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Early Christianity And Mormonism


Drewm777

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I wrote a paper on the concept of Hades or the Intermediate state, Salvation post-mortem, and so forth. I outlined Biblical concepts, Early Christian concepts, and then compared those with Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism(s), and Mormonism.

I'd like to make it available to you all. Don't distribute it without my name, however, as I am still trying to get it published.

I claim full rights.

Make sure you read the footnotes.

Now, would you consider this issue important? Would you say that Early Christianity and Mormonism are only similar in areas that aren't important? Also, is the concept of post-mortem salvation and so forth only on the fringes in early Christianity?

Hades.doc

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Nice work. Haven't finished reading it, but it definately gets into something we don't discuss all that much (and maybe should). And it just further highlights the issues that come up in the repeated translation of these texts, how 3 different words become the same one in English and how the meaning shifts so far away from what it had been originally.

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Sure!

1 It is natural to divide Christianity into the subgroups of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism and ignorantly place the Latter-day Saint movement within Protestantism. However, many basic Mormon doctrines are recognizably distinct from those of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy or Protestantism, and Latter-day Saints do not consider themselves to be part of the Christian Reformation. They assert that true Christianity did not continue through Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy and that Protestantism only reformed certain portions of the already existent Christianity while God restored true Christianity to a prophet, Joseph Smith. Further, scholars are now debating whether Mormonism could be considered a new world religion.

2 James Strong, New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2. Greek word 86.

3 KJV Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke. 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27; 2:31; Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:13; 10:14.

4 “Hell” denotes “a nether world in which the dead continue to exist.” However, the most common definition of the word in modern society is “the realm of the devil in which the damned suffer everlasting punishment.” See The Merriam Webster Dictionary, 10th Edition.

5 See Michael Vogel, “The Intermediate State of Souls in the Old Testament,” http://www.wls.wels.net/publications/theol...l/VogelSoul.rtf. He asserts that some interpret the word Hades to mean hell. “In most instances in the New Testament, Hades means hell.”

6 “Gehenna” appears eleven times and “Hades” only appears four times in the Gospels.

7 See 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2-6; and 2 Kings 23:10.

8 Strong, New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament, 19. Greek word 1067.

9 Hippolytus also uses Tartarus to denote the place of punishment in Hades. (Fragments from Commentaries in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante- Nicene Fathers, 10 vols. [1885; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004], 5:174. [Hereafter ANF])

10 Kenneth Barker ed., The NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), footnote for 2 Peter 2:4. Strong, New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words of the Greek Testament, 89. Greek word 5020.

11 2 Peter 2:4.

12 The other references to Hades found in Acts 2:27; 2:31, Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14 are all clearly referring to a place where the dead dwell and not of a place of eternal punishment. Rev. 20:13-14 specifically states that Hades will have a permanent end.

13 The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982, Hereafter NKJV), Matt. 11:23.

14 Strong, New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament, 65. Greek word 3772

15 See, for example, Hippolytus, Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe 1 in ANF 5:221-222 and Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LV. in Ibid., 3:231.

16 NKJV Matt. 16:18.

17 Matt. 16:18. Today’s New International Version (Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 2005)

18 By comparison, in The Gospel of Nicodemus the “gates” mentioned in Psalm 24 refer to the gates of Hades and the attempt made there to keep out the “King of Glory.” See The Gospel of Nicodemus, Part II, 6 in ANF 8:436-437.

19 Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, or Miscellanies VI. in Ibid., 2:490.

20 NKJV Luke 16:23.

21 This will be discussed later in the paper. See also Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, New Updated Edition. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993), 669.

22 This paper uses “Early Church Fathers” to specifically refer to the ante-Nicene Church leaders, including the Apostolic Fathers.

23 Hippolytus, Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe in ANF., 5:221-222; William Whiston attributes this same exposition to Josephus. It seems much more likely to have been Hippolytus’ teaching, however, due to the many references to Christ, the Word, the Son, the Father, etc. (William Whiston ed., Josephus: The Complete Works. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998], 974.) It is clear, however, that the concept of Hades was not foreign to Josephus (See Whiston, ed., Josephus: The Complete Works, 786).

Some of the quotes from the early Christian fathers used in this paper may come from sources that are disputed. However, all of the documents are clearly of early Christian origin and reflect early Christian thought, whether the supposed author wrote them or not. They are therefore pertinent to the discussion. With more time and discoveries it is probable that scholars will know more concerning the origin of many of these documents, and even bring some documents into dispute that are currently undisputed.

24 Darkness is consistently implied to describe the place or state of the wicked in the intermediate state.

25 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LV in ANF 3:231.

26 Ibid., LVIII in Ibid., 3:234-235.

27 Irenaeus, Against Heresies XXIX.3 in Ibid., 1:403.

28 Origen, De Principiis XI.6 in Ibid., 4:299.

29 Justin Martyr in David W. Bercot, ed. Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1998), 191.

30 Irenaeus, Against Heresies XXXI.2 in ANF 1:560-561.

31 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul VIII in Ibid., 3:187. As an interesting side note, Tertullian uses the punishment and consolation given in Hades as proof for the unusual view that spirits are material or corporal. While this view is definitely not a part of modern Catholic or Protestant doctrine, Joseph Smith also taught that spirits are material in nature. “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by pure eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.” (Doctrine and Covenants 131:7-:P “In tracing the thing to the foundation, and looking at it philosophically, we shall find a very material difference between the body and the spirit; the body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit, by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latter statement we should beg leave to differ, and state the spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic and refined matter than the body; that it existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection, be again united with it.” (Joseph Smith in Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [salt Lake City: Deseret, 1976], 207.)

32 Tertullian, On Idolatry XIII in ANF 3:69. Tertullian was not consistent in his views, however. On another occasion he seemed to differentiate between Hades and Abraham’s bosom. See Ibid., 3:406.

33 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LVI in Ibid., 3:233.

34 Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho V in Ibid., 1:197.

35 Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse in Ibid., 7:351.

36 Tatian is the only possible exception, although his teachings on the idea are extremely vague. See Ibid., 2:70-71.

37 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LVIII in Ibid., 3:235.

Ibid.

38 Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata XIX in Ibid., 2:505.

John Norman Davidson Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, revised edition. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 473.

39

40 Ibid., 483.

41 J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 485. The idea of Purgatory would later grow out of Augustine’s doctrine as here stated.

42 NKJV 1 Peter 3:18-19; 4:6. This same theme appears in the early Christian document entitled The Gospel of Peter. “When the solders saw these things, they woke up the centurion and the elders—for they were also there on guard. As they were explaining what they had seen, they saw three men emerge from the tomb, two of them supporting the other, with a cross following behind them. The heads of the two reached up to the sky, but the head of the one they were leading went up above the skies. And they heard a voice from the skies, ‘Have you preached to those who are asleep?’ And a reply came from the cross, ‘Yes.’ ” (Bart D. Ehrman, ed., Lost Scriptures. [New York: Oxford, 2003], 33)

43 Irenaeus, Against Heresies XXXI in ANF 1:560.

44 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LV in Ibid., 3:231.

45 Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho LXXII in ANF 1:234-235. Irenaeus quoted the same scripture in Ibid., 1:560. “And the Lord remembered His dead saints who slept formerly in the land of sepulture; and He descended to them, to rescue and saved them.”

45 Origen, Against Celsus XLIII in Ibid., 4:448.

46 The Lost Books of the Bible (New York: Alpha House, 1927), 63.

47 The Gospel of Nicodemus Part II, 3 in ANF 8:436.

48 KJV Isaiah 9:2.

49 The Gospel of Nicodemus Part II, 7 in ANF 8:437.

50 The language concerning the gates of brass and the iron bars is clearly reminiscent of Psalm 107:10-19.

51 NKJV Luke 16:26.

52 Ignatius, Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians IX in ANF 1:70.

53 Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata VI in Ibid., 2:490

54 Ibid., 2:491.

55 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. (1883; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2006), 2:680-681

56 Ibid., 2:688-689.

57 “The seal” was often used to denote baptism in early Christian writings. J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 194-195.

58 The Pastor of Hermas, Similitude XVI in ANF 2:49. For an excellent discussion of this passage, see Richard L. Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 408-410.

59 “Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” (NKJV 1 Corinthians 15:29)

60 Clement of Alexandria The Stromata VI in ANF 2:491.

61 He posed the question often asked of him in this way, “‘If Christ,’ they say, ‘declares himself to be the Way of salvation, the Grace and the Truth, and affirms that in Him alone, and only to souls believing in Him, is the way of return to God, what has become of men who lived in the many centuries before Christ came? ... What, then, has become of such an innumerable multitude of souls, who were in no wise blameworthy, seeing that He in whom alone saving faith can be exercised had not yet favoured men with His advent?’” After a lengthy response, he summed up the matter in one sentence. “Let them, therefore, desist from bringing against us objections which are of equal force against every sect, and against religion of every name.” That is, Augustine had no answer, but he felt justified by the fact that no other religion or sect had an answer at that time either. (Letters of St. Augustine CII.8 in Schaff, Philip, ed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, 14 vols. [1885; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004.], 1:416-417.)

62 While it might be argued that not all early Christians believed in the concept of postmortem salvation, it is clear that the doctrine was generally accepted and considered to be within the mainstream. Among their writings, there are a few statements that seem to imply there is no postmortem salvation. However, many times the context of their statements can significantly alter their meaning. Christians did not generally believe that they would have an opportunity to repent after death, since they already had that opportunity. Postmortem salvation was generally for those who hadn’t heard of Christianity. For example, “After we have departed from the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will belong to us.” (Clement, The Homily Ascribed to Clement VII in ANF., 7:519, emphasis not in original)

63 Bruce A. Demarest, Gordon R. Lewis. Integrative Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) 3:447-448.

64 “Christ’s Descent into ‘Hell,’” http://www.cuf.org/FileDownloads/hellhades.pdf.

65 Ibid., 3:447.

66 Integrative Theology, 3:448; Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 5:760.

67 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 5:760.

68 Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Doubleday: New York, 1995), 353, paragraph 1261.

69 Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Doubleday: New York, 1995), 244, paragraphs 847-848.

70 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LV in ANF 3:231. Irenaeus, Against Heresies XXXI in ANF 1:560-561.

71 Justin Martyr in Bercot, Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, 191.

72 Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata XIV in ANF 2:505; Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LVIII in ANF 3:235.

73 Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho V in Ibid., 1:197.

74 Origen, Against Celsus XLIII in Ibid., 4:448.

75 “Death, the Threshold to Eternal Life,” http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7076.asp.

76 “The Intermediate State,” http://occidentalis.blogspot.com/2005/04/i...iate-state.html.

77 “Death, the Threshold to Eternal Life,” http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7076.asp.

78 Robert C. Mills, “Death and the Intermediate State?” http://mywebpages.comcast.net/pastorbob/th...ediatestate.htm.

79 Ibid.

80 The following brief discussion on the different protestant views is largely drawn from Integrative Theology, 3:449-500.

81 Ibid., 3:451.

82Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LVIII in ANF 3:234-235.

83 Integrative Theology, 3:453.

84 “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (NIV Luke 24:38-39)

85 Integrative Theology, 3:447

86 See “Of the State of Men After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead” in The Westminster Confession, Chapter XXXII.

87 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul LV in ANF 3:231.

88 Polycarp, The Epistle of Polycarp IX in Ibid., 1:35.

89 Stephen T. Davis, Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 151.

90 Ibid., 162

91 Ibid., 164

92 L. Harold DeWolf, The Case for Theology in Liberal Perspective (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1959), 174.

93 Brian Hebblethwait, The Christian Hope (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 218-219.

94 Clark H. Pinnock as quoted in Integrative Theology, 3:452

95 Hank Hanegraaff, “What Happens to People Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?,” http://www.equip.org/free/CP0207.htm.

96 Preface, NIV Study Bible.

97 Ibid., footnote for 1 Peter 4:6.

98 Frederic W. Farrar recognized that modern Christianity has largely been neglectful of the concept of postmortem salvation, “a much-disregarded, and indeed, till recent times half-forgotten, article of the Christian creed—I mean the object of Christ’s descent into Hades.” He then continued, “In this truth is involved nothing less than the extension of Christ’s redeeming work to the dead....I allude of course to the famous passage...that ‘Christ...went and preached to the spirits in prison.’... Few words of Scripture have been so tortured and emptied of their significance as these...Every effort has been made to explain away the plain meaning of this passage. It is one of the most precious passages of Scripture, and it involves no ambiguity, except as is created by the scholasticism of a prejudiced theology...For if language have any meaning, this language means that Christ, when His Spirit descended into the lower world, proclaimed the message of salvation to the once impenitent dead. No honest man who goes to Holy Scripture to seek for truth, instead of going to try and find whatever errors he may bring to it as part of his theological belief, can possibly deny that there is ground here to mitigate that element of the popular teaching of Christendom against which many of the greatest Saints and theologians have raised their voices [that is, the exclusivist view]....We thus rescue the work of redemption from the appearance of having failed to achieve its end for the vast majority of those for whom Christ died. By accepting the light thus thrown upon ‘the descent into Hell’ we extend to those of the dead who have not finally hardened themselves against it the blessedness of Christ’s atoning work. We thus complete the divine, all-comprehending circuit of God’s universal grace!” (Farrar, Frederic W. The Early Days of Christianity, 2 Vols. [New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882] 1:139-143) The translators of the NIV have shown their own theological bias by their unfounded addition to the Bible, notwithstanding the warning of John (Revelation 21:19).

99 For examples see http://www.gforceministry.com/mormonism.htm.

http://www.geocities.com/pvrosman/Mormons_...ore_Things.html.

100 Joseph Smith. B.H. Roberts ed., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1951), 5:425. (Hereafter HC)

101 Brigham Young. Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886), 4:285.

102 Ibid., 3:94-95.

103Ibid., 3:369.

104 Alma 40:11-14, 21

105 “Darkness” is used in a few other Latter-day Saint scriptures to denote the place or state of the wicked in the spirit world. See Doctrine and Covenants 38:5; 138:30,57.

106 Joseph Smith. HC 5:425.

107 Mosiah 2:38.

108 Many Latter-day Saints have used the word “prison” to refer specifically to the place or state of the wicked in the intermediate state. However, the term is ambiguous and has also been used by Latter-day Saints to denote the entire intermediate state. See Bruce R. McConkie. Mormon Doctrine, second edition. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 755.

109 Brigham Young. Journal of Discourses 8:154.

110 Doctrine and Covenants 19:4-8.

111 Joseph Smith. HC 4:597-598.

112 2 Nephi 9:25.

113 Joseph Smith. The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 197.

114 Ibid., 4:596.

115 Thomas A. Wayment, ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the New Testament. (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2005), 152-153.

116 Doctrine and Covenants 138:30-32.

117 Ibid., 138:57.

118 McConkie. Mormon Doctrine, 673.

119 See Ibid., 615-616; Doctrine and Covenants 128; The Pastor of Hermas, ANF 2:49.

120 As a side note, this concept is especially interesting when compared with the interpretation of Matt. 16:18 advanced previously in the paper. The “gates of Hades” will not keep the church from preaching the gospel to the dead, and the Church would have the authority to vicariously “seal” (baptize) on earth and have it “sealed” in heaven (i.e. the vicarious baptisms would be recognized by God).

121 Joseph Smith in The Essential Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature, 1995), 151-152.

122 Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1987), 170.

123 Peter in Recognitions of Clement LVIII, ANF 8:113.

124 Latter-day Saints, of course, have some doctrines concerning the spirit world or the intermediate state that are not clearly spelled out in early Christian thought (such as vicarious ordinances). These doctrines, however, unlike those of most of current thought in mainstream Christianity, are not contradictory but supplementary in nature to the early Christian views.

I had to go back and add all of the footnote numbers in after copying and pasting. They didn't follow. I hope I didn't get them to far off. But there is a change the numbers got off somewhere.

EDIT: Yeah, the numbers got off somewhere, I just can't find where. Anyway, there are the footnotes but thenumbers are all of by one or two (depending on where). Sorry! I tried

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Hey Drew! Just out of curiosity, is this paper the same version you sent me a while back, or is it a new and improved version? I've got that older copy at home somewhere, I'll have to dig it out. As I recall, it was really good! I'll have to get it out and reread it.

Take care, everyone :P

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Hey Drew! Just out of curiosity, is this paper the same version you sent me a while back, or is it a new and improved version? I've got that older copy at home somewhere, I'll have to dig it out. As I recall, it was really good! I'll have to get it out and reread it.

Take care, everyone :P

It should be a newer and much improved version. I've added material, corrected some, added some insightful footnotes, etc. I think it should be much more accurate.

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I enjoyed reading your paper. However I kept finding myself returning to the first 3 pages, but reading something different each time. :P

I have one question about the LDS belief of Spirit Prison: At one time I was taught, I have no references, that the seperation of the people there was self imposed ie those of a like mind gathered themslves together, and your paper implies that there was more of an enforced seperation. Is there any validity to what I was taught?

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