Jump to content

The modes of defense


stemelbow

Recommended Posts

At what point do we take the words of past leaders as inspired and at what point do we consider them uninspired?

I'm intrigued, somewhat and probably masochistically, by critics' arguments that are legalistic on the whole. One typical tactic for critics to take, it seems, is to quote past leaders, often those who have been gone for a hundred years or more, to conclude the chuch is an uninspired organization. We'll get critics quoting BY and many others to show that the Church was racist and if racist that must mean uninspired since today it is widely accepted that racism is bad, and if bad not of God. What to do? Is it logical, in this case, to say, "well the leaders were raised in a different environment and were thus swayed to draw conclusions consistent with that environment. Thus, if racist, they were merely products of their time and circumstance. They were wrong to withhold the priesthood based on race, but that doesn't mean the Church is untrue, even in light of the claim of the Church never being led astray claim." That's pretty much my take on the priesthood ban. I truly wish it never were part of the Church, but let's not argue that, I issue it here as an example of my main point. Another example seems to me to be Rob Bowman's recent thread regarding Hebrews 6:1. We can simply say, as some LDS have done there, "The JST was part commentary and part other. It could very well be inspiration in some places and just JS' best guesses in other places, which guesses could be wrong, or could be made to seem pretty reasonable. No big deal." But seeing Bowman's responses that doesn't seem good enough--argument/criticism still must be maintained.

How do we reconcile, truly, the legalistic sounding concepts of our religion, the past claims of revelation and inspiration, with many apologetics of liberal views of dismissing or minimizing statements of the past, or even scripture? I know not all LDS defenders take this course, but I usually do on topics like evolution, for instance. Others do, it seems. Does it work? Recently I had seen the critique by a critic that Adam and Eve weren't possibly the first parents, at least if we take the, what, 6,000 years ago idea, and since the Church over the years, and even now, seems to stand by the 6000 year old earth and Adam and Eve in the garden starting it all, that must mean the church is uninspred and wrong. Is it safe to conclude based on all of this, that the Genesis, and likewise all other accounts, of creation are dramas and thus largely metaphorical. We simply don't know or understand how things happened, so to offer this critique isn't really affecting the church, in spite of all the clear statements and positions taken over the years to suggest the literal reading of Genesis is true.

In this I fear, do we safely draw the line in our conclusions in our defenses? We all no doubt draw our own personal lines. Perhaps something just to think about. Thoughts are welcome and encouraged.

Link to comment
At what point do we take the words of past leaders as inspired and at what point do we consider them uninspired?

The Church considers them inspired when the Church officially publishes them. If one wants to defend the Church, one presents the doctrine in this fashion otherwise one is defending a church created in one's own mind. I personally might disagree with some small doctrines, but I present the reality that such are indeed official doctrines nevertheless.

I know not all LDS defenders take this course, but I usually do on topics like evolution, for instance. Others do, it seems. Does it work? Recently I had seen the critique by a critic that Adam and Eve weren't possibly the first parents, at least if we take the, what, 6,000 years ago idea, and since the Church over the years, and even now, seems to stand by the 6000 year old earth and Adam and Eve in the garden starting it all, that must mean the church is uninspred and wrong. Is it safe to conclude based on all of this, that the Genesis, and likewise all other accounts, of creation are dramas and thus largely metaphorical. We simply don't know or understand how things happened, so to offer this critique isn't really affecting the church, in spite of all the clear statements and positions taken over the years to suggest the literal reading of Genesis is true.

The Church does not claim to know all the details. It is explicitly contrary to published doctrine to ascribe a 6000 years old earth to LDS doctrine and as we have seen, it is also contrary to state that the Church is opposed to evolution. We also know from doctrine that the Church considers the rib story to be metaphorical.

Link to comment

stemelbow:

On a individual basis we all accept or reject on the basis of what we are personally willing to believe.

As an organization all the Saints are bound to is its accepted doctrines.

I agree. To clarify, I guess in part I'm lamenting, perhaps even in a passive aggressive way, that criticisms amount to so little sometimes. How completely silly of me, huh? Sometimes its such a tedious exercise to engage criticisms.

Legal complaints, or at least legal-sounding, are offered.

Me or other LDS respond with something akin to a "whatever...who cares?"

criticism turns to more quotations and more efforts to ever-pharisize(I know not a word, how to get that copyright mark up here?) LDS belief

And it continues ad nausea.

Thanks for the reply

Link to comment

At what point do we take the words of past leaders as inspired and at what point do we consider them uninspired?

When they conform to the standard works. That is the cut off point, for past as well as the present leaders. Why is that so hard to accept?

Link to comment

At what point do we take the words of past leaders as inspired and at what point do we consider them uninspired?....

In this I fear, do we safely draw the line in our conclusions in our defenses? We all no doubt draw our own personal lines. Perhaps something just to think about. Thoughts are welcome and encouraged.

I think the only real safety is through the Spirit and seeking our own inspiration to confirm where to draw those lines. Of course we need to study what the scriptures and others have taught before we even can begin to know what questions we could/should be asking.

If we are sincerely seeking and have not yet received such spiritual confirmation, relying on our own reason based on thoughtful study of scriptures and the words of our leaders as well as our personal experiences is sufficient in my opinion for forming our own ideas but I would suggest that our reasoning is not sufficient to expect another to accept it as doctrinal or inspired or true....though hopefully they will at least see it as logical and potentially meaningful. We also need to be careful that our fondness for our reasoned understanding does not lock the Spirit out, that we continue to ask and expect (and sincerely mean this, not just go through the motions because we're convinced in our heart that we already know what is truth) for additional blessings of knowledge and understanding from the Spirit.

Link to comment

I agree. To clarify, I guess in part I'm lamenting, perhaps even in a passive aggressive way, that criticisms amount to so little sometimes. How completely silly of me, huh? Sometimes its such a tedious exercise to engage criticisms.

Legal complaints, or at least legal-sounding, are offered.

Me or other LDS respond with something akin to a "whatever...who cares?"

criticism turns to more quotations and more efforts to ever-pharisize(I know not a word, how to get that copyright mark up here?) LDS belief

And it continues ad nausea.

Thanks for the reply

Yeah, it gets old. Many critics (and not all LDS do, lol) just don't get the basic LDS mindset about revelation and end up wasting a great deal of pursuing strawmen and trivial points.

Link to comment

stemelbow

Is it logical, in this case, to say, "well the leaders were raised in a different environment and were thus swayed to draw conclusions consistent with that environment. Thus, if racist, they were merely products of their time and circumstance. They were wrong to withhold the priesthood based on race, but that doesn't mean the Church is untrue, even in light of the claim of the Church never being led astray claim." That's pretty much my take on the priesthood ban.

3DOP

Hi stemelbow. As a Catholic, I think your reasoning is fine. I am all for being lenient with our forefathers in the faith, taking into consideration their history and culture. The problem as I see it for LDS, is that if you allow such reasoning for yourselves when defending the Latter-day Church, the same effort to see and understand the reasons for perceived institutional failure need to be granted to the the "Former-day Church" when evaluating apostasy. It seems to me like if Mormons used the same rigor to defend the early church as they use in defending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they would perhaps be less confident in their assertions of an early apostasy.

(I don't want this to become an "apostasy thread".) I almost sent stemelbow a private correspondence. I hope I have been restrained enough in my words to not provoke comment. It is only natural that we would attack what we think is wrong and defend what we "know" is right. I think all of us have to overcome a strong tendency to be more lenient in self-evaluation and rigorous in evaluating others. If you don't want outsiders to presumptiously dismiss your claims to truth simply because of issues like that raised by stemelbow, don't do the same to Catholics because of the Spanish Inquisition. (That is just an example.) I am not saying that everyone here does that. But I tend to think a lot of presumptious dismissals of Catholic claims among LDS and others occur not because of doctrine, but because things happened centuries ago which just don't seem compatible with God's work in 2011 AD.

Link to comment

When they conform to the standard works. That is the cut off point, for past as well as the present leaders. Why is that so hard to accept?

Easy enough, huh? Thinking like that, as you express, surely gives me a feeling of just letting go all the criticisms that go out of their way to sound silly, like the Hebrews 6:1 thing. Its tough not to respond and tease them for making their fight out of silliness.

I guess I haven't checked the Heb. 6:1 thread for a while, so maybe some interesting has been added, but you get my point.

Link to comment

I think the only real safety is through the Spirit and seeking our own inspiration to confirm where to draw those lines.

Ah...that's my favorite response/idea expressed yet. It gives us another avenue to work with the Spirit--gain more experience there. can't wait. I'm going to work on that more.

Of course we need to study what the scriptures and others have taught before we even can begin to know what questions we could/should be asking.

I know I've come off the fool for jumping the gun many times. You are right there.

If we are sincerely seeking and have not yet received such spiritual confirmation, relying on our own reason based on thoughtful study of scriptures and the words of our leaders as well as our personal experiences is sufficient in my opinion for forming our own ideas but I would suggest that our reasoning is not sufficient to expect another to accept it as doctrinal or inspired or true....though hopefully they will at least see it as logical and potentially meaningful. We also need to be careful that our fondness for our reasoned understanding does not lock the Spirit out, that we continue to ask and expect (and sincerely mean this, not just go through the motions because we're convinced in our heart that we already know what is truth) for additional blessings of knowledge and understanding from the Spirit.

thanks for that. I'd like to add, man, our we going to appear foolish when this is all over and not only will critics arguments appear foolish, but so will our apologetic. Can't wait, in a way. I'll be laughing at myself hard when that day comes.

Link to comment

Yeah, it gets old. Many critics (and not all LDS do, lol) just don't get the basic LDS mindset about revelation and end up wasting a great deal of pursuing strawmen and trivial points.

yep. Recently a slew of critics have been on the game of saying LDS will die doing battle on every molehill. Cute idea. But sadly, I've learned, many of these same critics will complain about any trivial issue you can imagine. huh? We're supposedly taken to task for fighting over every criticism offered and yet we'll also be taken to task if we don't address the critiques? Whatever. The fights come as the criticisms are created.

Link to comment

stemelbow

Is it logical, in this case, to say, "well the leaders were raised in a different environment and were thus swayed to draw conclusions consistent with that environment. Thus, if racist, they were merely products of their time and circumstance. They were wrong to withhold the priesthood based on race, but that doesn't mean the Church is untrue, even in light of the claim of the Church never being led astray claim." That's pretty much my take on the priesthood ban.

3DOP

Hi stemelbow. As a Catholic, I think your reasoning is fine. I am all for being lenient with our forefathers in the faith, taking into consideration their history and culture. The problem as I see it for LDS, is that if you allow such reasoning for yourselves when defending the Latter-day Church, the same effort to see and understand the reasons for perceived institutional failure need to be granted to the the "Former-day Church" when evaluating apostasy. It seems to me like if Mormons used the same rigor to defend the early church as they use in defending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they would perhaps be less confident in their assertions of an early apostasy.

well-thought reply indeed. Perhaps to add to your thoughts, doing as you suggest could also lead us to a better undersanding of apostasy. If so, perhaps we won't end up being so offensive in our dogmatism on such a topic.

(I don't want this to become an "apostasy thread".) I almost sent stemelbow a private correspondence. I hope I have been restrained enough in my words to not provoke comment. It is only natural that we would attack what we think is wrong and defend what we "know" is right. I think all of us have to overcome a strong tendency to be more lenient in self-evaluation and rigorous in evaluating others. If you don't want outsiders to presumptiously dismiss your claims to truth simply because of issues like that raised by stemelbow, don't do the same to Catholics because of the Spanish Inquisition. (That is just an example.) I am not saying that everyone here does that. But I tend to think a lot of presumptious dismissals of Catholic claims among LDS and others occur not because of doctrine, but because things happened centuries ago which just don't seem compatible with God's work in 2011 AD.

Thanks for the reply. I'll drive the point home from my end. Any LDS who wishes to criticize other's faiths particularly when they are hypocritical in doing so ought to do some serious reflection and study. I know I've made some huge-o mistakes in my critiques of other's faiths. In this it'd be wise to be charitable, as you have done above, when discusing with those of others faith, particularly when discussing their religion.

Link to comment

Easy enough, huh? Thinking like that, as you express, surely gives me a feeling of just letting go all the criticisms that go out of their way to sound silly, like the Hebrews 6:1 thing. Its tough not to respond and tease them for making their fight out of silliness.

I guess I haven't checked the Heb. 6:1 thread for a while, so maybe some interesting has been added, but you get my point.

Frankly I don't know what you are talking about.

Link to comment

When they conform to the standard works. That is the cut off point, for past as well as the present leaders. Why is that so hard to accept?

Curious... I've always understood that Joseph Smith's teachings didn't conform to the "standard works" of his day, and even he admitted to the idea that the words he added to the cannon could contain errors.

It would seem that would be one of the strengths of ongoing revelation, as reflected in bold statements like this one (which is unabashed in its admonition to forget that which was taught in previous literature):

We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. We have seen what the words say and have said to ourselves, “Yes, it says that, but we must read out of it the taking of the gospel and the blessings of the temple to the Negro people, because they are denied certain things.” There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them.

Darin

Link to comment

Curious... I've always understood that Joseph Smith's teachings didn't conform to the "standard works" of his day, . . .

The standard works of “his day” were the same as the standard works of “our day”.

. . . and even he admitted to the idea that the words he added to the cannon could contain errors.

And where did you get that from? Nobody denies that the Bible may contain errors; less so the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

It would seem that would be one of the strengths of ongoing revelation, as reflected in bold statements like this one (which is unabashed in its admonition to forget that which was taught in previous literature):

That statement itself is subject to ratification by the standard works! LOL!

Link to comment

The Church considers them inspired when the Church officially publishes them. If one wants to defend the Church, one presents the doctrine in this fashion otherwise one is defending a church created in one's own mind. I personally might disagree with some small doctrines, but I present the reality that such are indeed official doctrines nevertheless.

The Church does not claim to know all the details. It is explicitly contrary to published doctrine to ascribe a 6000 years old earth to LDS doctrine and as we have seen, it is also contrary to state that the Church is opposed to evolution. We also know from doctrine that the Church considers the rib story to be metaphorical.

Can you point me in the direction of these published doctrines? I guess there is wiggle room to say that we don't know how old the earth was prior to Adam and Eve. Maybe we can imagine that there was a lot going on prior to Adam and allow belief in old earth views so as to weaken the challenge to our faith in the face of an avalanche of currently popular scientific views. However, its solid doctrine that Adam lived about 6,000 years ago, he was the first man and prior to the fall he was immortal and the earth was in a paradisiacal state. These doctrines are totally laughable in the face of old earth views. I don't think it's rationally possbile to mix the old earth views with an immortal first human 6,000 years ago. There is no room to argue that Adam is myth or allegorical from published church material and there is no room for Adam in popular old earth views.

For rational, thinking people, there is a stark conflict here. The church wisely avoids this subject and teaches the Adam story without bringing up all the scriptural facts that would cause cog-dis in the minds of millions of members. I'm a devout young earther BTW.

Link to comment
It is explicitly contrary to published doctrine to ascribe a 6000 years old earth to LDS doctrine.
Can you point me in the direction of these published doctrines?

Yes.

(2-3) How Old Is the Earth?

While it is interesting to note these various theories, officially the Church has not taken a stand on the age of the earth. For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord has not yet seen fit to formally reveal the details of the Creation. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79 ), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable.

Old Testament Student Manual Genesis - 2 Samuel

However, its solid doctrine that Adam lived about 6,000 years ago, he was the first man and prior to the fall he was immortal and the earth was in a paradisiacal state. These doctrines are totally laughable in the face of old earth views. I don't think it's rationally possbile to mix the old earth views with an immortal first human 6,000 years ago. There is no room to argue that Adam is myth or allegorical from published church material and there is no room for Adam in popular old earth views.

On the contrary, it might be doctrine that Adam fell 6000 years ago. But in no way does that conflict with an old earth view which even the doctrinal commentary on D&C 77:5-6 allows for.

And speaking of such commentary, have you considered 2 Nephi 2:22 which allows for a state of existence prior to the deathless state everything was placed into when the creation was finished? That means full blown evolution can exist within the realm of LDS doctrine as the creative method God used to bring about all living things.

For rational, thinking people, there is a stark conflict here. The church wisely avoids this subject and teaches the Adam story without bringing up all the scriptural facts that would cause cog-dis in the minds of millions of members.

There are no troublesome scriptural "facts" for an old earther to have to deal with especially because the details haven't been revealed.

I'm a devout young earther BTW.

I am a devout accepter of Big Bang/Evolution.

Link to comment
When they conform to the standard works. That is the cut off point, for past as well as the present leaders. Why is that so hard to accept?
Curious... I've always understood that Joseph Smith's teachings didn't conform to the "standard works" of his day, and even he admitted to the idea that the words he added to the cannon could contain errors.

Relative to the scriptures, I wouldn't say "conform". I'd say "consistent with". Relative to doctrine, the doctrine JS brought forth certainly did and still does conflict with traditional apostate christianity.

"One can think what one wants of this doctrine of progressive deification, but one thing is certain: with this anthropology Joseph Smith is closer to the view of man held by the Ancient Church than the precursors of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin were, who considered the thought of such a substantial connection between God and man as the heresy, par excellence." Benz, E.W., Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God, in Madsen, ed., Reflections on Mormonism, 215-216

Link to comment

And speaking of such commentary, have you considered 2 Nephi 2:22 which allows for a state of existence prior to the deathless state everything was placed into when the creation was finished? That means full blown evolution can exist within the realm of LDS doctrine as the creative method God used to bring about all living things.

2 Nephit 2:22-23 are exactly what I was talking about. Prior to the fall 6,000 years ago, there was no death in the earth, there was no procreation. Without the fall, everything would have remained in the state in which it was created forever. Evolution requires mortality, it requires multiple cycles of death and procreation, none of which was happening prior to the fall 6,000 years ago.

If you were to walk into a biology class and state that you believe what your church teaches which is that Adam was the first man and Adam fell from a perfect immortal state to a mortal state 6,000 years ago you would be laughed to scorn. They place human civilization back much further than that. The church wisely avoids this battle but church doctrine is laughable and is pure foolishness in the eyes of the world.

Link to comment
And speaking of such commentary, have you considered 2 Nephi 2:22 which allows for a state of existence prior to the deathless state everything was placed into when the creation was finished? That means full blown evolution can exist within the realm of LDS doctrine as the creative method God used to bring about all living things.
2 Nephit 2:22-23 are exactly what I was talking about. Prior to the fall 6,000 years ago, there was no death in the earth, there was no procreation. Without the fall, everything would have remained in the state in which it was created forever. Evolution requires mortality, it requires multiple cycles of death and procreation, none of which was happening prior to the fall 6,000 years ago.

Well no, look at it more closely:

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were AFTER they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

2 Nephi 2:22

[emphasis mine]

The state of no death is the state they were placed into AFTER they were created. Thus, before the state of no death, there is a creative period which is undefined in terms of death or no death. So one can easily and without conflict hypothesize a scenario in which there was evolution and death until all was ready (created) and then comes the garden state of no death which Adam is placed into to await the Fall.

This of course jives with other LDS doctrine as well, such as:

D&C 77:6–7 . Why Was the Book Sealed That John Saw?

“‘The book which John saw’ represented the real history of the world—what the eye of God has seen, what the recording angel has written; and the seven thousand years, corresponding to the seven seals of the Apocalyptic volume, are as seven great days during which Mother Earth will fulfill her mortal mission, laboring six days and resting upon the seventh, her period of sanctification. These seven days do not include the period of our planet’s creation and preparation as a dwelling place for man. They are limited to Earth’s ‘temporal existence,’ that is, to Time, considered as distinct from Eternity.” (Whitney, Saturday Night Thoughts, p. 11.)

Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual - Section 77 - Questions and Answers on the Book of Revelation

Notice also that this means the term 'temporal' is not the exclusive realm of the physical since the physical creation of the earth and it's "preparation as a dwelling place for man" took place before the 'temporal existence' of the earth.

Link to comment

I respect your view but think its a bit of a stretch. What I like about D&C 77 is that it clarifies what a "day" is. We know there is 6 days or mortality (or 6,000 years of mortality) and then there will be a day of rest or 1,000 year millennium of peace. I think its very logical to assume that the six "days" spent creating the earth amounts to 6,000 years and then there was a day or rest or a 1,000 years where Adam and Eve hung out in the garden before they finally ate the fruit and got the ball rolling on mortality.

Link to comment
I respect your view but think its a bit of a stretch.

I understand.

What I like about D&C 77 is that it clarifies what a "day" is. We know there is 6 days or mortality (or 6,000 years of mortality) and then there will be a day of rest or 1,000 year millennium of peace. I think its very logical to assume that the six "days" spent creating the earth amounts to 6,000 years and then there was a day or rest or a 1,000 years where Adam and Eve hung out in the garden before they finally ate the fruit and got the ball rolling on mortality.

I would definitely disagree with that. One day = one thousand years is only in the context of this prophecy and it's still fairly general as the dispensations refered to were not exactly 1000 years according to traditional Biblical chronology, usually plus/minus several hundred years. For example, the Flood did not happen in 3004 B.C. and Abraham was not in 2004 B.C. etc.

In addition, since the the Church has not taken a stand on the age of the earth, we can still hypothesize that "day" in Genesis can mean any of the various possible Hebrew definitions from a 24 hour period to an epoch of time.

Link to comment

When they conform to the standard works. That is the cut off point, for past as well as the present leaders. Why is that so hard to accept?

I think that's a good standard, although of course some in the church have suggested that statements by the prophet supersede the standard works (some prophets and apostles have said that). I think that question hasn't been definitively decided yet in church doctrine, but I would take the side of "it must conform to doctrine and spirit of the standard works."

Link to comment

I think that's a good standard, although of course some in the church have suggested that statements by the prophet supersede the standard works (some prophets and apostles have said that). I think that question hasn't been definitively decided yet in church doctrine, . . .

That is not really true. The question has been decided—although it has been confusingly expressed.

The President of the Church is the only one who has the authority to introduce new doctrine into the Church. And should he need to do so, he must do it following a set procedure. He can’t do so willy-nilly, such as by preaching a sermon at General Conference for example. Barring that exception, all other doctrinal instructions are subject to ratification by the standard works, including those from the President of the Church. That includes past as well as present leaderships of the Church. I defy anyone to contradict me on that.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...