Christians’ Rejection of the Bible
December 17, 2008

We Mormons are often accused of rejecting the Bible because we do not interpret it the same way as historic Christians. But what about the rest of Christianity? Surely there are some evangelicals and other conservative groups who truly attempt to adhere to the Bible and centralize it in their teaching. But what about the Christian world as a whole? Do they really take the Bible seriously? (more…)

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Genesis 18 Problem
February 8, 2008

Genesis 18 opens thus:

And the LORD appeared unto him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. (v. 1 KJV)

Afterwards he entertains three men who seem to inform him about Sarah’s imminent pregnancy as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Conversations with the LORD are interspersed throughout the chapter with mentionings of the LORD in vv. 1, 13, 17, 19–20, 22, 26, 33. But conversations with the travelers are also woven alongside the divine conversations (vv. 3–4, 9–10, 16, 22). Verses 17–19 seem even to feature the LORD counciling with the other travelers by talking about Abraham in the third person:

And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Verse 22 puts both the travelers and the LORD together, seemingly to indicate that the LORD had actually been there the entire time:

And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

By all accounts, the smoothest interpretation of these events would be, in my opinion, that the LORD was among the travelers who came to visit Abraham. This reading could be problematic for traditions which teach that God is invisible and that no one has seen God. For Latter-day Saints, theophanies (appearances of God) should present no problem. The scriptures teach that they are not only possible but expected. Nevertheless, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: (more…)

Someone Besides Us!
February 6, 2008

Although it’s surprising given the content of recent posts, the purpose of this blog is not LDS apologetics. I’ll leave that to the folks at FAIR, FARMS, and good ol’ Jeff Lindsay. So the aim of this latest find is not “neener-neener” but rather pertinent, as I see it, to an LDS approach to Biblical studies. Joseph Smith taught that the Bible was the word of God as far is it was translated correctly, which statement itself opened the door for Biblical criticism from a faithful persepctive.

Anyway, while I was perusing the tag surfer on WordPress, I came across a post by a J.C. Baker, a Ph.D. student in Texas, who directed me to a post by his friend, Rev. Jason N. Patrick, a fellow Texan pastor. His first post: The Problem with Biblical Inerrancy « Rev. Jason N. Patrick, Ph.D. Coming from a Baptist, this argument floored me! What a pleasant surprise! Am I to understand that some believers besides us reject Biblical inerrancy?

Please read the whole thing! Rev. Patrick argues, if I’m reading him right, that inerrancy is a fairly recent notion foreign to the Bible text itself.  It stems more from the Enlightenment epistemology than Biblical doctrine. According to the Rev., scripture is not authoritative because it is inerrant, but because it is inspired by God. In a follow-up comment, he adds that it is “dangerous” to call the Bible “THE revelation of God” since Jesus Christ was the ultimate Revelation of God.

Latter-day Saints affirm that although the Bible is authoritative as A revelation (or rather, a set of revelations), it is not THE revelation and accept all that God has now revealed and all that he will yet reveal.

Paradigms in Conflict
January 30, 2008

The first week of the semester, I was signed up for an Old Testament class from a teacher with whom I was not familiar. A syllabus was distributed at the first meeting, and as I read through it, I noticed that, in addition to the LDS institute manual and the scriptures, “good LDS commentaries” would be emphasized as texts. I don’t know why this raised suspicion, but it did, and I raised my hand for clarification:

“Would you consider any non-LDS sources ‘good commentaries?'” I asked.

His answer was an emphatic no accompanied by a caution to stay away from non-LDS sources. He said that those “Christian” and “Jewish” commentary mixed truth and the opinions of the learned and that we would have to sift through error to get at the “right” doctrine. “Why,” he asked, “would we need them when we have Talmage and McConkie?”

Now look, I’m not saying that commentaries written by religious scholars should be given equal weight with teachings of living prophets. After all, they have their own interpretations and opinions of scripture independent of modern revelation. But if we are truly seeking a) to understand the scriptures as their ancient audience understood them, and b) following the Lord’s injunction to seek out of the “best books” (D&C 109:7, 14; 88:118), we do poorly to ignore secular scholarship altogether, especially when it represents the greatest modern intellects of the discipline. (more…)