Chapter 16 discusses the church set up by Jesus both in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, and the apostasy that followed. Here are some related resources:
Dr. Terryl L. Givens sat down with host Blair Hodges during the Mormon Scholars Foundation Summer Seminar at Brigham Young University. Blair uses selections from Givens’s books as jumping off points for further discussion on a wide array of subjects, including: nineteenth-century anti-Mormon literature, the Book of Mormon, prisca theologia, the paradox of searching and certainty, recent developments in Mormon studies, Parley P. Pratt, the preexistence, globalization, thoughtful faith, and dealing with difficult historical and theological puzzles.
Questions about this episode and ideas for future episodes can be added to the comments section here, or emailed to [email protected].
Dr. Terrl L. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. He has authored several books, including The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (Oxford 1997); By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion (Oxford 2003); People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford 2007); The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford 2009); and When Souls had Wings: Pre-Mortal Life in Western Thought (2010). His current projects include a biography of Parley P. Pratt (with Matt Grow, to be published by Oxford in 2011), a sourcebook of Mormonism in America (with Reid Neilson, to be published by Columbia in 2011), a history of Mormon theology (with Steven Harper), and a study of the idea of human perfectibility in the Western tradition. He lives in Montpelier, Virginia.
(Image and info from http://terrylgivens.com/)
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This week’s lesson on the Atonement takes what is the most important part of what was studied last week and goes into much greater detail. As such, many of the potential issues were covered in last week’s blog post. However, there are a couple of areas that may be helpful to go over this week.
Gerald N. Lund wrote an article for the Ensign in 1990 that explains in detail why the atonement was necessary and how it works, calling the Fall of Adam “one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines in all of Christianity”: Gerald N. Lund, “The Fall of Man and His Redemption,” Ensign, Jan. 1990, 22.
Most Christians (not just Latter-day Saints) believe that everyone will be resurrected. However, there are some critics that claim such beliefs are unbiblical, and that only those who are saved will be resurrected. While the Book of Mormon speaks plainly of the resurrection being universal (see, for example, Alma 11:40–45 and Mormon 9:12–14), the Bible also speaks of it. Here are some examples:
- 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 – “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
- John 5:28-29 – “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
- Acts 24:15 – “And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.”
This doctrine was also clearly taught in the early Christian church:
- “If only a just judgment were the cause of the resurrection, it would of course follow that those who had done neither evil nor good, namely, very young children, would not rise again. However, we see that all persons are to rise again, including those who have died in infancy” (Athenagoras, 175 AD.)
- “By mentioning both the judgment seat and the distinction between good and bad works, he sets before us a judge who is to award both sentences. He has thereby affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies.” (Tertullian, 207 AD.)
- “Since the entire man consists of the union of the two natures [body and soul], he must therefore appear in both natures. For it is right that a man should be judged in his entirety…Therefore, as he lived, he must also be judged.” (Tertullian, 210 AD.)
It is unfortunate but telling that our most important doctrines receive so much criticism from those who would have the world believe that we worship “a different Jesus.” Indeed, if our Jesus is different, it is because we believe in the uncorrupted concept of Jesus Christ found in the scriptures, and not in the creeds of man.
This week’s priesthood and Relief Society lesson is on The Life of Christ. Listed below are links to related issues from the FAIR web sites, organized according to the sections of the lesson.
He Organized the Only True Church
His Sacrifice Showed His Love for His Father and for Us
Grace and works
In an excellent tome, which has been criticized far too much for an inaccurate quotation of Irenaeus, LDS scholar Stephen E. Robinson wrote:
It is not my purpose in these pages to prove, or even to argue, that the LDS church is true or that its doctrines are correct, even though I believe both of those propositions. Rather, I will attempt to show why the arguments used to exclude Latter-day Saints from the “Christian” world are flawed. The operating principle behind most of my arguments will not be rectitude but equity—what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. That is, if Augustine or Luther or John Paul II can express opinions or insist on beliefs that differ from the Christian mainstream and yet still be considered Christians, then Joseph Smith and Brigham Young cannot be disqualified from bearing that title when they express the same or similar opinions. If theological or ecclesiastical diversity can be tolerated among mainstream Christian churches without charges of their being “non-Christian,” then diversity of a similar kind, or to a similar degree, ought to be tolerated in the Latter-day Saints. This is simply an issue of playing on a level field. (Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1991), p. viii.)
In my conversations with those critical of LDS beliefs I have come to the realization that Professor Robinson’s approach is really the Achilles heel of most detractors. Philosophically it is quite sound, for it is logically fallacious to accept an idea or criticism when applied to an opponent’s argument but reject it when applied to one’s own argument. Yet more to the point the clear demonstration of a double-standard demonstrates a fundamental weakness within arguments meant to undermine the faith of the Saints. [Read more…] about Equity: The Proverbial Achilles Heel
Recently I put together a reference guide for Mormons that are potentially in discussions with other Christians that have some interest in early Christian priesthood structure. In this post, I have confined myself to helpful LDS treatments that are available online. Perhaps in a separate post, I will consider compiling a list of articles and books written from a non-Mormon perspective, that are nevertheless worthy of attention. The most important LDS treatment, High Nibley’s Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity has not been put online yet. Please feel free to comment on any of this literature or point out additional resources that you find helpful.
[Read more…] about Literature on Early Christian Priesthood
For my home teaching lesson last month, instead of giving a message from the First Presidency, I decided to give a message about the First Presidency. Actually it is more about the Twelve Apostles as a whole (and not just the central three pillars that lead them), Jesus, the restoration of Israel, the temple as a symbol for God’s kingdom, and revelation. These concepts are all intimately intertwined, especially in imagery that presents the Twelve (as delegated by Christ) as foundational rocks or seer stones.
The closest precedent the Old Testament offers to the apostles are the Twelve tribal princes that Moses designated along with 70 elders. These princes were in turn modeled after the Twelve Patriarchs or the sons of Israel that were the founding fathers of each tribe. William Horbury has a book chapter (“The Twelve and the Phylarchs” p. 157-188) available on Google books that explores the concept further. This priestly position fell into obscurity as the nation of Israel went through vast political changes and scattering. The concept of the Seventy fared much better, but that is a different story. Suffice it to say, when Christ restored the office of the Twelve, it began to meet Messianic expectations that Israel would be restored to her former glory. [Read more…] about The Apostolic Foundation
Despite having a priesthood organization that resembles that of the New Testament church, the latter day church sometimes receives criticism for any perceived changes between then and now. For example, biblical fundamentalists contrast instructions in the pastoral letters that deacons should be husbands of one wife to the current LDS practice of ordaining twelve year old boys. I am open to hearing arguments of whether that means at least one one wife, exactly one wife, or at most one wife and what the implications are for widowers, divorcees, polygamists, and celibates. [Read more…] about Deacons then and now
It is a thrill to behold Rob Bowman go to work reconstructing leadership structures in New Testament times. This topic has gotten much attention in academic literature, but not many have drawn out the implications for a Church that prides itself as being a restorations of primitive Christianity. Bowman’s posts so far have argued that contemporary Mormon practice deviates from what he finds in early Christianity: 1) Ordination to a priesthood office wasn’t always done by the laying on of hands by one holding the authority to do so and 2) The office of apostle in the sense of being a spokesman for the Lord was not meant to continue as such. Such deviations, he contends, make it impossible for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make unique truth claims about exclusively having priesthood authority. [Read more…] about Bowman on Ordination