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Switch to Forum Live View The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent
3 years ago  ::  Jan 07, 2012 - 6:38PM #1
withwonderingawe
Posts: 5,183

This is a talk by JEFFREY R. HOLLAND Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles




As Elder Ballard noted earlier in this session, various cross-currents of our times have brought increasing public attention to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord told the ancients this latter-day work would be “a marvellous work and a wonder,” 1 and it is. But even as we invite one and all to examine closely the marvel of it, there is one thing we would not like anyone to wonder about—that is whether or not we are “Christians.”


By and large any controversy in this matter has swirled around two doctrinal issues—our view of the Godhead and our belief in the principle of continuing revelation leading to an open scriptural canon. In addressing this we do not need to be apologists for our faith, but we would like not to be misunderstood. So with a desire to increase understanding and unequivocally declare our Christianity, I speak today on the first of those two doctrinal issues just mentioned.


Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” 2 We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.


Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].” 3


So any criticism that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hold the contemporary Christian view of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost is not a comment about our commitment to Christ but rather a recognition (accurate, I might add) that our view of the Godhead breaks with post–New Testament Christian history and returns to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself. Now, a word about that post–New Testament history might be helpful.


In the year A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to address—among other things—the growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils) 4 as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creeds—and others to come over the centuries—declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.


We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, … and I know not whom to adore or to address.” 5 How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable? What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”? 6


It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either? 7


We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four.


With these New Testament sources and more 8 ringing in our ears, it may be redundant to ask what Jesus meant when He said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” 9 On another occasion He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” 10 Of His antagonists He said, “[They have] … seen and hated both me and my Father.” 11 And there is, of course, that always deferential subordination to His Father that had Jesus say, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” 12 “My father is greater than I.” 13


To whom was Jesus pleading so fervently all those years, including in such anguished cries as “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” 14 and “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? 15 To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus … being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” 16


A related reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is excluded from the Christian category by some is because we believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, in an embodied—but certainly glorified—God. 17 To those who criticize this scripturally based belief, I ask at least rhetorically: If the idea of an embodied God is repugnant, why are the central doctrines and singularly most distinguishing characteristics of all Christianity the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the physical Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? If having a body is not only not needed but not desirable by Deity, why did the Redeemer of mankind redeem His body, redeeming it from the grasp of death and the grave, guaranteeing it would never again be separated from His spirit in time or eternity? 18 Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ. No one claiming to be a true Christian will want to do that.


Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace 19can we gain eternal life.


My additional testimony regarding this resplendent doctrine is that in preparation for His millennial latter-day reign, Jesus has already come, more than once, in embodied majestic glory. In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy, confused by many of these very doctrines that still confuse much of Christendom, went into a grove of trees to pray. In answer to that earnest prayer offered at such a tender age, the Father and the Son appeared as embodied, glorified beings to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. That day marked the beginning of the return of the true, New Testament gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of other prophetic truths offered from Adam down to the present day.


I testify that my witness of these things is true and that the heavens are open to all who seek the same confirmation. Through the Holy Spirit of Truth, may we all know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent.” 20 Then may we live Their teachings and be true Christians in deed, as well as in word, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wise men still seek him.
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3 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2012 - 2:52AM #2
Joe68
Posts: 289

I found this quote from Jeffery Holland one of the 12 LDS apostles and the author of the article you posted very interesting.


Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].”



Well I happen to have a copy of Harper’s Bible Dictionary so I decided to check out the reference. Here are some interesting bits that Mr. Holland left out:


The explicit doctrine was thus formulated in the postbiblical period, although the early stages of its [i.e. trinitarian] development can be seen in the nt


After citing ten Biblical passages there is this: This emphasis on the unity of the Father and the Son may be understood as a first step in the development of trinitarian thought.


In reference to 2 Cor. 13:14 HBD calls that passage “the earliest trinitarian formula known


The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the nt. Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history 


So Mr. Holland pulls one isolated sentence and makes it seem that the idea of God as trinity is absolutely foreign to the NT when in actuality Harper’s says that one can see the early stages of its development in the nt,  and that  2 Cor 13:14 is a strikingly early Trinitarian formula, MT 28:19 shows that the origin of the doctrine of the Trinity is found very early in Christian history and lists ten passages that show a first step in the development of Trinitarian thought.


So instead of supporting the LDS stance on the Trinity HBD actually supports the doctrine of the Trinity as an early Christian doctrine that is supported biblically.  


I’ll post more on this article a bit later.


Oh and if anyone thinks I took anything out of context I posted the entire entry on the Trinity from HBD on my page. If you can't find it there i will send it to you.


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3 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2012 - 10:19AM #3
Ironhold
Posts: 11,491

Jan 21, 2012 -- 2:52AM, Joe68 wrote:


Oh and if anyone thinks I took anything out of context I posted the entire entry on the Trinity from HBD on my page. If you can't find it there i will send it to you.




"What page?", I ask. 


Would you mean to say that you're yet another anti-LDS website owner who has decided to try and test us here on BNet?


If you are, just be aware of the fact that the last few souls have failed miserably, and usually wound up embarassing themselves in the process.

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3 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2012 - 11:28AM #4
Joe68
Posts: 289

Here is my reference:


Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper's Bible dictionary (1st ed.) (1098–1099). San Francisco: Harper & Row.


If you go to the original article you will find this reference provided by the author:


Paul F. Achtemeier, ed. (1985), 1099.


Please note that my HBD is an electronic version (I don't know if the one Holland used was electronic or printed), but it looks as if we are talking about the same entry.


If you have difficulty locating the correct page it is under the entry “Trinity”. Or you could read the entry on my page as I posted it there.

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3 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2012 - 2:34PM #5
Ironhold
Posts: 11,491

Jan 21, 2012 -- 11:28AM, Joe68 wrote:


If you have difficulty locating the correct page it is under the entry “Trinity”. Or you could read the entry on my page as I posted it there.




Again, you said "my page".


That comes across as you saying you have a website of your own.

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3 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2012 - 11:36PM #6
withwonderingawe
Posts: 5,183

Joe ….and that 2 Cor 13:14 is a strikingly early Trinitarian formula, MT 28:19 shows that the origin of the doctrine of the Trinity is found very early in Christian history and lists ten passages that show a first step in the development of Trinitarian thought.



“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”


Looks like three individuals to me.


“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”


Now this teaches three individuals, one of them Christ being given “All power” by a superior being. There was a time he did not have “all power” and now he has it. That doesn’t fit the Trinity doctrine at all.

Wise men still seek him.
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3 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2012 - 1:46AM #7
Joe68
Posts: 289

WWA, My point in my post was that your LDS apostle misquoted HBD. He used it to try and show that this “stalwart” source as saying that there is no biblical support for the Trinity but the HBD says the exact opposite of what Holland wants it to say.

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3 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2012 - 1:49AM #8
Joe68
Posts: 289

Re: Again, you said "my page".


My page here at Bnet???



 

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3 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2012 - 7:12AM #9
withwonderingawe
Posts: 5,183

Joe said; "WWA, My point in my post was that your LDS apostle misquoted HBD. He used it to try and show that this “stalwart” source as saying that there is no biblical support for the Trinity but the HBD says the exact opposite of what Holland wants it to say."


No it didn't


The quote; "The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the nt. Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history"


The origins but not the actual formula;



Joe my point was the second part of that is stretching the New Testament beyond any reason. The two passages given do not teach the trinity formula at all. Harpers admitted “The formal doctrine of the Trinity …. is not to be found in the nt” but to say so outright would bring a world of condemnation upon them and they never would be able to sell a single Bible, so they added in a cavetti trying to explain away the obvious truth which Holland quoted.


Yes anyone reading the Bible, even the Old Testament, will find a trinity of beings. That is a given Holland had already expressed. His emphasis was that “the formal” for this incomprehensible immaterial god could not be found in the Bible.


Should Holland added in the rest of their reasonings when he had already discuss and acknowledged the three beings and they were trying to talk out of both sides of their mouths? I don’t think he needed to.



The following I posted on Rgurley4’s form under General Discussion.


community.beliefnet.com/biblechurch/go/t...



Some time ago I tried to show that the trinity can be found in the Old Testament, but my whole idea was rejected I think simply because it was coming from a Mormon.


Let me give you an example, the introduction to Isa 42. There is a Hebraisms which says one must first establish authority to speak and one must have a witness of that authority.



Vers 1-4 “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles…. A bruised reed shall he not break, …. he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth:



5-6 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee (Israel) in righteousness…”



Now think of the Baptism of Christ and how the voice from heaven was heard,



“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”



Isaiah is speaking for the supreme being who is giving his witness of the Son, the person behind that “my” is the same being in both the NT and OT. He is delighted and pleased with his Son.



In verse 5 ‘God the Lord’ or Yahweh is establishing his authority to speak he is the creator of the physical heaven and earth. Heb 1 of course says this is Jesus.



So you have here in the Old Testament three different beings and a prophecy of sorts about the baptism of Christ with the three different members of the Godhead coming together at one place in time.”



Two post later Rgurley4 writes;


ANALOGY of the TRI-UNE GOD...The Sun and its effects


1. The massive ball of the emitting energy source = SUN ~ God the Father


2. The transmitted energy waves of many types = RAYS ~ God the Holy Spirit


3. The received light and heat onto Planet Earth = EFFECT ~God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth


BUT all analogies tend to break down.


The TRI-UNE GOD is simply a theological belief and "mystery".



A “mystery”?


John 1 “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”

Wise men still seek him.
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3 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2012 - 8:47AM #10
Ironhold
Posts: 11,491

Jan 22, 2012 -- 1:49AM, Joe68 wrote:


Re: Again, you said "my page".


My page here at Bnet???




When on the internet, you need to clarify what you mean by "page." In fact, you need to be quite careful with your terminology to begin with, as even one flub or mistaken word and you can quite quickly become a speed bump on the internet super highway.


"My page" typically means "My webpage", which is a way of saying that you have a website, blog, or other venue that is entirely under your control.


If you're referring to something here on BNet, the correct terms are "thread" for discussions and "board" or "forum" for where specific discussions take place by topic.

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