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Lesson 11 - False Doctrines of the Last Days


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7 hours ago, Saint Bonaventure said:

Please consider the possibility that you are misreading Iraneus, Clement, Origen, and Hippolytus. 

I shared this in the Trinity thread, and will share it here too:

 

I respect your position, and I read the article when you posted it in the other thread (thank you for your perspective).

I think there is room for both of us to interpret these things in the framework of each of our understandings of what happened to "The Church" after the death and departure of the apostles.

In your view these teachings fit in to the way the article you linked describes them:  Deification, divinization, participation, and divine sonship, and even in the way you described it in this post here

But I have to look at the bigger picture about how the views of God and his relationship to mankind evolved in the first two and a half centuries A.D. (this was a critical period of Christian history).  The "Are We Gods?" Catholic Answers article tends to tiptoe around the possible perception of heresy by reaffirming some later Catholic statements about the "one God", and then reinterpreting deification as taught by the early Christians through the lens of these later declarations.  But this ignores the context of the contemporary teachings, such as when it was taught that Jesus is the "second God"  (Origen Against Celsus, book V chapter XXXIX Lactantius, The Divine Institutes - Book IV, Chap. VI), or as Justin Martyr taught, “that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things” (Dialog of Justin with Trypho, a Jew, ch LVI ). Or when Clement of Alexandria taught that "the nature of the Son, which is nearest to Him who is alone the Almighty One, is the most perfect, and most holy, and most potent, and most princely, and most kingly, and most beneficent."  (Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book VII, Chapter 2).

There was no "heresy" perceived in these teachings at the time, nor was there when Origen distinguished between the one God above all and all other "gods" in his commentary on John 1:1:

Quote

To such persons we have to say that God on the one hand is Very God (Autotheos, God of Himself); and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, "That they may know Thee the only true God;" but that all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article), but rather God (without article). And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, "The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is "The God," and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were, of Him the prototype. But the archetypal image, again, of all these images is the Word of God, who was in the beginning, and who by being with God is at all times God, not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father, and not continuing to be God, if we should think of this, except by remaining always in uninterrupted contemplation of the depths of the Father.  (Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II, Chapter 2).

I realize that you might say that these Christian teachings were not refined by the Church until some doctrinal statements were made later in the creeds.  But from my viewpoint, that is the very point and issue at hand.

I say this with respect, because I do respect your point of view.  And I'm not trying to attack your faith or your church (although I can certainly understand why it might come across that way).  I'm just trying to make it clear why I disagree :) 

Edited by InCognitus
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These references come to mind:

• We were created in the image of God [Genesis 1:26]
• God is the father of our spirits [Hebrews 12:9]
• We are the offspring of God [Acts 17:28]
• Christ calls us gods [Psalms 82:6]
• Man has become as God [Genesis 3:22]
• We will inherit all things [Revelation 21:7]
• We will be co-heirs with Christ of all things [Romans 8:14-18]
• We will have glory [John 17:20-23]
• We will have thrones [Revelation 3:21]
• We will be filled with the fullness of God [Ephesians 3:19]
• We will be partakers of the divine nature of God [Peter 1:3-4]
• We will be one with God [John 17:20-23]
• We shall be like Him [1 John 3:2]
• Our bodies will be fashioned like His glorious body [Phillipians 3:21]
• We can gain perfection [Matthew 5:48
•Jesus taught that “he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do”(John 14.12).

Edited by Durangout
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On 9/13/2022 at 11:27 AM, InCognitus said:

I doubt the early Christians had all the same pieces of the big picture that Joseph Smith did, but Irenaeus (c. 175 - c. 195) come close to saying that in this statement:

"How, then, shall he be a God, who has not as yet been made a man?  Or how can he be perfect who was but lately created?  How, again, can he be immortal, who in his mortal nature did not obey his Maker?  For it must be that thou, at the outset, shouldest hold the rank of a man, and then afterwards partake of the glory of God. For thou dost not make God, but God thee. "  (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter 39 - but read Chapter 38 for full context.)

Obviously Irenaeus is speaking about men becoming gods here, but what if what he says in the bolded portion is a universal truth?

That we can become gods was widely taught by the early Christian Fathers.  I've already included one big example from Irenaeus, above (read both chapters 38 and 39).  But here are a few other examples:

Clement of Alexandria (c. 155 - c. 220 AD):   "But that man with whom the Word dwells does not alter himself, does not get himself up:  he has the form which is of the Word; he is made like to God; he is beautiful; he does not ornament himself; his is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills.  Heraclitus, then, rightly said, "Men are gods, and gods are men.  For the Word Himself is the manifest mystery: God in man, and man God."   (Clement of Alexandria, "The Instructor", Book III, Chap. 1)

Origen (185-254 AD): "To such persons we have to say that God on the one hand is Very God (Autotheos, God of Himself); and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, "That they may know Thee the only true God;" but that all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article), but rather God (without article). And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, "The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth." It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods..." (Origen, Commentary on John, Book II)

Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170–235 AD):   "And thou shalt possess an immortal body, even one placed beyond the possibility of corruption, just like the soul. And thou shalt receive the kingdom of heaven, thou who, whilst thou didst sojourn in this life, didst know the Celestial King. And thou shalt be a companion of the Deity, and a co-heir with Christ, no longer enslaved by lusts or passions, and never again wasted by disease. For thou hast become God: for whatever sufferings thou didst undergo while being a man, these He gave to thee, because thou wast of mortal mould, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon thee, because thou hast been deified, and begotten unto immortality. This constitutes the import of the proverb, “Know thyself;” i.e., discover God within thyself, for He has formed thee after His own image. For with the knowledge of self is conjoined the being an object of God’s knowledge, for thou art called by the Deity Himself. Be not therefore inflamed, O ye men, with enmity one towards another, nor hesitate to retrace with all speed your steps. For Christ is the God above all, and He has arranged to wash away sin from human beings, rendering regenerate the old man. And God called man His likeness from the beginning, and has evinced in a figure His love towards thee. And provided thou obeyest His solemn injunctions, and becomest a faithful follower of Him who is good, thou shalt resemble Him, inasmuch as thou shalt have honour conferred upon thee by Him. For the Deity, (by condescension,) does not diminish aught of the divinity of His divine perfection; having made thee even God unto His glory!"  (Hippolytus—Refutation Book 10 Ch. 29–30)

As for teaching that men can "create worlds", do you find Joseph Smith teaching that?

Let's see if we can have an enjoyable conversation about these Church Fathers and related issues. It's Sunday afternoon, I burned my beard in the votive candle this morning, and I've pulled some of my books on the Church Fathers off the shelf.

First of all, I want to give gentle, good natured pushback on this form of argumentation in that I don't see any invested belief for Latter-day Saints in any of the teachings of Saint Irenaeus, Saint Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria (formerly considered a Saint), or Origen. When Latter-day Saints are confronted with an out-of-step quote from Brigham Young they dismiss it as not being "Church Doctrine," but I'm supposed to believe that appeals to Saint Irenaeus, even when I believe he is being misunderstood, are persuasive?

When other quotes from these Church Fathers are on the table, assertions of Great Apostasy and pagan Hellenization are inevitable. LDS folks will move the Great Apostasy goalposts forward and back, proffering criteria and ideas that fit the current conversation but that contradict and ignore other conversations and assertions. The Great Apostasy happened when the last Apostle died? The Great Apostasy happened during the Great Persecutions? The Great Apostasy happened at the Council of Nicaea? Constantine is condemned for being both too skinny and too fat, and Catholics will see the whole thing as a shell game worthy of Fremont Street in Las Vegas. I appreciate that LDS see it differently, but for Catholics (specifically, this Catholic) this sort of thing just isn't persuasive.

Moreover, this may not be intended on your part, but please consider that an unstated implication of the argument you've made is that the Catholic Church has hidden, ignored, forgotten, or otherwise obscured these quotes. And never mind that there are shelves of Catholic tomes discussing these quotes--and that's just in English. 

 So from the jump, I'm just going to lay it out the form of argumentation being put forward by dumping quotes from these Church Fathers is nothing more than a big helping of confirmation bias. We all do this to some degree at times, and it sure looks to be confirmation bias to me, literally, cherry-picking quotes that are thought to confirm already held beliefs.

There is an opportunity here, though. When LDS folks begin to really engage the Church Fathers (and Mothers--a post for another time) they'll discover incredible truths. They'll also find themselves having a different seat at the theology and church history table. 

So, a little about these particular Church Fathers:

I respect all of these Early Church Fathers, but I don't consider them especially broad on this issue. I'll say why in a moment, but anyone who wants a foundational introduction to the Church Fathers should get a copy of Jimmy Akins' The Fathers Know Best. You can get a copy here:

 The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church: Akin, Jimmy: 9781933919348: Amazon.com: Books

Get a copy of Akins' book, and you'll start crushing it in the Sunday School.

To get down to it....

  • Saint Irenaeus would be near the top of any list of Church Fathers who would be considered as antagonistic to LDS theology. He is a strong advocate of Apostolic Succession, and dedicated much of his life to confronting the Gnostic heresies. If Latter-day Saints were going to try to argue that their teachings were in the Church somewhere in the first three centuries, the Gnostics are one of the places to try, and you'll find Irenaeus refuting them on point after point. 
  • Clement of Alexandria confronted Gnostic heresies too, and he famously used Greek philosophy to do it. Where are the apostasy-by-Hellenization arguments? Clement of Alexandria is one of the easiest targets here. And never mind that he's no longer a Saint, and is a little marginal because of some dodgy teachings. 
  • The book cited by Saint Hippolytus is one of those whose authorship is disputed. Nevertheless, what's written there and attributed to him looks like theosis to me. There are no categorical issues between Creator and creatures, which is at the core of differences between Catholic theosis and Latter-day Saint notions of exaltation. Hippolytus, by the way, is another Early Father who is very hard core and orthodox. He was especially hard on the lapsed folks who wanted to re-enter the Church. 
  •  Origen is forever interesting, not authoritative, and also a little dodgy.
  • The Church Fathers who could be cited on this topic are well-known. Pick up the Akin book I mentioned, or Rod Bennett's The Four Witnesses or The Apostasy that Wasn't.  
  • I don't have any problems with these quotes, and don't see them as going beyond theosis. I disagree with any assertion that they're The implications teaching an LDS notion of God, or of heaven. 

Anyway, thank you for the enjoyable conversation on this Sunday afternoon in early autumn.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Saint Bonaventure
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1 hour ago, Saint Bonaventure said:

So from the jump, I'm just going to lay it out the form of argumentation being put forward by dumping quotes from these Church Fathers is nothing more than a big helping of confirmation bias.

Of course! But you of course are the one objective observer, scientifically immune from bias about religion.

Uh huh.

The entire notion of "faith" in any religion or even in atheism is precisely nothing more than confirmation bias.

Of course I suppose one might be a dogmatic fundamentalist Agnostic... 

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On 9/23/2022 at 9:59 PM, Pyreaux said:

6) God the Father fathers beings, like Jesus, not made by some natural act, like the miraculous conception. Yet the Bible uses the words begotten, birth, and son rather loosely. A loose definition is perhaps; a 'life' or state of being that was 'produced' by God and the degree God considers that life or being to be some extension of himself. For instance, Adam is a son of God, being made by God, and possessing God's image (Luke 3:38; Genesis 1:26) an inherited attribute he was able to pass on to Seth (Genesis 3:.22)

7) Did you even read Psalm 103:17-18? If the mercy is imposed from "everlasting to everlasting" on those who fear God, then was there not a time before someone feared God, thus a time before "everlasting to everlasting" (Psalm 103:17-18)? Everlasting 'olam' means 'time out of mind', 'practically eternity', not 'infinity'.

6) In LDS theology, how is Jesus the first spirit son born to heavenly parents.

7] I think this means that mercy is part of God's eternal nature.  But I understand that Joseph Smith
taught God is not from everlasting to everlasting - he was a man who became a God. Do you believe
these teachings of his?

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To the OP: here's 2 cents from lurker land.

Regarding Irenaeus, theosis, and LDS use of Irenaeus' writings on the topic, what Irenaeus believed is rooted in the God he worshipped: a God who is uncreated, immaterial, pure spirit, and who created all things out of nothing, including matter itself.  This is the same as what Catholics believe today. Irenaeus was a Catholic bishop after all.

This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith. (Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching: 6)

 “The rule of truth which we hold, is, that there is one God Almighty, who made all things by His Word, and fashioned and formed, out of that which had no existence, all things which exist.” (Against Heresies 1.22.1)

  “…[The Gnostics] believe not that God, according to His pleasure, in the exercise of His own will and power, formed all things (so that those things which now are should have an existence) out of what did not previously exist...But they do not believe that God (being powerful, and rich in all resources) created matter itself, inasmuch as they know not how much a spiritual and divine essence  can accomplish...

 “While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point preeminently superior to men, that He Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence.” (Against Heresies 2.10.2-4)

But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who has made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him have received a beginning. But whatever things had a beginning, and are liable to dissolution, and are subject to and stand in need of Him who made them... (Against Heresies 3.8.3)

“Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, ‘First of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence: He who contains all things, and is Himself contained by no one.’” (Against Heresies 4.20.2)

I'm not sure why LDS folks like to quote Catholic bishops like Irenaeus in support of LDS claims.  Why not quote an ancient Christian who believed what the LDS Church teaches about theosis - that the goal is to become like the LDS Heavenly Father (who is a divinized, embodied human male who created the world out of pre-existing matter, similar to what Platonic elements in Greek philosophy teach about the origin of matter).    

Edited by Spammer
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3 hours ago, Spammer said:

To the OP: here's 2 cents from lurker land.

Regarding Irenaeus, theosis, and LDS use of Irenaeus' writings on the topic, what Irenaeus believed is rooted in the God he worshipped: a God who is uncreated, immaterial, pure spirit, and who created all things out of nothing, including matter itself.  This is the same as what Catholics believe today. Irenaeus was a Catholic bishop after all.

This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith. (Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching: 6)

 “The rule of truth which we hold, is, that there is one God Almighty, who made all things by His Word, and fashioned and formed, out of that which had no existence, all things which exist.” (Against Heresies 1.22.1)

  “…[The Gnostics] believe not that God, according to His pleasure, in the exercise of His own will and power, formed all things (so that those things which now are should have an existence) out of what did not previously exist...But they do not believe that God (being powerful, and rich in all resources) created matter itself, inasmuch as they know not how much a spiritual and divine essence  can accomplish...

 “While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point preeminently superior to men, that He Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence.” (Against Heresies 2.10.2-4)

But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who has made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him have received a beginning. But whatever things had a beginning, and are liable to dissolution, and are subject to and stand in need of Him who made them... (Against Heresies 3.8.3)

“Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, ‘First of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence: He who contains all things, and is Himself contained by no one.’” (Against Heresies 4.20.2)

I'm not sure why LDS folks like to quote Catholic bishops like Irenaeus in support of LDS claims.  Why not quote an ancient Christian who believed what the LDS Church teaches about theosis - that the goal is to become like the LDS Heavenly Father (who is a divinized, embodied human male who created the world out of pre-existing matter, similar to what Platonic elements in Greek philosophy teach about the origin of matter).    

Good to see you!!

I agree that that is pure Greek philosophy, and to me, evidence of the apostasy, and not biblical, and not sourced from Hebrew thought 

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On 9/27/2022 at 3:31 PM, marineland said:

6) In LDS theology, how is Jesus the first spirit son born to heavenly parents.

7] I think this means that mercy is part of God's eternal nature.  But I understand that Joseph Smith
taught God is not from everlasting to everlasting - he was a man who became a God. Do you believe
these teachings of his?

 6) In LDS theology, Jesus always existed as a co-eternal being with the Father. Hiss "spirit birth" went from an uncreated and co-eternal intelligence (the primal self or person) molded by spiritual matter into a spirit by God the Father, the father of all spirits. It's an unofficial, non-canonical folk theology that God the Father has a wife also. We refer this spirit molding as "spirit birth", but there in nothing in the theology detailing the biophysics of spiritual birth. Using my Biblical studies, I simply assume the Father just declared him to be his firstborn Son, like earthly adoption and or how the second born sons of the Bible become the firstborn, if the true first born is unworthy. 

7) No one I'm aware of is disputing God is from everlasting to everlasting, I'm saying you do not seem to know what an everlasting is. Strong's #5769 - עֹלָם - generally time out of mind (past or future), that is, (practically) eternity. It is a unknown but still FINITE time. There is some pre-Creation LDS theology of a spirit birth and a war in heaven, but no LDS theology of God's deitification, only unofficial, non-canonical folk theology. The source called the King Follett Discourse is an unedited sermon at a funeral, not an official venue, nor was it brought before the Quorum of the Twelve to be canon. Its logically sound that if we become deified, one might assume that its universal, and God may have done likewise, but that's not doctrine. Ultimately, the standard works is the measuring stick by which we measure every man's doctrine, even Joseph Smith's.

You can join the church today and openly dispute these non-canonical "teachings" and remain a member in good standing, even to the annoyance of the extra-doctrinal Sunday School crowd. However, what I might personal believe is my prerogative, especially where the scriptures are silent. If you think Joseph Smith is wrong, pray tell, what is your theory? Do you suppose prior to Creation that God spent an infinity beforehand doing nothing?

Vader-BOM.jpg

Edited by Pyreaux
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On 9/29/2022 at 1:34 AM, Pyreaux said:

6) In LDS theology, Jesus always existed as a co-eternal being with the Father. Hiss "spirit birth" went from an uncreated and co-eternal intelligence (the primal self or person) molded by spiritual matter into a spirit by God the Father, the father of all spirits. It's an unofficial, non-canonical folk theology that God the Father has a wife also.

7) No one I'm aware of is disputing God is from everlasting to everlasting, I'm saying you do not seem to know what an everlasting is. Strong's #5769 - עֹלָם - generally time out of mind (past or future), that is, (practically) eternity. It is a unknown but still FINITE time. There is some pre-Creation LDS theology of a spirit birth and a war in heaven, but no LDS theology of God's deitification, only unofficial, non-canonical folk theology. The source called the King Follett Discourse is an unedited sermon at a funeral, not an official venue, nor was it brought before the Quorum of the Twelve to be canon. Its logically sound that if we become deified, one might assume that its universal, and God may have done likewise, but that's not doctrine. Ultimately, the standard works is the measuring stick by which we measure every man's doctrine, even Joseph Smith's.

Do you suppose prior to Creation that God spent an infinity beforehand doing nothing?

6] In LDS theology, even the being (who later progressed into becoming the God and Heavenly
Father of Earth) always existed as an eternal being. The idea of Heavenly Father having at
least one wife is a doctrine; called The Family - Proclamation to the World.  LDS theology
teaches that even Jesus became a God. But unlike Heavenly Father, Jesus (God) became a man.
On the other hand, Heavenly Father (once a man) became a God.

7] You may not call it a doctrine but it is a gospel principle, taught in the 1997 version
of Gospel Principles (later removed from the current version).

https://ia800509.us.archive.org/27/items/GospelPrinciples1997/Gospel Principles 1997.pdf

"It will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings
of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348). This is the way our Heavenly Father became God".

This is either a false gospel principle or a true one.

As for what God did in eternity past, I am not able to comprehend it.

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On 9/27/2022 at 1:31 PM, marineland said:

6) In LDS theology, how is Jesus the first spirit son born to heavenly parents.

He just made sure he was not second or third.

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14 hours ago, marineland said:

6] In LDS theology, even the being (who later progressed into becoming the God and Heavenly
Father of Earth) always existed as an eternal being. The idea of Heavenly Father having at
least one wife is a doctrine; called The Family - Proclamation to the World.  LDS theology
teaches that even Jesus became a God. But unlike Heavenly Father, Jesus (God) became a man.
On the other hand, Heavenly Father (once a man) became a God.

7] You may not call it a doctrine but it is a gospel principle, taught in the 1997 version
of Gospel Principles (later removed from the current version).

https://ia800509.us.archive.org/27/items/GospelPrinciples1997/Gospel Principles 1997.pdf

"It will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings
of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348). This is the way our Heavenly Father became God".

This is either a false gospel principle or a true one.

As for what God did in eternity past, I am not able to comprehend it.

The Family - Proclamation to the World, the Gospel Principles manual and the King Follett Discourse are not LDS canon. One does not need to conform to be a member.  In LDS canon says nothing official. God the Father and Jesus was God from the Beginning of Genesis 1.

I can make a strong interpretation with the Bible that Christ has a divine mother. Know anything about the Dead Sea Scroll version of the Emmanuel prophecy., "Mother of the Lord" Jews deleted from the Bible. Who is that Goddess with wings, star crown, sun robe who gave birth to Christ in Revelations 12, or can't you comprehend my questions?

By the.way, about true and false. It's a false dichotomy. Things can always be partly true, or depend on a certain point of view.,

OIP.Uu82r6cQ3ZBb-JiFdBkYNQHaE7?pid=ImgDe

Edited by Pyreaux
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On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

Let's see if we can have an enjoyable conversation about these Church Fathers and related issues. It's Sunday afternoon, I burned my beard in the votive candle this morning, and I've pulled some of my books on the Church Fathers off the shelf.

Thank you for your thoughtful response, and yes, I’d also like to have an enjoyable conversation about these topics.  The early Christian Fathers are fascinating to me for a variety of reasons.  I just had to wait until this weekend to reply so I would have the time to formulate what’s been on my mind properly (my work weeks have been crazy lately).  And I want to apologize ahead of time for the length of this post, it grew way longer than I initially intended.  (Hopefully you’ll get to read it all).

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

First of all, I want to give gentle, good natured pushback on this form of argumentation in that I don't see any invested belief for Latter-day Saints in any of the teachings of Saint Irenaeus, Saint Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria (formerly considered a Saint), or Origen. When Latter-day Saints are confronted with an out-of-step quote from Brigham Young they dismiss it as not being "Church Doctrine," but I'm supposed to believe that appeals to Saint Irenaeus, even when I believe he is being misunderstood, are persuasive?

I understand the pushback, and your example from a Latter-day Saint point of view, of quoting an out-of-step statement from Brigham Young that is not “Church Doctrine” is noted.  But if these statements from early Christian Fathers were simply one-offs or “out-of-step” with other views in the same time period, I wouldn’t be quoting them.  The fact is, the opposite is true, since we find the same basic teachings (about men becoming gods, and Jesus attaining divinity in the beginning as the “Second God” or as “another God”) being taught independently from a wide range of early Christian Fathers.  These are not innovations of a single individual, these are the earliest teachings (from the second and third centuries A.D.), and they are not reliant upon one another, they are widespread, and they reflect the tradition of teaching they received from the apostles.  

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

When other quotes from these Church Fathers are on the table, assertions of Great Apostasy and pagan Hellenization are inevitable. LDS folks will move the Great Apostasy goalposts forward and back, proffering criteria and ideas that fit the current conversation but that contradict and ignore other conversations and assertions. The Great Apostasy happened when the last Apostle died? The Great Apostasy happened during the Great Persecutions? The Great Apostasy happened at the Council of Nicaea? Constantine is condemned for being both too skinny and too fat, and Catholics will see the whole thing as a shell game worthy of Fremont Street in Las Vegas. I appreciate that LDS see it differently, but for Catholics (specifically, this Catholic) this sort of thing just isn't persuasive.

I appreciate the “moving the goal posts” analogy, and I can understand how you might see it that way sometimes.  But the “Great Apostasy” simply didn’t happen overnight.  I’m sure that different Latter-day Saints you’ve been acquainted with have characterized it differently. 

But here’s a very brief definition of The Great Apostasy from the Church website that I’ll break down below:

Quote

The Great Apostasy
Following the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted and killed many Church members. Other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The Apostles were killed, and priesthood authority—including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church—was taken from the earth. Because the Church was no longer led by priesthood authority, error crept into Church teachings. Good people and much truth remained, but the gospel as established by Jesus Christ was lost. This period is called the Great Apostasy.

Some key points I observe from the above are:

  1. Persecution caused the death of “many” faithful Church members.
  2. Other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.  Some of this happened even during the life of Jesus (John 6:66) and the apostles.  But while the Apostles were alive they denounced and corrected these behaviors, as noted for example in 1 Cor 1:11-13, Gal 1:6-7, 1 Tim 1:20, 2 Tim 1:15, 20, and 2:17, 3 John 1:9, and Rev 2:6, 15. 
  3. The Apostles were killed:  The apostles were the governing authority in the church and corrected false teachings and misunderstandings in the church when they occurred (the epistles are full of examples of this).  After the departure of the apostles there was greater opportunity for the introduction of unauthorized teachings.
  4. With the death of the apostles, priesthood authority was lost:  The apostles held the keys to direct the church and administer the ordinances in the church, and for the calling of new bishops and other church leaders.
  5. The loss of keys and authorized leaders also resulted in the loss of revelation to direct the Church as a whole.  Individual personal revelation to faithful members would have remained.
  6. Because of all the above, error crept into the Church teachings over time.  But many truths remained and there were still good people trying to follow Jesus and his teachings to the best of their ability.

Based on the key points above, I’m sure you can see that there is no way to pin-point a specific date and time of the “Great Apostasy”.  Even though the organization of Christ’s church and loss of priesthood keys was nearly immediate upon the extinction of the quorum of apostles, the loss of truth and changes in doctrines were gradual (and even today, they are still diverse and changing across Protestant Christianity, and maybe even in Catholicism somewhat).  These things happened over a long period of time, even centuries and millennia .  But hopefully you can see from this why the earliest teachings of the Christian Fathers, those closest to Jesus and the apostles, should give us the best picture of what the New Testament Christians really taught and how they interpreted scripture.

So, as we read the teachings of the early Christian Fathers, what we should be looking for are trends in teachings over time.  As an example, let’s say that the very earliest Christians taught doctrines A, B, C, D and E.  And then sometime in the mid to late second century AD, another Christian introduces doctrine F (a doctrine that never existed previously, but the Christian teacher reinterprets prior teachings to allow for this new doctrine), and other Christian teachers from his time and afterward find doctrine F appealing and begin teaching it too.  And then doctrines G and H are introduced right around the same period of history.  And then around the 5th century AD, doctrines C and D are not mentioned anymore in Christian teachings because they may be hard to explain alongside the adoption of doctrines F, G, and H. 

Now when you are talking to Latter-day Saints, they might point out to you the prevalence of doctrines C and D in early Christian teachings (doctrines that aren't taught anymore.).  But then you counter by pointing out that some of these same Christians taught doctrines F, G, and H (which are clearly not Latter-day Saint doctrines).  And then Latter-day Saint may respond by saying doctrines F, G, and H are evidences of the apostasy.  In doing so they are not “moving the goal posts”, as you put it, but they are pointing out the trends in teachings over time.  This may not always be easy to explain without a wider study, so I understand how you might perceive it as moving the goal posts. 

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

Moreover, this may not be intended on your part, but please consider that an unstated implication of the argument you've made is that the Catholic Church has hidden, ignored, forgotten, or otherwise obscured these quotes. And never mind that there are shelves of Catholic tomes discussing these quotes--and that's just in English.

This is not my intention at all.  I’m well aware of Catholic writings dealing with some of the quotes that I’ve mentioned.  But you don’t generally find some of these things being taught in regular sermons (do you?)   When is the last time you heard someone in the Catholic church teach in a public meeting that Jesus is the “Second God”, or that he is “another God subject to the Maker of all things”?

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

So from the jump, I'm just going to lay it out the form of argumentation being put forward by dumping quotes from these Church Fathers is nothing more than a big helping of confirmation bias. We all do this to some degree at times, and it sure looks to be confirmation bias to me, literally, cherry-picking quotes that are thought to confirm already held beliefs.

I’m curious about your precise meaning here.  Do you consider the quotes I provided (and even whole chapters from some of these writers) on the teaching that men become gods, and that other gods exist (that aren’t merely earthly judges) from several different early Christian writers to be “cherry-picking”?  I would think that the wide range of Christians teaching on that topic would be far from “cherry-picking” of quotes (there are many more examples I could provide as well).  You might have a point related to the teaching that Jesus is the “Second God” or “another God” if it was limited to a single author, but it’s not.  Wouldn’t that kind of teaching be considered heresy after the First Council of Nicaea?  (That’s part of the whole point).  And I’m not judging these writers by a chance phrase here or there, but by the general drift of their teachings.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

There is an opportunity here, though. When LDS folks begin to really engage the Church Fathers (and Mothers--a post for another time) they'll discover incredible truths. They'll also find themselves having a different seat at the theology and church history table. 

Very good point, and I agree completely.  But I’ve also found that when I read the earliest Christians (before they start getting involved in the philosophy arguments, people like Clement of Rome or Ignatius), I don’t find much at all (if anything) that a Latter-day Saint would disagree with.   And it gives you a good appreciation for Christian history and what these people lived through.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

So, a little about these particular Church Fathers:

I respect all of these Early Church Fathers, but I don't consider them especially broad on this issue. I'll say why in a moment, but anyone who wants a foundational introduction to the Church Fathers should get a copy of Jimmy Akins' The Fathers Know Best. You can get a copy here:

 The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church: Akin, Jimmy: 9781933919348: Amazon.com: Books

Get a copy of Akins' book, and you'll start crushing it in the Sunday School.

Thank you for the book recommendation, I’m adding it to my “books to get list”.  It is exactly the kind of book that I would enjoy reading and would like to have in my library.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

To get down to it....

  • Saint Irenaeus would be near the top of any list of Church Fathers who would be considered as antagonistic to LDS theology. He is a strong advocate of Apostolic Succession, .....

I don’t find the “He is a strong advocate of Apostolic Succession” argument to be persuasive.  Of course he would be a strong advocate for Apostolic Succession, because that’s all that they had at the time as their claim to authority.  But I don’t find that persuasive for the same reason you may not find the Anglican church’s claims to apostolic succession to be valid.  And no doubt most of the schismatic groups also tried to claim apostolic succession.  Can you name one heretical Christian group that would admit they have no authority, and they are apostate?

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:
  • ... and dedicated much of his life to confronting the Gnostic heresies. If Latter-day Saints were going to try to argue that their teachings were in the Church somewhere in the first three centuries, the Gnostics are one of the places to try, and you'll find Irenaeus refuting them on point after point. 
  • Clement of Alexandria confronted Gnostic heresies too, and he famously used Greek philosophy to do it.

This portion of your post puzzled me the most since reading it last week.  First of all, so called “Gnostic” teachings are all over the board, and there are differences between some of the sects that would be considered Gnostic.  And there are a few teachings within the various forms of Gnosticism that are similar to Christian teachings, or doctrines that Christians might agree with, but also much more that they would disagree with, and that Latter-day Saints would also disagree with (most are totally opposite of our views, such as the idea that matter and the physical world is evil).

Second, I’m not sure I get how you are equating Latter-day Saint doctrines with the Gnostic heresies, and more specifically, what writings of Irenaeus or Clement of Alexandria in confrontation of Gnostic heresies would be a refutation of Latter-day Saint doctrine?  I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I’m puzzled by why you think our teachings resemble the Gnostic heresies to begin with. 

Can you explain what you have in mind?   Why are you comparing Latter-day Saint teachings to Gnosticism?  And can you also give some brief examples from Irenaeus or Clement of Alexandria where he is confronting doctrines of the Gnostics that might fit with what you have in mind?  I’m not asking you to go to a lot of research trouble here, I’m honestly just curious about what you are thinking and baffled by why you would compare us to Gnosticism.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

Where are the apostasy-by-Hellenization arguments? Clement of Alexandria is one of the easiest targets here. And never mind that he's no longer a Saint, and is a little marginal because of some dodgy teachings. 

Regarding the “apostasy-by-Hellenization” arguments:   I think there is a misconception that Greek Philosophy is the cause of the apostasy.  Philosophy, in and of itself, isn’t the culprit.  There may be nothing wrong with recognizing truths found in some forms of philosophy, just as Justin Martyr did when he taught that Plato and Greek poets had borrowed the ideas from Moses (such as God creating the world from pre-existing matter). 

But where philosophy becomes a problem is when it and its terminology replaces or heavily influences doctrinal changes in the Church.  Some of the most influential Christian teachers in the early Church were philosophers, and they were actively defending Christian doctrines against arguments made by pagan philosophers.  In the course of their exchanges, they utilized some of the popular philosophies of the day to make Christianity sound more palatable to the non-Christian philosophers, even making the philosophical language part of Christian doctrine.

Regarding what you said about Clement of Alexandria, are you aware of any of his contemporaries (that would be considered orthodox) that may have indicated that Clement of Alexandria’s teachings about men becoming gods at that time were questionable?  The problem I see with dismissing him entirely with a broad brush that he may be “dodgy” or “marginal” is that the examples I quoted were also being taught by other Christians in other parts of the world at the same period of history.  I think it’s acceptable to recognize that some of his teachings may be marginal, but not if the teachings were being taught by other Christians elsewhere. 

Also, if we are trying to look for a pattern of change in doctrines and teachings over time, I also see it as a problem when later individuals claim that an earlier teacher was heretical given the fact that they are judging the earlier teacher by a later set of rules and doctrines.  And again, the examples I gave were not unique to Clement of Alexandria.  If those specific teachings were marginal when Clement of Alexandria taught them, then they would be marginal when all the others taught the same things.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

The book cited by Saint Hippolytus is one of those whose authorship is disputed. Nevertheless, what's written there and attributed to him looks like theosis to me. There are no categorical issues between Creator and creatures, which is at the core of differences between Catholic theosis and Latter-day Saint notions of exaltation. Hippolytus, by the way, is another Early Father who is very hard core and orthodox. He was especially hard on the lapsed folks who wanted to re-enter the Church. 

Regarding the bolded portion above, I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to claim that these early Christians are teaching that men become gods in exactly the same way that it is taught in Latter-day Saint doctrine.  I see two primary big differences (and there may be others):

  1. In a June 16, 1844 sermon (just eleven days before he was martyred), Joseph Smith said he had taught on the plurality of Gods for the prior fifteen years of his ministry (since before the church was organized). So he was teaching that men become gods many years before he ever taught that God is also an exalted man in the April 7th, 1844 King Follet Discourse near the end of his life.  Given that the latter doctrine was revealed late in Joseph Smith’s life, I think it’s quite likely that doctrine is a newly revealed principle (in the last dispensation of the gospel) that may not have been revealed or made known to the New Testament apostles, or if it was revealed it was certainly not taught to the average New Testament Christian.  Consequently, I wouldn’t expect to find this idea in the teachings of the early Christian Fathers.  And their lack of inclusion of this teaching would not be an indication that they are teaching something that would be construed as incompatible with Latter-day Saint doctrine (it could be viewed in the same context as pre-April 1844 Latter-day Saint doctrine).
  2. The doctrine of creation ex-nihilo was first introduced at around 177 AD by Tatian and Theophilus of Antioch (see Hubler, James Noel, "Creatio ex Nihilo: Matter, Creation, and the Body in Classical and Christian Philosophy Through Aquinas" (1995). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 980. https://repository.upenn.edu/edissertations/980, and many others).  This doctrine was appealing to other Christian apologists in that period of time (and later), because it was useful to their arguments in support of the bodily resurrection from the dead, since the bodily resurrection made no sense in any of the Greek philosophical understandings of the material world.  Theophilus also applied this doctrine (creation ex-nihilo) to the uniqueness of God, which widened the gap between God and mankind.  This doctrine (and application of the doctrine) was picked up by Irenaeus, Origen, and Clement of Alexandria.  The introduction of this doctrine created more problems than it solved, however, and it is partly responsible for the diminished teachings (over time) on the plurality of gods in early Christian thought (the doctrines are incompatible).  Consequently, the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo was also a major factor in the shift toward a more monotheistic view of God (see Hayman, A. Peter, Monotheism-A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?, Journal of Jewish Studies, Spring 1991 | vol. 42 | no. 1 | pp. 001–015), a view that was eventually solidified in some of the fourth century Christian creeds.  But some of those problems were not recognized until later, and I think this is evident in some of the discussions on the doctrine of men becoming gods.

Point #2 above is why some of the early Christian writers are making a distinction between Creator and creature.  But in reality, Latter-day Saint doctrine makes a similar distinction, but not in such a drastic way.  We believe our physical world was created by God for us, and we rely on him for our existence.  He is the Creator, we are the creature (but not created from nothing). And I can read nearly all the statements I quoted from Irenaeus (in all of chapters 38 and 39 of Against Heresies), and the statements (in context) from Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Hippolytus of Rome in my post here, and what they teach there sounds a lot like Latter-day Saint doctrine to me.  Irenaeus even puts the gap between God and man in relative terms, as that which was “recently created” compared to that which is “uncreated”:   He says,

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“But created things must be inferior to Him who created them, from the very fact of their later origin; for it was not possible for things recently created to have been uncreated. But inasmuch as they are not uncreated, for this very reason do they come short of the perfect. Because, as these things are of later date, so are they infantile; so are they unaccustomed to, and unexercised in, perfect discipline.”  (CHURCH FATHERS: Against Heresies, IV.38 (St. Irenaeus))

Irenaeus goes on to talk of man’s progression, sounding an awful lot like the Latter-day Saint doctrine of eternal progression.  He says this is the “planning” of the Father (i.e. our plan of salvation?), that man should be “making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God.”   He seems to imply here that that which was “lately created” needs to progress to become “perfect” (Uncreated).  

But he has obviously already adopted the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo, so that would need to be assumed from his point of view, and therefore it’s obviously not exactly the same as Latter-day Saint doctrine.  But it shows he was influenced in some way by a very similar doctrine.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

Origen is forever interesting, not authoritative, and also a little dodgy.

Origen is quite interesting, and there are things he says that are very comparable to Latter-day Saint doctrine (and some not like our doctrine).  I also find it interesting that, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Jerome "declares expressly" that Origen was not condemned on any point of doctrine during the time of his writing of his Commentary on St. John.  (One of the sources I quoted in a post earlier in this thread).

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

The Church Fathers who could be cited on this topic are well-known. Pick up the Akin book I mentioned, or Rod Bennett's The Four Witnesses or The Apostasy that Wasn't.  

Thank you again for the book recommendations.  I’ve added both of these books to my book list too.

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

I don't have any problems with these quotes, and don't see them as going beyond theosis. I disagree with any assertion that they're The implications teaching an LDS notion of God, or of heaven. 

What, to you, would be “implications teaching an LDS notion of God, or of heaven”?  For our “notion of God”, are you referring to what I said in my point #1 and #2, above?  If so, I agree (for the reasons I stated above).  But I’m not sure what you mean about heaven, however.  Can you explain?

On 9/25/2022 at 2:57 PM, Saint Bonaventure said:

Anyway, thank you for the enjoyable conversation on this Sunday afternoon in early autumn.

You too!  Thank you. 

Edited by InCognitus
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On 9/27/2022 at 3:08 PM, Spammer said:

To the OP: here's 2 cents from lurker land.

Regarding Irenaeus, theosis, and LDS use of Irenaeus' writings on the topic, what Irenaeus believed is rooted in the God he worshipped: a God who is uncreated, immaterial, pure spirit, and who created all things out of nothing, including matter itself.  This is the same as what Catholics believe today. Irenaeus was a Catholic bishop after all.

This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith. (Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching: 6)

 “The rule of truth which we hold, is, that there is one God Almighty, who made all things by His Word, and fashioned and formed, out of that which had no existence, all things which exist.” (Against Heresies 1.22.1)

  “…[The Gnostics] believe not that God, according to His pleasure, in the exercise of His own will and power, formed all things (so that those things which now are should have an existence) out of what did not previously exist...But they do not believe that God (being powerful, and rich in all resources) created matter itself, inasmuch as they know not how much a spiritual and divine essence  can accomplish...

 “While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point preeminently superior to men, that He Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence.” (Against Heresies 2.10.2-4)

But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who has made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him have received a beginning. But whatever things had a beginning, and are liable to dissolution, and are subject to and stand in need of Him who made them... (Against Heresies 3.8.3)

“Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, ‘First of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence: He who contains all things, and is Himself contained by no one.’” (Against Heresies 4.20.2)

I explained the reasons for Ireneaus teaching the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo  in my previous post.  Many studies have been done on the origin of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.  

For example, see:   Hubler, James Noel, "Creatio ex Nihilo: Matter, Creation, and the Body in Classical and Christian Philosophy Through Aquinas" (1995). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 980. https://repository.upenn.edu/edissertations/980

To quote from his abstract (from the link above):

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Abstract

Creatio ex nihilo marked a major redefinition of the material cosmos by the Christian apologists of the late second century, Tatian and Theophilus of Antioch. Other scholars have properly assigned the origin of creatio ex nihilo to these thinkers, notably Gerhard May and David Winston, but the reasons for the teaching' s appearance remained unexplained. By examining the Classical philosophical views of matter, the challenge that Greek views of matter raised for the Christian message become evident. For Stoic, Platonist, and Peripatetic alike matter imposed the natural necessity of corruption upon the body. The moral limitations imposed by matter made a bodily resurrection seem offensive. Christian hopes for a resurrection seemed misguided both intellectually and morally. The Christian apologists of the late second century struck back by redefining matter as a creature of God, which he directed to his purpose. The religious claims of the Christian apologists signaled a major philosophical change. Within a century, Plotinus developed a rigorous monistic system of emanation within the Greek philosophical tradition. In his system, even matter was derived from the One. Nevertheless, because it was wholly indefinite, matter remained evil and the sage eschewed it. Augustine gave creatio ex nihilo its first careful philosophical consideration in the Christian tradition. Turning the valences of the Classical world on their heads, he argued that as something capable of being formed into good things, matter itself was good and a creature of the good God. The next major philosophical consideration of creatio ex nihilo in the Christian tradition came at the hands of Aquinas, who taught that creatio ex nihilo meant that nothing was presupposed to God's creative act, not matter, forms, natures, essences, ideas, laws of nature, or a hierarchy of being. The creature depended entirely on God's creative act. Despite the great dependence of the creature upon God, Aquinas taught that the creature still bore a genuine likeness to God, in his highly developed teaching of participation.

And he explains the arrival of the doctrine on page 102:

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Creatio ex nihilo appeared suddenly in the latter half of the second century C.E. Not only did creatio ex nihilo lack precedent, it stood in firm opposition to all the philosophical schools of the Greco-Roman world. As we have seen, the doctrine was not forced upon the Christian community by their revealed tradition, either in Biblical texts or the Early Jewish interpretation of them. As we will also see it was not a position attested in the New Testament doctrine or even sub-apostolic writings. It was a position taken by the apologists of the late second century, Tatian and Theophilus, and developed by various ecclesiastical writers thereafter, by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen. Creatio ex nihilo represents an innovation in the interpretive traditions of revelation and cannot be explained merely as a continuation of tradition. Inasmuch as it was a radical departure from the intellectual traditions of the larger culture and violated its manifest truths, it must have been a position which was strongly motivated.

And on pages 102-103 he begins to explain the reason for it being adopted:

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Creatio ex nihilo can best be explained as a defense of the most controversial part of the Christian kerygma, the resurrection of the dead. It took a point as controversial yet essential to the Christian message as the resurrection to force the Christians to an equally controversial position as creatio ex nihilo. Bodily resurrection made no sense in any of the Greek philosophical understandings of the material world. For all the Greek systems of thought, sublunary matter was eternally subject to change and could not be incorporated into an eternal body. Humans had either to submit to the necessity of their own corruption or try to escape from matter as immaterial souls (see chapter 2). A hope of resurrection was not only deluded expectation of the impossible, for the Platonists it was misguided in that it sought to preserve the most unpleasant aspect of the human condition, the corporeal. In attempting to take their message to the larger culture, the Christians either needed to modify their teaching of resurrection or they needed to make inroads into the Greek understandings of the material world. Some Gnostics took the first approach and maintained that the resurrection was not bodily.1 Tatian and Theophilus took the opposite tack and vigorously defended the bodily resurrection while attacking the Greek philosophical teachings about the material creation, linking God's creative power to his ability to raise the dead. In contrast to Tatian, Theophilus also turned creatio ex nihilo into an offensive weapon, to buttress the leading line of the Christian kerygma, the uniqueness of God. Theophilus and Tertullian after him charged the Greeks with introducing another God and with limiting the sovereignty of God by introducing matter as a power equal to God.

Other studies showing the origin of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo can be cited, including these Latter-day Saint sources:   

Blake T. Ostler, "Out of Nothing: A History of Creation ex Nihilo in Early Christian Thought", Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Volume 17, Number 2, 2005.   

Keith Norman, "Ex Nihilo: The Development of the Doctrines of God and Creation in Early Christianity", BYU Studies 17, no 3 (Spring 1977).

And there are others (LDS and non-LDS).

The introduction of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo also had a major impact on several other early Christian doctrines, such as the existence of other gods who were with God in the beginning.  The introduction of creatio ex nihilo therefore influenced the change in early Christianity to a more strict monotheism view.  In a separate study, Peter Hayman explains:

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Is a doctrine of monotheism conceivable without a doctrine of creatio ex nihilo?  Perhaps this is what has led scholars in the teeth of the evidence to suggest that creatio ex nihilo is at least presupposed in the Hebrew Bible, even if it is nowhere explicit.  And if this doctrine is so weakly rooted in Judaism, even as late as the Middle Ages, then we can only conclude that Judaism never escaped from the Canaanite mythological background which all scholars now see behind the biblical teaching on creation.  (Hayman, A. Peter, Monotheism-A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?, Journal of Jewish Studies, Spring 1991 | vol. 42 | no. 1 | pages 3 and 4)

 

On 9/27/2022 at 3:08 PM, Spammer said:

I'm not sure why LDS folks like to quote Catholic bishops like Irenaeus in support of LDS claims.  Why not quote an ancient Christian who believed what the LDS Church teaches about theosis - that the goal is to become like the LDS Heavenly Father (who is a divinized, embodied human male who created the world out of pre-existing matter, similar to what Platonic elements in Greek philosophy teach about the origin of matter). 

I explained the reasons for this in my last post, above.  There is a definite pattern of doctrinal teachings across a wide range of Christian Fathers, and there is an observable shift in emphasis of doctrines over time as other doctrines (like creatio ex nihilo) are introduced.  

Edited by InCognitus
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On 10/2/2022 at 3:54 AM, Pyreaux said:

The Family - Proclamation to the World, the Gospel Principles manual and the King Follett Discourse are not LDS canon

The Family - Proclamation to the World is considered doctrine though.  Gospel Principles contains
as it states, gospel principles.  The teaching of heavenly father being a man who became a god
had its birth in the King Follett discourse.  The teaching continues to be an integral part of LDS
theology. 

Maybe at some future general conference, all these teachings will be admitted to be false.

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Question:_Is_the_Mormon_document_"The_Family:_A_Proclamation_to_the_World"_official_doctrine%3F

The teaching that a proclamation is a doctrine is reiterated here:

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

 

Edited by marineland
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3 hours ago, marineland said:

The Family - Proclamation to the World is considered doctrine though.  Gospel Principles contains
as it states, gospel principles.  The teaching of heavenly father being a man who became a god
had its birth in the King Follett discourse.  The teaching continues to be an integral part of LDS
theology. 

Maybe at some future general conference, all these teachings will be admitted to be false.

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Question:_Is_the_Mormon_document_"The_Family:_A_Proclamation_to_the_World"_official_doctrine%3F

The teaching that a proclamation is a doctrine is reiterated here:

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

 

Yeah, they do bite the bullet, I'm just saying there is no LDS scripture directly referencing a Heavenly Mother. So, when they keep claiming the Family Proclamation is scripture-based, it is on the topic of gender and family roles, the Proclamation is itself the only quasi-official source which its only referenced in passing by pluralizing heavenly "parents" without saying anything more. Even if they add it to the canon, they could, but still haven't, it could always be excused as a majestic plural ( pluralis majestatis ), or royal plural, the use of a plural pronoun (or corresponding plural-inflected verb forms) used by a single person who is a monarch or holds a high office to refer to themselves. Like when the Bible clearly says as a plural, The Gods (Elohim [El=God, oh=feminine, im=plural]) Created the world, it somehow does not literally mean that God is a unified plurality of Gods that are both male and female, who said "let US make man in OUR image, male AND female", we are told it's just a "royal we"... Nothing to see here.

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Edited by Pyreaux
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2 hours ago, marineland said:

Is procreation of spirit children to heavenly parents one of these things?

Do you know what "procreation of spirit children to heavenly parents" means?  Does anybody?

Do you believe God is the "Father of spirits"?  Do you believe that we are all "the offspring of God"?  If so, do you understand how that works?  If so, can you point it out in scripture please?  If not, why not?

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error

Edited by mfbukowski
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Heavenly Mother clearly doctrine?

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/search?lang=eng&query=heavenly+mother&page=1

And regarding specifically as our parents:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/spirit-children-of-heavenly-parents?lang=eng

Quote

 

God is not only our Ruler and Creator; He is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 335).

Every person who was ever born on earth is our spirit brother or sister. Because we are the spirit children of God, we have inherited the potential to develop His divine qualities. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become like our Heavenly Father and receive a fulness of joy.

We were not all alike in heaven. We know, for example, that we were sons and daughters of heavenly parents—males and females. We possessed different talents and abilities, and we were called to do different things on earth.

A veil covers our memories of our premortal life, but our Father in Heaven knows who we are and what we did before we came here. He has chosen the time and place for each of us to be born so we can learn the lessons we personally need and do the most good with our individual talents and personalities.

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 10/6/2022 at 7:15 PM, InCognitus said:

Do you know what "procreation of spirit children to heavenly parents" means?  Does anybody?

Do you believe God is the "Father of spirits"?  Do you believe that we are all "the offspring of God"?  If so, do you understand how that works?  If so, can you point it out in scripture please?  If not, why not?

I figure procreation of heavenly parents with bodies of flesh and bones (if one holds to that belief)
means just that.  Unless Jesus and others are not really born to them.

I believe God is the father of us in the sense of adoption.  The Bible mentions this a few times. I
couldn't find anything about "adoption as sons" in the Book of Mormon though.

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9 hours ago, marineland said:

I figure procreation of heavenly parents with bodies of flesh and bones (if one holds to that belief)
means just that

Means just what, exactly?  Physical beings producing spirits?  That doesn't sound like anything that we can relate to in this life, does it?

9 hours ago, marineland said:

Unless Jesus and others are not really born to them.

The Bible says Jesus is the "firstbegotten" of the Father (Psalm 89:27, Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:6, Hebrews 12:23).  How was he "begotten"?  Was he adopted?  Or something else?

The early Christian creeds teach that Jesus was "begotten before the worlds".  Obviously they got that from somewhere.

9 hours ago, marineland said:

I believe God is the father of us in the sense of adoption.  The Bible mentions this a few times.

Yes, the Bible mentions that a few times, but the Bible doesn't say God is the Father of us only in the sense of adoption.  In this post (here), I pointed out several ways that the Bible says we are the children of God.  Adoption is only one of them.   The Bible teaches that all of us (not just believers) are the literal offspring of God (we are the very génos of God - the very same kind of being as God, as it says in Acts 17:28-29).   This is clearly not adoption.   It also teaches that God is the "Father of spirits" (Heb 12:9), and we have a relationship to him as any child would have to a literal father (the context of that verse makes that clear). 

To summarize the Bible's teaching on this (and to paraphrase parts of my other post):  We are all “the children of God” (literal sons and daughters), but as we reach the age of accountability we all sin in some way, and therefore we are not worthy to be called the “sons of God” (in a figurative behavioral sense) without some kind of intervention. We must therefore be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, just like it says in John 1:12:  “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have the “power to become” sons of God (in a figurative behavioral sense) because it is only through Jesus that our contrary behavior (sin) can be forgiven, thus making us clean and worthy products of his atonement. By believing in Jesus Christ (receiving him) we are to serve God the Father and Jesus Christ instead of sin.  This same concept is also taught in Moroni 7:26, Doctrine and Covenants 11:30, 35:2, 39:4, 42:52, and 45:8.

A Bible verse that illustrates the duel definition of the child/father relationship as explained above is in Matthew 5:45. In the preceding verses Jesus indicates that we must “love our enemies” and “do good” to them that hate us. He says we must do these things so "that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven".  Jesus says God is “your Father”, but we must act like our Father so that we “may be” his children. In other words, God is our literal Father already. He is the “Father of spirits” (Heb 12:9). But we must behave like our Father to be called “his children”.  That's where the atonement of Christ and adoption comes in.

9 hours ago, marineland said:

I couldn't find anything about "adoption as sons" in the Book of Mormon though.

I referenced one of them above (Moroni 7:26), but there are others like in Mosiah 5:7, where it is said we are "spiritually begotten" through Christ, being called the "children of Christ". 

Edited by InCognitus
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19 minutes ago, Brahms said:

I think the reason why not is because some things should not be discussed in specific detail.  You (and many other people) seem to want every detail spelled out in words regarding how men and women make babies. Get married and find out.

That was actually my point, but it was about "procreation of spirit children to heavenly parents", not about physical birth on earth.  There's no way we can compare our spiritual birth to our earthly birthing process. My question was rhetorical to marineland (i.e. "Does anybody [know]"?)   I don't want speculation.  We shouldn't speculate because we don't know (it hasn't been revealed to us) and we shouldn't make assumptions about it, and marineland appears to have been doing just that.

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3 minutes ago, Brahms said:

When you (and others) say we "haven't been told" I think you mean it hasn't been spelled out with words in specific detail.  I don't think we'll ever get that much detail from our Father, because we don't need that, and it is a sacred thing.

What I will tell you, with words, is that we are still going to be men and women, and if I am still married to my wife, we will figure it out.  We won't need someone to tell us with words exactly what they did to make their babies. I don't think you will either.

I'm just saying it may not mean what you think it means (you are obviously implying something that may not be exactly the case in your comment above), or what I think it means, since it hasn't been revealed nor should it be until the next life.

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