Anachronisms R Us

Last Friday Curt Jester linked to an anachronism in the Book of Mormon, in a blog post by Carson Weber. Not the horses-in-America kind, but it deals with KJV translations. I’ve seen plenty of things like this, so the commentators’ reactions are of more interest to me. Basically, they say “Well this proves Mormonism wrong!” and “I wonder what Mormons will say to this!” I don’t blame them for either sentiment, but I can’t agree with either. In my opinion there are plenty more substantial things that prove Mormonism wrong, starting with the Catholic faith being true.

Regarding the second sentiment, a couple of the commentators on Mr. Weber’s post seemed wise to the fact that presenting this anachronism to the average Mormon will accomplish, on average, nothing. I would guess that the other commentators have never had long and substantial apologetic discussions with Mormons, or they’d be in the jaded camp with me.

I have struggled for a long time with handling, if you will, the wrongnesses of the Mormon religion. At first, I put too much faith in them, thinking that they were reason enough for a Mormon to decide not to be one anymore. In practice, that idea is wrong with a side of stupid. I wish something besides experience had taught me that. The simple fact is that the assurance LDS have of the truth of their faith is heavily based in an entirely different category of knowledge and experience, one that arguments like BoM anachronisms can’t touch. To paint with a broad brush, they approach arguments like that with the mindset that even if the argument is correct – which it isn’t – it doesn’t matter.

I won’t fault approaching a potential problem with the attitude that it won’t wind up being an actual problem – my comment above about the truth of the Catholic faith against the claims of the LDS faith is an example. I don’t go into a panic every time someone criticizes or argues against the faith, and neither should a Mormon. But between me and a Mormon, our confidence, our assurance, is based in different things. Or rather, in many of the same things but in wildly different proportions. I’m confident that a Catholic can meet an argument on its own terms and prove reasonable. But to my perception, a Mormon is confident that his testimony trumps arguments like that, because the testimony is more substantial and more important than, shall we say, worldly wisdom. To the non-LDS, that’s a disproportionate reliance on the non-intellectual. To the LDS, it’s the way it should be, and venturing outside of the assurance provided by the testimony produces stress and guilt. Even Mormon bloggers, often the most open of the bunch, are generally comfortable in their testimony.

If the non-LDS readers are wondering at this point what one is to do to get through to them… I’ll let you know if I ever find out.

Anyway, these days I still struggle with LDS wrongnesses. Now, because of what I’ve just discussed, I basically put no stock in them at all. I don’t know if I ought to or not. I know that sticking to telling why I believe in one holy Catholic Church is always a good idea, but is there a place at all for telling why one shouldn’t believe in the LDS church? I don’t know. Add to this the problem that, especially on the internet, people who point out LDS wrongnesses (I love making up words and then using them a lot) are dismissive, scornful, and/or hostile to Mormonism and do nothing but turn Mormons off to the idea of non-Mormonism. Moreover, many authors I’ve read who left Mormonism for its wrongness are now the dismissive/scornful/hostile type, whereas people who left it for the rightness of whatever else are less so. The result is that I’ll see an argument – even presented charitably – and just shrug. That’s nice, I’ll think, but I didn’t really need it and Mormons won’t have it.

I haven’t come to a conclusion, but my thinking right now is that the best I can do is a be a great Catholic, which is sadly an area in which I’ve always fallen short.

25 Responses to “Anachronisms R Us”

  1. Kathy says:

    I would disagree with the last three words in your post. It should read “sometimes fallen short”.

  2. Margaret says:

    Hi, I just stumbled across this site and as a new converted Catholic from mormonism I totally agree with everything you say about testimonies.There is no way to get past it with anyone active in the church.I was exactly the same myself.Our whole family(all 14 of us!!) where very active in the church and it took a miracle for us to actually start to question all the things that we had been taught and that we had taught all of our children. Unfortunately in the lds church you are ostracized and put down in lessons etc if you try to defend anyone elses faith or even show the slightest sympathy with them. I personally think the only way to get through is to be a good Christian and let them see that they dont have the ‘exclusive’ on inspiration by the Holy Ghost and that God does indeed love and look after and most importantly bless ALL of His children. We have truely continued to feel His love and receive His blessings since no longer attending the temple and being baptised into the Catholic church.We cant even attend mass here in this country as we have no traditional mass and had to be led (by the same God!) over 6,000 miles to find the real truth.It’s only 5 months since I last attended mormon church(our family have always been members and were very active) and 2 months since being baptised Catholic and I can honestly say that although I thought I was happy as a mormom and raising my family that way, I now realize that we spend more time in the church worshipping the mormon church and indoctrinating our children and ourselves into telling everyone that the church is true than we actually do in worshipping the Saviour.
    Love your site and I’m so happy to be Catholic and away from all the disputations in the lds church(no-one in the church will tell you how bad Sunday school is!) and free to worship God as we should.

  3. syntaxpunk says:

    Marget, welcome home to the Catholic Church! My wife and I are reverts to Catholicism after a +5-year stint of active, temple-worthy membership in the LDS church. We, too, began to question some of the core doctrines of Mormonism prior to the birth of our daughter. We were forthright and honest, and talked to our bishop about our feelings. Little did we know that this would begin the beginning our our exit from Mormonism once and for all. We were both removed from our callings and were put under a pretty tight watch in the form of visitors (give or take three times a week!) and constant rumors. That’s one thing the LDS doesn’t have; namely, a place for those who are eagerly questioning and searching for truth within their own ranks. Mormonism keeps you pre-occupied with many tasks and duties, but there’s little room to question and essentially grow from such experiences. Our bishop struggled with our ‘case’ because it wasn’t something he could look up in some Priesthood manual; we just wanted some space to think, study and pray about things – what we really got was an impromptu kick in the fanny, which was a great blessing in hindsight! :)

    Returning to the theme of this thread, Brad’s spot on in his commentary and thought pattern. Essentially, we (Catholics) and Mormons operate on different bandwiths in our understanding of epistomology. Whereas Mormons (speaking collectively and not individually! :) ) restrict ‘revelation’ to feelings and emotional experiences, Catholics understand that this is but only one way in an infinite ocean of possibilities that God has at his disposal to communicate to His Children. Logic and reason – although they should never be consulted as the ultimate source of knowlege and truth – should not be excluded either at the expense of ‘good vibes’.

    The more I study my Scriptures, attend Mass, frequent the Sacraments and learn more about Christian history, the more I realize how thankful (and fortunate) I am to have returned to Christianity and the fulness of truth. If I can ever be of any assistance in you and your family’s journey of faith, please don’t hesitate to be in touch: syntaxpunk1976@yahoo.com.

    God bless!

  4. Steve says:

    I know that sticking to telling why I believe in one holy Catholic Church is always a good idea, but is there a place at all for telling why one shouldn’t believe in the LDS
    I feel your pain.

  5. Steve says:

    Brad,
    I think that in any fruitful dialogue there is an element of trust. When a Mormon asks a question about Catholic doctrine we want to assume that they have a genuine interest in what Catholics believe. We assume that they will really listen and take a moment to try to digest what we say. But instead it turns out their questions are used simply as a launching pad into polemics. This tactic destroys trust, and degrades the conversation.

    I read scripture within the context of sacred tradition, as they are not mutually exclusive. This renders verse tennis useless with Mormons. I read the Church Fathers as a form of prayer that strengthens my faith, and connects me to Christ and His Church. It is a personal, and sacred experience which I have no intention of diminishing by using the Fathers as a blunt tool to win an argument.

    I am secure in my Faith, and happy to share Catholic doctrine to the best of my ability whenever asked. But the conversation ends when I lose trust in the inquisitor.

  6. Seth R. says:

    Margaret,

    I have never encountered any persecution for defending the beliefs of other religions in any of my Mormon wards.

    For instance, one of our Gospel Doctrine class teachers showed us a video created by a non-Mormon film crew about the life of Christ. It showed the scene where John the Baptist baptizes Christ. It showed John with both hands raised to heaven uttering a prayer in Hebrew, at the conclusion of which, Christ immerses himself – face-first into the water and comes back up.

    At this point, there were a few audible snickers around the dimly lit room.

    I immediately said, loudly enough for everyone to hear:

    “Don’t laugh. For all we know, they actually did it that way back then.”

    There was a surprised intake of breath in the room, but followed by thoughtful silence. I never received any grief from anyone for this comment.

    I just taught a lesson in Elders Quorum last week that included, among other things, an explanation of the Nicene Creed, along with the observation that most of the Creed’s content is actually unobjectionable to Mormonism. There was a bit of surprise among the elders, but no objections. Everyone seemed interested more than anything.

    Look, “horror wards” exist. No question. We’ve got our share of bad bishops, and horrible parishoners, just like any religion. I’m sorry some here had the misfortune of encountering some of them. I believe that those who drive the sheep away from the fold will be held accountable for their actions and their misrepresentation of God’s message. But I don’t think that personal anecdotes about bad wards really get to the heart of what Brad is posting about here.

  7. Seth R. says:

    By the way Brad,

    Have you ever “debated” the truth or falsehood of Catholicism versus Judaism with practicing Jews?

    I ask, because one of my “pet theories” is that the Mormon response to faith is actually more similar to the Jewish response than the Catholic or Protestant responses. If you want, I can elaborate on that later. But I’d like to know if you’ve had any experience in this kind of dialogue.

  8. Brad says:

    Not a shred; it’s never come up at all. I don’t know any practicing Jews and I’ve never tried discussing it online. It’ll probably be pretty awkward if it ever happens.

  9. Margaret says:

    Seth,

    You are fortunate never to have been in a Sunday School class like that, however there are many of them in the church that are not that way. I think that it does get to the heart of what Brad was saying as it’s ‘nice’ to discuss in Sunday school that the Nicene creed in unobjectionable to Mormonism HOWEVER I think that the point that is being made is that once someone takes it a bit further and says that they actually believe something different from Mormonism the discussion stops and when there are no answers left(or objections) from the mormon, then they will bear their testimony and there ends the discussion.
    I ‘m not sure what the Jewish response to faith is but having been mormon and raised twelve children mormon, I would have to say that the mormon response is the same as the traditional Catholic response. When our family was abandoned by the mormon church we went to a regular mass in the Catholic church and really felt uncomfortable as coming from the mormon church it felt so strange to us, but then when we stumbled across a traditional latin mass in the US we couldn’t believe the difference and after speaking with the priest couldn’t believe how much his responses were just like ours would have been and how much the doctrine was actually the same. The Catholic Church as it is now, is barely recognisable as the same church or religion as traditionalist( but hey that’s another discussion for somewhere else I’m sure…), but I do think it’s important to note the difference.As a mormon I thought that all Catholics were the same and therefor very different in their beliefs than the ones that I had, but it’s honestly not the case with traditional Catholics and mormons as a lot of the beliefs are the same.

  10. Latter-day Guy says:

    Steve (#5),

    “When a Mormon asks a question about Catholic doctrine we want to assume that they have a genuine interest in what Catholics believe. We assume that they will really listen and take a moment to try to digest what we say. But instead it turns out their questions are used simply as a launching pad into polemics.”

    That is a pretty nasty generalization. As a Mormon, I have great friends who are Catholics, and I have found their answers to my questions enlightening: many of which I have been able to apply with merit to my own faith. I’m sure that you must have had some less-than-great interactions with Mormons, given your statement. I don’t think that calls for a blanket ban on interfaith dialogue! For my part, I have had some nasty interactions with Catholics, but I don’t think that they are in the majority. There are a few bastards in the pews no matter where you go! ;-)

  11. Steve says:

    LDG,
    I was refering to my recent experience on this blog where Eric was pretending to have a genuine interest in what Catholics believe regarding deification.

  12. TOmNossor says:

    Brad and All,
    I read through this thread a while back and thought I would comment a little.
    I left the Catholic Church to become a LDS largely ignorant of what it was to be Catholic. Much of the fault for this is surely my own. Having corrected SOME of this ignorance, I am quite set in my Mormonism based on numerous things from 1. philosophy to 2. early Christian history to 3. early Mormon history. While there are pluses and minus in each category (and significant gaps in my knowledge for sure), I see the balance for each leaning in a CoJCoLDS way. Concerning early Christian history, I could believe it in a Catholic way (meaning I do not find it untenable), I just find much to point to apostasy.
    -
    I however was a LDS for a number of years before I was a member with what most LDS would call a Spiritual Testimony. As I tackled anachronisms and other issues with the BOM, despite my lack of testimony, I did not find the BOM to be not an ancient document. In fact, I generally found the positives for the ancient BOM outweighing the negatives.
    Today, possessing a testimony that I should nurture more rather than posting on the internet, I still find the BOM to be one of the things I would struggle to explain within a Catholic Church is true framework. With all the reasons that the BOM is not the production of Joseph Smith the fraud, how could I explain this as a Catholic? Some post Vatican II understandings of “no salvation outside the Catholic Church” and/or a heavy dose of “the devil did it” would seem to be necessary to me.
    -
    Concerning KJV of the Bible in the BOM, I generally believe that the KJV translation is responsible for some of the words in the BOM. Based on the translation descriptions, I would lean away from the view that Joseph had the Bible open and was just reading. If I were to embrace the fraud theory, I would suggest he memorized large portions. But as a rejecter of the fraud theory, I lean towards a combination of memorization/familiarization with inspiration. Why God interacting with Joseph choose to include these passages is a speculative question, but has many answers. What Nephi put on plates at the point were the BOM has Isaiah (or the Sermon on the Mount) passages, I think is also a speculative question. I could believe things from nothing, to ancient texts, or just references.
    -
    The problem with critic’s methodology, be they Catholic critics or LDS critics, is they neglect to deal with both sides of an issue. Patrick Madrid on a few occasions has cautioned against attending Protestant Bible studies because, they are a 4-lane super highway out of the Catholic Church. I just listened to John Martinoni (for at least the second time this is sure a popular 1999 discussion) answer the question, “where is Purgatory in the Bible?” with a multiplication of words that would make LDS explaining the origins of the BOA proud. Does Patrick believe that the Bible is an anti-Catholic book? No. John M. on the other hand, I think does believe that the concept of Purgatory is not adequately defendable from the Bible. The problems with the question of Purgatory, or the many pitfalls Catholics discover in Protestant Bible studies are two fold. First, the vulnerable Catholic and the proselytizing Protestant do not know/understand (or do not present) the full issue. Such ignorance leads to Catholic departure and Protestant over confidence in the intellectual strength of their position (which is what I am accusing the Catholics on this thread of BTW). Second, issues like Purgatory and BOM anachronisms do not stand alone in Catholicism and Mormonism. Purgatory or other issues may be losers for the Catholic apologist, but as long as an issue does not create a bald contradiction that cannot be made into merely a problem (or solved), the rest of Catholicism including its strengths must be weighed before judgment (intellectual judgment) can be pronounced.
    -
    So I take exception to the view that LDS must know truth in a different way than do Catholics and this is the reason for not jettisoning Mormonism when evidence dictates they should. I find nothing wrong with the LDS who communes with God so fully and so clearly that intellectual arguments look superfluous to them. But I do not believe the intellectual case is lost, and in the circles I travel it seems to me that LDS offer solid intellectual reasons for the beliefs they embrace.
    As best I can tell, had I not communicated with God during my time of need, I would still be a LDS who believes that the truth claims for the CoJCoLDS are stronger than the truth claims for the Catholic Church on an intellectual level (and yet not have a real spiritual testimony).
    -
    One more thing:
    I am all for faith and reason (I still have only read part of JPII’s encyclical, but I will get there someday), but increasingly I think that the message of the LDS missionaries is the same message of the early disciples, “Come and See.” Sample what we claim concerning the BOM (or this man Christ) and open a communion with God to know Him. And that this is the optimal way to begin our walk with God.
    It has become popular to criticize Mother Teresa for her LONG “dark night of the soul.” Instead, I applaud her faith and communion with God through those who she lifted up even if the heavens appeared silent. But Mother Teresa met God early in her life. I would suggest that the idea that God is found via reason and then a small leap of faith is less than optimal. God should be experienced (be it in the Temple or through the Eucharist) in a loving relationship. This relationship may initiate much reasoned exploration, but we should seek to know God personally, not prepositionally.
    -
    Charity, TOm

  13. Steve says:

    I would suggest that the idea that God is found via reason and then a small leap of faith is less than optimal.
    I think it can flow either way depending on the situation. For example, I started studying the ECF’s at time when my faith was almost completely gone. That intellectual endeavor is precisely what brought my faith back, and continues to nourish it to this day. However, I would never have come to any sort of understanding of the Trinity without first having my Faith. I simply would never have done the work. But it was my Faith that kept prodding me to understand. So Faith and reason work together, moving back and forth ultimately to a closer union with God. And why shouldn’t they? They are both gifts from God used to ascertain truth, and will therefore never contradict each other when properly understood.

  14. TOmNossor says:

    Steve,
    What my “one more thing” was trying to communicate is that I think there is great importance in the type of ecstasy that evidences a one on one communication / communion between man and God. For those who experience these moments, their lives are refocused and they see differently than they once did. I think such things are vital to religion. I think such things are indispensable (not incapable of being dispensed with however) for those who experience them. If one can continue (re-experience) or even remember (past experiences) such communions can sustain and invigorate.

    Without these spiritual truths, the impressive intellectual story of Catholicism (and Mormonism) can be secularized (Note: I am unsure the natural explanations for either are superior in their reasonable-ness to the natural/supernatural explanation, but they exist). It is possible to have faith in the natural/supernatural version and to see it as the reasoned interpretation of the historical data. But if the players in this history had not experienced the ecstasies of communion, the natural/supernatural explanation would not exist and would be unnecessary. So once again these ecstasies of communion are vital for religion.

    I would also suggest that today, some members of successful churches need to have knowledge of the openness of heaven. They need to feel the ecstasies of communion to sustain the body of Christ. Others may “believe upon their words” (from the D&C), but without such communed believers, I do not think a church will prosper.

    Last month I attended mass two times. One was a Catholic mass and the other was an SSPX mass. Much of my experience will fade as unremarkable, but I will remember the old lady from the SSPX mass who returned from receiving the Eucharist quietly weeping. She was in communion with God. I believe such folk can enliven an entire religious community, but I do not believe a religious community will thrive without any who commune with God. (BTW, I choose this experience because it was true, recent, and likely to be well received here. I have long been neither a “religious exclusivist” or a “religious pluralist,” instead I am a “religious inclusivist.” And unless I choose to deny the reports of others religious experiences precisely and solely because they do not fit my paradigms I could not be a religious exclusivist.)

    Reason is directed to faith only because there exists in human history credible witnesses to the communion between man and God. Peter did not believe that Jesus was the Christ because of what he saw Jesus do, but as a product of what was revealed “by my (Christ’s) Father in heaven.” Paul did not believe because Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophesied in a convincing way, but because Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus. I suggest that reason directed to faith is good, but we must not discount direct communion with God. The simpleton can be saved through communion with God, but the learned may regularly trip on stumbling blocks.

    Charity, TOm

  15. Steve says:

    Tom,
    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “ecstasies of communion”.

  16. TOmNossor says:

    Steve,
    I am not sure if you are questioning my use of “ecstasy” which I use in a somewhat standard Catholic way, or “communion” which I use in a less specific way (though my example might suggest the specific meaning associated with the “Eucharist”).
    -
    Ecstasy:
    LDS speak of and are criticized for a “burning in the bosom.” I am suggesting that the “burning in the bosom” reference includes ecstasy in Catholic thought in SOME of the more powerful manifestations (of the burning in the bosom). Some of aspects of the “burning in the bosom” frequently described that are common points with Catholic ecstasies are:
    1. The sense of contact with God. This is something that is supernatural.
    2. The sense of a flow of intelligence or a quicking of the intellect.
    3. The reorienting nature of the experience. Our lives are changed by such ecstatic contacts.
    4. The vivid recall of the event afterwards and the possible discovery of deeper truths associated with the event in the future.
    -
    Now, Catholic saints are generally not considered to have had an ecstatic event unless some additional things are present associated with not being awake to the more mundane world around them. LDS have reported such, but the above 4 things are more common (the lady who returned from receiving the Eucharist would not technically be in an ecstatic state by my observation).
    -
    Also, spiritual experiences for the LDS do not always involve these full or partial ecstatic states, and these spiritual experiences are not usually called “burning in the bosom” even in LDS circles.
    -
    Anyway, it is my point that what I have read about the ecstatic states of Catholic saints relates well to 1-4 and to the additional “removal from the mundane” experienced by some LDS. A Catholic who believes that some Catholic saints have experienced ecstatic contact with God should not IMO dispense LDS claims of “burning in the bosom” on the merits of the descriptions of the events.
    -
    -
    Communion:
    I generally meant “communion” as a powerful connection between God and man. It is more than communication or mere contact. Ecstasy in Catholic circles is often, but not always associated with the reception of the Eucharist. Ecstasy in LDS circles is often associated with receiving answers to prayers or with Temple service, but not always. The reception of the sacrament (this is the way LDS speak of partaking of the Lord’s supper during Sacrament Meeting), is occasionally associated with ecstatic or approaching ecstatic communion. LDS confirmation or “Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost” is also reported by some in ecstatic or approaching ecstatic ways.
    -
    -
    How was that for making a short answer long?
    Charity, TOm

  17. Steve says:

    That’s kinda what I thought you meant, but I wanted to sure.

    I don’t doubt that people of different faiths can have authentic spiritual experiences, but in my experience Mormons tend to use these experiences as some sort of proof that the LDS church is the true church of Christ (I have been to enough fast and testimony meetings to know that that is a fair statement). So how do we reconcile that with someone elses authentic spiritual experience? If we apply that same F&T mentality to someone elses spiritual experience we can only conclude that her church is the true church, or that her spiritual experience was not authentic. As such, I don’t think these spiritual experiences are necessarily a reliable litmus test for what is a true theology vs a false theology. For that we need to apply our reason in light of faith, and evaluate truth claims on their merits no matter how it makes us feel.

  18. TOmNossor says:

    Steve,
    Before I address your most recent post, I am unclear what I said that indicated that I was advocating the LDS ecstatic communion as evidence of the truth of the CoJCoLDS. I can understand why you might have gone that direction, but my initial post on this thread claimed something I expected would be quite shocking to Catholic ears:
    “I am quite set in my Mormonism based on numerous things from 1. philosophy to 2. early Christian history to 3. early Mormon history. While there are pluses and minus in each category (and significant gaps in my knowledge for sure), I see the balance for each leaning in a CoJCoLDS way.”
    I specifically contrast the above to the view that LDS believe DESPITE the evidence, despite reason. And while I have become increasingly interested in the ecstatic communion experiences as of recent, this is specifically the opposite direction I was pointing. My last paragraph of my initial post in this thread was a bow away from this some, but it was certainly not an advocating of individual spiritual confirmations as evidence for anyone other than the individual.

    To your recent post:
    Within your post is evidence of SOME problem with your assertion. If LDS seek “some sort of proof that the LDS church is the true church of Christ” and others are not seeking to use spiritual experiences in this way, there is significantly less of a contradictions than one might think. Ecstatic experiences with the Eucharist can be genuine contact with God, and the response from God to the potential LDS can indicate that God is in fact calling said potential LDS to His church, the CoJCoLDS. This does not involve a contradiction. If said Catholic never felt the need to read the BOM and pray to know if it is true (which may be a reasonable response to the reception of God through the Eucharist), there is no contradicting witnesses. So the above two types of spiritual experiences would not create a problem for the LDS believing that his/her spiritual witness evidences the CoJCoLDS is the divine church.
    I have yet to complete my Biblical survey that I have planned for a couple of years, but I would suggest that the Bible’s message is more pray to know Me and less “let us reason together.” We are to find God through contact with God and it would seem that neglecting this method of knowing is less Biblical than embracing it. Man being evil would not give his son a rock when bread is requested, how much more faith should we have in what God gives us.

    Now, the reason there is only “SOME problem” with your assertion is that I expect there are those who have prayed, “Should I be Catholic” and received a confirmation. I am sure there are those who have prayed “Should I be a LDS (or is the BOM from God)?” and received a negative answer. And there are some LDS who have really never questioned the church, but instead felt that some ecstatic communions with God unrelated to seeking the truth are evidence of the truth of the church. There are numerous responses to the spiritual confirmations that seem to point away from the CoJCoLDS. The very dogmatic LDS will usually suggest that those who are not called to be LDS are less than sincere in their desire to follow God. I find that I cannot in good conscious demand such things. Instead, I recognize that communication from God is personal and while interpretation is not flawless IMO, it is still individual and I must respect it (since I only have access to my communication with God and to nobody else’s communication, I have no data to justify disrespect). Here is a long explanation as to how I still believe that there is a greatest truth, a one true church.
    http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php?showtopic=8450&hl=

    Steve:
    As such, I don’t think these spiritual experiences are necessarily a reliable litmus test for what is a true theology vs a false theology.

    TOm:
    I do not believe that direct communication from God to me that I am to be a LDS means anything for you (except that if you sought such communion with God you might receive it). However, I also do not believe that direct communication from God to me is something that I should ignore or neglect. I must interpret what God communicated, and this interpretation can (and does) change over time. It is also not infallible. But I believe I should REMEMBER and be changed by my contact with God.
    So, my communication with God associated with the truth of the CoJCoLDS does not mean that LDS theology is true theology or false theology. It merely means that I should attempt to live up to that which God calls me to be. I should subordinate my will to the will of God and follow Him.

    Steve:
    For that we need to apply our reason in light of faith, and evaluate truth claims on their merits no matter how it makes us feel.

    TOm:
    I am sensitive to the phase “how it makes us feel.”
    First, ecstatic communion between God and man is much more then just feelings or emotionalism. Ruled by passions man and animal can make poor and rash decisions. But my experiences (and those claimed by other LDS who have thought about this) do not boil down to emotionalism or merely “how it make us feel.”
    Second, recent psychological studies are pointing to the idea that integral to being able to reason is being able to feel. Our reasoning may seem like it is the summing of facts into truth, but bare facts do not sum until the intellect explores, judges, and feels.
    Finally, as Ostler expressed it, we must use our heart. But heart here is the Hebrew “lavav” which is a combination of feelings and reason. This is what the Bible calls us to know. “Come and see,” but use ALL of your faculties, eyes, ears, …, and the spiritual sense that has no proper name.

    So let me conclude by asking a few question of you (unrelated to my main point) and then re-mentioning my main point in engaging this thread.
    In your opinion:
    1. Should Catholics who experience ecstatic communion as a product of receiving the Eucharist, forcibly reject such things when they seek to apply faith and reason to the evidence of which is God’s true church?
    2. Should those who read (or write) books like Eucharistic Miracles and see evidence for the truthfulness of the Catholic Church in such things be corrected by reasoning individuals who recognize the pitfalls of relying upon such miracles because they are found outside the Catholic Church too?
    3. Are you prepared to question the reality of the commitment of Catholics who for whatever reason (perhaps they are not retarded, but merely unremarkable in intellectual capacity) are completely ignorant of the “reason” aspect of their faith? Is their room in your church for the unintelligent? Can God adequately call to folks who lack the ability to hold complex histories in their mind and make sound judgments about their message concern the truth claims of Catholicism?
    AND
    4. Are you willing to tell me that if in response to my quest to know if I was to remain a LDS, God expressed His love to me resulting in aspects of ecstasy 1-4 (though no semi-paralysis) and ultimately communicated to me that I was to be a LDS; I should ignore what God told me and/or my interpretation of His communication and seek a more reasoned path?

    I am willing to invite you if you are compelled, “Come and See.” If you are secure in your Catholicism, that is fine too. I am also willing to tell you that more is available to yours and my Christian walk than propositional knowledge of God. Were I a Catholic, I would know this and view it as a mystery, but it is true. We can have an interpersonal KNOWING of God. “Life Eternal is to KNOW” God and His Son.

    Now back to my original point. It is a lack of familiarity with the relevant evidences that leads folks to believe that things like BOM anachronisms should, if reason ruled the day, lead LDS out of the CoJCoLDS. It is the same sort of lack of familiarity with the relevant evidences that lead volumes of Protestants to wonder how anyone could possibly be a Catholic if they knew the facts that said Protestants know. For numerous LDS who have cared to engage the evidence, reason points them to the CoJCoLDS.
    Here is an interesting article that illustrates some of this. It was written by two Evangelical Christian critics of Mormonism (one of whom is now moving closer to Catholicism partially (significantly) because of his engagement with LDS apologetics). The title of the article is:
    Mormon Scholarship and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and not Knowing It.
    http://www.cometozarahemla.org/others/mosser-owen.html

    Once again, I wrote too much.
    Charity, TOm

  19. Steve says:

    Should Catholics who experience ecstatic communion as a product of receiving the Eucharist, forcibly reject such things when they seek to apply faith and reason to the evidence of which is God’s true church?
    No, and I don’t think I ever implied they should. However, they did have to make a reasonable decision to BE Catholic before even having access to such an experience.

    Should those who read (or write) books like Eucharistic Miracles and see evidence for the truthfulness of the Catholic Church in such things be corrected by reasoning individuals who recognize the pitfalls of relying upon such miracles because they are found outside the Catholic Church too?
    I think if that is all their faith is built on they will have a difficult time fending off Mormon and Protestant missionaries. However, eucharistic miracles are a valid piece of the puzzle, but these things must be approached with cautioned reason. Even the Church takes that approach. Personally, I find Padre Pio to be one of the most miraculous figures of our time, but I can’t say I would believe any of it without the strong witness of thousands of people. If I were a member of another Faith I would seriously investigate the life of Padre Pio, and use reason to interpret what I found.

    Are you prepared to question the reality of the commitment of Catholics who for whatever reason (perhaps they are not retarded, but merely unremarkable in intellectual capacity) are completely ignorant of the “reason” aspect of their faith? Is their room in your church for the unintelligent? Can God adequately call to folks who lack the ability to hold complex histories in their mind and make sound judgments about their message concern the truth claims of Catholicism?
    I believe our responsibility grows with our capacity to understand, and those who understand have a responsiblity outside of themselves. I would’t want to speculate about anyone’s commitment to their Church, but if they left their church I would want to know if they were being reasonable in their decision. That said, I believe the Catholic Churches primary responsibility is to bring people to God through the sacraments no matter what their intellectual capacity is.

    Are you willing to tell me that if in response to my quest to know if I was to remain a LDS, God expressed His love to me resulting in aspects of ecstasy 1-4 (though no semi-paralysis) and ultimately communicated to me that I was to be a LDS; I should ignore what God told me and/or my interpretation of His communication and seek a more reasoned path?
    If you were someone who found serious flaws in the LDS Church I would suggest that you interpret that experience very carefully. The mind is impressive, and capable of things we don’t understand. However, God’s nature is reasonable, and an appropriately reasoned path will always point us toward God.

    Need to go for now, I’ll be back.

  20. Steve says:

    I am willing to invite you if you are compelled, “Come and See.”
    And I invite you to come back and experience the fullness of the Catholic Faith.

    I am also willing to tell you that more is available to yours and my Christian walk than propositional knowledge of God.
    I agree!

    It is the same sort of lack of familiarity with the relevant evidences that lead volumes of Protestants to wonder how anyone could possibly be a Catholic if they knew the facts that said Protestants know.
    I’m sure you have heard it said that no one is against the Catholic Church, just what they think the Catholic Church is. This is precisely why proper reason is so important.

    For numerous LDS who have cared to engage the evidence, reason points them to the CoJCoLDS.
    Which is why people outside the LDS Church should appeal to reason when talking to people inside the LDS Church.

    I apologize if my responses are at all confusing. I was distracted many times while trying to post, and had to rush a bit. I’m more than happy to continue the conversation, but if you could minimize your posts to one point I will be more likely to respond.

  21. TOmNossor says:

    Steve,
    I am almost incapable of short to the point posts. I might succeed this time though.

    I do not think there is much I MUST comment on in your most recent two posts. I can see what you are saying and embrace much of it.

    I think I will imbue the spiritual experiences of LDS and non-LDS with greater evidentiary (for the individual with the experiences) value than you do, but this seems to be more a matter of degrees rather than diametric opposition.
    I personally, IMO because of who God made me to be, will continue to place great importance upon reason (or whatever it is that happens within my head when I think I am reasoning). Beyond this, I consider religion experiences to be personal and not generally something that acts as evidence for those who did not individual have the experience. Thus IMO apologetics is based upon reason.

    I said that I would invite you to “Come and See” because you seemed to express discomfort with Eric W who beyond trying to understand Catholic belief encouraged Catholics to “believe more.” Concerning deification I think Catholics should (and can in full communion with the Church) believe more. But anyway, my purpose in interacting with Catholics will not be merely to learn more about Catholicism (though I am always learning). I wish to express that views like the one I see espoused on this thread are as mistaken as the views of Protestants who think Catholicism is approaching ridiculous. Beyond this anyone who wants to “Come and See,” should, but such desire is not born of reasoned argument alone (and I do not need to convince Catholics that they MUST “Come and See”).

    Charity, TOm

  22. Steve says:

    I said that I would invite you to “Come and See” because you seemed to express discomfort with Eric W who beyond trying to understand Catholic belief encouraged Catholics to “believe more.”
    No, I simply felt he was being dishonest when he claimed to be genuinely interested in what Catholics believe about deification, and then dismissed out of hand anything Brad or I said regarding it. In fact, no one engaged my arguments which I feel sufficiently describe the limits of deification, and remains consistent with thought in the early church. I trust you’re reading Keating’s book by now?

    But anyway, my purpose in interacting with Catholics will not be merely to learn more about Catholicism (though I am always learning).
    I hope you keep interacting none-the-less (and treating yourself to Mass).

    I wish to express that views like the one I see espoused on this thread are as mistaken as the views of Protestants who think Catholicism is approaching ridiculous.
    I don’t think anyone here wants to proceed from such a mistaken view. Any advice you could give for Catholics trying to talk to Mormons would be more than helpful. That could be a long post I would be willing to read.

    Beyond this anyone who wants to “Come and See,” should, but such desire is not born of reasoned argument alone (and I do not need to convince Catholics that they MUST “Come and See”).
    I agree. Not reasoned argument ALONE.

  23. Steve says:

    Here is someone else trying to convey my same point; perhaps better than I did.

    http://phamilton.wordpress.com/2007/07/18/popular-religion/

  24. TOmNossor says:

    The below is the same post with the HTML tags fixed.

    Steve:
    In fact, no one engaged my arguments which I feel sufficiently describe the limits of deification, and remains consistent with thought in the early church. I trust you’re reading Keating’s book by now?

    TOm:
    I have not yet tried to find Keating’s book. It did look interesting and it is on my list. I am reading An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon by John Sorenson and re-reading From Apostles to Bishops by Francis Sullivan (a Catholic priest). I hope you are not too disappointed.
    You mentioned: Death to Life: The Christian Journey by Cardinal Schonborn and I have read chapter 2 (but then I think I left the book at a Baptist preacher’s house on accident). I also read Glories of the Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben which David quoted on the other thread. It has been a while, but I remember in a couple of place each book preserving the different “nature” of deified men as compared to God. David had a slightly different view of this as I recall.
    I may get a chance to re-open a little discussion on the Deification thread. It seems to me that your point of frustration was when Eric suggested that if Creation ex Nihilo is so incompatible with becoming God in essence, perhaps it is time to abandon this. Eric who seems to be quite well versed in the Early Church, didn’t seem to know that the Fourth Lateran Council irreformablely embraced Creation ex Nihilo. It was my opinion that your arguments were addressed and some things like the Chalcedon confession were neglected.
    If you like we can carry on a little on the Deification thread.

    Steve:
    I hope you keep interacting none-the-less (and treating yourself to Mass).

    TOm:
    I will. Mass will happen infrequently. 2x last month were the first times in over a year. I just found Planned Parenthood. I have considered going to adoration across the street so this may be my next Catholic outing, but it could take a very long time to find time. I usually do such things when my family is out of town.

    I will try to say a little about the next couple of points and the link later.
    Charity, TOm

  25. TOmNossor says:

    I’m back sooner than I thought.
    Steve:
    I agree. Not reasoned argument ALONE.

    TOm:
    You also linked to a blog post by Paul H. It makes much sense on the surface and I could embrace it with just some simple but important modifications. The idea that “cold, heartless reason” exists is IMO (and in the opinion of some recent science as I understand it) just false. Our culture tends to bifurcate the heart (here meaning feeling) and the head (here meaning reason). This was not the way of the folks Jesus walked with and it really is likely not even achievable. Bald facts (which are far less accessible within history than in science) do not make conclusions. The act of concluding is significantly heart based even when much reason (head based) thought goes into it.
    I can say that I have done the best I could to evaluate historical presentations and determine what they mean for the truth claims of our churches. But I cannot say that in my attempt to divorce myself from emotions and pre-conceived notions I have been TOTALLY successful. I am confident that you and Paul H. have not either, but it seems like Paul H. might disagree.
    So I agree with Paul H., that “because it feels good” is not something that can be used well to determine ultimate truth. But I disagree with him (or generally think I do) when he advocates for “heartless reason.” Such “heartless reason” is not the tool of the disciple, at least that’s what the Bible would suggest.

    Steve:
    I don’t think anyone here wants to proceed from such a mistaken view. Any advice you could give for Catholics trying to talk to Mormons would be more than helpful. That could be a long post I would be willing to read.

    TOm:
    I have advice for folks seeking to investigate the CoJCoLDS and see if it provides a superior reasoned based solution to the question, “Is God’s church on the earth, the CoJCoLDS?” They must compare “Best to Best.” Because the old lady across the street worships, “latria” Mary, should not be a reason to reject Catholicism when a proper understanding of “latria and dulia” is available. If you have a problem with LDS tri-theists and yet many reasoned LDS are social Trinitarians (which may be more or even completely palatable) then this should be part of what one considers. But, it would seem that this is not exactly your purpose.

    Towards understanding individual members of the CoJCoLDS (or even towards converting members of the CoJCoLDS to Catholicism), you must meet individuals where they are. This is significantly more difficult than it is to deal with a Catholic because Catholicism has the CCC. While there is certainly much diversity in the beliefs of individuals within Catholicism (and by this I mean properly within Catholicism), there is much more within Mormonism (and again properly within Mormonism rather than those who are openly critical of the church).
    Historical issues are certainly an area for discussion. Anti-Mormonism and anti-Catholicism over time have developed time-tested and effective means for extracting folks. I think such issues have a place in understanding the truth claims of both groups, but again a balanced understanding is most appropriate. LDS and Catholic apologists have provided responses to all issues common within counter cult ministries. Some responses eliminate issues and some mitigate issues to a greater or lesser extent.
    One of the main places for LDS and Catholics to dialogue is of course the apostasy. If it did not happen, then it would seem that some other explanation must be offered for what LDS call the restoration. I personally find sufficient reason to see an apostasy, but I also see Early Church history as not incompatible with Catholic truth claims ala Newman. I find most Catholic apologists failing to deal with the need for “development” and thus overstating the strength of their position. And frequently LDS (and especially Protestants) deal with Catholicism as if development equals falsity.

    That was a little long and I am not sure how well I answered the questions. I do not see anything wrong with the way we are interacting. If you have ideas for me, I would be interested too.
    Charity, TOm

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