kyrie_eleison

Post New Testament Christian Writings

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Hi,

I am wondering if there are any good Mormon web sites or books that deal with post New Testament Christian writers like Didache, Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Gergory Thaumaturgus, Hyppolitus, Irenaeus, and so on.

I'm looking for content that shows how these pre-council of Nicaea writers harmonize with current LDS doctrines and writings. I'm looking for something positive, not reactive, and presents a consistent view of history. Something academic would be good, but popular is OK too.  My background in university was classical studies, so Greek and Roman history. Later on I started reading post New Testament Christian writings, mainly from a Catholic perspective, but I also read Anglican and Calvinist views as well. So it has been a hobby of mine for the last 15 years or so.

Anyway, thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

God bless,

Daniel

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I'm not a much of a book referral person, so I'll leave that part of your question to someone more knowledgable that way.  But I could offer some perspective on big-picture epistemological approaches--

In my studies of Catholicism (passively for 10 years, intensively for 13 months), I noticed that a lot of Catholics relies on history for their epistemological footing.  For example, appealing to Origen said this and Clement said that and hence it is very likely true.  If there is a dispute or question, other peoples writings are heavily referred to.  

The LDS approach is slightly different.  Yes, we have have prophets of God and the are honored, but something is not to be believed just because Joseph Smith or Thomas S. Monson said it.  Rather if a person is searching for answers, God Himself should also be referred to directly for answers- that personal revelation is important.  Both speak and guide us and both should be used.  

I realize this may sound like a small difference and apologize if I didn't explain well, but I found it results in a very different approach to things.

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Thanks for your response Jane. I suppose it boils down to a faith and tradition? Faith = Referring to God directly for answers in terms of personal revelation. Tradition = Referring to the prophets of God. But in that order, not the other way around. Does that sound right?

I suppose in my conversion/reversion, I had a similar experience. My initial move towards God was an act of faith despite all my doubts. Sort of like, "I'll trust you God for a little." And that faith slowly grew and I made more acts of trust. With that trust, my understanding also grew. Especially the idea that God is Truth, with a capital T. So anything that is true comes from God. I love that about him. :)

God bless,

Daniel

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1 hour ago, kyrie_eleison said:

Thanks for your response Jane. I suppose it boils down to a faith and tradition? Faith = Referring to God directly for answers in terms of personal revelation. Tradition = Referring to the prophets of God. But in that order, not the other way around. Does that sound right?

I would say more that God always uses multiple witnesses to proclaim His message and make sure we hear it, in this case the men of God and God Himself.  

1 hour ago, kyrie_eleison said:

I suppose in my conversion/reversion, I had a similar experience. My initial move towards God was an act of faith despite all my doubts. Sort of like, "I'll trust you God for a little." And that faith slowly grew and I made more acts of trust. With that trust, my understanding also grew. Especially the idea that God is Truth, with a capital T. So anything that is true comes from God. I love that about him. :)

Amen to that!

There's a really good Book of Mormon verse on this exact same thing:  "28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."   https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/32

 

 

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13 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

I would say more that God always uses multiple witnesses to proclaim His message and make sure we hear it, in this case the men of God and God Himself.  

Agreed. I also think that truth cannot contradict truth. Because whatever is true is from God.

One of the key aspects of my journey was a need to know that the old and new testaments were historically reliable. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to do classical studies in University. I was also able to understand the limitations of the historical critical method and how radical skepticism about the scriptures was not reasonable when compared with how other historical documents are treated. This was a matter of faith seeking understanding. And I found more than enough evidence to justify my original act of faith.

But the next big question in my journey was the question of whether I was in the right church. And that took me to the post New Testament writers. Clement, Polycarp, and Ignatius of Antioch were key in confirming to me that I was in the right church, at least in terms of sacramental and ecclesial structure. The office of bishop, priest, deacon, and laity was very much in evidence and their focus on baptism, the Eucharist, and so on.

But I will also admit that my intellectual journey was as a lapsed Catholic. Mormon literature never crossed my path. The closest I ever came to discussing these topics with a Mormon was when I was working the front desk of a hotel. One of my co-workers was a nice old guy who was very much on fire for his Mormon faith. I tried to get him to read 1st Clement, but he kept on interpreting things from a Mormon perspective. We also talked about celibacy and we looked at 1st Corinthians 7. He said my translation was faulty and his translation was the correct one. Anyway, I was frustrated and the conversations soon ended after that.

So I thought there must be a Mormon academic take on these subjects. Something that can explain how a Mormon might intellectually incorporate these writers into their view of history. Even if it a list of errors that slowly accrued as early as 1st Clement and the writings of Ignatius of Antioch.

God bless,

Daniel

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As to the old testament and pre-Nicene creed, Jesus addresses the tenants of the old testament, Levitical law, 10 commandments as well as 613 mitzvot with this.

Matthew 5:17 " Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil".

 

There is a widely accepted misnomer that the old testament was nailed to the cross. Such is not the case (Although Sacrifice was fulfilled).

 

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9 hours ago, kyrie_eleison said:

Agreed. I also think that truth cannot contradict truth. Because whatever is true is from God.

100% agreed!  Pending of course, that we remember that this is God's Truth, and not just our mortal understanding of it.  Our mortal understanding can be flawed and hence lead to apparent contradictions when we misunderstand things. 

9 hours ago, kyrie_eleison said:

One of the key aspects of my journey was a need to know that the old and new testaments were historically reliable. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to do classical studies in University. I was also able to understand the limitations of the historical critical method and how radical skepticism about the scriptures was not reasonable when compared with how other historical documents are treated. This was a matter of faith seeking understanding. And I found more than enough evidence to justify my original act of faith.

It's awesome that you re-integrated Christ back in your life!

9 hours ago, kyrie_eleison said:

But I will also admit that my intellectual journey was as a lapsed Catholic. Mormon literature never crossed my path. The closest I ever came to discussing these topics with a Mormon was when I was working the front desk of a hotel. One of my co-workers was a nice old guy who was very much on fire for his Mormon faith. I tried to get him to read 1st Clement, but he kept on interpreting things from a Mormon perspective. We also talked about celibacy and we looked at 1st Corinthians 7. He said my translation was faulty and his translation was the correct one. Anyway, I was frustrated and the conversations soon ended after that.

So I thought there must be a Mormon academic take on these subjects. Something that can explain how a Mormon might intellectually incorporate these writers into their view of history. Even if it a list of errors that slowly accrued as early as 1st Clement and the writings of Ignatius of Antioch.

I can understand getting frustrated.  Trying to understand another's perspective can be extremely difficult and frustrating because there are many unthought-about assumptions on both sides.  For example, you're assuming that a Mormon academic would be an authoritative source on Mormon doctrine and can give some source of official LDS stance.  Seems perfectly logical, right?  Except that's the Catholic perspective, not LDS.   LDS really stress that Truth comes from God, and official statements are given by His apostles through modern day revelation.  You may take LDS religion college courses (such is highly encouraged and offered for free), but this or any other academic studies does not make one an authority in the LDS church.  

Another assumption you're likely holding is that the LDS Church acknowledges Clements, Didache, Clement, Polykarp, etc as leaders in Christ's church.  However, these were men were not Apostles and did not receive continuing revelation from God (which is required for being a leader in His Church).  In the LDS view the Great Apostasy was already in effect.  So, while there are LDS people who comment on the writings of these men, it's a lot like commenting on the works of Billy Graham (just to name a Christian teacher that we both acknowledge as a good man but not a leader in Christ's one true church).  

** Note: I'm not trying to sound condescending in this post, and hope it doesn't come across that way.  I actually learned a lot about this difference in perspective from trying to learn about Catholicism from the LDS POV.  It took me a lot of head scratching/hair-pulling to figure out why Catholics cite who/how they do, because it's so different than LDS epistemological approaches.  

 

Anyway, I'll try to do some searching for some book titles for you later tonight.  

Edited by Jane_Doe

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13 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

100% agreed!  Pending of course, that we remember that this is God's Truth, and not just our mortal understanding of it.  Our mortal understanding can be flawed and hence lead to apparent contradictions when we misunderstand things. 

Yes. God's truth is ultimate and infallible. He is the guarantor of the truth of scripture. But I would argue he is also the guarantor of the office of the papacy as per Matthew 16:18.

Quote

I can understand getting frustrated.  Trying to understand another's perspective can be extremely difficult and frustrating because there are many unthought-about assumptions on both sides.  For example, you're assuming that a Mormon academic would be an authoritative source on Mormon doctrine and can give some source of official LDS stance.  Seems perfectly logical, right?  Except that's the Catholic perspective, not LDS.   LDS really stress that Truth comes from God, and official statements are given by His apostles through modern day revelation.  You may take LDS religion college courses (such is highly encouraged and offered for free), but this or any other academic studies does not make one an authority in the LDS church.  

For Catholics, scriptures, tradition, and the magisterium are authoritative, with lots of caveats. Its a big topic. :) Academic work is at best an input to the magisterium in its deliberations, however much the academics would like to think of themselves as a kind of parallel magisterium. Maybe your concept of modern day revelation as given by his modern day apostles is somewhat analogous to the catholic magistium, except that we consider public revelation to be closed after the death of the last new testament apostle. The magisterium works on providing official authoritative interpretations of the new testament and that becomes the part of tradition.

Quote

Another assumption you're likely holding is that the LDS Church acknowledges Clements, Didache, Clement, Polykarp, etc as leaders in Christ's church.  However, these were men were not Apostles and did not receive continuing revelation from God (which is required for being a leader in His Church).  In the LDS view the Great Apostasy was already in effect.  So, while there are LDS people who comment on the writings of these men, it's a lot like commenting on the works of Billy Graham (just to name a Christian teacher that we both acknowledge as a good man but not a leader in Christ's one true church).  

Hmmm... I guess the concept of the great apostasy would be a stumbling block for me then. Not that the catholic church sees the post-new testament writings as authoritative like scripture, but it does testify to the growing body of tradition. But there is not much room to dialog when your view is that everything fell apart after the apostles until Joseph Smith appeared 1800 years later. :)

Quote

** Note: I'm not trying to sound condescending in this post, and hope it doesn't come across that way.  I actually learned a lot about this difference in perspective from trying to learn about Catholicism from the LDS POV.  It took me a lot of head scratching/hair-pulling to figure out why Catholics cite who/how they do, because it's so different than LDS epistemological approaches.  

Anyway, I'll try to do some searching for some book titles for you later tonight.  

No offense taken at all.

Perhaps I could focus on the LDS academic view of the progress of the great apostasy. What was its chronology and how did the church end up with the likes of Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, and Clement of Rome.

God bless,

Daniel

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Hi Kyrie, I grew up in a large devout Catholic family tutored in Catholic Schools from Kindergarten all the way through 5 years of undergrad in a country where 80+% of the population is Catholic (Philippines).  I was Roman Catholic to the bone.  I went through a "ripping apart" in my life when I started to seriously study Mormon teachings.  I had Catholic beliefs that the Holy Spirit has testified to me is true and so I had to figure out how they all reconcile with truths I found in the Mormon faith.  My experience is that Mormon teaching did not make my Catholic testimonies false, rather, Mormon teaching made them clearer, but I had to first go through the "ripping apart" experience where I was very scared.  Until today, my mother still submits my name to the Carmelite sisters to pray for my salvation.  She loves me and fears for my soul.

Anyway, as far as post NT writings, my suggestion to you is to tackle what we call the Quad - Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in addition to the Bible.  The material in those books are so rich it takes quite a while to get through them.

As far as the writings of the early Church Fathers, Mormons don't really study them as part of Mormon teaching, rather, they study them simply for its academic value.  The foundation of the Mormon faith is that it is a new dispensation of the gospel to follow the dispensation of the Apostles.  It is, therefore, a Restoration of the teachings of the Apostles rather than a Protestation of Catholic teaching.  The Mormons believe that the keys of Peter to the Church did not pass to the Bishop of Rome.  Apostles have different authority than Bishops and that this authority died with the last of the Apostles.  As Pope Linus never received apostolic authority from Peter, the Magisterium, therefore, is run by philosophies of men rather than God.  Of course Mormons do not believe that the Catholic Church is evil or anything like that.  Rather, we simply believe that the Catholic Church did the best that they can do without Apostolic Authority to light the way and some precious truths did not survive the tempest even as many did.  These truths were restored in these latter-days together with the Apostolic keys passed from Peter to Joseph Smith Jr.

So, in the study of the teachings of the faith, there is what the Catholics were able to preserve and then there are the teachings restored in the latter days which can be found in the Quad, some of which coincide with Catholic teaching as philosophized by the early Church Fathers, and others that do not.  Trying to bring these puzzle pieces into a full picture is a matter of Faith seeking humbly and honestly and diligently with pure intent the intercession of the Holy Spirit.  Modern LDS teachers try to philosophize these teachings but they are simply for academic study and not a matter of Church teaching even if the person who did so is an Apostle.  We do have several books written by latter-day Apostles.  They're not part of Church teachings.  They're simply academic study.  We have quite a bunch of these discussions in Mormonhub - academic and speculative.  An article of faith in the Mormon church is that there are still many truths that God have not revealed.  We are very comfortable with saying - "we don't know but we can speculate" - and let our philosophies of men go into all out discussions.

Hope this helps.

Edited by anatess2

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54 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Hi Kyrie, I grew up in a large devout Catholic family tutored in Catholic Schools from Kindergarten all the way through 5 years of undergrad in a country where 80+% of the population is Catholic (Philippines).  I was Roman Catholic to the bone.  I went through a "ripping apart" in my life when I started to seriously study Mormon teachings.  I had Catholic beliefs that the Holy Spirit has testified to me is true and so I had to figure out how they all reconcile with truths I found in the Mormon faith.  My experience is that Mormon teaching did not make my Catholic testimonies false, rather, Mormon teaching made them clearer, but I had to first go through the "ripping apart" experience where I was very scared.  Until today, my mother still submits my name to the Carmelite sisters to pray for my salvation.  She loves me and fears for my soul.

Love the Filipinos! When I was in university, one of my best friends was a local Filipino priest. We do Karaoke together. He would also take me to the local Filipino restaurant. He was treated like royalty! He is helped me survive in a very secular environment. And God bless your mother. I'm sure her prayers come from a good place.

About the "ripping apart" - I experienced that in my early life. My agnostic secularism had to be ripped apart, so to speak. I had to make an act of faith against reason. My "I will trust you for now, for a little," was a window of opportunity that I wanted to give to God to convince me that the scriptures were true and that the Catholic Church was true church. I would liken it to an intellectual suicide. But as I learned more about history I learned to trust in at least the factual reliability of the Old and New Testament, and my faith in the church was solidified through my studies of the post new testament writers and the ecumenical councils. Now it is clear to me that my "Intellectual suicide" was my path to a solid knowledge. I no longer feel irrational in my faith, but I feel that my faith is a perfectly reasonable faith.

 

Quote

Anyway, as far as post NT writings, my suggestion to you is to tackle what we call the Quad - Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in addition to the Bible.  The material in those books are so rich it takes quite a while to get through them.

I have attempted to do so a few times, but it has been difficult for me to shake off the impression that the writings are not historically factual. I would need to have some kind of reasonable account of the great apostasy first that I felt could explain how the post new testament writers could get it so wrong so soon after the apostles. I would need this before I could seriously look at these writings. My historical work is too much a part of my faith.

Quote

As far as the writings of the early Church Fathers, Mormons don't really study them as part of Mormon teaching, rather, they study them simply for its academic value.  The foundation of the Mormon faith is that it is a new dispensation of the gospel to follow the dispensation of the Apostles.  It is, therefore, a Restoration of the teachings of the Apostles rather than a Protestation of Catholic teaching.  The Mormons believe that the keys of Peter to the Church did not pass to the Bishop of Rome.  Apostles have different authority than Bishops and that this authority died with the last of the Apostles.  As Pope Linus never received apostolic authority from Peter, the Magisterium, therefore, is run by philosophies of men rather than God.  Of course Mormons do not believe that the Catholic Church is evil or anything like that.  Rather, we simply believe that the Catholic Church did the best that they can do without Apostolic Authority to light the way and some precious truths did not survive the tempest even as many did.  These truths were restored in these latter-days together with the Apostolic keys passed from Peter to Joseph Smith Jr.

This is a reasonable explanation, if it is true.

Quote

So, in the study of the teachings of the faith, there is what the Catholics were able to preserve and then there are the teachings restored in the latter days which can be found in the Quad, some of which coincide with Catholic teaching as philosophized by the early Church Fathers, and others that do not.  Trying to bring these puzzle pieces into a full picture is a matter of Faith seeking humbly and honestly and diligently with pure intent the intercession of the Holy Spirit.  Modern LDS teachers try to philosophize these teachings but they are simply for academic study and not a matter of Church teaching even if the person who did so is an Apostle.  We do have several books written by latter-day Apostles.  They're not part of Church teachings.  They're simply academic study.  We have quite a bunch of these discussions in Mormonhub - academic and speculative.  An article of faith in the Mormon church is that there are still many truths that God have not revealed.  We are very comfortable with saying - "we don't know but we can speculate" - and let our philosophies of men go into all out discussions.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for your post. I appreciate it. :)

God bless,

Daniel

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10 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

I would need to have some kind of reasonable account of the great apostasy first that I felt could explain how the post new testament writers could get it so wrong so soon after the apostles. I would need this before I could seriously look at these writings.

"I can't take anything you say seriously until you prove to me that what you say is true."

Sorry, but that is not how it works. As the Book of Mormon teaches, you receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

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Hugh Nibley often addressed this kind of topic. Given the assumptions made by Catholic scholars, I doubt they (you) would find Nibley's thoughts convincing.

The traditional Catholic way of searching out truth, based on neoplatonism, forms the foundation for our modern educational and university schooling structure, and really the foundation of the scientific method. I do not consider these to be bad things; quite the opposite. But they are not the divine way of transmitting truth; that is called "revelation". Catholic scholars long ago abandoned every idea of continuing prophetic revelation in modern times, and so instead concentrate on these various Platonic methods to wring truth out of a handful of observations.

The Book of Mormon is a revelation to our world. But as long as you reject even the possibility of prophetic revelation, you will be deaf to the word of God as taught in the Book of Mormon. If you would come to know God, you must humble yourself enough that you quit demanding that God's word fulfill all of your preconditions before you're willing to take it seriously.

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33 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

Love the Filipinos! When I was in university, one of my best friends was a local Filipino priest. We do Karaoke together. He would also take me to the local Filipino restaurant. He was treated like royalty! He is helped me survive in a very secular environment. And God bless your mother. I'm sure her prayers come from a good place.

 

Yes yes yes!  Karaoke!  And Mahjong.  Our Filipino parish priest in Texas comes to our house to sing karaoke and play mahjong.  Hah hah.

And yes, my mother's prayers come from a good place.  I deeply appreciate it and love her for it even as we sometimes fight over it - usually during Lent.

 

33 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

 I no longer feel irrational in my faith, but I feel that my faith is a perfectly reasonable faith.
 

I truly understand this.  I grew up in a perfectly reasonable faith... then I studied Mormonism that made that reason even clearer.

For example... the substance of God.  A clearer understanding of this mystery brought the NT teachings and the prayer in Gethsemane into an a-ha moment for me binding the entire gospel into such clarity in my head it became breathtakingly simple.  Eternal marriage - same thing.  Baptism of the dead - same thing.  Etc. etc.

 

33 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

This is a reasonable explanation, if it is true.

And that's the thing really... nobody can prove to anybody it is true.  I mean, how do you prove that Pope Linus received apostolic authority?  Nobody can.  How do you prove that Joseph Smith, Jr received apostolic authority?  Nobody can.  How do you prove Jesus Christ is God?  Nobody can.  I mean, you can point to things in the Bible and point out things in historicity and that there's such a thing as apostolic authority, but then you'll have to prove that the Bible is true first and then prove that we interpreted it correctly.  How do you prove that?  Nobody can.  Because, reasonable debate can't prove spiritual truth.  It is all a matter of a deposit of Faith.

The only thing we can really do is exercise faith that there is a God and then go on our knees in faith and humbly ask Him if all this is true.  Of course, God gave us free will that we may ponder these things in faith and, through our ability to reason exercised with honesty and humility, learn the truth for ourselves.  So yes, first we kneel in prayer, then we study.

Edited by anatess2

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31 minutes ago, Vort said:

"I can't take anything you say seriously until you prove to me that what you say is true."

Sorry, but that is not how it works. As the Book of Mormon teaches, you receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

I mean no offense. I sincerely pray that if Mormonism is the truth of God, that he will make this clear to me. But as anatess so rightly said, sometimes God needs to tear down what is already in place before he can rebuild. And I don't see him doing that.

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31 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

About the "ripping apart" - I experienced that in my early life. My agnostic secularism had to be ripped apart, so to speak. I had to make an act of faith against reason. My "I will trust you for now, for a little," was a window of opportunity that I wanted to give to God to convince me that the scriptures were true and that the Catholic Church was true church. I would liken it to an intellectual suicide. But as I learned more about history I learned to trust in at least the factual reliability of the Old and New Testament, and my faith in the church was solidified through my studies of the post new testament writers and the ecumenical councils. Now it is clear to me that my "Intellectual suicide" was my path to a solid knowledge. I no longer feel irrational in my faith, but I feel that my faith is a perfectly reasonable faith.

No Truth is irrational.  All Truth is perfectly reasonable.  Even if your words behind explaining something absolutely fail, all Truth is 100% rational and 100% reasonable simply because it is Truth.  

Your epistemological approaches here are very Catholic-sounding :).  Focused on words two words: "historical", and "intellectual".  LDS epistemology is more tools in the tool box.  For example,  how about learning through doing?  I think you've actually unknowing touched on this- as you've experimented on implementing Christ's words in your life, you've experienced a positive change in your life, giving testimony of the truthfulness of His words.  

A big thing from the you haven't mentioned mentioned yet: have you prayed and asked God directly to testify of what True?

31 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

I have attempted to do so a few times, but it has been difficult for me to shake off the impression that the writings are not historically factual. I would need to have some kind of reasonable account of the great apostasy first that I felt could explain how the post new testament writers could get it so wrong so soon after the apostles. I would need this before I could seriously look at these writings. My historical work is too much a part of my faith.

 

Can history prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ was the Son of God?  Not that there was a dude named Jesus, but that this Jesus was undeniably the Son of God who created the world & saved it & will come again?

It cannot.  

I would suggest that as much as you value history, that you're already using more than that tool to determine Truth.  And that's a good thing!  God gave us many tools for a reason, and testifies through many for a reason!

 

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Vort said:

Hugh Nibley often addressed this kind of topic. Given the assumptions made by Catholic scholars, I doubt they (you) would find Nibley's thoughts convincing.

The traditional Catholic way of searching out truth, based on neoplatonism, forms the foundation for our modern educational and university schooling structure, and really the foundation of the scientific method. I do not consider these to be bad things; quite the opposite. But they are not the divine way of transmitting truth; that is called "revelation". Catholic scholars long ago abandoned every idea of continuing prophetic revelation in modern times, and so instead concentrate on these various Platonic methods to wring truth out of a handful of observations.

I happen to agree with this, although I think the problem dates back to the enlightenment thinkers like Descartes, Lockes, and Hobbs. Thomas Aquinas saw revelation as superior to what can be gleaned from philosophy and the natural sciences.

Quote

The Book of Mormon is a revelation to our world. But as long as you reject even the possibility of prophetic revelation, you will be deaf to the word of God as taught in the Book of Mormon. If you would come to know God, you must humble yourself enough that you quit demanding that God's word fulfill all of your preconditions before you're willing to take it seriously.

I believe in revelation, but, along with the Catholic Church, I believe that public revelation ended with the last New Testament apostle when God revealed his Son.

God bless,

Daniel

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Taking a slightly different angle here--

I'm a person who loves interfaith dialogue and understanding other faiths.  Not because I'm interested in converting, but because I simply want to learn about my fellow men and respect them.  Hence why I've spent years studying Catholicism, among other faiths.  Likewise I've also studied non-Christian faiths.  All of this studies require me to see through that person's eyes, and to put "me" aside for a minute.  Yes, I may think a person's faith is bunk for reasons XYZ, but that doesn't matter- I'm not here to be convicted to convert to this faith!  Rather, I'm here to understand that person's faith, so my objections should be put aside cause they are just going to get in the way.

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20 minutes ago, kyrie_eleison said:

Hi Jane,

I'm going to eventually respond to your posts, but I've been broad sided by an announcement from my wife that involves two red lines. This will take me some time to process....:eek::eek::wub:

]

Blarg~!~~~~~~!!!

CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!

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1 hour ago, kyrie_eleison said:

Thanks. This is number 7. LOL I will need a new car now. .................................................. so many diapers.......................... God will provide. :)

Whoa, number 7.  Why... you're gonna fit right in with the Mormons!  :D

Congratulations!

Edited by anatess2

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2 hours ago, kyrie_eleison said:

I mean no offense. I sincerely pray that if Mormonism is the truth of God, that he will make this clear to me. But as anatess so rightly said, sometimes God needs to tear down what is already in place before he can rebuild. And I don't see him doing that.

Yes, he sometimes needs to tear down what is already in place.

But in my case, he didn't tear down my spiritual foundation.  He built upon it.  What I had to tear down was my ties to my family, my friends, and my country... a whole chunk of my whole identity at that time that anchored who I am.

The past 2 weeks, for example, is a big part of my heritage - the Sinulog celebrations.  This is so inherently Filipino Catholic and so much a part of me.  I grew up on stories of the miracles of the Sto Nino and the devotions that occur at this time of the year.  Going on my knees asking God if these restored truths are true required extreme courage, almost more than I can bear, because I was fearful of the answer.  I literally couldn't process in my brain how things like the Sinulog devotion that is so much a part of me can reconcile with what God would require of me if the Holy Spirit testifies to me of the truth of the restored Gospel.  So, I didn't want to ask because I couldn't face the answer... until it became such that not asking was killing my spirit and I had no choice but to face the truth.  So it felt like I got ripped from myself.  In addition, I was ostracized by my family and friends and if I would have run for public office then (I'm from a political family), I was 100% sure I would have been rejected by my own hometown.  It took me years to reconnect those pieces of me that got blasted out and see them in their proper perspective.  I still haven't attended a Sinulog festival since then but I'm 100% confident that it would be just like old times... an amazing spiritual experience.  It takes a whole lot of confidence to face my family and friends as a Mormon and feel at peace that everything is going to be just fine.

 

Edited by anatess2

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If you're looking for historical fact, I have great news for you! There is overwhelming historical evidence to support Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision. The region he lived in was known as the "burnt over district" because of all the revivals that passed through during that time. It's rather convenient that the region is still known and recognized today because experts have been able to find the foundation for the houses he lived in at the time. You can walk through the woods where the event took place. Even amateur historians have confirmed that Bibles of that period contained James 1:5, and that it matched the text that Joseph recorded. So the First Vision is historical. Similarly, I can tell you that I have personally visited the majority of sites where the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were given. Historical facts! But I doubt that's very useful for you.

Snark aside, read Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision that I linked to up there. Make a note of what is said and what is not said. It is not theological debate, rhetorical arguments, nor rational derivation. It is revelation. If you've already discounted new revelation, then I don't think any recommendations we give can help you see how reasonable our faith can be. Just for my own sanity, I'm going to assume that you're open to consider that God may send new public revelation so my writing won't be meaningless (Joseph pointed out something to the effect that if there is to be no new revelation after the Bible, then the Bible has a great deficiency since it doesn't say that). Back to the First Vision, the revelation stated that the creeds were abominations, they have the form of godliness, but not the power. The whole institution wasn't rotted through and through, Joseph preserved the observance of the Sabbath on the Lord's day (Sunday), and the ordinance of the Sacrament. He reaffirmed the divinely inspired status of the books of the Old and New Testament (though preferring the Protestant Bible over the Catholic). Many of the of the doctrines he espoused overlap nicely with traditional Christianity, including teachings of grace, Atonement, the practice of baptism, the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, and many others. An early document in our Church, now canonized, would fit in comfortably with many creeds (D&C 20), as would a later document (the Articles of Faith).

Obviously there are differences (section 20 starts by mentioning how important The Book of Mormon is to our faith, and a few Articles take biblical teaching as more literal and America-centric than some are comfortable with) but that's expected because if there weren't differences there wouldn't be a need for a restoration. And naturally, as the restoration continued the differences increased. If you can be open to differences (and you've shown some flexibility by acknowledging internal consistency) then dialog can continue.

Now then, if you'd like some academic or popular treatments on the apostasy you can start with When the Lights Went Out by Hugh Nibley (Vort mentioned him above). I think that book is probably friendlier than The Great Apostasy by James E. Talmage (I think this work is sometimes viewed as anti-Catholic because of the sources used - @anatess2 can probably better comment on that since she read it as a Catholic). I note though, that Mormon studies of the apostasy is really a biproduct of the Restoration. That is, the First Vision (and other revelations) don't list out a timeline of events of when truth and authority was lost. It's a simple but direct statement that a modern New Testament religion would need truth and authority from heaven because it was not found on earth any longer. On that note, another work that you might enjoy isn't about the apostasy but rather about the universal yearning for the restored teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's called The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens. They bring together the thoughts of philosophers and poets to show our doctrines are the soul's desire. It's not one that I particularly enjoy, simply because I prefer a different approach to such teachings, but many in these fora do like it and recommend it. I will say though, that as I read it I thought it would probably be better received by a Catholic audience since you place more emphasis on a "reasoned faith".

Of course, if you really want to know where we're coming from, I would recommend starting with those 3 sections of LDS scripture I linked to in the first 2 paragraphs. From there, start reading The Book of Mormon. It's in narrative format, so you can get through it fairly quickly once you get used to its language. And that brings me back to historicity. If that's all that's preventing you from diving into the book, let me re-iterate the modern history. Joseph claimed that an angel gave him physical plates. You can today visit the same hill where he dug them up. You can walk through the woods where he showed them to 8 people who physically touched them and leafed through the pages. These 8 people signed their name to a document relating their shared experience. A copy of this historical document is preserved in the front of The Book of Mormon today. Even if you find it difficult to believe Joseph's account of the angel (and the signed account of 3 others who on another occasion saw the plates, heard God testify that the translation was correct, and met the same angel), those gold plates have to be accounted for somehow. As wild a story as Joseph told of the angel (and really, it's not so wild for anyone who believes the Bible), any other explanation of how he secretly manufactured gold plates is wilder.

And if it's ancient history that's preventing you from getting into it, then just start with Arabia. I find many Christians who love the historicity of the Bible embrace the archaeology of the Near East. Just as surely as Jericho and other biblical cities have been found, Nahom has been found. Additionally, following the directions in the text of a "nearly eastward" direction from Nahom, scholars have found excellent candidates for Bountiful, with unique features not found in the rest of the area.

That should be enough to get you through the first book of Nephi, and then we can talk again once you've finished that.

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I couldn't get through the first page of The Great Apostasy by Talmage for a few years.  It reads like an anti-Catholic book with the same tired old references to the Papal scandals.  Talmage did not truly grasp the foundations of the Catholic faith.

Then I reached the point in my study where I said to myself... if the Apostasy is true then the Mormon faith is true but if it isn't then the Catholic Church is true.  That was it for me - either I continue to study or I stop.   I decided to fast for a day and took the question to prayer.  Thought about it for the most part of the day then sat right there on the beach facing the vast Atlantic Ocean and decided to pick up the book again.  I read the thing from cover to cover in one sitting.

The content, of course, didn't change.  Talmage still didn't have a good grasp of the implications of the Papacy and the councils from the Catholic perspective.  This time, though, as I read the book, my entire life played like a movie in my head, all these personal experiences I had that pointed to the truth of the Apostasy and Talmage's book was there not to provide evidence that the Apostasy happened but to provide evidence that the Restoration happened.  And that's where Talmage had a good grasp of.

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20 hours ago, anatess2 said:

And that's the thing really... nobody can prove to anybody it is true.  I mean, how do you prove that Pope Linus received apostolic authority?  Nobody can.  How do you prove that Joseph Smith, Jr received apostolic authority?  Nobody can.  How do you prove Jesus Christ is God?  Nobody can.  I mean, you can point to things in the Bible and point out things in historicity and that there's such a thing as apostolic authority, but then you'll have to prove that the Bible is true first and then prove that we interpreted it correctly.  How do you prove that?  Nobody can.  Because, reasonable debate can't prove spiritual truth.  It is all a matter of a deposit of Faith.

Agreed. I think that we must reject radical skepticism. But the Christian faith is at its root, a historical faith. Questions like "Did Jesus actually exist" or "Did the Apostles or the other Apostolic writers actually write the Gospels", and "Did they provide fairly accurate details about the sayings and words of Jesus", are important for us to be able to answer with the same rigor as we do for other historical texts. Does this prove the contents of Jesus' revelation of himself as the son of God? No. Even the miracles documented in the new testament do not necessarily do this. At some point, we must make an act of faith. Having said that, the historicity of the new testament writings is an important factor in that leap of faith. It creates a groundwork, so to speak. The church calls them the preambles of faith. These preambles are not to be confused with the faith itself, but they should not be overlooked.

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The only thing we can really do is exercise faith that there is a God and then go on our knees in faith and humbly ask Him if all this is true.  Of course, God gave us free will that we may ponder these things in faith and, through our ability to reason exercised with honesty and humility, learn the truth for ourselves.  So yes, first we kneel in prayer, then we study.

Faith is a gift of God that we cannot earn for ourselves. Catholics are no Pelagians. But we must not confuse that gift of faith with adherence to a specific holy book. I honestly believe that there are Mormons who have true faith. Likely many Mormons. But the faith has an emotional and intellectual component. When I first came to faith in God, my understanding of my Catholic Tradition was extremely limited and in many cases, serious erroneous. We have the hard, but joyful and fruitful task of searching the scriptures and coming to know God more and more.

God bless,

Daniel

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