Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Christ among the dead: An ancient doctrine and a modern witness’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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kirae
TRAVERSE CITY, MI

This is the type of article I appreciate, one that is not only interesting but gives me a roadmap to texts of which I would not be aware.

Paul J
Two Rivers, WI

I do appreciate Joseph F. Smith's vision of the dead. I just don't know why it's not emphasized more. I think it's because Mormons are so caught up in its "Plan of Happiness" that it doesn't want to confront the painful reality of death.

Thank you for pointing out the importance of the Apostles' Creed. The doctrine of Christ's descent to the dead is indeed still part of official Catholic teaching. See Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 631-637. That's the beauty of the Catholic faith. It doesn't change, as opposed to LDS doctrine which keeps adding and changing the revelation of Jesus Christ, and introducing teachings that draw attention away from the simple truths as expressed in the Apostles' Creed.

For example, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his recent conference talk, ironically titled "No Other Gods" that "our theology begins with heavenly parents." Where in scripture is this found? Nowhere, except in a hymn written by Eliza Snow--who claimed to be the plural wife of Joseph Smith, called his wife Emma a liar, and who later became a plural wife of Brigham Young. This is where Mormons get their doctrine?

Joan Watson
TWIN FALLS, ID

"Seek and ye shall find" the truths of God is a truism yesterday, today - and will be forever.

cougarguy
Glenwood, MD

Thank you. I am always anxious to read your thoughtful and interesting articles.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Paul J,

As a former Catholic who lived through Vatican II, I respectfully disagree.

Reference Joseph F. Smith's vision of the dead. It is emphasized quite a bit (and was added to the official canon in 1979 so that its emphasis has increased).

The Plan of Happiness or Plan of Salvation certainly includes the concept of death. No post mortal spirit world or resurrection without it.

sharrona
layton, UT

RE:1 Peter 3:19, By which also he went and preached unto the ‘spirits in prison’; 1 Pet 3:20 ... “in the days of *Noah,” while the ark was a preparing…

there were giants on the earth, and they sought *Noah to take away his life;... P. of G.P. Moses 8:18.

Spirits is only used of human beings when qualifying terms are added, otherwise the term is restricted to supernatural beings. …the unclean ‘spirits’=(demonic), and they come out(Luke 4;36).

The Holy Spirit,”Spirit” and “Ghost” are renderings of the same Greek word pneuma the advantatage of the rendering “Spirit” is that it can always be used, while “Ghost” always requires the word “Holy” prefixed. E.g.,

The Spirit is received without ordinances, Mosiah 18:14, “And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.”

@Twin Lights, All Evangelicals are catholic but not all Catholics are evangelical.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Sharrona,

Just so that we are clear, many non LDS biblical scholars hold the view that these were the spirits of dead persons.

As to the Holy Ghost, though it can testify to any, the gift thereof is described in the scriptures as coming after baptism and/or the laying on of hands of those properly empowered to do so (ordinances). Again, many non LDS biblical sites agree.

Your point about evangelicals and catholics work only with a very particular set of definitions. I think neither Pope Francis nor Billy Graham would go along with the statement without some footnotes.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

“Good men, they are spared the tortures to which the other residents of hell are subjected, but they are nonetheless tormented forever by unfulfilled yearning.”

I am curious what religious believers think when they read things like this quote (which are ubiquitous throughout religious literature).

Is it just glossed over? Is it somehow compartmentalized from the rest of your beliefs? If not, is it just dismissed as “the breaks” for those who chose not to believe?

I can understand in the ancient world where people were so superstitious & clueless about how anything worked, and the gods (later God) controlled everything, that a statement like this would terrify many into believing; but how is anyone today not utterly repulsed by the notion of such a vindictive & malevolent system (and designer) where souls are tortured for all eternity for their unbelief?

I honestly don’t know how believers live with the cognitive dissonance…

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Paul J,

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his recent conference talk, ironically titled "No Other Gods" that "our theology begins with heavenly parents." Where in scripture is this found? Nowhere, except in a hymn written by Eliza Snow--who claimed to be the plural wife of Joseph Smith, called his wife Emma a liar, and who later became a plural wife of Brigham Young. This is where Mormons get their doctrine?
______________________________

You pose an intriguing puzzle. Dallin Oaks might want to expand on his premise that LDS theology begins with ‘heavenly parents.’ I myself am at a loss to cite the origin of the concept even though I first heard it at a young age. I presume Eliza R. Snow surely heard it from somewhere to put it into the lyrics of her most famous hymn. Glad you brought it up.

bj-hp
Maryville, MO

Michigander: You are constantly off topic and the censors continually allow you to do so. You constantly attack and again the censors allow it to be so.

Joseph F Smith vision as related in Doctrine & Covenants 138 as spelled out by Mr. Peterson continues with what Peter so states that Christ went to the spirits in the spirit world. These spirits have not been resurrected as yet so they can't be in your so called heaven. They are either in paradise or spirit prison as relegated by the way they lived on earth. There are billions who have lived on this earth since it was created. Many of these had no knowledge of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. By yours and others these are just tossed out into outer darkness because they were placed where they could never hear of Jesus Christ. This then would agree with many who say he is an uncaring God. Yet, as stated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the only true and living church on earth, these are all children of God. Therefore, the LDS Churches teaching is an all inclusive Father in Heaven.

The Scientist
Provo, UT

There is zero evidence of "life after death".

There is zero evidence of "ghosts".

There is even less evidence that any person who died came back to life and then "visited" a bunch of ghosts in an alternate dimension.

teeoh
Anytown, KY

@Tyler D

Your comment is intriguing. As a believer, I read the quote you typed and think almost nothing of it. If I knew who wrote it, what the context was, and what that person’s greater views of religion were, then I might have an opinion.

The more interesting question, to me, is, why does a quote like that torture you so much? As an unbeliever, why wouldn't you just ignore it?

teeoh
Anytown, KY

@Paul J

I don’t know the origin of the LDS belief in Heavenly Parents, but there is some Biblical support:

Gen 1:26-27. “And God said, Let US make man in OUR image….male and FEMALE created he them.” (emphasis mine.)

It seems to me an implication of a plurality of gods, male and female.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@teeoh – “As a believer, I read the quote you typed and think almost nothing of it.”

I’ve asked this question a number of times over the years and most answers mirror yours (i.e., it’s just glossed over). I think it says something about human psychology that when people view something in a favorable light (whether religion, political views, their loved ones or themselves) we all have an amazing ability to ignore the negative aspects of the subject in question.

As to you point about this quote “torturing” me… it doesn’t. As a non-believer I don’t give it a second thought (i.e., it causes me exactly zero personal anxiety). But what is troubling is how so many millions adhere to a belief system that contains beliefs like this within it.

That I find baffling and even distressing when I think of what religion can motivate people to do (e.g., fly planes into buildings).

Michigander
Westland, MI

teeoh,

The verse you're quoting is the Father speaking to the Son and the Son speaking to the Father thru the Holy Ghost, which is the mind of the Father and the Son (1 Cor.2:10-16). There is no support whatsoever for plurality of Gods in both the KJV Bible and the BOM.

Tators
Hyrum, UT

@ Paul J:

The vision of the dead is emphasized as much as any other part of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the LDS Church. That's why it was canonized into the Doctrine and Covenants.
What you don't seem to understand is that the reality of death in an intimate part of the Plan of Happiness. Without it, the plan could not go forward. Therefore, most practicing Mormons aren't afraid to confront it... as you contend.

Also, fundamental doctrine in the LDS Church does not change as you contend. The 13 Articles of Faith summarize those doctrines and have remained unchanged since the restoration of the Church in 1830.
Individual members opinions about issues and policies within the church might change, but not the core doctrine itself. To think otherwise is usually from taking short excerpts of church talks out of context.

Concerning change within the Catholic church...
Did you know that the church never reached a consensus on how many sacraments there are until the 13th century? That Mass was said in the vernacular (native languages) until the Council of Trent in 1563 when the church mandated Latin until 1965, and then changed it again to the vernacular?

sharrona
layton, UT

Twin Lights, ‘spirits in prison’; .. “in the days of *Noah,” 1Peter 3:19-20.

.… the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6 NIV).

Some of the angels who fell with Satan were not content with their ‘first estate’ and began to live among men (and women) as men. God’s judgment upon them was to place them in bonds so that they can no longer promote Satan’s purposes on earth as do the unbound *fallen angels who continue to do his bidding,

Moses 8:18 “ giants” and Gen KJV 6:4 “giants”. But Gen 6:4 NET,NIV= (*fallen/ H 5303) or "Nephi- lim: the suffix “lim” in Hebrew is plural, translated to Nephis or Nephites. Interesting

@Teeoh,Gen 1:26-27. “And God said, Let US make man in OUR(spiritual) image….male and FEMALE created he them.” If there were more than one God it would read in “THEIR image.”

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"....conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty...."
______________________________

The Apostles creed didn’t settle anything. One, holy, catholic, and apostolic was everything the early Church was not. The Nicene Council was mandated by imperial edict in a doomed attempt to force the bishops to settle their differences and thereby strengthen the unity of the Roman Empire when it was beset by growing threats.

There is no one-size-fits-all Christianity, nor is there likely ever to be.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Sharrona,

Your view reference the spirits in prison is one of many held by non-LDS biblical scholars. The LDS view is also an accepted view among non-LDS biblical scholars.

I understand that you disagree with the LDS view but it must be acknowledged that the LDS view on this scripture is not unique to us. Further, this scripture somewhat gives non-LDS biblical scholars fits and there is a bit of disagreement on it. Presenting that interpretation as if it was the only view accepted by non-LDS scholars is disingenuous.

Yes, the bit about giants is interesting given that Nephi was a large man.

teeoh
Anytown, KY

@Michigander. You said, "The verse you're quoting is the Father speaking to the Son and the Son speaking to the Father thru the Holy Ghost, which is the mind of the Father and the Son (1 Cor.2:10-16). There is no support whatsoever for plurality of Gods in both the KJV Bible and the BOM."

To me, that explanation had to jump through a lot of hoops, not to mention assumptions. Sure, you could say the same about my interpretation. I suppose that's the interesting thing about all the various doctrines of Christianity...so many ways to interpret scripture. Regardless, my point is that there IS a Biblical basis for a doctrine of Heavenly Parents. You don't have to agree with it.

@Sharrona. You said, "If there were more than one God it would read in “THEIR image."

Huh? No, it wouldn't read that way if God the Father is speaking in the first person plural (us, our), which He is.

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