Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
About That New Ending of Mark
02/24/2007 - James WhiteAs expected, there isn't any such thing. Student newspaper, reporter without understanding, confusing what they'd like to find with what they have in fact found. Here is a letter from the actual scholars doing the imaging. Of course, that does not really explain the comments of the undergraduate student which still, it seems to me, give an insight into the mindset LDS take into this field of work.
Rumors Out of BYU
02/20/2007 - James WhiteThis is interesting in light of the discussion we have been having on the DL about textual criticism. Here is a story that claims that scholars working on the Oxyrhnchus papyri using multi-spectral imaging have discovered "an unidentified Christian apocryphal Gospel, a new ending to the Gospel of Mark, a different version of two verses in the book of Philemon, and a missing section in Luke 22:43-44." Unfortunately, no other information is given outside of the claim, such as, the text, the manuscripts in which the material was found, dating---all the stuff you need to evaluate such claims. Most of the chatter I have seen so far is pretty skeptical about the claims, but it will be interesting to see what kind of evidence is brought forward. But lest you wonder about the inclinations of LDS who engage in such studies, these paragraphs should be kept in mind:
Seth Kohrman, a senior from Decatur, Ind., majoring in ancient near eastern studies, is one of the students involved with this project and on the Oxyrhynchus collection. Kohrman said he has learned a lot about the gospel from his studies.The amount of confusion inherent in that statement is truly breathtaking. Let's see...because gnostic heretics in the second and third centuries wrote silly books about Jesus and a cache of their writings has been found buried in the ground this means we don't really know what the New Testament said so we should trust the imaginative work of Joseph Smith Jr. from the 19th century which quotes from the 1769 Blayney Revision of the King James Version of the Bible so that we can truly know the gospel? OK, well, I hope Seth doesn't mind if we wait a little while a look a little closer at those manuscripts.
"In a funny way it has strengthened my testimony of the gospel and the Book of Mormon especially," Kohrman said. "There are over 5,600 manuscripts of the New Testament, not to mention all the apocryphal writings we are working on now, and none of them contain the New Testament as we have it today. This shows me personally of the immense importance of the Book of Mormon. Without it, we would be lost and confused."
Serving the Mormon Jesus (Update)
02/14/2007 - James WhiteOver the past few years as I have responded to the public statements of Paul Owen my language, and my predictions of his eventual abandonment of any form of evangelical belief, have undoubtedly caused some to wonder. The "behind the scenes" issues, and years of previous private interaction, explain a lot of it. This is not a "I told you so" post. Instead, the massive confusion created by the movement Owen represents has been illustrated to such an extent relating to Mormonism that it must be used as a clear warning to all who would go down that road: it ends in Babel, where everyone talks, but no one says anything any longer.
This post documents in Owen's own words his rejection of evangelicalism (or, to use his words, "the evangelical wasteland"). Of course, what "evangelical" means anymore is anyone's guess, but the rest of this article gives you a good idea. Once again, Owen's multi-traditional past comes to the fore, even in his own self-diagnosis. In any case, Owen views himself a good Catholic today. A few decades ago that would have meant something in the broader spectrum of things, but today that probably means he will get a wider audience in a post-evangelical landscape where the foundations have crumbled and the boundaries of truth are no longer discernable nor desired.
Two days after posting this testimonial, Owen posted the following:
On March 22-24 we will be holding the annual meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology. The meetings will be held at BYU in Provo, Utah. I will be presenting a paper entitled: “How Being an Anglo-Catholic has Affected My View of Mormonism.” For more information about the society, check out www.smpt.org . Having been involved from the beginning in the founding of this group, and having attended the annual meeting last year, I can tell you that there are some high quality theologians and philosophers involved (both LDS and non-LDS), and some very interesting papers and discussions. I find it a refreshing time to get together and converse with my gracious Mormon friends about the God we both profess to love and worship, the Lord Jesus Christ whom we serve, the differences which define our two faiths, and future dreams of drawing closer through the illumination of God’s word.One cannot help but notice the similarity in this language and that used by Rome regarding Muslims in Vatican II, how Catholics and Muslims together "adore the one true God" etc. In any case, let's step back a moment and get our bearings.
Mormonism, in its historical self-definition, is the "one true Church on earth." It, and it alone, possesses authority from God in the priesthood. It is the singular restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ after the church ceased to exist on earth shortly after the death of the last apostles. Its founder, Joseph Smith Jr., taught an extreme form of polytheism (LDS prefer the term "plurality of gods") wherein the distinction between God and man is abolished: God and man are of the same "species," and the difference between them is one of degree (exaltation) not one of being. God himself is an exalted man who lived on another planet, and today lives upon a planet that circles a star named Kolob. There were gods before him, there will be many gods after him. In fact, for many Mormons, the number of gods is infinite. God, in Mormonism, cannot create anything, he can only organize pre-existing matter. Jesus Christ has not eternally existed as God in Mormonism, which is hardly surprising in light of the fact that the Father (Elohim) likewise has not existed as God from eternity. Jesus is the first begotten spirit child of Elohim and one of his many heavenly wives (the current LDS hymnal makes reference to our "heavenly mother"). Despite the embarrassment of many LDS scholars, the consistent teaching of the LDS hierarchy over the years has been that God the Father, who possesses a body of flesh and bone (but no blood) sired, fathered, Jesus Christ naturally through a physical relationship with Mary. This is, in fact, why Jesus had the ability to take back his life, for he had, in Mormon theology, an immortal father. Jesus Christ, rather than being the eternal Creator whose all-sufficient death on Calvary redeems God's people perfectly, is but one god amongst many gods, one of our species, who began the work of "atonement" in Gethsemane, and only finished this upon Calvary. Mormonism has no meaningful doctrine of sin, atonement, holiness, justification, and, being a polytheistic religion, has never been able to produce a scholarly commentary on such books as Romans. It subjugates the Bible to Smith's "revelations," some of which, like the Book of Abraham, are so far removed from serious consideration as divine revelation that it is testimony to the power of deception that so many intelligent LDS continue to believe in them. ...
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Eerdmans Continues Its "Mormonism is Christian" Campaign
02/09/2007 - James WhiteI guess it fits. With the political situation of Romney running for the presidency, the utter collapse of all meaningful discernment in the culture as a whole in religious matters, we should hardly be surprised that Eerdmans, which broke ground by publishing a work of LDS apologetics (note the discussion here and here), is now putting out a book on Muhammad written by one of the leading LDS apologists, a BYU professor, Daniel C. Peterson. You may be familiar with Peterson. One of the worst works of LDS apologetics, Offenders for a Word, was co-authored by Peterson (see here). This is the same man who boasted he would be willing to go "head to head" with Richard Ostling or myself on the theosis issue "any day of the week" (here is the audio clip from the California radio program he was on with Bill McKeever). When challenged to do so, he had his wife return the phone call, declining the challenge.
Peterson's field of expertise is, in fact, Islam. However, just as I think it does impact one's politics to truly believe that God is an exalted man from Kolob, so too I can't help but believe that Mormonism, with its parallel to Muhammad in Joseph Smith, must produce a rather odd overview of Islamic history and claims. Though Islam's radical unitarian monotheism is the polar opposite of Mormonism's extreme polytheism, there are many other parallels between the two systems, especially between Smith and Muhammad, the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an, etc. It is interesting to note that some of the first Christian writers to encounter the new religion of Islam identified it as a Christian heresy. In any case, I have ordered the work (unlike so many of my opponents, I actually read what they have to say), and will be interested to read an LDS view of Islam. My current studies, and my background, should make this read fascinating.
Meanwhile, note the review posted at Eerdmans as provided by Jeff Downs: "The best scholarly text on the prophet Muhammad written by a Christian. A must-read, especially for non-Muslims who are interested in a solid, compassionate treatment of Muhammad's vision and accomplishments." - Parviz Morewidge." Yeah, Mormonism continues its mainstreaming attempt. Makes me want to get Is the Mormon My Brother? back into print as soon as possible.