim that, in the Book of Mormon, antimodalist passages outnumber modalist passages 20 to 1. But in doing so, they set themselves up as the sole arbiters of what is modalist and what is antimodalist. They didn't bother to consider what a modalist considers to be modalist and for this reason their results reflect only their own biases.

Consider that many of the "neutral" and "antimodalist" passages identified have clear corollaries in the bible. What we need to determine is how an actual modalist construes those passages. Well, modalists derive their views on the godhead from the bible. So they are no strangers to all of the ambiguous passages. Yet they interpret them in a way that supports modalism. For example, the article claims that one of the most clearly explicit antimodalist scriptures in the Book of Mormon is 3 Nephi 11:7: "Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him." But this passage has clear corollaries at Jesus' baptism in Matthew 3:17: "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Modalists are quite aware of this verse in Matthew but are undeterred from their position. For example, Servetus refers to Matthew 3:16 or 3:17 five different times in his "On the Errors of the Trinity."

The article's authors have failed to consider the nuanced views on bible passages by those considered to be modalists. They haven't even tried to approach the Book of Mormon as a modalist approaches the bible. Instead they have projected their own views onto passages in the Book of Mormon and proclaimed it to be antimodalist.

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. 

 

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4 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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. 

 

Social trinitarians at least those like me would not care if their arguments adhered to the "text" anyway since their main thesis is that there is another way of understanding the Trinity that has not been the predominant one.

There attempt is simply to make ANY kind of sense that Three Persons can be "ONE" in any sense other than a social sense- one in love, one in purpose, one as a family etc.  And I cannot see a way that any member of the church of Jesus Christ can see our doctrine of the Godhead in any other way- saying the beings are "one in purpose" is itself an assertion of Social Trinitarianism.

I must admit I have not really followed this thread but I am mostly responding to your post Ryan, and agree with you that yes, the text is ambiguous as all texts are.  Symbols are always ambiguous and words are symbols that take on their own lives and never do they fully "correspond to reality" anyway

So pardon me for sticking my head out of my hole and shooting off a potshot and then disappearing again-  but if it is relevant, I think this point should be considered.

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On 9/12/2019 at 10:33 AM, Calm said:

Not following your logic, please clarify. 

That's because it is self-contradictory.  :)

 

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"Father" is not a name - it is a title.

Jesus is the messenger and is the Father of salvation.  I am the father to my children, and could be a teacher to others, but I could also be a "Father" of those teachings as George Washington is "Father of our nation" or the Bishop is the "Father" of the ward.  Walt Disney was the "father" of the "wonderful world of Disney".  I can imagine an overly-enthusiastic employee giving a speech designed to be in praise of Walt to say "Walt Disney was the father of the Disney world".

This is not some huge mystery or something.   It is as always about ambiguous linguistic usage.  

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On 9/13/2019 at 8:08 PM, JarMan said:

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. 

It's OK that they are ad hoc IF they are- and I am not saying they are.  This is a church of on-going revelation and the theology is still developing- we do not have it all even now!!   The scriptures are not infallible and neither are the prophets- both ancient and modern- these are paradigms being honed.  Think of it as the scientific method ;)

Paradigms are refined and develop and work better than previous paradigms- that is why we still do not use leeches to take the bad blood out of people any more!

"God is Love".

It is the unity of three persons in love, and the unity itself is called "God"  Imagine the family called Love. 

Analogy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Love

Quote

Michael Edward "Mike" Love (born March 15, 1941) is an American singer and songwriter who co-founded the Beach Boys. Characterized by his nasal and sometimes baritone singing, Love has been one of the band's vocalists and lyricists for their entire career, contributed to each of their studio albums, and served as their frontman for live performances......

 

Love's mother Emily (known as "Glee") Wilson was the sister of Mary and Murry Wilson; their family resided in Los Angeles since the early 1920s. Glee married Edward Milton Love, the son of the founder of the Love Sheet Metal Company, in 1938. 

Edward Love is the father, Emily Love is the mother, Michael Love is the son.

All are "Loves" and are united by love in their family.

"Eloheim God" is the Father, Jesus God is the Son and Heavenly Mother God is the mother.  (The role of the Holy Ghost in human terms is intentionally not mentioned because we do not know how He fits into the scheme at this time)

Each of the Love family are LOVES

Each of the God family are Gods- (and we can be adopted members as well, starting with taking upon ourselves the name in Baptism, etc etc)

The analogy is not perfect obviously but hopefully illustrates how the Love family is ONE in being 1-) in love and 2) actually being named "Love".

The God family is one in being 1) unified by love and 2 ) all being named "God"

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 9/15/2019 at 1:03 PM, JarMan said:

The challenge I was bringing was squaring this belief with the principle that the prophet is infallible. What good is it to have a prophet interpret scripture if the prophet is fallible? Having fallible prophets who can re-interpret scripture as they please means that Mormon doctrine is constantly a moving target. Mormon doctrine is the proverbial slippery bar of soap.

So if you have cancer don't take any treatments because they are not yet perfected, and what is the purpose of taking a treatment that is a proverbial slippery bar of soap because the truth is a moving target.

This is the only church in existence that in a sense mirrors the scientific method with our analogy "on-going revelation".

If you personally receive ongoing revelation you will understand that it may give you an overall picture at first and then as the individual steps arise in getting from 1 to 100 at say step 57, you may get a mid-course correction because you messed up a little bit on step 50 back there somewhere.

This is PROCESS theology, not written "ONCE FOR ALL".  Our theology is about BECOMING- for us individually and for us as a community.  There is so much more we need to learn and our prophets put out the ideas for us to test.  Sometimes they nail it perfectly and sometimes they don't.

We should not be children being led as babies, but be thinking for ourselves and nothing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches otherwise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_theology

Quote

 

Process theology is a type of theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead's (1861–1947) process philosophy, most notably by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000) and John B. Cobb (b. 1925). Process theology and process philosophy are collectively referred to as "process thought".

For both Whitehead and Hartshorne, it is an essential attribute of God to affect and be affected by temporal processes, contrary to the forms of theism that hold God to be in all respects non-temporal (eternal), unchanging (immutable), and unaffected by the world (impassible). Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal (will never die), immutable (in the sense that God is unchangingly good), and impassible (in the sense that God's eternal aspect is unaffected by actuality), but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.[1]

According to Cobb, "process theology may refer to all forms of theology that emphasize event, occurrence, or becoming over substance. In this sense theology influenced by Hegel is process theology just as much as that influenced by Whitehead. This use of the term calls attention to affinities between these otherwise quite different traditions."[2][3] Also Pierre Teilhard de Chardin can be included among process theologians,[4] even if they are generally understood as referring to the Whiteheadian/Hartshornean school, where there continue to be ongoing debates within the field on the nature of God, the relationship of God and the world, and immortality.

 

 

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On 9/15/2019 at 8:09 PM, JarMan said:

If I proclaim that the Lord will not permit me to lead anyone astray, are you obligated then to believe me? 

Put another way, if a prophet is fallible, then we can have no assurance that Wilford Woodruff's statement is true in the first place.

Which is why you need to follow Moroni's promise, James 1:5 and all the other admonitions from prophets through the ages to get your own answers.

Blindly following anyone is idiocy.  Follow only what the Lord tells you.  And if that includes that the church is not for you, you should not be here.  :)

Let me adjust that.  I would not be here if I did not have a testimony.  I suppose others may just be here for other reasons- but if so I would suggest that it is their decision to be here and no one else's.

End of rant.

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On 9/15/2019 at 1:18 PM, JarMan said:

.... What you are asking is to ignore contradictions and pretend they don't exist, claiming this leads to wisdom...... Let's identify the contradictions and embrace them as part of a complex heritage of religious understanding. That seems like the honest approach to me.

So which is it?  Does proving contraries lead to wisdom or not?

Just trying to decipher what you are saying

https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Intellectual_History

Quote

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that "by proving contraries, truth is made manifest" (HC 6:248). To "study it out in your mind" is often a prerequisite to heavenly assistance (D&C 9:8), and communication from God may sometimes be recognized by its effect on the mind. Latter-day Saints were enjoined early to seek knowledge out of the best books (D&C 88:118) and to establish schools (see Schools of the Prophets) for instruction in both sacred and secular matters.

 

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duplicate

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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duplicate

Edited by mfbukowski

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duplicate. No indication the others posted

Edited by mfbukowski

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9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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.

I haven't shifted my argument. But apparently I haven't explained it well enough either, so I'll try again. Bruening and Paulsen proffer a version of modalism that modalists wouldn't agree with. This allows them to easily show that modalism is incompatible with the Book of Mormon. A legitimate scholarly approach would have been to look at what modalists actually say about the godhead, rather than presenting their own opinion of what they think modalists would say. This would have been especially helpful for those passages that are similar in the bible and Book of Mormon. With that approach it's fairly easy to see that the Book of Mormon is, in fact, very compatible with modalism. That's not to say that modalism is the only possible interpretation. But it does indicate that Bruening's and Paulsen's conclusions are simply wrong.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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. 

I haven't tried to make this case. Whether a modalist interpretation of the bible is the best or worst is irrelevant to my point. I only point out that a modalist would find almost nothing in the Book of Mormon to disagree with. This means the Book of Mormon is compatible with modalism.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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. 

I've done none of these things. I labeled the 1916 statement as prooftexting and ad hoc. I labeled the article's presentation of modalism as a straw man. You haven't so much disputed these criticisms as stomped around saying you disagree.

And I do confidently assert that Abinadi taught the same heresy as Servetus. I can confidently assert this because I have read what Servetus had to say on the subject. Until you do the same you can't confidently assert anything.

9 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

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. 

Until you wade through Servetus I'm not going to consider advice on how to present my argument. And you are misunderstanding what I am trying to do by showing that modalism is consistent with the Book of Mormon. I don't have a doctrinal dog in this fight. Nor do I deny the ambiguity in the text. My argument is that the Book of Mormon can be read consistent with modalism. Don't make the same mistake as Bruening and Paulsen and say the opposite without first understanding what modalists actually do say.

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15 minutes ago, JarMan said:

This allows them to easily show that modalism is incompatible with the Book of Mormon. A legitimate scholarly approach would have been to look at what modalists actually say about the godhead, rather than presenting their own opinion of what they think modalists would say.

To make this a convincing argument it would be good for your case to say something like

  • "This is what Modalist Xyz actually says about the godhead:  <quote quote etc>
  • This is how Ari Bruening and David Paulsen incorrectly defined modalism.:  <quote quote etc>
  • Clearly we can see that Xyz did not say what Ari Bruening and David Paulsen incorrectly defined modalism, because they said: <quote quote etc>
  • Therefore it is clear that what they presented as Xyz's point was NOT at all what Xyz said...."
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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

So if you have cancer don't take any treatments because they are not yet perfected, and what is the purpose of taking a treatment that is a proverbial slippery bar of soap because the truth is a moving target.

This is the only church in existence that in a sense mirrors the scientific method with our analogy "on-going revelation".

If you personally receive ongoing revelation you will understand that it may give you an overall picture at first and then as the individual steps arise in getting from 1 to 100 at say step 57, you may get a mid-course correction because you messed up a little bit on step 50 back there somewhere.

This is PROCESS theology, not written "ONCE FOR ALL".  Our theology is about BECOMING- for us individually and for us as a community.  There is so much more we need to learn and our prophets put out the ideas for us to test.  Sometimes they nail it perfectly and sometimes they don't.

We should not be children being led as babies, but be thinking for ourselves and nothing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches otherwise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_theology

You apparently haven't appreciated the context of my slippery soap remarks and I really don't want to re-explain. "Sometimes they nail it perfectly and sometimes they don't." I'll agree with you on that.

3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Which is why you need to follow Moroni's promise, James 1:5 and all the other admonitions from prophets through the ages to get your own answers.

Blindly following anyone is idiocy.  Follow only what the Lord tells you.  And if that includes that the church is not for you, you should not be here.  :)

Let me adjust that.  I would not be here if I did not have a testimony.  I suppose others may just be here for other reasons- but if so I would suggest that it is their decision to be here and no one else's.

End of rant.

Look, I don't really disagree with any of this. But, again, I think you are responding to some of my comments without the full context.

3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

So which is it?  Does proving contraries lead to wisdom or not?

Just trying to decipher what you are saying

https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Intellectual_History

I don't know what you mean by proving contraries. What I'm responding to here is the fundamentalist idea that all scripture needs to be harmonized. This practice leads to ad hoc doctrine. That's how we got the doctrine of the trinity. This is also how we got the 1916 statement on the godhead. I'd rather acknowledge differences in scripture with eyes wide open.

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36 minutes ago, JarMan said:

You apparently haven't appreciated the context of my slippery soap remarks and I really don't want to re-explain. "Sometimes they nail it perfectly and sometimes they don't." I'll agree with you on that.

Look, I don't really disagree with any of this. But, again, I think you are responding to some of my comments without the full context.

I don't know what you mean by proving contraries. What I'm responding to here is the fundamentalist idea that all scripture needs to be harmonized. This practice leads to ad hoc doctrine. That's how we got the doctrine of the trinity. This is also how we got the 1916 statement on the godhead. I'd rather acknowledge differences in scripture with eyes wide open.

Assuming your arguments are really there in this thread, I will go back and try to find the "full context"

The reference to "proving contraries" can be found in the link I provided quoting Joseph's homespun version of dialectical reasoning.

It means essentially that interpretations that seem incompatible are not necessarily incompatible when analyzed in detail and the alleged incompatibilities are closely examined and fully discussed.  I don't understand what your position is I suppose it seems you are attacking incompatibilities in scripture then saying that harmonizing scripture is "fundamentalist" and saying that it leads to "ad hoc doctrine" while Joseph seems to disagree with you, essentially saying that

“By proving contraries, truth is made manifest.”

Terryl Givens made several good points about that comment of Joseph's, one of which can be found here:

https://www.timesandseasons.org/harchive/2007/11/reflections-on-people-of-paradox-by-the-author/

Quote

 

The results of my study have persuaded me that the argument I made at the Library of Congress [archives here] is worth making, that is, that there was something deliberate and almost systematic about Joseph Smith’s method of working by contraries. I have always been partial to Hegel’s view of a tragic universe as one in which the highest Goods often come into fatal collision with each other. This view seems amply borne out in Joseph’s thought, and illustrated in our cultural response.

Do you think it would be better for Mormons to resolve or somehow get past these
paradoxes?

Finally, do I think we had better try to move beyond, or to resolve, some of these paradoxes? No indeed. I believe Paradox is the sign of a healthy universe, voracious enough to insist on having its cake and eating it too. Paradox is a sign of richness and plenitude. It is Adam and Eve, reaching for both godly aspiration and childlike submission. It is priesthood that is power with no compulsion. It is the weeping God, an infinitely powerful deity who is sovereign of the universe and as vulnerable to pain as the widow with a wayward son. I believe paradox is the inescapable condition of moral agents inhabiting a universe that does not readily yield to our values.

 

But how these remarks of yours square with the idea that you'd "rather acknowledge differences in scripture with eyes wide open" while doing so leads to "ad hoc doctrine"

I suppose you mean that you LIKE "ad hoc doctrine" then??

I am puzzled.  But thanks for the invitation to go back and examine your contexts, I will happily do so.  This whole line of reasoning seems very mysterious to me  :)

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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2 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

To make this a convincing argument it would be good for your case to say something like

  • "This is what Modalist Xyz actually says about the godhead:  <quote quote etc>
  • This is how Ari Bruening and David Paulsen incorrectly defined modalism.:  <quote quote etc>
  • Clearly we can see that Xyz did not say what Ari Bruening and David Paulsen incorrectly defined modalism, because they said: <quote quote etc>
  • Therefore it is clear that what they presented as Xyz's point was NOT at all what Xyz said...."

What you're asking for is actually unnecessary to make my case. I talked about 3 Nephi 11:7 since that was presented as one of the best cases for the Book of Mormon being antimodalist. I showed that Matthew 3:16-17 was a clear New Testament corollary. And I showed that Servetus cited these NT verses several times. So it's clear that these NT verses did not deter him from his position. Had he been able to read 3 Nephi 11:7 it would not have contradicted his beliefs. So we don't even need to know how Servetus reconciled these and other verses in the NT. The fact that he did reconcile them is good enough. Bruening and Paulsen took the approach that if they, themselves, couldn't reconcile the verses then they must necessarily be antimodalist.

Bruening and Paulsen could have done a similar analysis on the Bible. If they were to go verse by verse through the bible and explain why they thought the bible did not support that the Father and the Son were the same person, that would be a valid scholarly approach. (And it would be valid with the Book of Mormon as well.) But if they were to do the same analysis and instead conclude that modalists didn't exist, that would be invalid scholarship. We know there are modalists. They simply come to a different conclusion by reading the same verses. So they failed to realize that people could read the Book of Mormon and understand it modalistically.

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3 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

But how these remarks of yours square with the idea that you'd "rather acknowledge differences in scripture with eyes wide open" while doing so leads to "ad hoc doctrine"

I suppose you mean that you LIKE "ad hoc doctrine" then??

I am puzzled.  But thanks for the invitation to go back and examine your contexts, I will happily do so.  This whole line of reasoning seems very mysterious to me  :)

Attempting to harmonize doctrines leads to ad hoc doctrine. For instance, we get all these seemingly contradictory remarks in the bible about God. So we attempt to make sense of them all, but we start with the assumption that all of the remarks are true. The explanation we come up with is the idea that God is three persons made of the same substance, but that there is only one god. This, of course, can't be found anywhere in the bible. Nor does it make any logical sense. This is not the approach I favor.

I prefer to approach the problem by not assuming that all of the seemingly contradictory remarks can be harmonized. In other words, I tend to believe that apparent contradiction is most likely real contradiction based on the fact that some person or persons along the way got it wrong. In other words, I don't assume infallibility for any source. 

I hope this now seems less puzzling and mysterious.

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1 hour ago, JarMan said:

What you're asking for is actually unnecessary to make my case. I talked about 3 Nephi 11:7 since that was presented as one of the best cases for the Book of Mormon being antimodalist. I showed that Matthew 3:16-17 was a clear New Testament corollary. And I showed that Servetus cited these NT verses several times. So it's clear that these NT verses did not deter him from his position. Had he been able to read 3 Nephi 11:7 it would not have contradicted his beliefs. So we don't even need to know how Servetus reconciled these and other verses in the NT. The fact that he did reconcile them is good enough. Bruening and Paulsen took the approach that if they, themselves, couldn't reconcile the verses then they must necessarily be antimodalist.

Bruening and Paulsen could have done a similar analysis on the Bible. If they were to go verse by verse through the bible and explain why they thought the bible did not support that the Father and the Son were the same person, that would be a valid scholarly approach. (And it would be valid with the Book of Mormon as well.) But if they were to do the same analysis and instead conclude that modalists didn't exist, that would be invalid scholarship. We know there are modalists. They simply come to a different conclusion by reading the same verses. So they failed to realize that people could read the Book of Mormon and understand it modalistically.

I would suggest to do as I suggested- and make quotes with references to each position that YOU think the person you are quoting said, indicating why they are wrong.

This does none of that.  We have not even gotten into what a modalist is or is not or why certain scriptures are interpreted as "modalist" etc, nor are there any quotes showing Bruening and Paulsen's words for comparison.

Again I would simply suggest that to make your argument clear, you should write it in the format I suggested and not simply repeat your same assertions again and again.

As I said though I will go through the thread to suggest ways to make your argument stronger.

Frankly I have no dogs in this fight- it is pretty clear to me that the early BOM shows Protestant modalist tendencies and as Joseph's grasp of how each position he took implied an entire theological paradigm, he tweaked his positions until he finally ended up at the doctrine in the King Follette discourse.

I don't have any problem with this, and others do.  It does not cause me to think he was not a prophet any more than following the progression of others in other areas- perhaps Mozart's music and his progression as a composer for example, means that Mozart was not a great composer.   It is a wonderful progression and after all aren't we all about progression??

And do we believe that prophets must always be consistent and fixed in their positions attempting to be infallible?  Why does the fact that Joseph's grasp of doctrine changed and developed bother anyone?  Oh wait- I get it- the Book of Mormon is supposed to be "historical" and it is therefore PERCEIVED that it contains no input from Joseph- but that he is quoting God verbatim and of course God does not progress.

There are so many problems with that position I cannot even list them all.

But I just really really dislike bad arguments.  :)

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1 hour ago, JarMan said:

I prefer to approach the problem by not assuming that all of the seemingly contradictory remarks can be harmonized. In other words, I tend to believe that apparent contradiction is most likely real contradiction based on the fact that some person or persons along the way got it wrong. In other words, I don't assume infallibility for any source. 

I hope this now seems less puzzling and mysterious.

Well frankly perhaps it is not worth the effort, because I think it is not so simple and can be seen multiple ways

I believe that 99% of contradictory remarks are the result of unclear semantics.  The remainder results I think from genuine disagreements on assumptions, where one party simply cannot be moved.   Yes some might be "wrong" but defining what that means cannot be defined because that means one can also define what "not wrong"- meaning "truth" - can be defined, and in my opinion and several schools of contemporary philosophy, truth is undefinable, and who is "right" is always debatable and therefore who is "wrong" is just as debatable.  This is called "analytical philosophy" which was the major trend in philosophy in English in the 20th century.

That's why I suggested analyzing arguments instead of trying to worry about what is "true".

I know it is unlikely to help but I will give a few references anyway for anyone else who might be interested. 

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-deflationary/

or here:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning/#FregSema

Quote

 

In “General Semantics”, David Lewis wrote

I distinguish two topics: first, the description of possible languages or grammars as abstract semantic systems whereby symbols are associated with aspects of the world; and, second, the description of the psychological and sociological facts whereby a particular one of these abstract semantic systems is the one used by a person or population. Only confusion comes of mixing these two topics. (Lewis 1970: 19)

Lewis was right. Even if philosophers have not consistently kept these two questions separate, there clearly is a distinction between the questions “What is the meaning of this or that symbol (for a particular person or group)?” and “In virtue of what facts about that person or group does the symbol have that meaning?”


 

Rorty had this view, Wittgenstein had this view, Russell had this view.  If you are not defining terms and analyzing language in detail, you will not have a strong argument.

One man's "modalism" might not be another man's modalism.

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2 hours ago, JarMan said:

Attempting to harmonize doctrines leads to ad hoc doctrine.

Yes of course, and there is nothing wrong with that.  It leads to discussion and things change.  It is evolution and progression- those ideas which survive, survive, and others die because they are not strong enough to create a community to defend them and devote themselves to the belief.

It is the evolution of memes- in the original sense, in action.

Quote

 

Definition of meme

1: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a cultureMemes (discrete units of knowledge, gossip, jokes and so on) are to culture what genes are to life. Just as biological evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest genes in the gene pool, cultural evolution may be driven by the most successful memes.— Richard Dawkins

 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme

 

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17 hours ago, JarMan said:

I haven't shifted my argument. But apparently I haven't explained it well enough either, so I'll try again. Bruening and Paulsen proffer a version of modalism that modalists wouldn't agree with. This allows them to easily show that modalism is incompatible with the Book of Mormon. A legitimate scholarly approach would have been to look at what modalists actually say about the godhead, rather than presenting their own opinion of what they think modalists would say.

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:

Quote

In analyzing this historical data, we use the term modalist to refer to texts that explicitly or implicitly assert that one and only one person is God and antimodalist to refer to texts that explicitly or implicitly differentiate at least two members of the Christian Godhead. Given this terminology, passages affirming or implying trinitarianism would be a subset of antimodalist texts. Most references to God in these documents are evidentially neutral as between these two competing models (hereafter, simply, evidentially neutral). For instance, passages which affirm the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are “one” or “one God” are evidentially neutral. While this language could plausibly be construed as implying modalism, “three persons, one God” is the very essence of trinitarianism. Only passages that assert or imply that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one person would count for modalism. Passages that refer to Christ as “God” or even as “the eternal God” are also evidentially neutral; both models affirm that Christ is God or fully divine. Finally, passages that refer to Christ as “the Creator (or Father) of heaven and earth” are also evidentially neutral; both models affirm that Christ created all things (see John 1:1-3; see also Hebrews 1:1-2).

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. 

17 hours ago, JarMan said:

I've done none of these things. I labeled the 1916 statement as prooftexting and ad hoc. I labeled the article's presentation of modalism as a straw man. You haven't so much disputed these criticisms as stomped around saying you disagree.

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. 

17 hours ago, JarMan said:

And I do confidently assert that Abinadi taught the same heresy as Servetus. I can confidently assert this because I have read what Servetus had to say on the subject. Until you do the same you can't confidently assert anything.

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. 

17 hours ago, JarMan said:

Until you wade through Servetus I'm not going to consider advice on how to present my argument. And you are misunderstanding what I am trying to do by showing that modalism is consistent with the Book of Mormon. I don't have a doctrinal dog in this fight. Nor do I deny the ambiguity in the text. My argument is that the Book of Mormon can be read consistent with modalism. Don't make the same mistake as Bruening and Paulsen and say the opposite without first understanding what modalists actually do say.

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. 

 

Edited by Ryan Dahle

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On 9/17/2019 at 5:17 PM, JarMan said:

I see two problems with this. The first is, how would you ever know if what is being pronounced is being pronounced as a prophet? And the second problem is that, like it or not, a person's brain is fallible: it's human, even if God is not.

How we are supposed to know when a man is speaking as a prophet of God is by us how we receive a testimony from the Holy Ghost to assure us that what the man said was said as a prophet of God.  By that same spirit, we can know when a man is speaking as a prophet of God.

You should know this if you are acquainted with God enough to know how to receive a witness from him, personally.  It's not as if somebody else calling that man a prophet is supposed to "clue you in" and tell you that, yeah, okay, what he said is what God inspired him to say.

You're never supposed to just take another man's word for when someone is speaking as a prophet of God, and you shouldn't need anyone other than God to tell you when another man is speaking for him.  You're supposed to do your own homework and any witness from anyone else about anything is only evidence of what that man says is true, or not true.  You're supposed to use your own mind to communicate with God for yourself.

And yes you could possibly be wrong about something, and so could I, but it is better to use your own mind to communicate with God, or at least try to, instead of depending on some other man to act as an intermediary for you to let you know what God thinks.

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