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Everything posted by MrShorty

  1. MrShorty

    Demands of Justice

    That kind of sounds like Calvinism's "limited atonement" (the "L" in "TULIP"). Perhaps it is just my bias against Calvinism, but I tend to shy away from explanations that sound too much like Calvinism. I don't have a good answer to the OP's question, but this description of the problem seems rooted in a "debtor model/analogy" of the atonement. I wonder if a different model/analogy for atonement would provide a different understanding of how atonement works that avoids this "double endemnity" problem.
  2. @Carborendum Doesn't our "social trinitarian" view (as inferred by the 2 BoM and D&C verses cited by @Jonah) also rely fairly heavily on the "compound unity" thing so much maligned in your link? I guess I don't see how their arguments around the Hebrew "echad" support our view of the Godhead (something more social trinitarian) than the homoousian version of traditional Christianity. I can't tell exactly what they are arguing for. Are they arguing for a kind of modalist God -- where there really is only one God, but He expresses Himself in three modes/faces in scripture? Or are they arguing for a kind of subordinationist view of God where God the Father is the One True God, and Christ and the Holy Spirit occupy a lesser class -- something less than "God" but more than "man"? Modalism certainly doesn't describe our view of God. I see elements of subordinationism in our view of God, but we also talk about Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit being roughly equal in "godhood".
  3. I find that this is such a difficult question. Perhaps it is just the mathematician in me that has a hard time understanding any of the 1=3 and 3=1 attempts to explain the Trinity. I think the answer to the OP is that there are many within Christianity that would like to make Nicean Trinitarianism a defining characteristic of Christianity. In terms of numbers, it seems that the vast majority of Christians accept the Nicene Creed (though, as Donnell and Connell explain in the Lutheran Satire video, I think there are frequent misunderstandings of what the Nicene Creed says about the nature of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit), and, based on numbers alone, can declare that alternative views of the Trinity/God/Godhead are heterodox/heretical merely because they are much less popular. As for understanding the LDS view of God, I struggle with trying to understand it as well (and I have been active in the Church my whole life). 3=1 and 1=3 don't make any more sense to me in the LDS view than the Nicene view. In my attempts to understand it, I have seen some call it a form of "social trinitarianism" (Wikipedia's article on Nontrinitarianism has a short blurb on the LDS view that uses this term: A couple of Christmases ago, I became aware of the apocryphal story of St. Nicholas slapping/hitting Bishop Arius at the Council of Nicea over the disagreements between Homoousian and Arian proposals. A quick dive down the Arian rabbit hole found several concepts that seemed familiar to me as a Latter-day Saint (Wikipedia's article on Arianism notes that similarities between the LDS teachings and Arianism were noted as early as 1846: While I don't know what, if any, label to apply to the LDS view of God, I do see familiar concepts in social trinitarianism, Arianism, subordinationism (often considered a subset of Arianism), Nicene trinitarianism (our own @prisonchaplain once described the Trinity as 1 god in 3 distinct personalities that made sense to me), and Athanasius (the part about not confusing the persons though I would also agree with the not separating the substance part if we could get rid of the substance/ousia baggage because there is something about the Trinity/Godhead that is absolutely indivisible), as well as the overall sense that many Christians have that God is difficult to impossible for the mortal mind to truly comprehend. That probably does more to lay bare my own confusions rather than help anyone come to any concrete understandings, but, there it is anyway (and probably worth about what you paid for it).
  4. The author claims to be a former president of the Canadian Council of Churches, and simply argues that "[The Mormons] should be welcomed to walk alongside the rest of us." The comments section certainly shows that not all agree with Rev. Christie. I guess it just shows that, while there are the counter-cult minsitries and individuals like Dr. Jeffress out there, there are also many who are more welcoming. The belief that Mormons aren't Christian is not universal.
  5. On some occasions when the topics of being "born again" or "conversion" or similar come up, it is sometimes suggested that we as Latter-day Saints have a different vocabulary than other "Born Again" Christians. Sometimes we worry that those vocabulary differences interfere with our ability to talk to each other about the experience of being born again (and various consequences of the born again experience). My goal in this post is to talk about the "born again" experience from an LDS perspective without getting bogged down in some of these word choices and definitions that maybe interfere with understanding. My goal is more about better understanding and less about debating the correctness of anyone's theology. This week's reading assignment in our Sunday School classes is Mosiah 4 to 6 in the Book of Mormon (link to the BoM text: As I read these chapters, it occurred to me that they contain a fairly straightforward account of one "born again" experience that I think demonstrates the "born again" experience. Because it is a story/history of a group of people experiencing being "born again", I hope that it will not get bogged down in word choices, because readers could choose their own words/terms to identify each part of the process -- words/terms that will make sense to them. My outline of the events in chapters 4 to 6 as I see this particular anecdote of a "born again" experience: 0) Context -- In chapters 2 and 3, we have the Nephite King Benjamin giving a discourse covering a variety of topics, including prophecies of the Savior. Chapter 4 begins with the people's reaction to this discourse. 1) Ch 4: vs 1 and 2 -- The people recognize their need for redemption. 2) Ch 4 vs 2 -- they call upon God for forgiveness. 3) Ch 4 vs 3 -- they receive a remission of their sins. 4) Ch 4 vs 4 to 30 -- King Benjamin takes up a commentary on this process, including what he calls "retaining a remission of your sins" (see vs. 12). This commentary culminates in verse 30 with caution against sin in general. As it pertains to some of the bitter debates over what happens after "being saved", I want to highlight here that, to us as LDS, retaining (the word Benjamin uses here) a remission of sins is just as essential as obtaining a remission of sin. As Benjamin describes it here, one retains a remission of sins through a lifetime of service and obedience (and not sinning). 5) Ch 5 vs 5 -- A covenant of obedience. In the today's LDS church, this covenant is associated with the rite/sacrament/ordinance of baptism. I am not certain why baptism is not mentioned here (perhaps because the people were already born and raised in something like the Church and had previously received the rite/sacrament/ordinance but not fully understood it or perhaps because, for some reason, the priesthood authority for such an ordinance is down in the Land of Nephi with Zeniff/Noah's priests and will be brought back with Alma (the Elder) later in the Book of Mosiah). Benjamin then comments in the rest of Chapter 5 on the nature of this covenant and what it means to "take Christ's name upon them". 6) Ch 6 -- Names of those present are recorded, perhaps as a part of remembering who entered the covenant in order to organize "churches" to help each other in keeping their covenant. It is just one people's experience, so I don't know that it is necessarily theologically rigorous, or that everyone who has a born again experience will go through all of the same steps or in necessarily the same order and all kinds of other cautions against trying to make this more than I think it is. For my fellow LDS -- anything else you would point out that I may have missed or glossed over? For other "Born Again" Christians -- How does this compare to your own "born again" experience (using your own words/terms/concepts)?
  6. I would say it is mostly culture and tradition (cue Tevye and the people of Anatevka). I find that we are somewhat uncomfortable conceding too much to personal preference, but I sometimes think personal preference ought to have more sway. Part of me would say that God's opinion ought to have the greatest impact on what we choose, but I sometimes find it difficult to really find God's will amidst the much louder voices of culture, tradition, and personal preference.
  7. I find this an interesting question. The first time I really encountered this was while serving a mission. We encountered a woman who took an immediate interest in our message. She started reading the Book of Mormon and initially felt good about it. However, as we challenged her to really pray about it, she reported that she received the impression that God did not want her to continue reading the BoM and studying with the missionaries. Obviously, I have no way to verify her experience, but it was the first time I had to wrestle with the possibility that God would give someone an answer contrary to the answer we would expect as missionaries. I don't know that I have the final answer on the question. As I get older, I think there might be a bit more "It's between you and God" for a lot of things, and a lot less "you'd better pick right" than my orthodox self would have believed.
  8. MrShorty

    Christmas Star

    Not as good as @NeuroTypical got, but here's one I got through my telescope. Difficult to get a good, single frame shot. Either overexpose Jupiter or underexpose Saturn. Atmosphere was all wobbly and noisy, too. But, still, you don't get to see two gas giants in the same telescopic field of view very often.
  9. MrShorty

    Liberal Ideas Creeping In

    Some here would probably consider it a progressive cesspool, but BCC hosted a discussion the "individual adaptation phrase" a year or two ago that still seems to me to be very interesting. Opinions and interpretations all over the map. Some of it probably could be categorized as "rationalizing sin", but it is not clear to me exactly how to judge individual cases. In the face of such variability and ambiguity, I agree with @Jane_Doe and @MarginofError -- let people be responsible for their own choices.
  10. MrShorty

    Worst and Best drivers (by State) in the USA

    I also noted that the rankings seemed to be based on data for fatal accidents. So they looked at accidents where someone died, then looked at how frequently the specified factors (speed, failure to obey, etc.) were implicated in these accidents. So it wasn't just about how well drivers complied or not with traffic laws or "courtesy rules of the road" or minor accidents or all of the other things that we tend talk about when we talk about how good a state's/locality's drivers are. They seemed to focus in on fatal accidents and the driving patterns that seemed to contribute to those fatal accidents. I also noticed that they listed past years' results from the same study. One interesting observation quickly looking back over three years is that 2018 and 2020 worst state was Alaska, but, in 2019, Alaska was not even in the bottom 10. I doubt that Alaskans' driving habits (and drivers around the nation for that matter) really changed dramatically over three years. If a state can move a lot in these rankings with little to no change in driving habits, that suggests to me that either there is some flaw in the methodology or that drivers across the nation are almost equally good/bad. Some states (like New Mexico) seem to consistently make their bottom 10. If you want to really talk about rankings, a pattern of consistently appearing on a list like this might be more meaningful than a single year's snapshot.
  11. MrShorty

    Worst and Best drivers (by State) in the USA

    One of the most interesting thought experiments around letter/spirit of the law for me was to wonder how the sinless Savior of the world would treat traffic laws. These laws do not really have moral significance, so there aren't really moral ramifications to obedience/disobedience. How does a perfect, sinless person treat things like speed limits? The letter of the law is kind of obvious. Never exceed the posted speed limit, and pay careful attention to the signs so he/she knows what the speed limit is. The spirit of the law is to move people and goods around the community safely and efficiently. I've heard some justify their speeding by saying that it is more dangerous to be traveling at a speed significantly slower than the rest of traffic. On a moderately busy freeway where everyone is going 10 over, is it ultimately safer and more efficient to blend into traffic even though traffic is going 10 over? Or is strict obedience the way to go and the other drivers will just have to deal with it? Spirit of the law or letter of the law? Vague, general obedience or strict, exact obedience? I really don't know.
  12. This has often been said, but I recently came across some Pew data ( ) that suggests that it mostly applies to Protestants. Compared to Catholics, we are similar in this respect (about half of those who leave become unaffiliated in both). I'm not sure what it is, but it doesn't seem unique to the LDS Church in this regard. Perhaps it is as @prisonchaplain mentioned. The Reformation has already set the precedent for "if you don't like your current church, it's okay to find/make a different one." so that Protestants don't have as much resistance to just finding a different Christian church. Something about our Church and the Catholic Church reduces people's desire/willingness to find a different church.
  13. I like that, too, but it does raise the question of whether or not God wants everyone to be a member of this Church. I believe God wants me to be a member of the LDS Church, but does that mean that He wants -- let's say for sake of argument -- @prisonchaplain to also be a member of the LDS Church or does God lead him to be a member (and pastor) in the AoG?
  14. To me, some of this question revolves around what we mean when a say "a church is true". As others ( @laronius, @prisonchaplain @estradling75) have suggested, maybe truth exists on a continuum where all churches have truth and some more than others. So, when you feel like you have learned all of the truth that Catholicism has to teach you, you split off into Protestantism. And move through various branches of Protestantism until you get all the truth from them, and so on, never truly committing to any one church. As Latter-day Saints, we like to say that we have more truth than all of the others and invite people to join us for the richest truth smorgasbord (when they are ready). I suppose that can work, but what do you do when, as @estradling75 pointed out, you reach the end of what the LDS church can teach (because there is even more truth beyond what it teaches to learn)? Does this fit into the OP's question? In some ways, it is interesting that this comes a day after our SS class discussed Moroni 6 and the reasons given for membership and participation in church -- nourished by the Word of God, keep them in the right way, relying on the merits of Christ, fast and pray, and so on (see Moroni 6). As I think about the OPs question, I find myself basically looking at my choices regarding these purposes. What are my best choices for being nourished by the word of God and encouraged in my desire to follow Christ? To stay in the LDS church? Find a different church (Protestant or Catholic or other)? Maybe I have reached a point of such high spiritual maturity that I don't need anyone else to provide these things for me -- I can do them all myself? For me, even if the Church is not as true as I want it to be, it still seems to me to be the best place for me to get the benefits of church mentioned by Moroni. Others may decide differently, and I don't know what to make of those decisions, but I trust God to be able to make the best of each person's situation and that Christ's atonement still will have power in their lives and eternity. (Sounds kind of universalistic, doesn't it?)
  15. MrShorty

    Life, Death and an Isotropic Universe:

    I don't know about indications, but, at some point I wonder about the implications to what it means to be a child of God created in His image. Based on what @askandanswer pointed out -- that some like Elder McConkie have taught that Christ's atonement here on this planet is sufficient for all of God's creations (children?) throughout the universe -- I assume that we would believe that other intelligent life is also created in God's image. If they are too different from us (both in physical form and in lifestyle), then I would wonder what that means to be created in God's image. If nothing else, and interesting thread to spark some challenges to these assumptions.
  16. MrShorty

    This or that?

    When it comes to the soft-serve machine dispensed stuff that you get in fast food joints, I strongly prefer vanilla over chocolate. When it comes to real ice cream -- probably a slight preference for vanilla over (plain) chocolate, but everything goes out the window when you start putting other stuff in there (rocky road or chocolate with fudge or cookie dough or... Another reason not to visit this forum -- it sends me off to indulge in one of my favorite vices. You couldn't have asked a safer question? Like "iceberg or romaine"?
  17. MrShorty

    Life, Death and an Isotropic Universe:

    Re: points 1 and 2 -- yes we can look for those radiation signatures. Realistically, how far away can we see and positively identify them? I am no radio astronomer, so I really don't know, but what do our radio emissions look like against the backdrop of our sun -- and the broader universe? How far away could one realistically be to distinguish our radiation signatures from naturally occurring radiation? Re: point 3, I agree that part of the problem of our being detected by others is that we have only been transmitting/radiating unnatural radiation for about 100 years, so there is only about a 100 ly bubble in which we could be detected by those emissions (assuming they could be differentiated from the naturally occurring radiation from the sun). By the same token, a radiation signature from another civilization needs sufficient time to get to us. It took us some 4.5 billion years (of a 10ish billion year life cycle of the sun) to get to the point of radiating unnatural signatures. We need to look at a star during the "time" when that star might be harboring intelligent life. How narrow/wide is that time window?
  18. MrShorty

    Life, Death and an Isotropic Universe:

    True, but it seems arguable that science has not been able to penetrate very deep into the universe. According to the Planetary Habitability laboratory (, the farthest exoplanet (not even considering planet type or habitability) is about 30 kly away. For comparison, it is estimated that our planet is about 30 kly from the center of our galaxy, so our "bubble" of observing exoplanets consists of only a small portion of our Milky Way. I don't know what it would take to detect intelligent life outside of our solar system, but it seems almost certain that we have barely even begun to search and we are severely limited in our ability to search. At present, I'm not sure science can even begin to answer the question. I guess it depends on what characteristics you consider when you say "unique". Clearly, within our observation limits, Earth is the only one with confirmed life, but there are several "rocky, Earth size planets" within our observation limits. As much as I despise semantics, I get hung up what we mean/scripture means when it says "world" in this context. Is a star/solar system considered a world? A galaxy? A universe? I'm not sure how to answer the questions of how hostile other environments would be to life without assuming isotropy. Assuming life on other worlds is similar to our life, then I would hypothesize that all life exists under similar hostile conditions. Would life existing under non-hostile conditions be similar enough to us to be recognized as having the same Father?
  19. MrShorty

    Was Jesus married

    I agree that there are no official teachings. 2 things -- 1, was Jesus merely a "demi-god" or was He a full fledged god? We talk about Jesus being Jehovah the God of the Old Testament that He was fully God before He even obtained a mortal body. Part of the answer here might depend on exactly how one chooses to view Jesus/Jehovah's status before He came to Earth. 2) Why shouldn't Jesus be excluded from following the plan? There's a lot about Jesus that seems to make Him unique among Father's children. He seems to have been a member of the Godhead before He received a body. I see several ways that Jesus's path seems very different from our path. Personally, I see no reason to think that Jesus must have followed (or will yet follow) the path that we are following. There's a lot that hasn't been revealed, so who knows what is right and true. I'm sure there are some ways that Christ's path is similar to ours. Exactly how it is similar and how it is different hasn't been revealed.
  20. MrShorty

    Radical Orthodoxy

    @Just_A_Guy That may be true -- I'm not saying you're wrong. It seems to me an interesting commentary on the polarization of our times when people like Ralph Hancock or Dan Peterson or the Givens might feel a need for a document that declares them to be "orthodox LDS".
  21. MrShorty

    Radical Orthodoxy

    It is an interesting document. The main thing that has stood out to me is this idea It is an interesting idea. I kind of roll my eyes at the language ("spiritual monsters -- really?"), but I find the overall idea compelling. I'm not sure how narrow (or wide) this path really is (and we all know what scripture says about wide and narrow paths). The idea seems somewhat vague, because the basic ideas are (intentionally?) poorly defined. What do they really mean by fundamentalism or progressivism? I agree with them that it is often a difficult path -- perhaps because of the vagueness of the definitions. In some ways it feels like a document by academics for academics, so maybe it won't amount to much among those of us "lay" members of the Church. If so, maybe it's much ado about nothing, because it will only be something academics take seriously.
  22. MrShorty

    More BSA misery

    I don't know if there are statistics by church/denomination that would tell us one way or another whether we are better as Latter-day Saints or not. An internet search found this recent (Sep. 2019) literature survey (a popular outlet called it "the first comprehensive study exposing patterns of sexual abuse in religious settings.") that contains no statistics of its own, but does have a good sized bibliography and discusses a few specific cases : Catholic that focuses on the well known controversy they are dealing with Protestantism where they discuss cases, but note that there is little to no data to pin down how prevalent it is across various Protestant denominations. A few "cults" (like the Fundamentalist Mormons) are mentioned, but again, there seems to be very little statistical data to pin down prevalence. Considering that it is hard enough to get people to agree on an overall prevalence (is it 1 in 4? 1 in 3? 1 in 2?) of sexual abuse based on DOJ or whatever source people are using, I am not surprised that it is difficult to impossible to get good numbers on how common it is in specific churches/faith communities. I, like others, want to believe that we are better than others. However, it seems like we would have to be astronomically better than the world to be worth patting ourselves on the back. Something like (pulling numbers out of the air), "We are so much better than the world because only 1 in 6 of our youth are abused where it is 1 in 4 in the rest of the world." seems so unsatisfying. I don't know what kind of improvement to hypothesize without some numbers to back it up, so I'm inclined towards something like Carb wrote -- we are probably similar to the rest of the world even if we might actually be marginally better. At least until some data comes along to change my mind. If the article gets lost behind a pay wall or something, the reference is Susan Raine and Stephen Kent, "The Grooming of Children for Sexual Abuse in Religious Settings: Unique Characteristics and Select Case Studies" Journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior Sept. 2019.
  23. MrShorty

    More BSA misery

    As an Eagle Scout, I am overall grateful for what I got out of BSA. I am sad to see them struggle, I will be sad if BSA substantially disappears. I wish things could have been different. I wish that BSA leadership would have had the foresight to take youth protection more seriously sooner to try to prevent this outcome. It is what it is -- I cannot say that the outcome ought to be different. But I am still saddened, and will be saddened by the outcome.
  24. MrShorty

    Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

    I might like to join. What's the protocol? Will someone put up a reading schedule? Or will it be more informal -- read it at our individual leisure and post comments whenever?
  25. MrShorty

    Question on "Faith Crisis"

    I have re-read your post @scottyg, and this question keeps leaping out at me. It goes back to the question of whether or not God would give me answers that would lead away. If I trust what I think God is telling me, there are some conflicts there between what I feel God is telling me and what the Church says God is saying. It's not necessarily about the entire "is this the true Church", but smaller issues and questions.Trusting what God has said in the past about this being His Church, but also trusting what He seems to be telling me now about specific issues is difficult. Trusting God is key, but it is difficult when you get seemingly mixed messages from God. I am reminded of something Pres. Oaks said at the Be One celebration that seems similar. He said that he prayed about the reasons being given for the priesthood and temple ban, but did not receive confirmation of the truth of any of them. He determined to be loyal (and I keep wondering exactly what he meant by that) to the brethren and the Church in spite of the conflict. In many ways, this is where I feel I am at. I don't receive confirmation of some things, and I find myself trying to understand what it might mean to be loyal through the contradictions or if I should distance myself from the Church or just what God wants me to do in the short and long term.