Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An argument against Mormonism from their concept of eternal marriage

In my last entry on Mormonism, I listed three questions that have to be answered in the affirmative if Mormonism is to be true:

1. Was Joseph Smith a prophet of God?
2. Was the Book of Mormon really written by ancient prophets (...and is it true)?
3. Was Christ's church lost from the earth and then restored through Joseph Smith?

The person who sent me these three questions said if they are all true, then several other things are also true:

- The LDS church is the one and only true church on the earth. While others might do good and teach some truth, only one is authorized by God and lead by Jesus Christ.
- There is a prophet of the Lord that speaks to us just as Moses, Abraham, and Isaac of Old.
- God has a plan for us and it has been revealed to us
- We can better understand the Bible through modern prophets and additional scripture, all of which help us to better understand the Lord and his plan for us.
- Marriages, when performed in the Temple, can be, not just only for this life, but for all eternity.
- We have additional understanding of life after death.
- Members of the church can hold the priesthood of God and can act in his name to bless, heal, baptize, etc.
- You can receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to help and aid you in your life.

Today, I want to share a thought that I think it not only applicable here, but is applicable in many other areas of thinking. In any deductive argument, the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. It isn't possible for the conclusion to be false if both of the premises are true and if the conclusion follows logically from the premises. So, if it turns out that the conclusion is false, then that necessarily entails that at least one of the premises that led to the conclusion is also false.

Not so with inductive arguments. If a conclusion becomes more probable when the premises are true, and if the conclusion turns out to be false, that only makes the premises less probable, but not impossible.

It could be that some Mormons would disagree with the fellow who sent me this email, but the fellow who sent me this email seemed to think all of the things that followed from a "yes" answer to the three questions above followed deductively. He said, "If those three things are in fact true, then the rest that is built upon it is also true."

If that is, in fact, the case, then the entire Mormon religion can be shown to be false just by showing that one of those points is false. It just takes one! One could argue like so:

-If 1, 2, and 3 are true, then x is true.
-X is not true.
-Therefore, 1, 2 and 3 are not true.

The one that jumps out most to me is the one about eternal marriage.
Marriages, when performed in the Temple, can be, not just only for this life, but for all eternity.
Jesus addressed this issue explicitly in Matthew 22:23-33. Jesus taught that there would be a resurrection of the dead, but the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. So they confronted Jesus about it.

In this confrontation, the Sadducees made what is called a reductio ad absurdum argument. That's where you take a person's point of view to its logical conclusion. If the logical conclusion of a person's point of view is absurd, then the premises that led to it are also absurd. The Sadducees assumed, for the sake of argument, that resurrection was true. Then they constructed a scenario under that assumption and asked Jesus about it. In the scenario, a woman married several brothers, one after the other as each died, and the Sadducees asked Jesus, "In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her."

In asking this question, they hoped to expose the absurdity of resurrection. Either this woman would be married to all of the men, which is absurd, or she would be married to only one of them. But there is no way to determine which of them she would be married to, so there's no way for Jesus to answer the question.

Jesus responded by rejecting the hidden assumption in their question, which is that she would be married to any of them. He said, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." In other words, the woman would not be married to any of the seven brothers at the resurrection. She would be like the angels--single.

After Jesus removed the objection the Sadducees had to resurrection, he went on to show them, from the Torah, that resurrection is true.

I suppose a Mormon could say, "Well, yes, it's true that in the resurrection, people will not get married, but those who have already gotten married will remain so." If that's what Jesus was saying, then he didn't rebut the Sudducees' argument after all. In fact, he said something that was completely irrelevent to the question they asked. It seems perfectly clear to me that Jesus intended to convey to the Sadducees that nobody will be married at the resurrection. Marriage is for this mortal life only.

Now we can make the following argument:

-If Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets, and Christ's church was lost from the earth and restored through Joseph Smith, then marriages, when performed in the Temple, can be, not just only for this life, but for all eternity.
-Marriage is not for all eternity.
-Therefore, Joseph Smith is not a prophet of God, the Book of Mormon was not written by ancient prophets, and Christ's church was not lost from earth and restored through Joseph Smith.

So Mormonism is not true.

Somebody on Yahoo Answers asked a similar question as the Sadducees asked Jesus, only instead of a woman marrying several men, they asked about whether a man could be sealed for eternity with another woman in case his wife died. The Mormons answered that yes, he could. At the resurrection, he would be married to every woman he had married in the Temple and had his marriage sealed for eternity. So there will be polygamy in heaven.

That made me wonder whether it worked the other way around, so I posted a question on Yahoo Answers. Could a woman have her marriage sealed to more than one man in case her first husband died? The concensus from the Mormons was that she could not. So, in heaven, a man can have several wives, but a woman cannot have several husbands.

I suppose a Mormon might answer my argument by saying that Jesus was only dealing with a woman who had several husbands. It was an obvious absurdity to suggest that a woman could have more than one husband at the resurrection, but if the Sadducees had asked him about a man who had had several wives, Jesus could've easily answered by saying they would all be his wives at the resurrection, and that would not have been absurd. But that argument would fail because the woman could have been married to at least one of the men at the resurrection, but Jesus answered by saying she wouldn't be married to any of them.

A Mormon might also answer my argument by saying that the Sadducees were talking about ordinary marriage, not about Temple marriages that are sealed for eternity. I think that is a very weak argument for several reasons.

First, because the concept of eternal marriage is completely foreign to the Bible.

Second, marriages were never performed in temples, neither in Judaism nor in Christianity.

Third, if the Mormon concept of eternal marriages being sealed in Temples was a view that Jesus held, the conversation with the Sadducees would've looked much different, I think. It would've looked something like this:

Sadducees: If a woman married and her husband died without having children, and she married his brother who also died without having children, etc., whose wife would she be at the resurrection?

Jesus: She wouldn't be married to any of them unless her marriage was sealed for eternity in the Temple.

Sadducees: Okay, so suppose her marriages were sealed for eternity to all of them.

Jesus: That can't happen. She can only be sealed to one of them. At the resurrection, she would be married to whichever one she had been sealed to, if any.

What an opportunity for Jesus to instruct the Sadducees on the Mormon concept of eternal marriage! A Mormon might say that Jesus' silence on the matter was due to the fact that eternal marriage was normative in Judaism, and the Sadducees already knew about it. But if that was the case, then you'd expect the Sadducees to make a better argument and include the concept of eternal marriage in there.

A Mormon might say that the knowledge of eternal marriage is implicit in the argument of the Sadducees, since they were assuming she had to be married to somebody at the resurrection. But that's the very assumption the Sadducees rejected! They could not have believed in eternal marriage for the simple reason that they did not believe in eternal life! They did not believe in a resurrection. They seemed to think that eternal marriage followed from the doctrine of resurrection, and they were mistaken about that, as Jesus showed them. Mormons are mistaken about it, too.

It seems to me that the one argument a Mormon could make is that the Bible has been tampered with. We don't really have an accurate version of this passage. We'll save that for another blog entry.

I am not trying to be condescending when I bring up these hypothetical things a Mormon might say. I want to make a disclaimer about that since there may be Mormons reading this who might be offended that I'm insulting their intelligence. I have never heard a Mormon actually raise these objections that I'm bringing up, and I don't know whether they actually would or not. So why am I bringing them up? I'm doing it because I'm simply trying to anticipate any possible rejoinders that I can think of. I'm trying to cover all my bases. If there are other rejoinders that I didn't think of, then I'd like to hear them.

17 Comments:

At 9/23/2008 10:24 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Since they believe that "many plain and precious things" have been lost from the Bible, and they believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is "translated correctly," they have a foul card to throw on any biblical passage that conflicts with their doctrine. For this reason, they can use our Bible to argue against us, but we cannot use it to argue against them.

 
At 9/24/2008 7:48 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Yes, it can be frustrating. It puts them in an awful situation, though. They cannot be good Bereans by examining the Scriptures to see if what Joseph Smith said was true. Instead, they let Joseph Smith tell them what in the Bible is true. They've got it backwards!

 
At 9/24/2008 7:50 PM , Blogger INetNomad said...

This is interesting logic. I can see where you're coming from and what you’re trying to achieve.

However I must add a caution that using that same line of logic on anything will ultimately prove it false. For example, if you take the same approach with the Bible, which it sounds like you subscribe as being real and authentic teachings from God, you could also come to a conclusion that it too is false. And judging by your text, it sounds like you'd agree that this would be a false assumption.

The logic should be approached a different way. Of the three questions that you listed; 1) Is Joseph Smith a real Prophet, 2) Is the Book of Mormon real, 3) Was the Gospel of Jesus Christ really restored, the appropriate logic could also be that if any ONE of them are true, then by default the others are also true. And when we find things that don’t quite make sense, just like every other academic discipline known to man it’s likely that we just don’t yet understand them and need to study and learn more.

For example, if you prove that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, then as a Prophet of God, he would be bound by the higher laws of God and wouldn’t be allowed by God to lie, fabricate fraudulent doctrines or any of the other miracles or actions he did in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This would also by default prove that the Book of Mormon would be true scripture directly from the writings of the prophets of Ancient America.

Likewise if The Book of Mormon, or the Restored Gospel were to be proven true, by default everything else related is also proven to be true since they all tie together.

So the question is how do we determine if these things really are true or not? I suggest that you pick one of these questions and go about a process of discovery to validate or invalidate it.

1. The Book of Mormon - It sounds like you’d prefer to assume that the Book of Mormon is false until you can prove it otherwise. Fair enough. That being the case, in order to prove its authenticity there are two ways to validate it, archeologically and spiritually.
A. Archeologically – to validate its authenticity using archeology, you’d need to find sufficient evidence that provides significant enough evidence that the records of the people in the Book of Mormon are from actual people, civilizations and cultures, of which Joseph Smith couldn’t have known anything about at the time he translated it.
B. Spiritually – Spiritual things are only learned by spiritual means. What this means is that using archeology as a basis, you may or may not be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. A mountain full of archeological evidence wouldn’t be sufficient to prove that this book really is the word of God as recorded by Prophets that lived in ancient America. To find this out, you would have to put it to the test as is found in Moroni 10:3-5 -
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
More on The Book of Mormon at:
http://mysite.verizon.net/resvvgeg/Book_of_Mormon_Real.htm

2. Joseph Smith, a real Prophet – Once again it sounds like the preferred assumption is that he was not a prophet. However if you truly are a person of intelligence, you would need to keep an open mind as you studied his life and compared the things he did against those of the prophets in the Bible. I’m sure you can come up with more, but here’s a list of some of the ones I came up with. (an excerpt from: http://mysite.verizon.net/resvvgeg/Prophets_Priesthood.htm)
A Prophet is a person who God raises up for the purpose sending forth his messages to the people of the earth. So what are some of the trademarks of a prophet? Here are some that I’ve come up with from my own personal studies. You may have some others that I missed.
• A Prophet is frequently from humble circumstances.
• A Prophet is NEVER a follower of the popular trends.
• A Prophet will be a leader to those that follow Christ.
• A Prophet will reveal to all people teachings from the Lord.
• A Prophet will work miracles in the name of the Lord, and not take any of the credit for himself.
• A Prophet calls people to repentance.
• A Prophet is ALWAYS CHRISTLIKE; humble, meek, kind, righteous, etc.
• A Prophet will prophesy of things to come.
• A Prophet is disliked among the general world population.
• A Prophet received his Priesthood Authority from God
• A Prophet teaches the people to pray and seek personal inspiration and revelation from God.
3. Restored Gospel – This is a Spiritual matter that can only be answered by Spiritual means. So the question is simply how does one go about getting answers from God on such matters? Might I suggest an approach that seems to work for not only myself, but millions of others.
a. Learn about the topic from someone who can accurately explain it like a friend who is a member or missionaries. I would suggest that if you are getting your information from anyone who is not a member of the church, you are only getting tainted information. Why learn about science from the paper boy? Go to the source.
b. Once you’ve learned about the doctrines of the Mormon Church, then you need to take the matter to God in sincere prayer. Spiritual things are only learned by spiritual means. God will answer all sincere prayers. We must be sincerely searching for the truth, and not taking a flippant approach to it or we are wasting ours and Gods time, and will thus not receive any kind of answer.

James 1:5 -
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

c. Once you’ve sincerely prayed about these things, don’t rush off to the next thing on your agenda, but stay on your knees and give God a chance to speak to your heart through the Holy Spirit. This will be that warm peaceful feeling in your heart and an undeniable feeling one way or the other. This is how he answers all prayers.

Now the logical side of you should be saying, “Why would this guy be telling me or anybody to not take his word for it, but telling me to pray to God to get my answer directly from him.” Let’s just say that through my personal experience, I’m quite confident that if you are truly sincere, I know what your answer will be and thus you will have your answer regarding Eternal Marriages. I also know what your answer will be if you take a flippant approach to it, or don’t try this at all.

Here’s why I believe: http://mysite.verizon.net/resvvgeg/Why_I_Believe.htm

I’d love to hear how it goes.

 
At 9/24/2008 8:40 PM , Blogger Seth R. said...

I need to read your post a little more carefully and in detail Sam, but a few things:

1. All three of your first Mormon premises could be true, and the current LDS Church could still be in a state of apostasy. So I don't think that just establishing the Joseph Smith story gets the modern LDS Church out of the woods.

2. The Sadducees question was not really about marriage to begin with. What they were attempting to do was trick Jesus into denying the resurrection. They were constantly having theological arguments with their rivals, the Pharisees on the issue of the resurrection - with the Pharisees affirming resurrection, and the Sadducees denying it. They wanted to drag Jesus into the fray with a cleverly worded hypothetical designed to get him to admit there was no resurrection.

Jesus, basically deflects the question with his little aside about marriage in heaven, and THEN goes for the jugular and refutes the Sadducees' notion of no resurrection by saying "God is not the God of the dead, but the living."

Jesus' dispute with the Sadducees that day really had nothing to do with marriage and you're not that well-served in trying to craft a theology of matrimony out of it.

As an aside, I don't bother with the "the Bible is incorrect" argument when talking to other Christians. I always argue on the assumption that the Bible is correct in what it is saying (and I do not use the Joseph Smith Translation either - except to illustrate aspects of Mormon belief).

 
At 9/24/2008 8:51 PM , Blogger Sam said...

INetNomad, I want to commend you for writing such a clear and well-written post, and thank you for it as well. One of the most frustrating things for me about talking to people about deep religious or philosophical things is the lack of clarity involved. I wish everybody wrote as clearly as you.

I've already prepared several blog entries that address the issue of how we can determine whether Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, whether the Book of Mormon is the word of God, etc. I plan to post one of them about every other day. Since I already addressed some of what you said for upcoming blog entries, I'm just going to give you a short response now. I hope you'll come back and read the rest of what I wrote and respond to it.

The line of reasoning I used in my post is the same line of reasoning I would use with the Bible or anything else. If something follows necessarily from the Bible, and if that thing is untrue, then the Bible is fallible. This is a matter of formal logic.

In general, if somebody claims to have some book that's true or some person who always tells the truth, and I don't know anything else about it, I'm about 50/50 on it. But if I already know that the book or the person conflicts with what I already believe, then I treat it with skepticism. The reason is that I try to base my beliefs on sound reasoning as far as I'm able. Whenever I acknowledge that I COULD be wrong about something, I leave open the possibility that some other view might be right, but that possibility is proportioned to the degree of my present belief. The more strongly I believe something, the less possibility I think there is of an opposing view being correct. Given what I know right now about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon compared to what I already believe, it's true that I think Joseph Smith is not a prophet of God and the BOM is not the word of God. If I'm ever to become a Mormon, that obstacle is going to have to be overcome.

It seems to me that a certain amount of skepticism is a healthy thing. There are a wide variety of ideas floating around in the world. They can't all be true because they contradict each other. A healthy skepticism prevents us from falling for anything that comes along. I always treat ideas contrary to my own with initial skepticism. I think everybody should. But that is not to say I will never change my mind about things because my own life proves otherwise. I was persuaded, for example, quite reluctantly to become a Calvinist because the evidence for it overwhelmed my previous reasons for being skeptical.

I'm afraid I cannot at this time take Moroni's advice. There is no way, given my skepticism, that I could pray with any sincerity about whether or not the BOM is true. I already have what I think are good reasons to think that it isn't. To pray with sincerity, I would have to be entertaining serious doubt about the question. God would know that if I asked him whether the BOM was true or not that I was being disingenuous.

I have no reason to think our feelings are God communicating with us, and I would put very little confidence in whatever feelings I had as a result of praying. Feelings are not propositions, and there is no decoder ring that tells you certain feelings correspond to certain propositions. Nowhere do I find that "warm fuzzy" means "yes" or that "forboding" means "no." I often have a sense of forboding when I'm about to do the right thing, such as be honest with somebody, because I know it is going to lead to a bit of unpleasantness.

I don't imagine that you waste your time praying to God about things you think God has already revealed to us. For example, when you're angry with somebody, I don't imagine you pray to God to ask him whether it's okay for you to inflict physical harm on that person. You already know you shouldn't because you already know the Bible says that "love does no harm to its neighbor." In the same way, I already know that the gospel Paul preached, which is recorded in the Bible, is different than the gospel of the LDS Church. I don't need to ask God about that because he has already revealed it.

Joseph Smith doesn't even measure up to the standard for prophets that you suggest. For example, you said, "A Prophet will work miracles in the name of the Lord, and not take any of the credit for himself." Joseph Smith said, "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." This quote comes from Volume 6 of The History of the Church. You must admit that it's quite audacious the way Smith compares himself to Jesus.

Once you’ve learned about the doctrines of the Mormon Church, then you need to take the matter to God in sincere prayer. Spiritual things are only learned by spiritual means.

Wouldn't you consider examining the Scriptures to see if what Joseph Smith taught was true, as the Bereans did who were considered noble-minded for doing so (Acts 17:11) qualifies as a "spiritual means"?

Thank you for the links, and I hope to hear from you again.

 
At 9/24/2008 9:02 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Seth, I agree that the debate Jesus had with the Sadducees was about resurrection. However, marriage in the afterlife was the very issue the Sadducees raised in order to make a point about resurrection. So it is quite relevant to the conversation. This is how the Sadduccees argument might look if they had made a formal syllogism:

1. If there is a resurrection, then the woman in question would be married to seven different men at the resurrection.
2. But women cannot be married to seven different men.
3. Therefore, there is no resurrection.

Jesus attacked the first premise by saying that there is no marriage at the resurrection.

You cannot invalidate my argument by claiming that marriage in the afterlife is irrelevant. Marriage in the afterlife is the very basis upon which the Sadducees argued against resurrection. Jesus had to deal with that question in order to rebut the Sadducees.

But even if it had been an aside, it would have been no less true. Jesus plainly said, whether as an aside or as the main issue, that there is no marriage at the resurrection. That is in direct contradiction to one of the central tenants of the LDS Church.

I agree with you that it's possible for the three things I mentioned to be true while the LDS church is in a state of apostasy if, by "apostasy," you mean there are some things they teach that are not true. But in that case, the false things they taught could not follow necessarily from the truth of those three things. In my post, I specifically addressed the notion that eternal marriage follows necessarily from the truth of those three points. If it follows necessarily, and if it is false, then those three points are false. That is a matter of certainty.

 
At 9/25/2008 10:14 AM , Blogger DagoodS said...

Fascinating discussion. A few points to ponder…

INetNomad,

I certainly agree we should focus on determining the truth or falsity of the Book of Mormon as part of this discussion. I would not limit it to archeology and spirituality. The very basic question, to demonstrate its uniqueness or difference would be the answer to the question: “What is in the Book of Mormon no human of the time could have written?”

If all it includes are those things any other person living at the time of Joseph Smith could have known or made up, this makes it very difficult for the claim it was Godly infused in any way.

Another problem (significant to me) is the use of the King James Version of the Bible. Where the KJV has errors, or particular grammatical idiosyncrasies—the Book of Mormon often follows suit! For brief example, the translation of the Aramaic word “Raca” was unknown at the time the KJV was translated. So they simply maintained the Aramaic word “Raca.” The Book of Mormon does as well. Curious the “Egyptian hieroglyphics” used an Aramaic word (Aramaic being a subsequent language to Egyptian), which later English translators could not translate in 1611, and Joseph Smith still could not translate 200 years later! (Note, we still don’t know what “Raca” exactly means.)

How is it the same God who made languages is stumped by Aramaic? Just like we are? Not to mention the use of the Johannine Comma and the long ending of Mark—which have subsequently determined to not be in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

Textual Criticism and Higher Criticism is not kind to the Book of Mormon. It would appear to have been provided by a God who was only informed to the status of Biblical translations available in the early 19th Century. Exactly what a human, without divine intervention, would know. Now if Joseph Smith had noted the longer ending of Mark was not valid, or provided correct translations we later discovered—THAT might be an interesting point.

Do you know of any such occurrences?

And a side note of no particular import:

INetNomad: … then as a Prophet of God, he would be bound by the higher laws of God and wouldn’t be allowed by God to lie,..

Actually prophets of God are recorded as lying in the Tanakh. I Kings 13. Jeremiah 38:24-28. This does not necessarily follow.


Sam,

I agree the Sadducee confrontation of Mark 12:18-27; Matt. 22:23-34 and Luke 20:27-40 was an analogy intended to trip up Jesus. And the response by Jesus certainly implies there is no marriage in heaven.

Marriage was not esteemed the same way in the First Century Mediterranean. It was a means to continue one’s honor, as well as promulgate one’s progeny. A few differences to note; the wife became a member of the husband’s family. In our culture the husband leaves his family, and the wife leaves hers to form a new family. This was far different; it was almost as the wife would be adopted into the husband’s family. She would lose her kinship, associations and communal ties with her former family and then have to re-establish those same associations with her new family.

They did not “form a new family”—they continued the husband’s.

Secondly, we think of marriage on the terms of loving/liking our spouse. “I married my best friend” sort of thing. At that time, men looked for their associations/friendships with other men. Wives looked to associations/friendships with their children. A mother’s relationship with her oldest male child was considered the strongest possible bond in that society. (Sound familiar?)

Sometimes (because of our culture) we think of this “loss of marriage” as a huge detriment. A horrible side effect of heaven. Whereas at the time it would have not been considered as such.

To give a comparison, today we might use the following illustration to confront Jesus:

Sadducee: You say there is no work in heaven, right?
Jesus: Yes…so?

Sadducee: Yet you give precise measurements of heights and lengths—someone must measure that—aren’t they “working” by doing so?
Jesus: Don’t you know God can instantly know the measure of all things? There will be no surveyors in heaven!

In the same way we would not consider the “loss of work” as any large loss; the audience of the Gospel writings would not consider “loss of marriage” as any great loss, either.

Not that I am arguing with you—simply providing information.

 
At 9/25/2008 1:02 PM , Blogger INetNomad said...

It sounds as though you’ve already made up your mind, so I’m not sure what the point of the discussion is. As you know the premise of a debate is that both parties begin with a side, but to some degree they both still have an open mind of which there is room for sway. So I have to ask the question of what is the purpose of your posts/debate if you’re not even willing to pray to God using the simple steps I’ve outlined in my previous post if only to see if really will answer you on this matter? At least then you would know the answer, rather than suppose that you already have all knowledge and are all wise.

The intent of my post was not to debate the matter, but to logically explain why it is that we believe as we do. Following my explanation I do not expect you to take my word for it, nor would I want you to. My expectation is only that you now have the understanding of what it is you need to do and it is between you and God if you proceed or not. That is why you’ll never hear me say, “Trust me”. No, you need only trust in God, but that’s assuming that you will take matters to him in honest sincere prayer.

I am curious if you are so firm in your current beliefs, why you chose the Mormon faith as your topic of this blog. Is it to further justify your choice of a different path in life? If this is it, I’m curious why you chose to try to discredit the beliefs of Mormons vs. Hinduism, Judaism, Paganism, Catholicism, Atheism, Marxism, Satanism or some other professed religion or belief? Is Mormonism really the bane of your existence, such that you must use it as your platform to try to discredit it in order to promote your own intellect? No, this is not a personal attack on you, but an honest question that you need to answer to yourself and to God.

If you have real questions and are in search of truth where ever it may be, I’m open for discussion, however we all have far more important things to be doing with our time than to be debating topics of which you have already made up your mind and are searching for an easy target.

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read through any of the web site that I linked to on my previous post, but you may have noticed that I love what I believe. I can honestly say that through my love for God and my Savior Jesus Christ and this Gospel that is found in our church, that I have no animosity for any other religion or belief anywhere. I recognize they believe differently than we do, but I do not set about trying to tear them down. I believe you would agree that this is clearly not the work of God.

I’m sorry to hear that there’s no room to receive further answers from God. I’m glad to say that I was not so prideful as to assume that I had already received all knowledge and understanding, and as a result I did take the promise found in Moroni 10:3-5 to heart and prayed to know the truth directly from God. I didn’t set about to debate it with some stranger across the internet. That’s not how Christ taught it, and as an intelligent individual I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s simply not Gods way.

Now as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have my beliefs that I know to be true. I know them to be true because I have prayed about them and I have received answers from God many times on this and many other topics. And no these answers were not some subtle feeling that needs a decoder ring to decipher as you put it. I cannot explain it any more than I could describe the taste of salt. I can surmise however that by this statement you’ve made it is clear that you have yet to receive such answers, to which I can only say, that I hope you will someday. However this will only happen after you have sincerely prayed as I’ve described previously.

You presume to discredit Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God by throwing out an obscure quote you were unquestionably given by some fool who formed your opinion for you by giving you a list of such passages. Yes, I am aware of this statement he made. I know that this was a Sunday address and is his testimony against the dissenters in Navoo. I also know that there are other statements that are frequently used against our church. Some he really did say and some he didn’t. I also know that such obscure statements don’t prove, nor disprove anything. It doesn’t change the fact that you have yet to pray to God with an open heart.

You can’t forget the fact that you cannot learn Spiritual things by temporal means. So this will be my last post to your blog, as it isn’t my desire, nor my goal to debate or try to convince you that what I believe is true. Simply because I know it is and I know that when you are ready, you can pray to God for yourself to get the same answers that I’ve received. If and when you do this, you will receive your own answers. You will then understand why it is impossible for me to explain how these answers come to us in such a way that they are undeniable and so much more than what you described as a subtle feeling.

I wish you the best in whatever your life brings.
Adieu

 
At 9/26/2008 6:57 PM , Blogger Sam said...

It sounds as though you’ve already made up your mind, so I’m not sure what the point of the discussion is.

It's for other people who might be reading this. Besides, what does it mean to "make up your mind," except to have a particular belief about something? The whole purpose of arguments is to change somebody's belief, so the fact that somebody has their mind made up is no reason to stop talking to them. It doesn't stop me anyway.

If you're not going to participate anymore, I hope you'll at least read the rest of my blogs on Mormonism. I'm writing them for two reasons--to pursuade people and to give people the opportunity to pursuade me.

I am curious if you are so firm in your current beliefs, why you chose the Mormon faith as your topic of this blog.

I recently read the Book of Mormon, and I've been dialoguing with Mormons lately. So I've got Mormonism on my mind, and with Mormonism on my mind, what else would I be writing about? If you'll look at my archives, you should see that I've been blogging since 2005. These last two posts are the only posts in these three years that are about Mormonism. In several of my other posts, you'll see that I'm an equal opportunity discreditor of beliefs about religion. I've addressed Jehovah's Witnesses, New Agers, atheists, Secular Humanists, Jews (just one post), House of Yahweh, Buddhism, and Hinduism. There are probably some others, too. Why do I do it? I do it for the same reason Mormons send missionaries. It's because you think the gospel you embrace can save people. False worldviews will prevent people from embracing that gospel.

I recognize they believe differently than we do, but I do not set about trying to tear them down.

Well, you probably should. If logic has any place in this universe, two contradictory points of view cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. Your point of view about the gospel is different than my point of view, and we cannot both be right. Before I'm going to be willing to accept some other gospel, I've first got to be shown that mine is wrong.

I believe you would agree that this is clearly not the work of God.

Oh, but it is. Paul, in talking about the ministry of himself and his companions wrote, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). We also find in Acts that Apollos "powerfully refuted the Jews in public." Many more references can be cited.

I didn’t set about to debate it with some stranger across the internet. That’s not how Christ taught it, and as an intelligent individual I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s simply not Gods way.

Are we even reading the same Bible? Jesus was continually engaged in debate with Pharisees and Sadducees, both defending his point of view and refuting theirs. He was quite a bit more harsh about it than I am, too. Check out Matthew 23. Where do you find anywhere in the Bible that anybody preached the gospel by asking people to pray about it and wait for a burning in the bosom or look to their feelings to determine whether something is true?

Now as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have my beliefs that I know to be true.

How to do reconcile that with your earlier statement where you said, "I’m glad to say that I was not so prideful as to assume that I had already received all knowledge and understanding..."? Is it prideful to claim you know something when you're not a Mormon, but not prideful to make the same claim if you are a Mormon? I don't think it's at all prideful to claim to know what God has revealed to you, and having studied the Bible, and having read the Book of Mormon, I think I'm certainly in a position to have a strong opinion on the matter. That doesn't make me prideful. It makes me humble because I was willing to follow the evidence where it lead.

Yes, I am aware of this statement he [Joseph Smith] made.

Then why do you act as if I've done something illegitimate by giving a questionable quote from a questionable source? I cited the source so that anybody can verify it, but you don't even seem to doubt the quote, so I don't understand what your gripe is.

You can’t forget the fact that you cannot learn Spiritual things by temporal means.

Of course you can. Why do you think we have scriptures? Reading the scriptures as absolutely a temporal means to learn spiritual things.

Simply because I know it is and I know that when you are ready, you can pray to God for yourself to get the same answers that I’ve received.

I prayed about the Book of Mormon eleven years ago and got no such response. Since then, I've had a chance to look more closely at the evidence and no longer feel the need to continue praying about it. But it is a regular part of my prayer life to ask God to reveal the truth to me and to keep me from error. If you believe God answers sincere prayers of this sort, then you ought to take me more seriously.

 
At 1/02/2009 11:15 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Hi there -- I haven't read through all these comments thoroughly but I wanted to ask a follow-up question to the original post, which is, "What is the purpose of marriage and how does it contribute to the idea that there will be no marriage in heaven?"

Marriage is merely a symbol of greater things to come (Ephesians 5:32). When we are actually in possession of that greater thing, we no longer have any need for the symbol.

I had briefly touched upon this issue back in October. In my church, we have a saying: marriage is not for your happiness, it is for your holiness. Marriage requires us to deny self so we may become more like Christ. When we are in heaven, there will be no more sin. We will not need these human institutions to shape us in this way.

God did not create marriage and then realize later on it would be a good metaphor for the gospel. On the contrary, God had His relationship with His bride in mind first, then created marriage in Genesis 2 as a means of foreshadowing what was to come.

The whole purpose of marriage is to point the world to the gospel. This is why there will be no marriage in heaven. There won't be any use for it. If there won't be any use for a thing in heaven, it only adds to the argument that it will no longer exist when we get there.

A great online resource is John Piper's Book, This Momentary Marriage, which is available online in its entirety here. I do not know if what I've stated here will convince anyone or contribute much to the discussion, but I pray that it helps.

 
At 4/20/2009 11:57 PM , Blogger Payton said...

Sam,

I spoke with a Mormon teacher of mine who was a missionary in Mexico for two years. He said that there are two kinds of marriage in Mormonism. One that is temporary, for earth. And one which is as they call "for time and all eternity" which must be done in a temple, with a distinctly special rite of matrimony. Only this kind lasts after death, according to him.

-Payton of High-School Apologetics

 
At 4/21/2009 12:15 AM , Blogger Sam said...

Payton, that is consistent with what I have learned, too. But if Jesus is to believed, no marriage is "for time and eternity." According to the Bible, marriage ends at death (1 Corinthians 7:39), and it doesn't make any exceptions.

 
At 4/21/2009 12:24 AM , Blogger Seth R. said...

Oh come on!

You have to really be reading this from your own pre-conceptions to think Paul was saying anything about marriage in the hereafter with that remark in 1 Cor 7:39.

All he's talking about is mortal etiquette. That's a pretty sketchy foundation for fundamental theological assertions.

 
At 4/21/2009 2:31 AM , Blogger Sam said...

Seth, if a marriage is sealed for eternity, then a woman would be bound to her husband for eternity. But Paul says she is only bound as long as her husband lives. It follows that she is only married to him as long as he lives. If I'm reading something into it that isn't there, then there must be a flaw in my argument. Where is it?

 
At 4/22/2009 9:10 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Seth,

Seems like a pretty reasonable thing to conclude for me, too, unless it is okay for a woman to be married to multiple men at once, since the first husband would still be in play by Mormon reasoning. Even when multiple spouses were permitted by mainline Mormonism it wasn't Polyandry, as would be the case here if the second husband were married in the sacred fashion. And the fact that Paul says that this second marriage is to be "only in the Lord" indicates that he is not sanctioning something like a casual, secular, temporal kind of marriage. In fact, it is not at all clear to me why God would suggest that we marry in any way other than the most holy. I might just as well suggest that the Bible teaches casual sex is okay for some, but marital fidelity is good for those interested to take things to the next level.

 
At 6/25/2009 4:34 PM , Blogger Josh Infiesto said...

An interesting post. I would hesitate to try and argue this deductively as you have, because it seems like there are too many available variables to do so properly. In normal circumstances, I would say that this invalidates your argument, and that an inductive argument would have been better. Although, That wouldn't have gotten us anywhere since all we'd have are inferences on whether or not you believe the church is true.
However, since the church claims that it all truth can be found in the church (Brigham Young), they put themselves in the position to be disproved absolutely, since they claim to be absolutely true, they can be proven to be absolutely false if you can form a conclusive argument.

As for what paul says, the arguments that mormons use about verses in the bible is totally invalid. Check the second to last verse of revelations. It says that any modification to the written content of the bible is cause for damnation. Seems to make it less likely that things have been lost from the bible.

 
At 4/26/2010 1:30 PM , Blogger BMR1591 said...

Sam, -high five- That is all.

 

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