God and the Universe: Before, After or With?

January 31, 2010    By: Blake @ 1:03 pm   Category: Theology

There are at least three different views that Mormons have of God’s relation to the universe and its physical laws. How we approach what is possible for God and how we go about determining responses to a number of issues depends on the prior view of God’s relation to the universe. The three primary views (there are others) of God’s relation the universe are these: (1) God ‘s creative will is logically and explanatorily prior to the universe or any other reality; (2) God is subsequent to the universe and arose to godhood within the confines of its laws and physical constraints; (3) God is with the universe and there is a co-dependence relation between them. Exactly what the co-dependence relation is between God and the universe in the third option is variously explained as God being the mind of the universe or the basis for order in the universe.

Jimmer and the top 10 Cougars of BYU

January 25, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 2:11 pm   Category: Sports

The new men’s college basketball rankings came out this morning and the 20-1 BYU Cougars are ranked #10 in the coaches poll. This is the highest ranking for the Cougs since the ’87-88 team. I think this is the best BYU hoops team since the Danny Ainge days.

BYU is led by Junior point guard Jimmer Fredette out of New York state. I have long thought Jimmer was the best player on the team — ever since he looked like the best BYU player on the floor in the NCAA tournament game his freshman year. This year no one can deny Jimmer is one of the best guards in the country. He really turned heads nationally at the end of December when he dropped 49 points on Arizona in Tucson, setting a new BYU scoring record and a new McKale Center scoring record in the process. The only problem was that he came down with a case of mono right after that game and it has taken the better part of a month for him to bounce back.

The Worth of Souls, Direct Mail Edition

January 22, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 8:44 am   Category: Uncategorized

I’ve recently been reading some Evangelical books on church growth. While I’ve been truly amazed at the variety and hope to post a review once I get through the 17 books I’ve selected as most interesting, I did want to address one point that seems to be quite common among the Evangelical movement: Direct Mail Advertising.

Another attempt at explaining the atonement.

January 12, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 12:30 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,Ostler Reading

This post grew out of a need to explain my discomfort with the “Parable of the Bicycle”, as well as a complaint from a friend that too often the bloggernacle refers to other older posts and does not leave room for new conversations. Because I do not wish to be critical directly of the faith of others, I have decided not to directly critique the “Parable of the Bicycle” but instead to focus on the Gospel as I understand it, as simply as I am able. In that, Mormon Culture sometimes calls for us to define salvation and exaltation as two different things, I am here asking you not to.

The words saint and sanctity both come from the same Greek root hagioi, meaning to set apart, or make holy, and entails a change of being through choices, experiences, and works. It is a process which requires the free use of agency and defines who we are in relation to God, others, and ourselves. In relation to the atonement, we typically refer to this as sanctification.

This process of sanctification is typically coupled with justification. This is often defined as an instantaneous legalistic act which declares the sinner free of sin due to the goodness of Jesus Christ. It requires no use of agency on our part, as it is Christ freely declaring us free from sin. In fact, justification comes from the Greek dikaioo meaning “to declare righteous”.

On Eternal Minds, Evolution, and Avatars

January 10, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 1:45 pm   Category: Evolutionary psychology

No doubt many of you have seen the movie Avatar which is breaking all kinds of box office records this winter. For the three of you who don’t know, in the film humans in the future are mentally connected to test-tube-grown alien bodies and essentially act as pilots to those bodies in the story. This idea of minds powering bodies is pretty common in religions around the world where the assumption is that each of us is a spirit piloting a mortal human body and as soon as our body dies our spirits essentially hit the eject button and move on. This concept is certainly at home in Mormonism where it is not uncommon to hear analogies about hands and gloves to describe the relationship between spirits and mortal bodies.

So with that as a backdrop, it is not entirely clear to me what the theoretical objection to the idea of human evolution among Judeo/Christian religionists would be. The stereotypical objection is that evolution means human bodies “evolved from monkeys”. As far as I can tell the awfulness of this prospect is supposed to be self evident. But of course the awfulness of the idea that our ancient biological ancestors were “monkeys” isn’t self evident. If we are just pilots of these present bodies then why should we care at all how these bodies came into existence in the universe? Now I can understand that Biblical literalists would be concerned about having to give up some hyper-literalism in their interpretations of the Bible to accept human evolution and they might not like that. But beyond that it seems to me humans shouldn’t really care much how our species came to be on this planet.

BYU cracks top 25, takes down UNLV

January 6, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 10:20 pm   Category: Sports

I predicted before the season that this year’s BYU Men’s Hoops team would make it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament despite not winning an NCAA Tourney game since ’93. BYU is pulling through for me nicely so far. At the halfway point of the regular season BYU is 15-1, ranked in the top 25, and looking very strong. Tonight BYU took down MWC title contender UNLV by the score of 77-73. The win is impressive but much more so when you consider that BYU’s star player (Jimmer Fredette) wasn’t able to contribute much due to a bout with strep throat he is trying to recover from. In addition, the second best player on the team (Jackson Emery) was gimpy with an injured heel. So the win tonight was especially impressive with the role players and bench coming up big. Congratulations to the Cougs on a great win and a great first half of the season.

In other BYU hoops news: Jimmer Fredette broke the 48 year old BYU single game scoring record last week when he dropped 49 points on the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson. In so doing Jimmer also broke the scoring record in the McKale Center. The feat garnered Jimmer the National Player of the Week honor as well as the MWC player of the week award. I saw that game and it was a truly spectacular display. Congratulation to Jimmer on that.

And Go Cougs!

Orthodoxy vs. [Un]Orthodoxy

January 5, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 7:37 am   Category: Uncategorized

In our recent PEC meeting, our bishop let us know that the chain of command [God, Prophet, Apostle, Seventy, Area Seventy, Stake President, Bishop] had sent down a message that the leadership is worried about a growing rift in the church where members are identifying themselves as either orthodox or unorthodox members.

Gospel Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New PH/RS Manual

January 1, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 5:42 am   Category: Apologetics

The other day I receive a phone call from Peggy Stack up in Salt Lake asking me about the new PH/RS Manual and a post I did 6 months ago about it. We had a very nice chat and she did a write up for this Saturday’s Tribune. (She was extremely kind and classy. She made me a reader for life in just a few minutes.)