Posts Tagged ‘Mormonism’

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/22/2014: Adam’s Road

November 20, 2014

What’s coming up on this edition of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out!

First off, for all interested in hearing about my debate with Humphreys, I am pleased to say that in my opinion it went very well. I will be getting a link to it ASAP and that link I plan on putting up on the podcast feed. For now, let me tell you what’s coming up!

Last week I interviewed Lynn Wilder on her book “Unveiling Grace.” It was about her escape from Mormonism. Her son Micah was highly influential as he was the first to escape. He went on later to establish a band of ex-Mormons called Adam’s Road. They will be on the show to talk about their escape and also do some music. So who are these guys?

Let’s start with Micah.

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Micah Wilder grew up in Yorktown, IN, raised in the Mormon religion. At age fourteen, his family moved to Alpine, Utah, where he continued to grow in zeal towards this religion. By 2004, this nineteen-year-old young man took his dedication and zeal for Mormonism to Orlando, Florida, where he would spend the next twenty-three months representing the Mormon Church as a missionary. In Florida, a Christian minister challenged Micah to read the Bible as a child. Hoping to validate Mormonism through the Bible and prove this minister wrong, Micah read the Bible vigorously for a period of about eighteen months. During this process, God opened his eyes to the truth of the Gospel, and he chose to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God in front of a mass of Mormon missionary peers. Micah’s LDS leadership sent him back to Utah early from his LDS mission as a result—but his life was just beginning as a missionary for Jesus Christ. In early 2006, Micah left Mormonism, family, and career pursuits for Jesus. He has served with the Adam’s Road Ministry since 2006, where he has a zeal for passionately sharing the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ through testimony and music. He resides in Winter Garden, Florida, is married to Alicia Wilder, and is the proud father of three boys.

Next his brother Matt.

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Matt Wilder was raised as a Mormon in Yorktown, Indiana. He spent a couple of years in Utah before serving a two-year LDS mission in Denmark. After his Mormon mission, Matt pursued studies at Brigham Young University as a pianist. While at BYU, his younger brother Micah was released early from his two-year LDS mission trip for testifying of the Biblical Jesus. Micah then shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Matt and encouraged him to read the Bible. As Matt read the Bible, he was eased of the burden of trying to earn God’s forgiveness, and came to realize and accept the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He walked away from BYU to join Adam’s Road Ministry, where he has served since 2006. He married Nicole Wilder in 2006; they have one daughter. Matt enjoys sharing the Gospel message through music and testimony.

And their brother-in-law Joseph Warren.

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Joseph Warren grew up in Kaysville, Utah, in an LDS (Mormon) home. In 2004, he left home at age nineteen to serve a two-year Mormon mission in Florida. While in Florida, Joseph was challenged to read the Bible as a child. He had considered himself to be a good and righteous person. As he read the Bible, however, God convicted Joseph of his sin. Yet he also learned about God’s grace and the beautifully simple Gospel message of Jesus Christ. As a result, he would walk away from the Mormon Church for a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ in 2006—at the peril of damaging relationships with his LDS family members and friends. Singer and songwriter Joseph Warren currently serves with the Adam’s Road Ministry in Winter Garden, FL. He has a heart for glorifying God through his musical gifts and his testimony of God’s grace.  He married Katie Warren in 2007.

And finally Jonathan Paul.

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Jonathan Paul Garrison (JP) spent the bulk of his childhood years in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At age seven, he accepted Jesus Christ into his life. He knew the grace of God, and felt as if he was growing in his Christian walk. As a teenager, he served on the worship team at his local church, and had a passion for both music and film. In his late-teens, JP felt as though he was becoming disenchanted with certain aspects the “Christian religion.” After high school, he attended Regent University at Virginia Beach for film, where he also began seriously investigating the Mormon Church. After three years of investigation, JP was baptized into the LDS Church at age twenty. In the spring of 2013, he also joined the Mormon missionary ranks in Hawaii. While on his LDS mission, God pursued him, reminding him of the grace he once knew as a Christian in many ways. For example, JP read “Unveiling Grace”: Lynn Wilder’s account of leaving Mormonism for Jesus. Through this book, he connected with the Adam’s Road Ministry and was encouraged to follow Jesus regardless of the worldly cost. JP’s prodigal journey met a joyful ending as he left Mormonism and returned to his former faith. He joined the Adam’s Road Ministry in the fall of 2014. He is a singer and song-writer for the group. JP has a powerful testimony about God’s unfailing love and relentless pursuit of His children.

We’ll be hearing the story of these four gentlemen on the show as well as hearing some of their music. I hope you’ll be listening!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/15/2014: Lynn Wilder

November 13, 2014

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Many of us have encountered Mormons. They’re those nice people with the white shirts, black ties, and name badges that identify themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We often might see them as odd but not as non-Christians. This is such that even Glenn Beck’s material is carried in Christian book stores. But is this group really teaching the Jesus of the Bible?

My guest this week says no, and she’s in a position to know. She lived several years in the Mormon culture even having a position at BYU and her life changed forever when her son sent him a message while out on his mission one day. Who is she? She’s Lynn Wilder and she’s the author of Unveiling Grace which has a film out now as well and a web site. I have also reviewed Unveiling Grace here.

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Lynn’s story has already attracted national attention. She has been interviewed on the 700 Club. She has had stories shared in the Christian Post as well as Christianity Today. She’s done interviews for Janet Parshall, Michael Brown, a couple on Dove TV, plus interviews on the John Ankerberg show. She’s got several written testimonies about her and is the author of another book on seven reasons why she and her family left Mormonism.

My introduction to the work of Lynn came when I heard her on Unbelievable? I wasn’t sure what to expect and was for some reason I do not recall, somewhat skeptical. I was until I heard Lynn speak and realized this lady knew Mormonism backwards and forwards and she knew what to say to show that it does not line up with the message of Jesus. I was immediately in touch trying to get her on my show. (We had planned for earlier this year, but her father passed away and she had to cancel.)

I’ve also found Lynn to be a good friend as well with her being willing to talk on the phone with us when we’ve had a situation that we thought she could help with, and she did indeed help. Lynn is a scholar with her heart in the right place, something that is lacking in many, and in fact, to be personal, something I seek to improve on myself constantly.

Her book is the best book I have read on Mormonism as it gives you an inside-out view and as you read about her family in the book, you come to really know them as people and really learn to empathize with them, which is something rare for me to have happen being an aspie who just isn’t that good at empathy.

I’m excited to have Lynn Wilder be my guest this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast and to let you all know about something else coming, next week, a band with some of her sons in it, Adam’s Road will be our guests so you’re going to get part one of a story this week and the rest next week. I hope you’ll be listening!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Unveiling Grace

August 5, 2014

What do I think of Lynn Wilder’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

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My first hearing of Lynn Wilder came with her appearance on the Unbelievable? show with Justin Brierley. Sometimes apologetics is a hit and a miss. There are people who do great, people who do so-so, and people who are just embarrassments to the cause. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard Lynn Wilder was an ex-Mormon who would be speaking about coming out.

After hearing her, I was convinced that that she belongs without a doubt in the first category. That led to my getting a copy of her book. (And thanks to Justin Brierley for supplying one) Unveiling Grace is her account of how she and her family got started in Mormonism and how they escaped.

The book is entirely gripping. As readers know, I am an Aspie and that makes it difficult for me to connect with people on an emotional level, but I was somehow able to with the family presented in this book. I started knowing them and as Wilder would write about one kid I’d be thinking “Okay. What about this one?” or “Oh. Talking to that person? I know where this is going!”

The book begins with her talking about her son Micah going on a mission and one night, she gets a phone call and Micah says “It’s over.” There is a sense of finality and if you don’t know the story, you’re left wondering what exactly is going on.

She takes an interesting turn at this point. Picture it like an episode of a TV show where they show you a dramatic event and then they give a flashback so you can see what led up to that point. As in most cases, most of the episode is a flash back and a lengthy portion of the book is just that.

This flashback is incredibly helpful. Wilder shows you how she and her husband got caught in Mormonism and gives an insider look from her perspective as a former BYU professor on how the Mormon world operates. Readers wanting to know about Mormonism will have their eyes opened by reading this book.

Wilder also refers regularly throughout the book to the Dancer of Grace. This is the term she uses to refer to God being at work in her life in various places to protect her and this even includes when she was in Mormonism and how some events took place that seemed strange at the time, but later on were used for the glory of God.

The book chronicles how her doubt began and the key to freeing her from Mormonism was quite simple. Read the New Testament. As she read it, she came to see more and more the conflict between Mormonism and Christianity. When she looked at the Bible without Mormon glasses she saw the Jesus of Scripture shine through and saw the incredible contrast with Mormonism and the Mormon culture around her.

The story also ends happily as she talks about how all of her family escaped and what happened with her four children. Many of them are involved with a musical band today they formed called “Adam’s Road.” They have even gone throughout Utah performing and sharing the true Gospel.

Some points to learn from the book.

First, there is a price to Biblical ignorance and if the church doesn’t learn this soon, the church will be paying that price. What could have prevented the Wilders from getting caught in Mormonism? Biblical knowledge could have. Wilder regularly states that at the time, she did not know enough about the Bible to recognize a counterfeit.

Second, grace is something absolutely essential to talk about with Mormons. Wilder shows in her work the lack of grace that exists in the Mormon community. There are many indications that sin is a problem for the Mormons, but the problem should never be greater than the solution is.

Third, knowledge of the New Testament as it is has a powerful effect on the Mormons. After seeing the focus of the New Testament, Wilder’s family started talking less and less about Joseph Smith and more and more about Jesus Christ.

Also, Wilder is very careful I find about experiences. While she talks about dreams that seemed to be revelatory to her, at one point on page 321 she says that maybe it wasn’t the Holy Spirit causing her experiences. This is an excellent point! Of course the Spirit can cause us to dream dreams if He wants to, but too often we are prone to see every “spiritual” experience as coming from God if it produces some positive result.

Wilder is quite right to say that those could be from God, but they could just be dreams as well, but even if they are just dreams, they are dreams that are still used by God for His glory. Ultimately, I find in most cases we will never know for sure, and if we keep assuming that they are from God, we give divine authority to something that might not deserve it. This is in fact what Mormons do with the burning in the bosom.

Without a doubt, to date, this is the best book on Mormonism that I have ever read. Wilder’s still is engaging and one that will draw you in. She brings her story vividly to life letting you get to really know the family that she presents. Fortunately also, this story does end with a happy ending. If you want to understand Mormonism and learn how Mormons see the world and ways to witness to Mormons, get this book. You’ll be glad you did.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do Part 3

July 22, 2014

Is the church demeaning and subjugating women? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We have part 3 from Allie here. Tomorrow I do plan on a book review and then Thursday will be something different. For now, here’s Allie:

We are moving into a third part of the series from the article: http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C0 Our next section is: 3. Demeaning and subjugating women is evil. Like the second part of the series, this should be pretty short as well. I’ll go ahead and copy what they said first:

“When it comes to dignity and equality for women, instead of acting as moral torchbearers, Bible believers have been at the back of the pack for generations, along with conservative factions from other Abrahamic traditions ranging from Islam to Mormonism. The American Quiverfull movement, “ complementarianism,” the expulsion of Southern Baptist women who were making inroads into the clergy, the Mormon Patriarchy’s threats to excommunicate women who seek equality, the Vatican’s decision to crush nuns who thought poverty was a bigger problem than abortion . . . Need I say more?”

First of all, one of the sources they used (for the explusion of Southern Baptist women) was an Atheist website. If you are going to to complain about something about a religion or a politician or anything for that matter, don’t use a source that agrees with you, use the source that it actually comes from! If you’re going to complain about the Southern Baptists, use a source directly coming from the Southern Baptists. If you’re going to complain about Islam, use a source that directly comes from Muslims. If you’re going to complain about the Bible, use the Bible as a source. This irritates me to no end. But, I will let this slide because I will assume this person doesn’t properly know how to do their research. Of course, if you’re defending a position, it’s fine. For an example, in the first part when the author of the article was accusing the Bible to support child sacrifices, I used the Bible itself as a source to show that it in fact did not support child sacrifices. This is fine, but it’s also good when defending your case to use sources that support your case that may not believe the same things you do. For an example, if you are arguing whether or not Jesus actually existed, there are many people who aren’t Christians who believe Jesus did in fact exist. They may not believe he was a holy deity, but they believe he was in fact a man who was a good teacher who was crucified and did actually exist. Anyway, let’s move on from there.
So the first thing they bring up is the term “Quiverfull.” I’m pretty young and honestly not too bright, so I was like, “What in the world is Quiverfull?” Luckily, they were kind enough to provide a link to it! Basically, they don’t believe in any kind of artificial insemination, birth control, etc. Everything is natural and they have as many babies as God gives them. Their view is basically, “As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.”(Psalm 127:4) I guess that’s where you get the term “Quiverfull.” So, here’s my question to the author and to you, why does it matter? If they don’t want to use birth control, what difference does it make to you? If they want to have a lot of kids, what difference does that make to you? People who are for same-sex marriage say, “Why do you not want people to get married to the same gender? It’s not going to bother you!” That discussion is for another time, but I bring that up because you say something like that won’t affect us. Well, a family who chooses to not use birth control and do everything naturally and have however many kids God gives them won’t affect you either! As long as they can provide for the children and are not foolish to take on more than they should. But even then, God will help even the most foolish of people and he won’t abandon his children.
The next point they bring up is “Complementarians.” Basically, the belief that men play a more dominent role in the church than women. I know for some women this could be a little bit of a touchy subject, and I understand why too. It used to bother me how so many men were in ministry and it seemed like few women were in ministry; and if women were in ministry, it seemed like they were only in ministry because their husbands were in ministry. Even when I would read my Bible, it would upset me sometimes that it was always men preaching. All the famous prophets – men. The apostles – men. There were a few famous women in the Bible, but they weren’t famous like the men except for maybe Jesus’ mother, Mary. Most women in the Bible to me seemed more like they were in the background, and in my life I always felt like I was in the background. As someone with high anxiety problems, I didn’t mind being in the background, but at the same time, I wanted to do more than just be in the background: I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives! I wanted to show people the love and mercy Christ has for everyone, as he has shown me! So I really do understand where women come from when they want to make a difference in people’s lives for God’s kingdom. Men and women’s roles are different. But women can be involved in ministry. Like a couple, a man and a woman have to work together. The man is head of the family, but at the same time, they both submit to each other. I think in a way it’s the same way in a church. A man is the head of the church, but men aren’t the only ones in ministry, they need women to help in ministry too! They help each other out! Women can be in charge of children’s ministry for example! God gave us women a more nurturing spirit than men tend to have, and children really need that! Women’s ministry! It’d be pretty awkward for a man to lead a women’s ministry. I can just imagine my husband (we both have Asperger’s Syndrome) who’s a minister, if he had to lead a women’s ministry. All the drama us women have to face daily, men cannot handle that kind of drama! I’m sorry but men are not going to understand your periods or your menopause! He just knows that time of the month you get really cranky and he knows he’s going to be in the tenth circle of hell for a few days. Only another woman is going to understand the drama other women face. There are so many other ministries women can do: music ministry, missionary work, counceling, and so much more! You can’t just have one pastor do all the work! You need a team! Who’s going to help with the children? Who’s going to help with the youth? Who’s going to help with the music? Who’s going to help with getting the church setup? Who’s going to help with organizing the funds? Who’s going to organize the events? So much more goes into a church that one person can’t do all the work!
The author brings up the excommunication of women wanting to join the all-male priesthood of the LDS temple. As sad as it is for them to be excommunicated, the temple is still an all-male priesthood. I don’t agree with the LDS church, but if they don’t believe women should be priests for moral reasons, why should they be forced to allow women to be priests? As an Atheist (author of the article I’m responding to), how does this affect you? Isn’t it your personal mission to bring others to Atheism? To bring people to what you believe is “Reason?”
The last thing the author brings up for this part is how the Vatican is “destroying” nuns who are saying the issue of poverty is more important than other issues such as homosexuality and abortion. These are all important issues for sure. Abortion is a type of child sacrificing. Homosexuality is a type of sexual sin. We (The Church) are also commanded to take care of the poor! But we have dropped the ball and instead the government is taking over that job and I’ve gotta tell you, they do a really bad job at it. You know why they do a really bad job at it? Because it’s originally supposed to be our job! We are not perfect. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect! Name any commandment in the Bible and I’ve broken it more than a million times! The Apostle Paul calls himself the “worst of sinners” and I completely relate to him with that; I often call myself the same thing! But, poverty is not the most important issue either. It’s very important, but it’s not the most important issue. Homosexuality is not the most important issue. It’s very important, but it’s not the most important issue. I’ll even go as far as to say abortion is not the most important issue. It’s very important, but not the most important issue. We get so passionate about all these political issues going on around us, even I get really passionate about some of them. But they are not the most important. They are important, but not the most important. Here’s the most important issue, are you ready? Jesus Christ is Lord and there are people who either don’t know this or refuse it. There are people who are alone and suffering in the world who think nobody cares about them and are literally killing themselves because they have no hope. People are screaming out for help and us Christians are sitting on our butts in front of the computer or the tv all day complaining about Obama or complaining if our favorite tv stars get kicked off a show. People are going to the pits of Hell because we’re sitting here waiting for Jesus to come back! Get off your butts and go out there and do something! Bring people to the truth! Set people free with the truth of Christ’s freedom and redemption! If people reject you, remember they rejected Christ first and dust the dirt off your feet and go somewhere else where they will listen to you! We are dropping the ball! Get up and do something! Turn the tv off, get off the computer or smart phone! Change a person’s life by allowing Christ to use you!
The next part will be: 4. Obstructing humanity’s transition to more thoughtful, intentional childbearing is evil.

Apostles Creed: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

April 16, 2014

What does it mean to say Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Was Jesus the natural son of Joseph? This would change a lot if he was. The Christian claim has been that Jesus is the unique Son of God and even His incarnation is unique. His birth was brought about not by sexual action on the part of a man, but a divine action on the part of the Holy Spirit.

Now there are many today who will claim that virgin births were common in the ancient world. Unfortunately, many of these times, the birth really isn’t a virgin birth. Sometimes, unique births happen to women who have already had children, such as the mother of Krishna.

Many times, it is actually some kind of sexual intercourse on the part of the gods, such as in the case of Zeus and his many lovers. Other claims to having a virgin birth are stretching it. Mithras, for instance, was born out of a rock in a cave carrying a knife and wearing a cap. I suppose we could say technically that the rock was a virgin.

Christ is a unique case in that Jesus would have been seen as illegitimate in his birth somehow, a shameful occurrence. Now how would be the best way to explain your Messiah was illegitimate? In a Jewish culture, it would hardly be best to do something that would implicate YHWH in the process! “Why yes. Our Messiah is illegitimate. It’s YHWH’s fault too!”

I wager in fact that this is why only two Gospels mention the circumstances of Jesus’s birth. It really would not have been something they’d want to draw attention to. First, people would be skeptical of it. Second, it would lead to the charges of illegitimacy. David Instone-Brewer takes the same stance in his work “The Jesus Scandals“. That this was explained somehow would show that there was something that needed to be explained.

Someone could also ask how it is that if Jesus is the Son of God that the Holy Spirit is the one who did this. Does this mean the Holy Spirit is the Father? Not at all. What it means is that the Holy Spirit is often the manifest way God acts in the world. It is the same as God acting by His Wisdom. (I take His Wisdom to be Jesus by the way.) There is still one God who is the source of all and yes, this one God still exists in three persons.

Of course, there is more that can be said about the virgin birth. Those who are wondering why I have not said anything about a passage such as Isaiah 7:14 need only wait until next time when we discuss the status of the Virgin Mary.

Until then, there are sufficient reasons for realizing that the birth of Jesus was different from births that he was supposedly copied from and also that there are reasons why it would be the case that the other Gospel writers would not want to mention the virgin birth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/17/2013: The Mormon Research Ministry

August 15, 2013

What’s coming up Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters!

There you are sitting at home perhaps enjoying reading a novel or one of your favorite TV programs (Yes, it’s always during your favorite TV program) when there’s a knock at your door. You look out the peephole and see these two nice looking gentlemen in white shirts with black name tags on that identify them as elders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

That’s right. The Mormons.

Who are these people? Well, there are few that will dispute that Mormons are some of the nicest people that they meet and they seem to be sincere and they say they believe in Jesus, so surely we should count them as Christians. Right?

Or maybe not.

Not according to my guest this Saturday, Bill McKeever, who runs the Mormon Research Ministry. Bill has spent decades studying Mormonism and when it comes to those who want to read the best critiques of the Mormon worldview, I point them to the Mormon Research Ministry.

If you think that the Mormons are just another branch of orthodox Christianity, I hope you’ll be listening to this show. There are many beliefs that many Christians don’t realize that Mormons have. In fact, it could even be that there are many beliefs held in orthodox Mormonism that many Mormons don’t know are held to.

Naturally, something that must be discussed is the story of how Mormonism came to be. What is it that really happened to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism? Is he really the kind of person that we can trust? Did he have any aspects to him that could cause us to be suspicious of him? Are the charges true that he practiced polygamy? Did he raise up his own army? Important for us Christians, since he claimed to have visions, what makes him different from someone like the apostle Paul?

What about the Book of Mormon? Is it really a testimony to events that happened here in the Americas several centuries ago? Has it been handed down reliably? Is there anything to the charge that racism existed in the original BOM?

We can also discuss what about Mormonism and their views on God and Jesus. Do they believe just what Christians believe about both, or do they hold to views such as the idea that God was once a man as we are and became God through eternal progression? Is Jesus really the spirit-brother of Lucifer?

And of course, a great one to discuss is McKeever’s point about the impossible gospel of Mormonism. What must a Mormon do to be saved and if they go that route, is it really going to be possible for them to be saved?

I hope you’ll join me for this episode to learn much about this group that could well be on its way to being the next world religion. The show time is 3-5 EST on Saturday, August 17th. My guest is Bill McKeever, and the call-in number is 714-242-5180.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response To Khan

July 9, 2013

Does creation ex nihilo present a problem for the problem of evil. Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A friend sent me a video from a Mormon on YouTube who goes by the name of Khhaaan1. The video can be found here. I will refer to the producer as Khan from here out. The video is an attempt to show that if you accept creation ex nihilo, you have a problem with the problem of evil.

Khan says at the start that there was no official statement on creation ex nihilo from the church until the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 A.D. This is true, but the reason is why was it mentioned then? It was because of the Albigenses, a sect much like the Manichaean teaching that Augustine dealt with years ago. Matter was seen as the creation of an evil power and spirit was good and the creation of the god of the NT.

Noteworthy at the start is that Khan in this video does not address biblical verses used to support ex nihilo. Perhaps he has done so elsewhere, but in this video there is nothing.

Also, I will state at the start that I have no marriage to creation ex nihilo. It has been a principle I have followed for some time that my Christianity is not dependent on my doctrine of creation but on the essential, the resurrection. I do hold to ex nihilo, but I am open to a better interpretation if one can be found that fits the facts. An eternal universe would not shake my faith. Neither would a multiverse or any scientific discovery like that. I leave that area to the scientists anyway.

Khan goes on to say that the church has been wrong before and uses Galileo as an example. I do not think this is the best example. The church had not entirely closed the door on heliocentrism. Copernicus had had his book on it dedicated to the Pope and the Pope had no problem with it. The problem with Galileo is that Galileo was egotistical, refused to admit any errors, spoke on theology and Scriptural interpretation without being trained in that area and while being asked to not do so, and wanted immediate acceptance of his ideas instead of waiting for more evidence. It didn’t help that he also mocked the Pope, who I think was frankly quite egotistical himself.

I do not doubt the church handled it poorly, but Galileo is really an exception to the normal way the church handled scientific advancement. We can look back and say “They were wrong,” but we must also be frank and admit that the evidence really was not in conclusively yet. A great problem for heliocentrism, Obler’s Paradox, was not even answered until the 19th century. It is easy for us to look back and say they were wrong, but we can be sure some scientists centuries from now will look back on and us and wonder how we missed some truths that they deem to be obvious. We should approach the past with as much charity as we want the future to approach us.

When we start getting to the heart of the matter, Khan to his credit does give a definition of evil. He says evil is an act or event whereby existence would be better if it had not occurred.

I find this troublesome due to the largely subjective nature of the claim. If someone does not want to donate to Deeper Waters for instance, does that mean that is an evil since I think existence would be better if that had occurred? What about all of creation? Would it have been better if God had not created at all, even if the Mormon view was correct and there were spirit children with God? How about eternity? Would Heaven be better if there were one more person in it? If so, then one would have to create an infinite quantity, an impossibility, for there not to be evil there.

For my view, there is no problem, since I think the mistake is that Khan nowhere defined good. There are so many problems you can dispense with at the start if you have a definition of good, such as the so-called Euthyphro dilemma. The good is that at which all things aim.

The good is that at which all things aim said Aristotle, which means that it is something that is desirable. Aquinas took this then and said that something is good insofar as it is an instance of its kind. To be perfect, it must be actual and insofar as it is actual, it is perfect. Since everything desires perfection and that which is the most perfect is the most actual, then we see that goodness and being are the same thing. Goodness just speaks to the thing being desirable. (See Feser’s book “Aquinas” for more.)

Now there is something that must be said about desirable. This does not mean a conscious desire as Aristotle said all things aim for the good, but very few things are conscious in the grand scheme of things. So how do they aim? It is based on their final cause, that is, the end for which they are meant. For Aristotle, this was the most important cause of all. Unfortunately for many of us today, it is the least important cause.

To give an example, a plant has no conscious nature that we know of, but the plant still moves towards water and towards the sun. The plant wishes to be even if it does not realize that or do so consciously. Our cat here often gets scared and will run away when someone he doesn’t know or trust comes over. Why? He naturally wants to live even if he is not consciously thinking “I want to live.” We can also have an end we were made for and actively resist it and try to find it elsewhere. For instance, in Christian thought, we were all made to reflect God and His love and rule with Him forever. Many of us deny this and seek our good in other places like sex, money, power, etc.

As far as I’m concerned, the lack of really establishing a philosophy of good and evil is the Achilles’s heel of Khan’s argument. Note in fact that by my definition, one has an explanation for moral goodness and evil, but also goodness of nature.

So what is evil then? Evil is the privation of that which should be present but is not. If goodness is being, then its opposite, evil, is a kind of non-being, and nothing positive can be said about non-being. We must be clear on this point here. It is not evil that a rock does not have sight, since it is not in the nature of a rock to have sight, but it is an evil that a man has blindness, since it is of the nature of a man to have sight. Blindness is not a positive principle in something, but it is an absence of a good that should be there, the good of sight. It is a name given to a specific absence, but not an existent reality on its own.

I’m also concerned about Khan’s definition of omnipotence. Can God create a square circle is a question He asks. I do not know from his talk if he means this seriously or not, but the answer is no. God cannot do that because that involves a contradiction, and omnipotence has not been historically understood to mean that contradictions can be done. The following lengthy quote from the Summa Theologica, q. 25, article 3, will show Aquinas’s stance.

“It remains therefore, that God is called omnipotent because He can do all things that are possible absolutely; which is the second way of saying a thing is possible. For a thing is said to be possible or impossible absolutely, according to the relation in which the very terms stand to one another, possible if the predicate is not incompatible with the subject, as that Socrates sits; and absolutely impossible when the predicate is altogether incompatible with the subject, as, for instance, that a man is a donkey.

It must, however, be remembered that since every agent produces an effect like itself, to each active power there corresponds a thing possible as its proper object according to the nature of that act on which its active power is founded; for instance, the power of giving warmth is related as to its proper object to the being capable of being warmed. The divine existence, however, upon which the nature of power in God is founded, is infinite, and is not limited to any genus of being; but possesses within itself the perfection of all being. Whence, whatsoever has or can have the nature of being, is numbered among the absolutely possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent. Now nothing is opposed to the idea of being except non-being. Therefore, that which implies being and non-being at the same time is repugnant to the idea of an absolutely possible thing, within the scope of the divine omnipotence. For such cannot come under the divine omnipotence, not because of any defect in the power of God, but because it has not the nature of a feasible or possible thing. Therefore, everything that does not imply a contradiction in terms, is numbered amongst those possible things, in respect of which God is called omnipotent: whereas whatever implies contradiction does not come within the scope of divine omnipotence, because it cannot have the aspect of possibility. Hence it is better to say that such things cannot be done, than that God cannot do them. Nor is this contrary to the word of the angel, saying: “No word shall be impossible with God.” For whatever implies a contradiction cannot be a word, because no intellect can possibly conceive such a thing.”

In essence then, God cannot do a contradiction since that would involve being and non-being both and God can only do that which is possible. As C.S. Lewis said in “The Problem of Pain.”

“His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. There is no limit to His power.

If you choose to say, ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prifex to them the two other words, ‘God can.’

It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”

This then gets us into the free-will defense. To his credit, Khan does bring up Plantinga, Khan does argue that he does not believe that free-will exists, but will grant it for the sake of argument. I come from the approach that free-will exists and that divine sovereignty exists. How are these two reconciled? Much has been written on that question and I do not expect a clear answer. I just see Scripture teaches both and accept both of them. There are some who have God so sovereign that there is no free-will. I find this much more problematic as it makes God the ultimate cause of evil. There are some who say God is not all-knowing with regards to the future and man has free-will, but I find this to be a limitation on God with no metaphysical basis and not compatible with Scripture.

Khan says God could have created people to be more rational or more sensitive. If they were more of these, they would have made better decisions, but I question the premise. For instance, in order to make a person to be perfectly good in nature entirely and perfectly rational, God would have to make someone else like Him, but He cannot do that. He cannot make another being who has no beginning.

There is no other being that can Have being define its essence. Everything else partakes of God in some way. Each can only be a perfection of its kind. God is not looking to create a being exactly like Him. That’s impossible. He is looking to create a being that reflects Him, albeit imperfectly if one means not a total duplicate, but perfectly if we just mean, insofar as we are able.

Even if we granted other spirit beings, the problem would be the same. Michael the archangel cannot be exactly like God. Only God is goodness itself by nature and love itself by nature and being itself by nature. Everything else has being and is loving and good and existent insofar as it exists. (Even the devil. The devil has will, power, and existence, which are good things, and the devil seeks his own good, which is to say he loves his own good. The problem is that his will is bent morally)

So, if God wants to create beings who are to be good, that goodness is to be a choice for them, just as it was for Michael and the devil. If he creates spirit children supposedly, even those must choose for if love for us is to be a free decision, it cannot be a forced free decision. That is a contradiction.

Khan’s situation is problematic because to say we could be more rational means we are better able to think and know all the information needed, but eventually, one will have to reach omniscience, which we cannot, seeing as we are always going to be finite beings by nature and God alone is infinite.

If we go with spirit beings, we just push the problem back a step and then can just as easily say why God allowed these spirit beings who He knew to be evil to come to Earth and do evil here. Perhaps Khan will point to a greater good, but then I can just as well say “That is why God allows people to choose evil here. He uses their evil for a greater good.”

For the problem of evil to be shown to be a problem, it must be shown that God can have no good reason for doing it this way, and I do not think that that can be shown from Khan, though He is welcome to try. I also think that for a larger perspective on this, he might want to try the work “God and Evil” By Meister and Dew Jr.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Mormon in the White House?

October 7, 2012

Should Christians be concerned about a Romney presidency? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A friend at church asked me to write about this topic. I am not writing about this as someone in politics but as an apologist dealing with the issues of Mormonism. I really don’t write on politics as politics in this blog, but I do comment on moral issues that can show up in politics. I understand the concern of many Christians. There are some that have a great fear with a Mormon like Romney getting into the White House. Let’s address that then.

First off, I will unequivocally state that in my view Mormons are not Christians. We have essential differences on the nature of God, the nature of Christ, and the nature of salvation. This does not mean that there is no common ground between us. For those of us who are thankful that we won the Prop 8 battle in California, it has been said, and I agree, that we could not have won that battle if the Mormons had also not taken part in it. On numerous moral and political issues, Christians and Mormons can work side by side.

Many of us know this because while we disagree with Mormons, they tend to be very good people to us. I’ve only met one to this day I can think of that really rubbed me the wrong way. When I lived with a roommate in Charlotte, we went out of our way to witness to the Mormons when they came by. We’d stop and get pizza for them and some gatorades and have them enjoy a meal with us. We even went out to eat one time with them. There was a time they weren’t showing up for some reason and I called them and they said they didn’t have good transportation. I asked where they were and came and got them myself. That had the added bonus of having them a captive audience in my car while I got to share the real gospel with them. One of them became friends with us on Facebook when his missionary journey ended. One Mormon we suspect was on the verge of conversion when they switched him out and we wonder to this day if we will see him in eternity. Hopefully someone will finish the work we started.

Therefore, my claim is clear. I am not going to claim Mitt Romney is a Christian. That does not mean I think he is a bad person overall. I just say that I do not trust him on religious issues. Thankfully, as I’ve told people before, I am not electing a pope or a priest. I am electing a president. What issues is it the president is supposed to reside over in our country? Let’s take a look.

The president is to make sure that our country is kept safe. In our day and age, we know that there are forces that would like to see America fall. We’ve already seen it from Muslims such as happened on 9/11 in both 2001 and this year. There is much strife going on in the Middle East and it could wind up coming our way. N. Korea could one day build a weapon that could be capable of reaching us as well. Could Communism still be a threat. Wouldn’t surprise me.

Keep in mind when I speak of these threats, as devout readers of this blog will know, I am not speaking of a “Last Days” scenario with asking if this will be the president that will be the antichrist. That’s been thought about every president in recent history. I greatly admire Reagan and I know there were several who said he was the antichrist. After all, his name was Ronald Wilson Reagan. 6 letters in each name! 666! Reagan was the beast!

Well, no.

So when I write this, I do not have any fear about Romney being “The Antichrist” any more than I had or have fears about Obama being “The Antichrist” or any other world figure for that matter.

Oh but Nick! Don’t you know about the White Horse prophecy?

Yes. I do. It’s the idea that when the Constitution is hanging on a thread, the Mormon church will rush in and save the day. Then, the Mormons will control the government.

Some might think Mormons want to do that, but is it really feasible is the question? An expert in counter-cult apologetics has even informed me that he doesn’t think this will happen since the LDS church is crowing about the Romney candidacy. The truth is that Mormons, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, are in a much more precarious position today because of the internet. The information that their church would not let them get is now readily available for anyone to see.

To be fair, some would say that about Christians. The difference is many of us already know about said information and have responses to it. Also, we do not want to shield the church from this information. We instead want them to know about it and know what to say to it. This is not the same in the case of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Granted however that there are a few in those camps who will go out and interact with the other side.

A Mormon presidency would bring Mormonism out into the open even more and in many ways, I consider that a good thing. Consider what I have said about the new atheists. I thank God for them. They are bringing the discussion of what Christianity is out into the open and doing their side a great harm with having people think that their arguments are just so destructive to Christians, not realizing the majority of us just laugh about them. I hope the new atheists add to their number of published books and keep it up. We’ll keep writing scholarly books that show the mistakes and errors and let their side deal with what they’ve done.

If we can start talking to Mormons more and witnessing to them, then that is all the better. I also think that if ever some group tried to force itself on the Constitution, we would not have to worry since this country has already had one revolution and could have a second. The Mormon church would be taking a huge risk to make a move like that and it is doubtful whether they would ever want to attempt it.

Another issue for us today that a president deals with is the economy. I do happen to think from an economic perspective that Romney’s ideas do work better. I recommend for people reading a book like Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” (If you can only read one book on economics, read that one.) From a Christian perspective, one can read the book of Ronald Nash “Poverty and Wealth.”

What about health-care? For those of us who want to do away with Obamacare, then we do need to support Romney. He’s said he will repeal it and the voters definitely expect that. For those who want to speak about pre-existing conditions, My Mrs. and I both have pre-existing conditions. Since moving, I had to go see my old doctor so the health insurance company could know that my Asperger’s is not a problem for my insurance.

Some might disagree, but this is a question that we have to ask. Which candidate is better equipped to help grow our economy?

Moral issues certainly play a part in how we vote and that was the main reason voters were voting in 2004. There are a number of issues we have coming up. The debate over redefining marriage is going on. Obama has already said his view is in support of doing that. Abortion is another major issue. We can be thankful that Mormons stand with us by and large on these issues. We need to especially get into the Supreme Court people who will support our views. Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio talk show host, has said the most important rule is to be able to count to 5. I would even vote for a pro-choice Republican if I thought he’d put someone conservative on the Supreme Court who is more likely to overturn Roe V. Wade.

What we have to ask is not “Who believes like me the most in religion?”, but “Who is more capable of doing the job?”

If there is one area we should be concerned about, it’s that Christians unfortunately are not producing the best candidates. Christians are shying away from politics when we shouldn’t. There are several brilliant Christian minds that could make a difference in the world if we will allow them to do so.

I can end this no better I think than the way Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson of the Mormon Research Ministry did in their article from the Christian Research Institute. (Link below) It’s from 2008 but still valid.

It doesn’t appear that Romney’s Mormonism is causing many evangelical Christian leaders to oppose his candidacy. In fact, one group of Christians has even jumped on his bandwagon by hosting an Internet site (www.evangelicalsformitt.org). Perhaps University of Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith summarized the precarious position of many when he said (Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2006), “Some evangelicals may think that Mormons are going to hell, but at the same time, they might think that it wouldn’t be too bad to have one in elected office.”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson’s article can be found .