Turning Wine into Water

In a rather strange opening miracle, the author of the Gospel of John depicts Jesus as working a familiar Dionysian miracle of turning water into wine.  Mormons have undone this entirely, turning wine into water.  The modern sacrament prayers go so far as to change the wording of the revealed prayers, substituting "water" for "wine."  This wasn't always so.In the early days of the Church, LDS followers drank wine from a common cup.  The founding church order given in April 1830, revised in 18 … [Read more...]

Baptizing Vicariously and the Problems of Universalism

I haven't posted for a while, so I was checking through some of my drafts this evening.  This was fully written, but I can't remember why I didn't post it at the time I wrote it.  It is a bit past the prime time on this issue, but might still be relevant. The reemergence of the controversy about baptism for the dead, spearheaded by the issue of posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims is frustrating for Mormons. Not only do Mormons feel misunderstood and suspicious of the motives o … [Read more...]

Now Reading… Bad Religion

Published this AM, by Ross Douthout.  Amazing what Kindle can do, no?So the "problem," so far, is the loss the great orthodox Christian center.   And this means heretics, among whom Douthout places us.  He writes: Heretics are often stereotyped as wild mystics, but they're just as likely to be problem solvers and logic choppers, well-intentioned seekers after a more reasonable version of Christianity than orthodoxy supplies.  They tend to see themselves, not irrationally, as rescuers rather … [Read more...]

Knowing: Why Care?

Why do we care if we know rather than merely believe? Both in religion and life in general? I think that typically we appeal to an ethics. There are several ways this occurs. The first is that we have a community notion that knowledge entails beliefs that are true and have a certain degree of justification. If I go into an employer and say I know how to program in C++ and Python and I've never programmed in my life then we recognize that is a lie and that it is wrong to tell that sort of lie. In … [Read more...]

Mormon Ways of Knowing

Years ago I got a call from someone from one of the major LDS book publishers. (It's been so long I can't remember which - although it definitely wasn't Deseret Books) They were planning on publishing a kind of Mormon dictionary that addressed many of the topics within Mormonism using short scholarly entries. The main emphasis was less the summation than to have a pretty thorough bibliography for each entry. They were calling me because several people had suggested that I was the best source for … [Read more...]

“Have You Been Saved?”

To oversimplify things a bit, Mormon notions of salvation are more consistent with Paul, while Evangelical notions of salvation are more consistent with deutero-Pauline ideas.  In essence, Mormons, like Paul, believe that salvation is a future event; while Evangelicals, like deutero-Pauline authors, believe that salvation is a present event.The deutero-Pauline letter Ephesians claims, "by grace you have been saved" (Eph 2:5, NRSV).  The deutero-Pauline text Colossians agrees, and goes even f … [Read more...]

Knowledge For the Strong and the Weak

In 1 Cor 8, Paul give some advice to the "strong" who know something that the "weak" do not know.  He argues that even though the strong are in the right, and that what they know is fully true, they should keep such knowledge to themselves.  The reason is that, "by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died might be destroyed" (1 Cor 8:11).  Paul suggests that one's primary duty is to good of the community as a whole, not to the truth.  It even seems that Paul is saying that the lib … [Read more...]

Apologetics Into Doctrine: Romney’s Impact

It appears that Andrew Sullivan published something on Mormons yesterday.  How do I know this without reading Sullivan?  Because there’s a zillion Mormons responding to his comments at sites far removed.  In fact, there’s a bumper crop of Mormon apologetics springing up all over the place and I’m detecting a bit of a common theme.  It is, I think, something of a South Park approach. … [Read more...]


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