Literary Bookends in the Scriptures

December 30, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 12:56 pm   Category: Scriptures

We have had some good discussions of hermeneutics here in the past (here’s one), but usually only on the large scale about guiding principles and so forth. Sometimes I wonder about hermeneutical minutia, as it were. What follows is an example. (more…)

The Atonement, as defined by “Preach my Gospel” is not substitution.

December 26, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 1:39 pm   Category: Atonement & Soteriology

As it is the current tradition of the Church to publish the majority of it’s texts online, The Church has now done so with Preach My Gospel, the current Guide to Missionary Work in the Church. As this Manual will shape the thoughts and feelings of missionaries and converts for years to come, and thus, arguably, the majority of the future leadership of the church, I’d like to take the opportunity to examine the definition of the atonement as given in this important text.

Wow — what a nailbiter

December 22, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 10:57 pm   Category: Sports

nullDid you see the Las Vegas Bowl tonight? Holy Smokes! We were done. You could have put a fork in the Cougs with 3 seconds left and an easy field goal lined up for the UCLA win. We were as done as we were against Utah I think. But like the Utah game an absolutely astonishing turn of events led to another BYU win. (A blocked kick this time around.) Congratulations Cougs! You overcame getting manhandled by the UCLA defensive front and a bad coaching decision at the end of the first half to get an improbable win.

So with basically the whole offense coming back next year do you think the Cougs will be in the top 20 in the preseason polls next year? A BCS bowl game run will definitely be in the air next season…

Learning from our religious big brothers: Hinduism

December 19, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:57 am   Category: Uncategorized

One of my favorite “doctrines” within the LDS faith is the charge to go and seek out the good of other faiths and to bring them home to Mormonism. This is an effort to do this. If anyone out there is a true expert on Hinduism, apologies abound and corrections are welcome.

The Problem of Evil has been a delightful pointy stick which many have used to argue against the existence of God. For a long time, I thought the LDS church had a unique out for this particular problem, the eternal existence of souls. I was wrong, but not in the way you may be thinking.

Captain Moroni and False Revelations

December 17, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 10:36 pm   Category: Scriptures

It’s pretty obvious that the historian Mormon had a fairly strong case of hero worship for Captain Moroni. First, he named his son after him, second, major portions of his history are dedicated to Moroni, and third, he notes in a moment of commentary, that he believes if all men were like Moroni, “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” ( Alma 48:17 )

Welcome to the big time, Bloggernacle

December 15, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 11:20 pm   Category: Bloggernacle,Mormon Culture/Practices

As has been mentioned in a couple of other bloggernacle blogs (Julie at T&S, sidebar at BCC, and live on-location reporting from Steve H. at Splendid Sun among others), Elder Ballard just encouraged the graduating class at BYU-Hawaii to start a blog.

No, I’m not kidding.

Here are some excerpts from the talk: (more…)

Dolores Umbridge and the Christian Right

December 10, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 11:50 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

Steven King is quoted as saying that the character Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series of books is the “greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter” [1] I think he is right on. I can’t think of a more despicable and grating and wicked fictitious villain in recent years either. The thing about Dolores Umbridge though is that it seems to me she is simply a personification and caricature of what we like to call the “Christian Right” in America.

If you have not read the Harry Potter series of books or have not seen the most recent movie (which features Ms. Umbridge) you may not know what I’m talking about here. Dolores has all the ingredients needed to make one’s skin crawl. She plays the sweet innocent role to perfection, complete with a simpering voice and (in the movie at least) all pink wardrobes to go along with her love for kitty cats. But it is all a front to cover a cruel, conniving, pitiless, bigoted, unforgiving, uncharitable, ungracious, hypocritical and bullying person on the inside. Dolores is cordial but not kind. She is saccharine but not truly sweet. She is a gleaming white sepulchre with rotting stench in the middle. In other words she is a true villain. (more…)

Men are Different

December 9, 2007    By: Kristen J @ 7:35 pm   Category: Life

Men and women are not the same. I know this on many levels. I have a father, a brother, a husband, a son, and yes, even guys that are my friends. You would think after 37 years I would have a better understanding about what makes them tick, what drives them, and what they are really all about. Most of the time I think (naively) I do understand men pretty well. Then every once in a while a guy will say or do something that makes me think, you and I are not the same. (more…)

Does Mormonism Have (a) Theology(ies)?

December 7, 2007    By: Blake @ 11:09 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Theology

I have heard it said that Mormonism has no theology. I wonder what such a claim could mean. This claim has been made by such luminaries as James Faulconer and Richard Bushman. What does such a claim mean? Perhaps they mean that theology is an attempt to understand God in human terms and there can be no such understanding. Do they mean that all that we can do is kneel and genuflect (ritual means are all that we have)? Do they mean that when speaking of God we have no more than mindless babble (the human mind is so impotent that the attempt to reason about revelation is simply foolishness)?

Certainly they are correct if what they mean is that we can have no systematic theology that is somehow complete and self-contained. Sometimes I believe that what they mean by “theology” is a complete and exhaustive theology that is totally logically consistent like Thomas Aquinas (and several others) attempted. If that is what “theology” means, then Mormons don’t do theology. The fact of ongoing revelation means that we must always be open to more and to be willing to be corrected based on an incomplete understanding. Our theology is always tentative like science. It is always subject to revision. Perhaps they mean that all theology is alway premature given this commitment to God who is still speaking and theology is like drawing conclusions before God’s speech is done. We cannot do a book review of God’s book because he is still writing even though it went to press. If that is what they mean, then they are surely correct.

Why Obey the Laws of Logic?

December 4, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 12:29 am   Category: Uncategorized

There is a wonderful little book that I would blog if I were not so lazy called Walking the Tightrope of Reason. Robert Fogelin explores the paradoxes and problems associated with reason and logic. On the one hand, we are absolutely and unavoidably commited to the integrity of reason. On the other hand, we find that reason has a tendency to turn against itself and create incoherence when pursued unrestrained. In an early chapter entitled “Why Obey the Laws of Logic?” he makes the point that if we reject the law of non-contradiction, everything goes south fast:

The standard proof that everything follows from a contradiction depends on three seemingly unassailable principles. (more…)

The great Caveat in God accomplishing his will: us

December 3, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 10:57 am   Category: Theology

A couple months ago, the was a discussion at ZD about obedience and blessings. I said I thought there was a scripture which said God had to make exceptions for us when we fail to do what he says.

The scripture I was thinking of was D & C 103:31 which says:

Behold this is my will; ask and ye shall receive; but men do not always do my will.

In Context, this is the Lord telling Parley Pratt and others to get together a group of 500, as this is his will, but then he makes the above notation and haggles himself down to 100 men.

So the scriptures say seek and ye shall find, knock and it will be opened, ask and ye shall receive, except when people are involved, as they do not always do God’s will.

In context of the conversation at ZD this means that Man can force God to change his plans, as man disobeys God.

Interestingly, this scripture also implies that in this instance God did not know whether 500 men would or would not do God’s will in the future. A God “outside of time” would not have had such a problem, it seems to me.

Finally, this scripture, while not renouncing determinism, does imply we either are not or can not be completely determined by our God. This suggests Libertarian Free Will.