Where Todd Wood and Jettboy can have it Out

For fear of a looming thread-jack starting here, I opened this thread.

Todd wants to rehash the whole “What is Mormon theology, and who has the authority to define it” debate:

I thought Yahweh was the lesser god for many LDS.

Who is the proper authority that I can talk to for clearing up my confusion, YD? A Prophet? Any Apostle?

And if the NRSV is authoritative, why doesn’t the modern First Presidency correct this in the KJV?

He later remarks:

[W]hen you live in the Corridor, the proper human authority in speaking for God is a chief emphasis. Have you ever had LDS elders knock on your door and ask you in the conversation, “What is the basis for your authority?” Talk about standard routine, come over to S.E. Idaho for a spell.

Can I not basically chalk up this whole detailed post by TYD to LDS speculation and nothing more? I wonder how many Ammonites I could find tomorrow who would agree with me.

We are talking about more than a mere “whine”, this is a big wall of LDS culturalreality, friend.

And don’t you ever find First Presidency platitudes to be stale. We believe the Bible as far as it has been translated correctly – pious words, no action. How many years has it been?

YD is asking serious questions in the title of this post. It’s about God Almighty. So why can’t LDS Prophets and Apostles answer the questions clearly? The Church boast is in them.

To which Jettboy responds:

Although Todd has a slight point, it isn’t one based on Mormon doctrine, but Mormon culture. The answer to his question about clearing things up is actually very easy. You ask G-d since Mormons believe in personal revelation as much as priesthood authority. It also assumes Mormonism has inflexible doctrines typical of orthodox creedal Christianity. His questions also hold to primitive (yes, I said it that way) ideas about scripture that again is not based on Mormon doctrine, but culture that has been borrowed from creedal Protestantism.

To clear it up as much as possible for those listening to Todd, and not Todd himself who seems to not care:

Mormon belief in prophetic authority is not based on what they teach (although they have the authority to make and clear up doctrinal statements), but on their right of governance. Not anyone can do just anything within the LDS Church, as they must be called and ordained for such actions or positions.

Theology is always in flux in Mormonism at the individual and sometimes institutional level, and that drives creedal Christians crazy. As long as teachings don’t go outside the boundaries of a few sometimes indefinite main beliefs, teachings and doctrine is debatable.

The KJV has been used by the LDS Church because it is a foundational document that ties all scripture together in the English language. However, even in General Conference where prophets and apostles pontificate, other Biblical translations have been used on occasional for authoritative quotes. Pointed out above, the KJV is an English translation and is not used for other language additions, and of course cannot be. My guess is that NO Christian church uses ONLY the KJV when preaching to those of other languages.

Hope that helps, although Todd is probably the only one that will read this who needs this information. I really wish the general Mormon membership would drop the theory that the KJV represents an inerrancy translation of the Bible. I believe it does represent the best translation with the most literary aesthetics available. However, taken too far, learning and doctrinal understanding becomes hindered.

For those interested, I’ve previously posted some thoughts on related issues here and here. I’m more than happy to reengage the ideas in those posts. I suppose past debates about this in the Bloggernacle would also be helpful here, please link to the most useful.

46 Replies to “Where Todd Wood and Jettboy can have it Out”

  1. I think Todd’s perspective stems directly from the Protestant emphasis/fetish/center of authority, the Bible. If the Bible has problems, then you get a better Bible, because that’s a major issue.

    Protestants often expect the relationship between doctrine/authority and the individual in Mormonism to be identical to that in Protestantism. For example, they expect that our doctrines are book-based, we just have different books. When this turns out not to be the base, they’re confused.

    One EV, though, understands this a bit.

    “It is important to underscore here the way in which the Mormon restoration of these ancient offices and practices resulted in a very significant departure from the classical Protestant understanding of religious authority. The subtlety of the issues at stake here is often missed by us Evangelicals, with the result that we typically get sidetracked in our efforts to understand our basic disagreements with Mormon thought. We often proceed as if the central authority issue to debate with Mormons has to do with the question of which authoritative texts ought to guide us in understanding the basic issues of life. We Evangelicals accept the Bible alone as our infallible guide while, we point out, the Latter-day Saints add another set of writings, those that comprise the Book of Mormon, along with the records of additional Church teachings to the canon- we classic Protestants are people of the Book while Mormons are people of the Books.

    This way of getting at the nature of our differences really does not take us very far into exploring some of our basic disagreements. What we also need to see is that in restoring some features of Old Testament Israel, Mormonism has also restored the kinds of authority patterns that guided the life of Israel. The old Testament people of God were not a people of the Book as such- mainly because for most of their history, there was no completed Book. Ancient Israel was guided by an open canon and the leadership of the prophets. And it is precisely this pattern of communal authority that Mormonism restored. Evangelicals may insist that Mormonism has too many books. But the proper Mormon response is that even these Books are not enough to give authoritative guidance to the present-day community of the faithful.The books themselves are products of a prophetic office, an office that has been reinstituted in these latter days. People fail to discern the full will of God if they do not live their lives in the anticipation that they will receive new revealed teachings under the authority of the living prophets.”
    -Richard Mouw, “What does God think about America?” BYU Studies, 43:4 (2004):10-11.

  2. Am I to gather from Richard beautiful parallels between the offices of biblical prophets and today’s LDS prophets?

    If President Monson is to be compared with how revelation came in sundry times and in divers manners by those in time past, let Richard defend his case.

  3. Jettboy, when it comes Mormon belief, who has the authority to determine when it is misrepresented?

    [And I do care. If I didn’t, I would be spending way more time sleeping rather than commenting. 🙂 ]

  4. I was preparing a comment reply similar to Nitsav’s and Jettboy’s, but for now, I’ll be content with supplying a quote from Dallin H. Oaks which I believe summarizes Mouw’s point:

    “What makes us different from most other Christians in the way we read and use the Bible and other scriptures is our belief in continuing revelation. For us, the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge, but what precedes the ultimate source. The ultimate knowledge comes by revelation.” –Ensign, January 1995

    I’d also probably guess that Mouw would decline to defend his case, since he was speaking on what he believes to be the LDS perspective, not his own. He might see no parallel between Monson and ancient Israelite prophets though he acknowledges his Mormon friends do.

  5. Silly FPR — I have long contended that Jettboy isn’t really a Mormon. Rather I suspect he just plays one on the web to make real Mormons look bad.

  6. Ok, this is published in January 1995 (the month our church family started as B.B.C. in Idaho Falls). Good month.

    In almost 15 years (and with the scriptures not being sufficient for LDS – I am told this all the time), what has been the flow of ultimate knowledge through revelation?

  7. I’d go further than jondh, Elder Oaks, or Prof. Muow,
    Nobody sees scripture as the ultimate source of knowledge. Everybody uses scripture to justify what they already believe or to expand it in ways they are already comfortable with. Todd, Elder Oaks, Prof. Muow, Jettboy, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, Rabbi Akiva, the Buddha, and the Cookie Monster can’t “prove” that they have the ultimate understanding of what scripture is or means. For each of us, it is a matter of who we trust and, more importantly, a matter of what doing as suggested does. If we find that living in accordance with a given interpretation actually gets us closer to God, we all go with that.

    Arguing over authority, ultimately, is fruitless, because we all have different standards for authority and we all have different needs that we fulfill in acknowledging authority. That said, it does reveal that both Todd and others (including Mormons) are willing to rely on it in order to dismiss questions, sincere or otherwise.

  8. (laughing in my chair), Geoff, it depends on which era of Mormonism one is representing. And I haven’t yet come to terms with you representing Mormonism in 2009. I am still debating over this in my mind.

  9. On #9, how would distinguish your growth through latter-day revelation to what I have experienced in the last 15 years by greater illumination and teaching of the Holy Spirit (and God knows how desparately I need this ongoing).

    How is it uniquely different and more relevant for LDS within the authoritative Church and its claims for ongoing revelation than for me, the outsider to priesthood authority?

  10. Unlike the supreme court and the constitution our prophets have given us little if any real prophetic announcements in many years. Jettboy’s analysis of our prophet is just there to administer the church operations seems closer to the mark.

    I have to laugh at those that read scripture (both Bible and BofM) and parse grammer and tense of verbs to get to the truthful meaning. You can’t just read any bible to get the truth. We often make too much of minutia

  11. Todd, did you want new scripture-worthy revelation to come out of SLC within the last 15 years? Why do I get the feeling that if there’s no new scripture, you’d be disappointed?

    In response I’d redirect you to the model of OT Israel Mouw presents: Moses comes along and gives TONS of new revelation in the way of prophecy (in the modern sense), laws, ordinances, and administration. Elijah comes along and calls many people to repentance. Isaiah comes along and gives much prophecy but many calls to repentance as well. Just because Elijah didn’t “foretell” much or give any “law,” was he not a prophet, in your estimation?

    Just because prophets since Joseph Smith haven’t been prolific scripture-writers does not mean that makes them any less prophets nor does it limit their or their successors’ ability to receive new scripture in the future.

  12. Geoff J, I wish you would stop saying that. I am a Mormon pure and simple. Although it probably wouldn’t get very far, you are very close to me wanting to sue you for defamation. As to this subject, I am not getting involved. I said my peace in the other thread. How Todd wants to take it is his own problem.

  13. Todd,
    I wouldn’t normally believe that my experience was unique or that yours was. The great divide between Evangelicals and Mormons is made up primarily of the mutual assumption that the other is wholly unfamiliar with God or revelation. That is, however, a different issue.

    How would you feel if I got on the internet and questioned your right to minister to your congregation? How would you feel if I suggested topics for your sermons or argued with you over every one of them? How would you take it if I sent folks to picket outside your church suggesting that you were leading them away from God? You’ve endorsed similar behavior (directly and indirectly) in the past; what gives you the right?

  14. You should all know by now that Todd will never “have it out” anywhere. His routine is to ask leading rhetorical questions with implications he can disavow as necessary. He never takes a strong position which he is willing to defend against attack. He asks seemingly sincere questions, but he has been asking the same ones for a number of years now and they have all been answered many times. If the answers are not satisfactory, you would think we could move the discussion forward by discussing the adequacy of the answers, but rather than that he continues to raise the same issues on thread after thread.

  15. John C., Joseph Smith publicly questioned interpretations. He publicly questioned the right to minister. I do this, too. But I don’t picket. And also, I don’t destroy printing presses in disagreement with me. Thank you to FPR in allowing me to comment.

    Joseph claimed authoritative answers to all the various interpretations. But I believe it only spawned more interpretations and much more sad and needless debate about God in America.

    I believe that God through the authority of His messages in scripture would give me the right to contend for the faith. Sometimes I am filled with the Spirit when doing this. Othertimes, I have not allowed the Spirit to control me (and that is where I need grace and forgiveness where I have badly misrepresented the Lord Jesus Christ).

    There is One whom I love most of all in not misrepresenting – both in His work and words. He is the complete revelation.

  16. Jettboy: you are very close to me wanting to sue you for defamation

    Har! I can see it now “Next case: Jettboy vs. Geoff J”. Your comment doesn’t help your case dude. I am entitled to my suspicions about anonymous bloggers and you are entitled to continue to bolster them.

  17. Todd,
    Why bring up Joseph Smith? You are sidestepping the issue. Your ecumenical talk, especially in the face of your openness to suspicion of and hostility toward Mormonism, makes you seem disingenuous.

  18. Jacob, what about this?

    Let me submit my doctrinal beliefs on each of the main themes of God and His work, side by side, to what beliefs about God and His work you would be willing to defend against attack.

    I would love the invitation in bloggernacle. Or should we put it all on “Heart Issues for Todd Wood”, the sidekick blog?

  19. John C., do you think my talk is ecumenical? No one has told me that before.

    I bring up Joseph Smith because he is central to LDS authoritative testimony.

  20. Sorry, Todd. I misread what you said. I saw ecumenicalism that wasn’t there.

    In any case, Joseph Smith continues to be beside the point (especially considering your 15 year limit on the revelation issue). We’re talking about you and me. How would you react to my treating you in the manner described? Would it be with appreciation or suspicion? Would it be with love or with anger?

  21. Todd: You’re not getting it. You keep asking for some definitive doctrinal dissertation that authoritatively settles all of the doctrinal questions of the church. Go read Mormon Doctrine for such an attempt if you wish, but such an approach to doctrine is hopelessly naive and inadequate — and quite out of place for a religion that expresses its epistemic humility by recognizing that we don’t know it all because there is yet much to be revealed.

    The problem, once again, stems from your naive and inadequate view of inerrancy and sola scriptura. You’re entitled to them. But don’t expect those of us who don’t accept such beliefs to feel obligated to answer (over and over again) your inane questions based on inane assumptions. Indeed, how could one accept sola scriptura when it isn’t (and couldn’t possibly be) a doctrine found in the Bible itself? Sola scriptura is an internally incoherent doctrine and meta-belief about Bible that says that everything must come from the Bible — but it is a belief not found in the Bible and so is self-refuting.

    Todd says: “So John C., ultimately, it is a matter of trusting our own hearts?”

    Well, whose heart do you want him to trust . . . yours? And yes, ultimately our direct relation to God and the responsiveness of our hearts in vibrant relation to God is the ultimate answer and the place where trust is appropriately placed. We ask that you open your heart and then go back to the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith’s testimony and ask God and feel in your heart how it responds — we don’t say: “trust me and my noggin because I’m so bright I have all of the scriptures figured out and my answers and reading of scripture are the end-all of salvation and the gospel.” But that is what we hear you saying. It is ludicrous on its face. If the answers aren’t fully provided in the doctrinal hand-book of the Bible as you approach it, then pray tell what have you to offer? The problem is that the Bible couldn’t be read as a doctrinal hand-book the way you treat by any even remotely informed person.

  22. This is all a good example of why I answered “yes” when Pastor Todd asked in a recent T&S thread if we would consider him anti-Mormon. I think I was the only one who answered “yes,” while a number of others rushed to assure him that oh, no, he was different; we would never consider him anti-Mormon.

    What John C. and Jacob J. wrote.

  23. Blake, you don’t do the ecumenical dance. 🙂

    Prevalent biblical scholarship denies the beautiful harmony of the 66 books and their sufficiency. But I disagree because of leading statements by the apostles and Christ.

    And this is no revelation to anyone in bloggernacle, I am not as smart as you. (chuckling) I don’t have a smart noggin’.

  24. Todd,
    prevalent biblical scholarship doesn’t have anything to say about the sufficiency of the 66 books. Not seeing prevalent biblical scholarship as an endorsement is just sour grapes.

    Setting that aside, if we are being honest, I also see you as anti-Mormon. Further, I’m surprised that you are bagging on ecumenicalism when it was a fair understanding of your initial forays into lds blogging. Further, I honestly believe that the God of Calvin is a monster created in Calvin’s own image and that it is used primarily to justify injustice, prejudice, and bad moral behavior. So, frankly, I don’t have a lot of respect for your religious beliefs (assuming you are a Calvinist, which I have always assumed; if you are a Lutheran, then I probably have more; also, I would be very surprised).

  25. Ardis, I knew you were going to get after me. But Jettboy did long ago, I am the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. So are you anti to me or to what I believe or both? (Probably at first, anti to what I believe, but because I express where I am anti to what you believe, now you are anti to me.)

    People are anti to the triune God, anti to God being exclusively and uniquely God, anti to creatio ex nihilo, anti to Christ being the only Man who preexisted, anti to original sin and human depravity, anti to unconditional election, anti to the penal-substitutionary atonement, anti to angels being a different species than man, anti to heaven being all one, anti to the sufficiency of biblical statements by prophets, apostles, and Christ . . .

    There are a lot of people anti to the heart of where I came from, who I am, where I am going, and to Whom I belong.

  26. Jacob, what about this?
    Let me submit my doctrinal beliefs on each of the main themes of God and His work, side by side, to what beliefs about God and His work you would be willing to defend against attack.

    Putting our beliefs side by side will just make the discussion unfocused and unproductive. I have posted many views on the scriptures and the nature of God. When people engage my views I defend them and sometimes change them based on counter arguments. If I comment on other people’s thread, I make a direct point and then I defend it and do my very best to define my point clearly.

    By contrast, although you do make directly claims on your blog, but when they are engaged you do not defend them. I can point out so many threads on your blog where you make some claim, someone challenges your views based on substantive argument, and you never respond. Then next time it comes up you are making the same claim without every addressing the counter arguments.

    When you comment on other people’s blogs, you behave as I described in #17. How many times have you asked if Blake has ever read this or that author after which he answers that yes he has and here is a paper or chapter in his book addressing that person’s argument. For the many many times this has happened, I don’t know of a single time that this has led to you then defending that person’s arguments or engaging Blake’s work in any substantive way.

    Now, as to your proposal, I would love to take you up on it. If you have some view about God that you would like to lay out and defend against attack, I would simply love to put this up on the Heart Issues for Todd Wood blog. After we have had a round of you (and any of your like-minded friends) defending your view, I will put up an LDS view and defend it in like manner.

  27. Can LDS be publicly forthright with Richard Mouw during those ecumenical meetings over what they believe about Calvinism? It is making O Kendall White look like an idiot.

    (In regards to Calvinism, a true Calvinist would probably not let me take the label of a Calvinist. But it has been hashed out before.)

    And I thought bloggernacle always knew that I was the “fundamentalist” I don’t think I have tried to hide anything.

  28. I’m not questioning the sincerity of Todd’s belief (although I feel free to question the sincerity of Calvin’s, considering what uses he put it to). Todd, I apologize for painting you with a Calvinist brush. Are you a universalist?

    Regarding “LDS being publically forthright,” I would be happy to tell Prof. Muow that I think that Calvinist approaches to God are abhorrent, but I don’t know why he would choose to engage me. You are falling into strawman if you are replacing “my LDS belief” with “LDS belief.” I suppose this is the point I fail to understand about your discourse, Todd. You don’t have any problem distancing yourself from aspects of Evangelical Christianity that you find unhelpful or wrong, but when Mormons do so, you start asking questions about authority. It’s basically the same process. The reason it doesn’t compute is because you (and many Evangelicals) have constructed a strawman of blind obedience and willful ignorance on the part of rank-and-file LDS. It just ain’t so and it has never been.

  29. Silly FPR — I have long contended that Jettboy isn’t really a Mormon. Rather I suspect he just plays one on the web to make real Mormons look bad.

    Huh, that’s interesting. I’ve thought the same thing about Geoff J before and Todd Wood. I wonder if it’s best to just keep thoughts like that to ourselves. What do you think Geoff J?

    I think this quote describes the state of many inter-religioius arguing.
    “When love and intelligence aren’t on your side, make up for it with confusion, obfuscation, and never, ever admit you are wrong.”

  30. No John, I am not. I hold to (1) unconditional gracious election to heaven, (2) Christ dying for all, and (3) people going to hell. But I don’t believe in a double predestination. Of course, Blake has already told me this is nonsensical. As the NCT gang know, I am quite comfortable with the biblical tension of beautiful mysteries concerning God and His work.

    Jacob, my weakness in bloggernacle is the absence of sustained argument. I admit this. Aquinas has made me acutely aware of this. And you again, today. When I preach, it is long, sustained meditation and preparation through the week. When I get on the internet and blog, it is the opposite – only soundbites. Jacob, I will tuck your “yes” to my offer in my head. I would like to do this (And then I think of how I told Aquinas and others that I would write a full post over my two cents toward the current evangelical/lds dialogue. I have told Blake that I would read his latest book. These are unfinished projects, embarrasingly undone.)

    Smallaxe, thanks for letting me go in every direction on this thread.

    It would work best if I had you all sitting in the pews together this Sunday so I could preach to you all. Have a nice afternoon.

  31. BCChater, I just read your comment after submitting mine. The “admit” is a tough one because of my pride.

    And with a blog handle like that, Ardis is going to put you in the principle’s office.

    See you all later.

  32. Todd,
    What exactly do you mean by your point #2? I think I might have a handle on the other two (which lean you Calvinist), but I am baffled by what you mean by the second. Could you elaborate?

  33. Oh and I forgot to respond to the question BCC hater posed to me.

    BCChater: What do you think Geoff J?

    I think you’re a troll. And a tool.

    (But of course I mean that in the nicest possible way)

  34. Why is Geoff J. (#42) allowed to name call and label other as trolls but not me. Is there a special certification required? For now I will just allow Geoff J. to represent me.

    Fun post y’all.

  35. Geoff J.
    I can understand if you don’t have a reasonable argument and simply reply by putting other’s down.

    You can call me a troll or a tool all you want. I don’t care if you’re judgemental. I won’t have to defend your actions. I was simply saying that I don’t think it’s helpful to put down Jettboy like that.

    I used the same argument against you and you get offended. Imagine why people are so offended by what you say Geoff J. Hope you’re proud of yourself.

    And for what’s it worth, I didn’t copy anyone’s information, I merely blockequoted your comment.

  36. BCC hater: I can understand if you don’t have a reasonable argument and simply reply by putting other’s down.

    Argument about what? You asked me what I think and I told you what I think.

    You can call me a troll or a tool all you want.

    Cool. I’ll take you up on that in a minute here.

    I was simply saying that I don’t think it’s helpful to put down Jettboy like that.

    Ok. Thanks for sharing.

    I used the same argument against you and you get offended.

    First, my #5 is an opinion, not an argument. And your #36 is not an argument as far as I can tell.

    Second, I promise I wasn’t offended by your #36. I just think you are a troll and a tool. I don’t need to be offended to think that.

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