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”.
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How Many Gods Are There?

September 26, 2007    By: Blake @ 3:31 pm   Category: Ostler Reading,Theology

This post is a summary of my third volume — and also responding to the rather uninformed banter I often hear from evangelicals regarding plurality of gods. My third volume is entitled: Exploring Mormon Thought: Of God and Gods. There are certain concepts that Joseph Smith elucidated at the very end of his life that challenged the tradition at its foundations. These concepts may be summarized as follows: (more…)

Blake Ostler Online

September 7, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 11:06 am   Category: Ostler Reading

Blake Ostler has been a big influence on my thinking since I first ran into one of his papers in Dialogue. After that, I started doing searches in BYU library for all the articles I could find. I remember being very excited when I heard he was putting out his first book (which I devoured in one weekend). The chance to discuss his book with him here at the Thang is what got me into blogging.

So, I am happy to pass on his announcement that he has recently put up a website with links to his many works. My searches were clearly not exhaustive, and now I have some reading to do. Thanks Blake!

http://blakeostler.com/

Blake Ostler, Original Sin, and the Atonement.

September 3, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:32 am   Category: Ostler Reading

Well, I finally am moving on with a little bit more of Ostler, and I’ve stumbled into a problem.

You see, Ostler notes that original sin isn’t really as the rest of the world has conceived it. However, he does note that entrance into the world does submit us to genetic pre-conditions and the traditions of our fathers. This means we all do sin, based on these propensities built into us.
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Peer-Relationships, Power and Paradox

February 19, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:03 am   Category: Ostler Reading,Theology

In Blake Ostler’s seminal series on Mormon Thought, he proposes that the purpose of our existence is that God wants to have a peer-relationship with us. A relationship based on “love” in the truest sense of the word, where we and God are interdependent on one another for our mutual continued happiness and where we are not in a parent-child relationship, or a master-slave relationship, but a true peer to peer relationship.

There is a sort of Paradox to this. To achieve this peer-relationship, the ultimate step seems to be absolute submission.
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On Ostler: The Conditions of Unconditional Love

February 13, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:30 am   Category: Ostler Reading

I’ve been invited to do some posts here. For those of you who don’t know me, I have no favorite color. I like sunshine, orange juice, and my life mainly revolves around my 3 year old. I go to church every sunday, have family home evening every week, and daily chastise myself for being not as good as I would like in personal prayer and scripture study. I am, in other words, the stereotypical 29 year old LDS father.

Last night I was going through Chapter 1 of Blake’s Book 2 (as there was a mishap in my Amazon.com order and I received book 2 instead of book 1, and, to make matters worse, the cover was torn upon delivery, so I can not return it.)

Anyway, I don’t want to belabor the point here, but I am not sure I understand Blake fully. Or rather, I think he is over-complicating things.
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Ostler on Salvation (Part 1)

June 30, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 1:41 pm   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,Ostler Reading,Theology

Chapter 6 in Blake Ostler’s new book is titled “Soteriology in LDS Thought”. For those of you not familiar with the term Soteriology, it is basically the study of salvation. As the article in Wikipedia puts it: “A particular stance on what constitutes salvation is thus known as a soteriology.” This chapter is a little unusual because it seems to be directed to non-Mormons in many ways and is largely focused on fending off accusations that Mormonism “preaches salvation by works and that it focuses on works to the exclusion of grace.” (189) Ostler goes about disputing this accusation by defining salvation in LDS thought and asserting that in LDS thought a low form salvation is possible without any work another than confessing Jesus as the Christ, and that only higher levels of “salvation” including exaltation are contingent on our works. (more…)

Yes, God the Father does have a Father

May 25, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 6:01 pm   Category: King Follett Discourse,Ostler Reading,Theology

As the second part of my discussion of chapter 12 in the second volume of Blake Ostler’s series of books on Mormon Theology I will deal with the second of two controversial positions Blake takes when reading Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse (KFD) and Sermon in the Grove (SitG). That second position was:

2) While God, the Father of Jesus, did condescend to become a mortal on one of the innumerable previous inhabited planets, he is the ultimate Celestial Monarch and has no “Eternal Father” of his own. Further, Blake holds that the Father was not a Savior to the world to which he condescended.

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Did God “come to be God” or not?

May 24, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 9:50 am   Category: King Follett Discourse,Ostler Reading,Theology

The final chapter in Blake Ostler’s new book is titled “God the Eternal Father” and is his treatment of two seminal sermons by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the final months of his life; the King Follett Discourse given in April 1844 and the Sermon in the Grove given less than two weeks before his death in June of 1844. Since these sermons have been the topic of discussion here as of late I am skipping ahead to cover chapter 12 now. Blake’s interpretation of these sermons is quite unusual and controversial I think. His conclusions include the following:

1) God did not come to be a God but has been divine and in the Godhead forever. This applies to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost according to Blake.
2) While God, the Father of Jesus, did condescend to become a mortal on one of the innumerable previous inhabited planets, he is the ultimate Celestial Monarch and has no “Eternal Father” of his own. Further, Blake holds that the Father was not a Savior to the world to which he condescended.

I will address 2) in the next post and focus only on 1) here. Here are the arguments Blake uses to defend 1). (more…)

If original sin is out, then why do we all sin?

May 17, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 11:53 pm   Category: Ostler Reading,Theology

Chapter 5 in Blake Ostler’s new book Exploring Mormon Thought Volume 2 is titled “Sin and the Uncircumcised Heart”. It follows his discussion in chapter 4 of why the doctrine of original sin should be rejected. But rejecting the doctrine of original sin leaves Mormonism with the task of explaining why every one of us who can sin does sin. And considering how similar some strains of Mormon thought are to Pelagianism, this question becomes even more interesting. If we have robust free will and come into the world sinless and free from any of Adam’s or anyone else’s guilt, why is it that 100% of us end up sinning anyway? Blake gives us some answers. (more…)

On Original Sin

May 10, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 3:22 pm   Category: Ostler Reading,Theology

Chapter 4 in Blake Ostler’s new book is called “The Implausibility of Original Sin”. That’s a nice way of saying “The doctrine of original sin is a total crock and here is why”. (more…)

The “Law of Love”

April 27, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 7:14 pm   Category: Ethics,Ostler Reading,Theology

Good and evil can be defined solely in terms of the law of love… Good is whatever leads to greater love and unity in interpersonal relationships… A good act is one that leads to healing a broken relationship or growing in intimacy and meaning in existing relationships… In contrast an evil act is whatever injures or destroys a relationship; it is one that creates alienation. (Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought Vol. 2, 111-112)

Chapter 3 in Blake’s new book is called “The Relationship of Moral Obligation and God in Mormon Thought”. In the chapter he gives overviews of several ethical theories including utilitarianism and Kant’s moral theories. In the end he concludes that a Mormon theory of ethics (which he calls an Agape Theory of Ethics) would overlap lots of other theories to create its own unique model that is made possible largely from the belief that humans are co-eternal with God. (more…)

Why Prayer Works

April 20, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 5:22 pm   Category: Ostler Reading,Personal Revelation,Theology

Chapter two in Blake Ostler’s new book is titled “Prayer and Providence”. Although it is a full 50 pages I’ll try to cover it all in this post (and using my own words). The chapter mostly explains why many theological assumptions accepted by creedal Christianity make effective petitionary prayer impossible and why Mormon doctrines do allow for effective petitionary prayer if we are willing to accept them. (more…)

A shout out to all y’all Mormon Pelagians

April 17, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 12:59 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,McMurrin Reading,Ostler Reading,Theology

Sterling McMurrin was on to something when he said:

Indeed, since Mormonism is essentially Pelagian in its theology, exhibiting, as already has been pointed out, a quite remarkable similarity to the Pelagian doctrines of the fourth and fifth centuries, it is subject to the same criticism an condemnation from orthodoxy that made Pelagianism the most celebrated heresy in Christian history. But Mormonism outdoes its fifth-century cousin by its denial of the orthodox doctrine of creation, and it thereby produces a basic problem for its own theology in its relation to Christian orthodoxy, the problem of why the doctrine of the salvation of man should involve the traditional pattern of atonement through Christ. (Theological Foundations, pg. 82)

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Ostler’s “Compassion Theory of Atonement”

April 12, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 11:59 pm   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,Life,Ostler Reading,Theology

As part of this week’s whirlwind series on the atonement I skipped ahead in the reading of Blake Ostler’s Exploring Mormon Thought – The Problems of Theism and the Love of God to chapters six and seven which cover soteriology and the atonement. Blake proposes what he calls “The Compassion Theory of Atonement”. Here are the basic components (not necessarily in the right order): (more…)

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