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 Post subject: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:54 pm 
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A few months back, Robert F. Smith posted a bunch of footnoted stuff on the BofA over at MDD that may be useful to doubters. He cited me in a footnote, so it must be good.

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/566 ... 1209084229

Well, actually I disagreed with most of it. (Surprise, surprise: the skeptic is skeptical.) But I appreciate Bob's thoughtfulness, and usually find him very reasonable and polite. I'm grateful that he read my article.

I also enjoyed this exchange between Bob and Nomad:

Nomad wrote:
Really? Give us some examples of "countless people" in "countless religions" who are using the "methodology" of personal revelation to determine the truth of things, and coming up with "different results" than what personal revelation from God gives to Latter-day Saints.

I could be wrong, or I could have a lack of knowledge concerning "other religions", but I'm not aware of other religions that believe in and recommend the methodology of personal revelation to get a knowledge of truth from God. In fact, the only time I ever hear things said like this is from people who have left Mormonism.

Robert F. Smith wrote:
One might consider Pentecostalism (the Holiness Movement) to be an example of the belief that the Holy Spirit can directly testify through you and me, even though mainstream Christianity is very suspicious and mistrustful of such charismatic activity and does everything it can to discourage it.

I would go even farther than Bob, and say that these days, Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity is mainstream Christianity. Pentecostals and charismatics are probably the majority of Protestant and independent Christians living in the world today, and Catholicism never stopped being charismatic in the first place (though it, too, has experienced a modern-day charismatic renewal under Protestant influence). I was absolutely raised with the expectation of personal revelation, and even believed I had received it on more than one occasion. My family history is rife with revelation. And I could sit here all day and tell you stories of revelations had by other Christians (not to mention Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais, UFO-believers, American Indians, pagans, and countless minor cults). Revelations are far from anomalous throughout world history. To the contrary, I'm tempted to guess that more people in world history have experienced them (or something like them) than not. "I could have a lack of knowledge concerning 'other religions,'" indeed.

Kudos to Bob for his hard work, civil tone, and thoughtful approach. I know better than most how arduous and thankless such research can be.

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Last edited by CaliforniaKid on Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:24 pm 
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CaliforniaKid wrote:
I was absolutely raised with the expectation of personal revelation, and even believed I had received it on more than one occasion. My family history is rife with revelation. And I could sit here all day and tell you stories of revelations had by other Christians
This is entirely consistent with my Assemblies of God upbringing. Personal revelation was indeed an expectation.
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As a devoted contrarian I am obliged to thank you for your research.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:42 pm 
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My good friend who became a Catholic Priest did so after lots of prayer, and the belief that God had confirmed to him (ie: personal revelation) that this was what he was supposed to do. I recall his description of the events that lead up to his decision, and how at the time (I was still mostly TBM, but my days were clearly numbered by that time) it struck me that if one simply did a search/replace to translate his Catholic jargon into the Mormon equivalents, his "testimony" of his calling to the priesthood could have sounded perfectly LDS.

I hadn't followed Robert Smith's posts in that thread originally, but notice that he quoted me in a post I made during a very brief return to that board at that time. As I recall, my post was made in the context of explaining how coming up with the Book of Abraham served to shore up Joseph Smith's prophetic bona fides during a time of need. Bob dismisses that and continues his parallelomania and hand-waving exercises.

Personally, I think that pointing out the chiasms in the Book of Abraham is more damning than helpful. Since it's pretty clear that Joseph Smith (alone or with help, either way) wrote the Book of Abraham, to me it shows that any overlap with the linguistic style of the Book of Mormon would tend to show the Book of Mormon as having been similarly authored, ie: by Joseph Smith (alone or with help).

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:55 am 
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Would anyone with experience outside of Mormonism be willing to give a compare and contrast with personal revelation inside of Mormonism.

How does it mesh with the "by scripture alone" rubric of Protestantism?

It has to play out somewhat differently in Mormonism because it is more heirarchical.

Thanks in advance.



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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:11 am 
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In Pentecostal circles, there's a strong expectation that revelation is going to agree with the Bible, and if you start saying things that are too wacky, you can probably expect the pastor or elders to tell you to shut up. ("Discernment of spirits" and "testing the spirits," they'd call it. But really they just think you're a loon.) Since revelation among Pentecostals is highly democratic and laicized, there's a definite expectation that some revelations are just going to be crazy old Uncle Bill spouting off again, so it's much less taboo to contradict a prophet than in, say, Mormonism.

Back when I was an evangelical, one of my big shticks was that prophecy in Mormonism doesn't follow the biblical model. In the Bible, prophets frequently come from below, from outside the hierarchy. Amos? Sycamore farmer and sheep-herder. Paul? Bragged that he was an apostle without ever having been appointed as such by the Twelve. In 1 Corinthians, the model is lay prophecy, not institutional prophecy. I now "get" the Mormon view a little better, and can see some strong strains of hierarchical revelation in the Bible. But I still think Mormonism is missing a key dimension of biblical prophecy, where prophets come to critique the hierarchy from outside. We see this in Joseph Smith, but within a few years he has all but foreclosed the possibility of others doing the same. He had restored the one, true, incorruptible hierarchy that would never need critique. Not very realistic, from either a biblical or a secular perspective.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:27 am 
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CaliforniaKid wrote:
In Pentecostal circles, there's a strong expectation that revelation is going to agree with the Bible, and if you start saying things that are too wacky, you can probably expect the pastor or elders to tell you to shut up. ("Discernment of spirits" and "testing the spirits," they'd call it. But really they just think you're a loon.) Since revelation among Pentecostals is highly democratic and laicized, there's a definite expectation that some revelations are just going to be crazy old Uncle Bill spouting off again, so it's much less taboo to contradict a prophet than in, say, Mormonism.

Back when I was an evangelical, one of my big shticks was that prophecy in Mormonism doesn't follow the biblical model. In the Bible, prophets frequently come from below, from outside the hierarchy. Amos? Sycamore farmer and sheep-herder. Paul? Bragged that he was an apostle without ever having been appointed as such by the Twelve. In 1 Corinthians, the model is lay prophecy, not institutional prophecy. I now "get" the Mormon view a little better, and can see some strong strains of hierarchical revelation in the Bible. But I still think Mormonism is missing a key dimension of biblical prophecy, where prophets come to critique the hierarchy from outside. We see this in Joseph Smith, but within a few years he has all but foreclosed the possibility of others doing the same. He had restored the one, true, incorruptible hierarchy that would never need critique. Not very realistic, from either a biblical or a secular perspective.


Prophets do critique the LDS Church from outside. They can be found here - http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/index.php
:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:42 am 
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Mormons, beginning with Joseph Smith, do not understand how mainstream Christianity views revelation. The oft repeated mantra from Mormons that Christians believe revelation ended is just plain and simply, wrong.

All Christian religions (as far as I know) make a distinction between public revelation and private revelation. You'll often seen in writing the distinction made as "Revelation" and "revelation", respectively.

Revelation (public) is found, in its fullness, in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God's final and perfect Word Revealed. He is an unceasing Revelation, that has never ended.

Private revelation is absolutely believed in by all Christians. The Holy Spirit guides individuals. This is private revelation, one of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The difference between sola scripture and catholics (east and west) is one of where the deposit of faith that resided in the Apostles continues. Protestants view that it only exists in the Bible. Catholics view that it exists in the Bible and in the Church. Not as a form of institutional knowledge or heirarchy alone, but everything...liturgy, sacraments, prayers, parish records, even art. All being sourced from the same Spirit from which Scripture is sourced.

Hope that helps.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:44 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:11 pm 
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Madeleine,

There are plenty of Protestants and Catholics who believe in continuing public as well as private revelation.

Revelation in the Pentecostal church I grew up in wasn't just personal. Sometimes people would get messages for the whole church and go up and speak them from the microphone. (I even did this myself, once.)

In Catholicism, numerous saints have claimed to receive revelations for the world, and plenty of Marian apparitions have made similar claims.

Both Catholics and Protestants expect such revelations to agree with scripture, but it's not quite sola scriptura. For the communities that accept them, public prophecies act as semi-scriptures. And the fact that they don't get written down or canonized is arguably a healthy thing for the community, because it prevents doctrinal splintering and allows for continual renewal of God's word to the community. In other words, easier to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

I would argue that sola scriptura is now a bit of an anachronism, with the decline of the mainline and Fundamentalists, and the rise of the charismatics and Pentecostals.

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Last edited by CaliforniaKid on Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:13 pm 
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This is wonderful, thanks.

I'm left wondering how to sort out Seekers; Quakers; Joseph Smith, say before 1830; present day evangelicals and Pentecostals. Would you say Pentecostals are heirs of Seekers?

What made Mormonism unique? Why weren't they just Quakers or Methodists? But what I really want, of course, is a fuller story of where Lucy was in all of this.


CaliforniaKid wrote:
In Pentecostal circles, there's a strong expectation that revelation is going to agree with the Bible, and if you start saying things that are too wacky, you can probably expect the pastor or elders to tell you to shut up. ("Discernment of spirits" and "testing the spirits," they'd call it. But really they just think you're a loon.) Since revelation among Pentecostals is highly democratic and laicized, there's a definite expectation that some revelations are just going to be crazy old Uncle Bill spouting off again, so it's much less taboo to contradict a prophet than in, say, Mormonism.

Back when I was an evangelical, one of my big shticks was that prophecy in Mormonism doesn't follow the biblical model. In the Bible, prophets frequently come from below, from outside the hierarchy. Amos? Sycamore farmer and sheep-herder. Paul? Bragged that he was an apostle without ever having been appointed as such by the Twelve. In 1 Corinthians, the model is lay prophecy, not institutional prophecy. I now "get" the Mormon view a little better, and can see some strong strains of hierarchical revelation in the Bible. But I still think Mormonism is missing a key dimension of biblical prophecy, where prophets come to critique the hierarchy from outside. We see this in Joseph Smith, but within a few years he has all but foreclosed the possibility of others doing the same. He had restored the one, true, incorruptible hierarchy that would never need critique. Not very realistic, from either a biblical or a secular perspective.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:58 pm 
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lulu wrote:
I'm left wondering how to sort out Seekers; Quakers; Joseph Smith, say before 1830; present day evangelicals and Pentecostals. Would you say Pentecostals are heirs of Seekers?

Quakers are heirs of the "Spiritual Anabaptists" of the Reformation era, such as Schwenckfeld, Franck, and Denck. This is addressed, if I recall correctly, in Rufus M. Jones, Spiritual Reformers in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (London: Macmillan, 1914).

I don't know a lot about the intellectual genealogies of Seekers. I think they were partly just the result of a lack of religious supply in early America. If none of the local churches fit your religious sensibilities, you're probably going to hold out hope that the true church will eventually come along.

But I also suspect that Seekers were the heirs of restorationist expectations dating back to the time of Joachim of Fiore (twelfth century), who anticipated the dawning of an "age of the Spirit" in conjunction with the millennium. Joachim's expectation survived among Protestants in various forms, especially in spiritualist and Anabaptist circles. There were Anabaptists in early America, and they may have been the conduit by which Joachim's idea reached our shores. However it got here, this expectation of a restoration of the Spirit became one of America's latent religious aspirations, which surfaced in Mormonism, camp-meeting revivalism, the healing movement, and countless Pentecostal movements and revivals.

Most Mormons and Pentecostals don't realize, I think, how similar their overarching religious narratives are. Both believe there was an apostasy after the apostolic era, resulting in a loss of the gifts and power of the Spirit. And now, in the last days, the gifts of the Spirit have been restored to the world in order to prepare it for the millennium. The similarity exists because both Mormons and Pentecostals drink from Joachim of Fiore's well. And the Anabaptists, by the way, beat both of them to this narrative by several centuries. Go read about Munster, and tell me that doesn't sound just like Joseph Smith!

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:24 pm 
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CaliforniaKid wrote:
However it got here, this expectation of a restoration of the Spirit became one of America's latent religious aspirations, which surfaced in Mormonism, camp-meeting revivalism, the healing movement, and countless Pentecostal movements and revivals.


I keep puzzling over why they separated. How Mormons made it from "semi-scripture" as you say, to Scripture.

CaliforniaKid wrote:
Most Mormons and Pentecostals don't realize, I think, how similar their overarching religious narratives are.


That's one of the things I'm learning from you. And its time to read up on Joachim.
CaliforniaKid wrote:
Go read about Munster, and tell me that doesn't sound just like Joseph Smith!

I'm with you on Munster, I nearly fell out of my chair the first time I read about it. I had a fine professor for my Anabaptist class who came out of the Pentecostal tradition.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:36 pm 
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CaliforniaKid wrote:

In Catholicism, numerous saints have claimed to receive revelations for the world, and plenty of Marian apparitions have made similar claims.


These are still considered private revelations. No Catholic is bound to them, at all. We are bound to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

In comparison to Mormonism, an example would be Joseph Smith's claimed revelations. As a Catholic, I view them as private revelations (assuming they are to believed to have occurred).

As you say, the test of a private revelation is put against scripture (the Bible), and as a Catholic the Magisterium.

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Both Catholics and Protestants expect such revelations to agree with scripture, but it's not quite sola scriptura. For the communities that accept them, public prophecies act as semi-scriptures. And the fact that they don't get written down or canonized is arguably a healthy thing for the community, because it prevents doctrinal splintering and allows for continual renewal of God's word to the community. In other words, easier to avoid getting stuck in a rut.


I agree with you that sola scriptura isn't really sola scripture, but many Protestant are very insistent that it is.

Doctrines cannot be changed, added to, removed in any Protestant denomination or Catholicism. Private revelations that claim to change doctrine would be rejected immediately. Revelation given to the Church, in the form of the Magisterium, are for the purposes of guiding the Church. Not for creating new doctrines.

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I would argue that sola scriptura is now a bit of an anachronism, with the decline of the mainline and Fundamentalists, and the rise of the charismatics and Pentecostals.


Pentecostals are a very small group. For them, sola scripture may have less of a meaning, I don't know that can be said for mainline Protestants such as Lutherans or Presbyterians.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:40 pm 
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Recent comments noted for further reading.

Waiting for what promises to be a rich source for another tangent-- USPS is so slow.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:50 pm 
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madeleine wrote:
These are still considered private revelations. No Catholic is bound to them, at all. We are bound to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

So "public" means "binding"? Is this a technical term?

Quote:
Doctrines cannot be changed, added to, removed in any Protestant denomination or Catholicism.

Um... I guess that depends on how you define "doctrine." If by "doctrine" you mean "that which is true," then I mostly agree with you. But if you mean "that which is accepted as true by the church," then I strongly disagree.

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Pentecostals are a very small group.

Even if you define them narrowly, to include only the North American Pentecostal diaspora that began at Topeka and Azusa Street, they number over a hundred million. Defined more broadly, to encompass indigenous Spirit-churches and Catholic and Protestant Charismatics, we're talking in the neighborhood of 600-800 million.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:00 pm 
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CaliforniaKid wrote:
So "public" means "binding"? Is this a technical term?


I guess you can look at it that way. By "binding", I mean, must be believed. As an example, the Incarnation...must be believed, otherwise, you've gone off the Christian map and are something else, maybe a Mormon!

Quote:
Um... I guess that depends on how you define "doctrine." If by "doctrine" you mean "that which is true," then I mostly agree with you. But if you mean "that which is accepted as true by the church," then I strongly disagree.


Pure spiritual milk, as St. Peter says, is what I think is a very good definition of doctrine. That which comes from God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.

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Even if you define them narrowly, to include only the North American Pentecostal diaspora that began at Topeka and Azusa Street, they number over a hundred million. Defined more broadly, to encompass indigenous Spirit-churches and Catholic and Protestant Charismatics, we're talking in the neighborhood of 600-800 million.


Relatively speaking, 1.1 billion Roman Catholics + 240 million Orthodox. Catholic and Protestant charismatics aren't Pentecostals. :)

Not playing a number game here. Christians are Christians to me, all 2.something billion of us.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:52 pm 
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madeleine wrote:
Pure spiritual milk, as St. Peter says, is what I think is a very good definition of doctrine. That which comes from God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.

That's not a very useful definition from a sociological standpoint. I understand, for instance, that a Catholic would say the Ineffabilis Deus merely clarified or unfolded something that's been true and latent within the tradition all along. Nevertheless, even Catholics speak of that bull as the moment when the immaculate conception "became dogma." From an institutional, sociological standpoint, dogma/doctrine does change as a result of continuing revelation, even in the Catholic Church. See John Henry Cardinal Newman's "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine."

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1.1 billion Roman Catholics + 240 million Orthodox.

Yes. And they are not, on the whole, cessationists. A great many of those Catholics and Orthodox believe not only in miracles and the revelatory authority of the magisterium, but also in the revelatory authority of various saints and apparitions.

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Catholic and Protestant charismatics aren't Pentecostals. :)

No, but the difference between a charismatic like Oral Roberts and a Pentecostal like Benny Hinn is slim. To be sure, charismatics fall along a spectrum from those who are charismatic only in name, to those who are basically indistinguishable from Pentecostals. But my point is just that the days are past when cessationism could be considered "mainstream." Grouping charismatics with Pentecostals, I think, suffices to make that point.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:49 pm 
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Private revelations that claim to change doctrine would be rejected immediately. Revelation given to the Church, in the form of the Magisterium, are for the purposes of guiding the Church. Not for creating new doctrines.
All new revelations are actually based on previously existing doctrine, so, therefore are not new. They must be logically consistent, based upon previous conclusions.

Mormonism is a hodgepodge of heresies that have been previously rejected by the Catholic Church. It is therefore not internally consistent. And there is nothing new or original about it, although they say it is a restoration of what that only existed in early Christianity. In a way, it is, but Christianity rejected Gnosticism.

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John Henry Cardinal Newman's "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine."
Getting it.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:24 pm 
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CaliforniaKid wrote:
But I still think Mormonism is missing a key dimension of biblical prophecy, where prophets come to critique the hierarchy from outside. We see this in Joseph Smith, but within a few years he has all but foreclosed the possibility of others doing the same. He had restored the one, true, incorruptible hierarchy that would never need critique. Not very realistic, from either a biblical or a secular perspective.


Foreclosed you say? I say not!

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If any man will prove to me, by one passage of Holy Writ, one item I believe to be false, I will renounce and disclaim it as far as I promulgated it.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:27 pm 
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MCB wrote:
Mormonism is a hodgepodge of heresies that have been previously rejected by the Catholic Church. It is therefore not internally consistent. And there is nothing new or original about it, although they say it is a restoration of what that only existed in early Christianity. In a way, it is, but Christianity rejected Gnosticism.
I can see why the Catholic Church would consider that any person can speak with God and that God will answer them as a heresy that must be rejected. And of course it isn't new, Mormonism is restoring what was lost which is direct inspiration and discourse with God himself. All Churches that teach against speaking directly with God, yet claim they are God's Churches, are false Churches - no matter whatever else they may claim.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert F. Smith writes online book
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:34 pm 
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All Churches that teach against speaking directly with God, yet claim they are God's Churches, are false Churches -
I would be a sorry sight if God had never spoken to me. :cool:

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