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Outstanding Apologetic Issues


Nofear

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I've updated the thread's original post. Let me know if I missed anything. So far, I haven't seen much where that hasn't been serious attempts at apologetic response. Are there questions that you think have fallen through the gaps as it were?

I suppose it depends on what you mean by fall through the cracks. If you mean a problem that does not have a counter apologetic argument then I think everything is covered. If you mean a problem that does not have a convincing apologetic counter argument well that depends on the person. I for one have yet to hear a convincing reason why universal objective truth claims obtained from personal spiritual experiences are frequently contradictory. However I am well aware someone else might well find nothing at all troubling with what I find troubling. Again how convincing we find various apologetic/critical arguments is highly subjective.

I get the impression the point of this thread is to list all the critical arguments point out they have been addressed by apologists and thereby imply there are no good critical arguments against church claims. Simply because a counter argument exists does not make it a good counter argument.

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Why don't prophets of God, and even God himself, state things in such a way so that there can be no confusion at all on an issue they are discussing each and every time they say something?

Do you know what I mean?

On most issues it seems to be that they say a little bit here, and then a little more there, while at times there appear to be contradictions.

I have already heard the answer to that question from some people who think they understand why God and his prophets don't go into every detail to help eliminate loopholes and to try to make sure that absolutely nobody gets confused, but it sure would be nice if there was something more like a one stop shopping center where we all could go to get reliable doctrine on each and every issue while nobody got confused or thought they saw contradictions from that one source.

We all, even prophets, see through a glass, darkly, sometimes. Just because we have an open conduit to revelation doesn't mean that it's like the on-demand programming feature of your television provider--you press a button and "Boom!" There it is! We often forget the last clause of that Article of Faith: "God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to His kingdom." And even when prophets purport to receive revelation, we're invited (commanded, I would say) to seek our own personal, independent witness.

If nobody got confused, and if there were "reliable doctrine on each and every issue," there would be no need for any of us to seek our own answers or to exercise faith. Even the righteous, faithful, obedient Nephi (someone we'd perhaps expect to have more of the answers) was "led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do," and told the angel, "I know that God loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." The Lord's thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways, because the heavens are higher than the earth. Some things we don't understand because we have finite minds and perspectives, while His Mind and His Perspective are Infinite. And consider who's absolutely delighted to see you to strain on this or that gnat, while swallowing camels whole, when the Lord, by contrast, asks you to exercise faith, have patience, and trust in His timing.

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My question was and still is:

Why didn't God or that prophet make his point crystal clear so that everyone came to the same idea, making sure to cover any and all issues which arose from each and every statement God or his prophet uttered so that everyone would come to the same exact idea about what God or his prophet meant?

Is that something that is just "impossible" for God or his prophets to do?

In Mark 4:13, in response to the disciples bewilderment about the meaning of the parable of the sower, Jesus says, "Know ye not this parable? How then will ye know all parables?"

The point of the parable of the sower, is, of course, that the same seeds (words in the parable), can produce vastly different yields depending on the quality and receptiveness of the ground in which they are planted, and the care and nurture they are given. The same words won't produce the same effect in everyone. Any system that involves multiple, independent variables is bound to be a bit chaotic. But a recognition of patterns provides a way to find meaning nonetheless.

Joseph Smith made a profound observation that the different teachers "understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible."

There is a way to ensure that everything agrees on everything all the time, but it involves the destruction not only of agency and of space and time for personal development and individual variety.

Joseph Smith also observed that God adapts himself to our capacity to understand. The point of His doing that is so that we will adapt ourselves toward Him.

In the first issue of RBBM, Louis Midgley observed this:

From my perspective, the Book of Mormon signals that far more is going on in the restoration achieved through its means than merely an awkward way of providing a random assortment of theological gems that we can fit into our own schema. If the existence of the Book of Mormon shows us anything, it is that our words about God--our efforts to do theology--are both futile and arrogant, and that what we need is access to messages from the heavens. When we narrow our focus, we tend to turn the Book of Mormon into a mere resource for our own theologizing. There is an element of pride in such ventures. If what we needed was an authoritative theological treatise, the Book of Mormon was an odd way for it to have been made available. Looked at that way, it turns out to have been a failure, which may explain why some students of doctrine tend to discount it.

The question that needs to be addressed is why we have a complex record of prophetic teachings presented in an historical setting intimately linked with the tragic fate of defiant peoples. As we begin to address that question, we inevitably move away from theology either in its dogmatic or systematic forms. But the Saints have always tended to ignore those portions of the Book of Mormon--by far the bulk of the book--that could not be easily exploited as simple proof texts for dogmatic theological purposes.

We don't need a Big Book of What to Think, along with the intellectual stasis that the existence such a thing would dictate. We need to continually repent, and by so doing engage in a continual proving of contraries so that truth (not a Greek abstraction, but knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and are to come) can be made manifest.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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No, I feel my response adequately answers your question. But please note that my response had two parts.

My answer does not have to agree with everyone else's answer in order to be correct.

Jason,

Consider the idea that your feelings may not be coming through clearly through your words, and that maybe mine aren't either.

I'm willing to give it one more try, though, and then I will let it go.

My question is based on this idea:

God either does or does not have the power to clearly convey his thoughts to all of mankind.

I believe he does, but the evidence from mankind, in general, doesn't seem to support my belief.

Case in point: God says something, either personally or through one of his prophets, and people (in general) are not in agreement about what God meant when God said what he actually said.

I do know that some people believe they correctly understand what God meant when God said what God said, and in fact I believe all people believe they correctly understand what God meant, but the fact still remains that people in general are not in agreement about what God meant when he said what he said.

Now consider all of that, and then ask yourself why I might be asking why this is the state of things concerning what most people consider to be "God's word".

Why can't (or why doesn't) God state things in such a way that absolutely everyone will understand what he said when reading or hearing "God's word"?

If it is God's word, and I do believe it is, one might think that God would have a way to ensure that everyone would understand what he meant when he said whatever he said, but the fact that everyone doesn't understand what God meant when he said what he said tells me that God's word, alone, may not have that kind of power or effect on everybody... including all the people who believe they receive personal revelation from God.

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God either does or does not have the power to clearly convey his thoughts to all of mankind.

I believe he does, but the evidence from mankind, in general, doesn't seem to support my belief.

Case in point: God says something, either personally or through one of his prophets, and people (in general) are not in agreement about what God meant when God said what he actually said.

That would be evidence that God does not generally convey His thoughts clearly to all mankind, not evidence that He does not have the ability to make them unmistakable, should He choose to do so.

Why can't (or why doesn't) God state things in such a way that absolutely everyone will understand what he said when reading or hearing "God's word"?
God does have the ability to do so, and occassionally does to individuals. The reason He does not do it in general is in order to leave room for faith, as per my earlier post.

One of the primary purposes of this life is to learn to discern good from evil on our own. Having absolute knowledge of good and evil through God telling us with no room for doubt as to whether it is really God telling us would defeat this purpose. Therefore God makes His statements to us clear enough to aid us in learning the distinction between good and evil but not so absolutely unquestionable that there is no longer any real lesson being taught or choice to make.

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Why is there so much contradiction in the Bible. And why doesn't the BoM clear up most of these contradictions?

What does the BOM tell us about it purpose?

Is it to satisfy our curiosity about such things, or is it to bring us to Christ and to teach us His gospel in clarity.

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That would be evidence that God does not generally convey His thoughts clearly to all mankind, not evidence that He does not have the ability to make them unmistakable, should He choose to do so.

That was the point of my question.

Why can't (or why doesn't) God state things in such a way that absolutely everyone will understand what he said when reading or hearing "God's word"?

You rejected the idea that he can't, but you acknowledged the idea that he doesn't just as I said he doesn't.

My question from that point, then, is: Why?

I do realize that you have given your own answer to that question, but not everyone has come up with the same answer you have for why God doesn't make his thoughts clear to all of mankind in general, so there are other people in the world who have a totally different answer to the question I asked.

One of the primary purposes of this life is to learn to discern good from evil on our own. Having absolute knowledge of good and evil through God telling us with no room for doubt as to whether it is really God telling us would defeat this purpose. Therefore God makes His statements to us clear enough to aid us in learning the distinction between good and evil but not so absolutely unquestionable that there is no longer any real lesson being taught or choice to make.

Wouldn't it be nice if God or one of his prophets said the very same thing that you are now saying?

NOTE: I don't discount the idea that God may have already done that.

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I suppose it depends on what you mean by fall through the cracks. If you mean a problem that does not have a counter apologetic argument then I think everything is covered. If you mean a problem that does not have a convincing apologetic counter argument well that depends on the person. I for one have yet to hear a convincing reason why universal objective truth claims obtained from personal spiritual experiences are frequently contradictory. However I am well aware someone else might well find nothing at all troubling with what I find troubling. Again how convincing we find various apologetic/critical arguments is highly subjective.

All quite true. I didn't see any questions that were particularly troubling to me, as an individual, yet. For example, for me the contradiction in spiritual experiences I think is explainable by a mixture to varying degrees of the sometimes difficulty in understanding/interpreting them, our human nature to justify what we already want to believe, and exploitation of that last point by the Adversary.

Also, there are plenty of meritorious questions that may not have answers which are not 'troubling questions' at all.

I get the impression the point of this thread is to list all the critical arguments point out they have been addressed by apologists and thereby imply there are no good critical arguments against church claims. Simply because a counter argument exists does not make it a good counter argument.

Me, I'm just hoping to hear something that is genuinely new - something that I wasn't at least vaguely aware of - which I might go investigate further. Barring that, having some understanding of what others find troubling or even just curious can be quite useful. There is no intent to turn this into a 'gotcha' thread - no hidden agenda.

PS: The I think the Seer question has some potential to be interesting. I'll read through consiglieri's thread and see if it bears any fruit for me.

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That was the point of my question.

Yes. I know. As you see, I did not misunderstand your first post.
I do realize that you have given your own answer to that question, but not everyone has come up with the same answer you have for why God doesn't make his thoughts clear to all of mankind in general, so there are other people in the world who have a totally different answer to the question I asked.
As I said earlier, my answer doesn't have to be the same as everyone else's in order to be correct.
Wouldn't it be nice if God or one of his prophets said the very same thing that you are now saying?
I have encountered the idea quite often in the talks of LDS prophets and other teachings.
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Grace or works.

It is very clear to me. If you don't understand what the BOM teaches in this regard, start a new thread and we will be happy to explain it to you based on specific BOM references.

You might start your study with Peter's warning found in 2 Peter 3:16. Read it and give it serious thought. Then start a thread and we will help you.

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All quite true. I didn't see any questions that were particularly troubling to me, as an individual, yet. For example, for me the contradiction in spiritual experiences I think is explainable by a mixture to varying degrees of the sometimes difficulty in understanding/interpreting them, our human nature to justify what we already want to believe, and exploitation of that last point by the Adversary.

Well I have already debated personal spiritual experiences enough I grow tired of the subject. And this is not the thread to open that debate yet again. However to summarize why I find it so problematic. LDS are taught that personal spiritual experiences are a reliable means to determine religious truth claims things like was JS a prophet is the BOM true etc. However If a method X says both A and B are correct but A and B are mutually exclusive. Then if there does not exist some objective non-circular means to determine why method X got it wrong. Method X is not a reliable means to determine which of A and B are right or if either of them are right. If LDS epistemology does indeed state that mutually exclusive propositions are both correct (i.e. LDS church is the one true church versus say the Catholic church is the one true church). Then if there does not exist some objective non-circular means to determine why LDS epistemology got it wrong then LDS epistemology is not a reliable means to determine which church is the one true church.

The counter argument to this is we should just go with our own experiences because it is reasonable to trust our own experiences over those reported by others. Now I myself don't find this counterargument compelling for various reasons I won't go into but I understand your mileage may vary.

Me, I'm just hoping to hear something that is genuinely new - something that I wasn't at least vaguely aware of - which I might go investigate further. Barring that, having some understanding of what others find troubling or even just curious can be quite useful. There is no intent to turn this into a 'gotcha' thread - no hidden agenda.

Fair enough.

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It is very clear to me. If you don't understand what the BOM teaches in this regard, start a new thread and we will be happy to explain it to you based on specific BOM references.

You might start your study with Peter's warning found in 2 Peter 3:16. Read it and give it serious thought. Then start a thread and we will help you.

Um, I'm quite up to date on what the Book of Mormon teaches. I was answering another poster - telling them that the Book of Mormon clears up the contradictions in the Bible regarding whether grace or works is what saves you.

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As I said earlier, my answer doesn't have to be the same as everyone else's in order to be correct.

Nor does mine, nor does anyone else's have to be the same as everyone elses, but I still think it would be nice if God and his prophets would speak in such a way that absolutely everyone would understand exactly what God had in mind each and every time God said something either personally or though one of his prophets.

God doesn't do that, though, and you say that the reason he doesn't is so that faith will be a factor.

Perhaps I should just learn to think that the way God communicates with me and everyone else is nice even if everybody doesn't agree with everyone else about what God was or is saying.

After all, if there was a better way, wouldn't God already be using it?

Chalk that one up as another one of the questions I have for everybody.

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it was a happy day in America when the first unhappy slave was landed on its shores.

Duke Ellington.

Whoo wee!

Your non- American background is showing big time.

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Like ??

Peace,

Ceeboo

The fall

What kind of priesthood Melchizadek had

Nature of God

How to learn things through the Spirit

That God had "other sheep"

we are here to be tested

I really don't have the time to list them all.

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The fall

What kind of priesthood Melchizadek had

Nature of God

How to learn things through the Spirit

That God had "other sheep"

we are here to be tested

I really don't have the time to list them all.

Innocence of unbaptised children

Innocence of those ignorant of the law

Opposition

The spirit body of Christ was the God of Israel

The extent of the suffering of christ in the Garden

Righteousness of self defense

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The spirit body of Christ was the God of Israel

Is this question more about how Yahweh could be Jesus Christ or how one could be a participant in the Godhead while not exalted with a physical body? To the former, we could point you to numerous apologetic (LDS and otherwise) responses. To the latter, it probably asks for a more theological response on the same level as the other questions posed.

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Is this question more about how Yahweh could be Jesus Christ or how one could be a participant in the Godhead while not exalted with a physical body? To the former, we could point you to numerous apologetic (LDS and otherwise) responses. To the latter, it probably asks for a more theological response on the same level as the other questions posed.

That was among the list of things the Book of Mormon clarified, not that he had a problem with, if I understood correctly

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Innocence of unbaptised children

Innocence of those ignorant of the law

Opposition

The spirit body of Christ was the God of Israel

The extent of the suffering of christ in the Garden

Righteousness of self defense

:P

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