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Rivers

Do Latter-day Saints have the best theology?

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I’ve been thinking about how I would make a logical argument for the veracity of my religion to those of other faiths without relying on the traditional “read and pray” or testimony bearing approaches (not that those are bad).  

I feel the best approach is to go straight to the theology.  I would begin by laying out some basic assumptions:

-There is a God.

-God is benevolent.

I would then argue that there must be an afterlife since there is too much injustice in this life.  If God is loving then there would have to be an afterlife.

Then I would ask what kind of  if afterlife is  consistent with a benevolent God?  That obviously rules our Calvinism.  It would also rule out any religion that teaches anyone suffers forever in Hell for not having the right religion as is portrayed in the South Park movie.  Universalism makes  much more sense since God is loving.  And our understanding of varying degrees of glory is a universalist model that also takes into account the gradations of virtue and holiness that individuals attain. 

I can’t think of a better model consistent with a benevolent God.  Can you?

 

 

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For me personally I've never read another theology that makes sense (ie, that attempts to offer reasoned rational explanations for its beliefs).
The self proclaimed ignorance of the mysteries is one of the things that I don't enjoy in other religions.  I agree with Elder Holland - "How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable?"

And unlike what seems to be a growing segment of our membership, I absolutely adore the "King Follett" doctrine of divinization.  I find far more to worship in a being of my own species, my own spiritual dna, that has overcome and obeyed than I could ever find in a mysterious unknowable entity who started out perfect and never worked to become so.
 

Edited by JLHPROF
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12 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

For me personally I've never read another theology that makes sense (ie, that attempts to offer reasoned rational explanations for its beliefs).
The self proclaimed ignorance of the mysteries is one of the things that I don't enjoy in other religions.  I agree with Elder Holland - "How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable?"

And unlike what seems to be a growing segment of our membership, I absolutely adore the "King Follett" doctrine of theophany.  I find far more to worship in a being of my own species, my own spiritual dna, that has overcome and obeyed than I could ever find in a mysterious unknowable entity who started out perfect and never worked to become so.
 

Can't fathom for the life of me why people oppose King Follett. Never have I seen a more ennobling theological position. 

Our theology has the most compelling theodicy I've seen from anywhere and strikes an impressive stance on Christ's grace relative to works, which is one of today's most tendentious theological topics. I also can't deny that I find our cosmology extremely compelling. Theologically I think we are stronger than we often presume.

If anyone wants an excellent daily treatment of restored Church theology and its counterparts, I simply must recommend Robert Boylan's blog, Scriptural Mormonism. He usually posts a few times per day, has book-length texts on our theology relative to the wider Christian world, and offers very interesting insights on the Greek of holy scripture. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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What is LDS theology?  What is uniquely ours compared to other religions?

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It is sweet to the taste, exciting to the mind, and satisfying to the soul.

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5 minutes ago, 2BizE said:

What is LDS theology?  What is uniquely ours compared to other religions?

Surprisingly little.
Some would say Mormonism has cobbled together a religion from numerous disparate sources.
For me I would say that the eternal truth of Mormonism is found scattered among cultures and religions all over the world down through time since the beginning.

Why would we expect our religion to contain much that has never existed elsewhere?  We are hardly the first in history to have the truth.

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9 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Surprisingly little.
Some would say Mormonism has cobbled together a religion from numerous disparate sources.
For me I would say that the eternal truth of Mormonism is found scattered among cultures and religions all over the world down through time since the beginning.

Why would we expect our religion to contain much that has never existed elsewhere?  We are hardly the first in history to have the truth.

If we look at the entire spectrum of human religion from prehistory to now, there's little that's original, but I would say that we actually offer some impressive contrasts with contemporary Christianity. Our doctrine of exaltation/theosis is unique. Our definition of the Godhead is boldly divergent, as is our most esoteric priesthood theology. 

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7 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

If we look at the entire spectrum of human religion from prehistory to now, there's little that's original, but I would say that we actually offer some impressive contrasts with contemporary Christianity. Our doctrine of exaltation/theosis is unique. Our definition of the Godhead is boldly divergent, as is our most esoteric priesthood theology. 

Yes, we are quite different from contemporary Christianity.  But exaltation/theosis is hardly a uniquely Mormon concept.
Still, it's ironic that so many Christians object to the idea (and even a few modern LDS members).  Jesus didn't object to it.

  • Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

 

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2 hours ago, Rivers said:

I’ve been thinking about how I would make a logical argument for the veracity of my religion to those of other faiths without relying on the traditional “read and pray” or testimony bearing approaches (not that those are bad).  

I feel the best approach is to go straight to the theology.  I would begin by laying out some basic assumptions:

-There is a God.

-God is benevolent.

I would then argue that there must be an afterlife since there is too much injustice in this life.  If God is loving then there would have to be an afterlife.

Then I would ask what kind of  if afterlife is  consistent with a benevolent God?  That obviously rules our Calvinism.  It would also rule out any religion that teaches anyone suffers forever in Hell for not having the right religion as is portrayed in the South Park movie.  Universalism makes  much more sense since God is loving.  And our understanding of varying degrees of glory is a universalist model that also takes into account the gradations of virtue and holiness that individuals attain. 

I can’t think of a better model consistent with a benevolent God.  Can you?

 

 

Anyone you would share your logical argument with already knows and loves the God you would be trying to describe.  Perhaps best to just invite them to remember.

My experience has been that I understand Him best when I remember and build on our existing relationship rather than try to reconstruct Him using my finite mind.

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I do not think relying on theological argument is a good idea. The truth must come by revelation or we must remain ignorant. The best theology is the one that is accurate whether it is satisfying or horrifying.

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15 hours ago, 2BizE said:

What is LDS theology?  What is uniquely ours compared to other religions?

The Garden of Eden story would not make sense at all if we did not believe we came from the pre-existence with God.  The entire Plan of Happiness hinges on the careful setup made in the Garden and only made possible by the Atonement endured by the Only Begotten Son of God.

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11 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

When I was teaching for the Anglican Church, our atheist philosophy instructor, after noticing that I prayed before eating, asked me if I was culturally religious or a genuine believer. The latter, I told him. He seemed surprised, expressed his respect for my intelligence, and asked me how I responded to the 'problem of evil'. I laughed and told him I don't have a problem with evil. He then explained the philosophical concept to me.

I laughed again and said, 'That's easy'. I pulled my Book of Mormon out of my bag and turned 2 Nephi 2. We read and discussed most of the chapter. When we finished, he asked, 'Do you know what you have there? That solves problems philosophers have grappled with for millennia'. I told him that little children in our faith would have been able to answer his query and invited him to church. He declined.

I actually find this odd, unless I am mistaken. Aren't the two primary LDS theodicies the free will defense and the necessity of opposites? Those are hardly new in philosophy and have their own issues, too. Or is there another theodicy that you are referring to? It just surprises me that a philosophy professor would say such a thing.

ETA: and I'll also add that the statement that little LDS children can answer one of the most difficult theological/philosophical problems seems to show a misunderstanding of the problem, arrogance, and/or an insult to philosophers. I'll go with the first.

Edited by MiserereNobis
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14 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Yes, we are quite different from contemporary Christianity.  But exaltation/theosis is hardly a uniquely Mormon concept.
Still, it's ironic that so many Christians object to the idea (and even a few modern LDS members).  Jesus didn't object to it.

  • Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

 

Theosis is not a new concept, but our doctrine of family-based theosis is. The nature of sealing theology is pretty darn unique I'd say. 

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Because obviously the rest of the world's religious adherents are sitting around saying: "Damn I wish we had the theology that Mormons have!"

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2 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Because obviously the rest of the world's religious adherents are sitting around saying: "Damn I wish we had the theology that Mormons have!"

Because popular approval so obviously matters. 

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2 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Because obviously the rest of the world's religious adherents are sitting around saying: "Damn I wish we had the theology that Mormons have!"

😁

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1 minute ago, OGHoosier said:

Because popular approval so obviously matters. 

Popular approval has nothing to do with my response. I am trying to point out that what determines "best" in this context is quite arbitrary as we can see from the multitude of different religious beliefs. This thread could be started in any religious forum asking the same vague question and would get the same types of approvals from those believers. 

Maybe we should be asking what factors should be used to evaluate best from a variety of different believers before touting our own as the winner? IOW words we are winning a race with only one entrant here.

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Because obviously the rest of the world's religious adherents are sitting around saying: "Damn I wish we had the theology that Mormons have!"

They might be if they knew the truth...one day.  

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19 hours ago, Rivers said:

I would then argue that there must be an afterlife since there is too much injustice in this life.  If God is loving then there would have to be an afterlife.

There must be an afterlife otherwise what is the purpose of this life? What a waste of time this life would be if there is nothing after it. 
And the fact that as human beings we are able to even instinctively ask this question, suggests that there must be something after this life.
I am a scientist and considering the harmony in the biochemical processes that go on within the human body, I am convinced that it all did not come about by random chance. 

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Because obviously the rest of the world's religious adherents are sitting around saying: "Damn I wish we had the theology that Mormons have!"

There is this:

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/are-christians-mormon-reassessing-joseph-smiths-theology-his-bicentennial

And go here and download Floyd M. Ross,  "Process Theology and Mormon Thought."

https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/issue-details/?in=31

And I also like things like Madsen's Eternal Man, and Nibley's talks on "The Terrible Questions".

Given the scandals of our origins, which makes us very unlikely candidates for having much interesting to say, we actually come across very well.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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8 minutes ago, JAHS said:

There must be an afterlife otherwise what is the purpose of this life? What a waste of time this life would be if there is nothing after it. 

Suicide would seem like a much more viable option.  Perhaps the decrease in belief in an afterlife has had an effect on suicide rates.

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31 minutes ago, JAHS said:

There must be an afterlife otherwise what is the purpose of this life? What a waste of time this life would be if there is nothing after it. 

A purposeless life is not an impossibility, so this doesn't work well as an argument for an afterlife.

22 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Suicide would seem like a much more viable option.  Perhaps the decrease in belief in an afterlife has had an effect on suicide rates.

The existentialists have some thoughtful responses to these issues. I recommend starting with "The Three Metamorphoses" by Nietzsche (an excerpt from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra") and "The Myth of Sisyphus" by Camus. They believe that one can face the fact of purposeless and meaningless and then, fully in possession of the truth, create an authentic, responsible life. Camus addresses suicide directly.

I'm not really too interested in going back and forth on existentialism here. I just wanted to point out that there are philosophical systems that begin with the belief that there is no afterlife, no purpose, no pre-ordained essence of life.

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2 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

ETA: and I'll also add that the statement that little LDS children can answer one of the most difficult theological/philosophical problems seems to show a misunderstanding of the problem, arrogance, and/or an insult to philosophers. I'll go with the first.

I am going to go with “all of the above”.

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