Email from D.L. Barksdale, co-founder of FAIR, Part 3 - 10/10/2004
** NOTE: This is part three of an email discussion with Darryl Barksdale, a co-founder and past president of FAIR, an LDS apologetics organization. According to current FAIR president Scott Gordon, Mr. Barksdale is no longer associated with FAIR, and does not speak on their behalf. Mr. Gordon was kind enough to validate that these emails did indeed come from Mr. Barksdale. Due to Mr. Barksdale's bitterness and hateful tone, in light of Proverbs 22:24-25 and Titus 3:10, this will conclude this email discussion.**
Wow. Long missive. :) Well, let's start at the beginning.
<< First, let me address some rather scurrilous charges you made. You accused us of “hatred”, “religious bigotry”, “hate speech”, “heresy”, “hate-mongering”, “lying”, and “persecution” of Mormons. You also accuse us of being “Satanic.” >>
Yes, I did... and after perusing your site, I believe that these observations are entirely accurate. If you don't like them, may I suggest that you stop behaving in a manner such that you emulate these adjectives?
<< Judging from your debates with Mr. White, such ad hominem attacks are a trademark of your brash style of communication, and they do nothing with regards to dealing with truth or error. >>
Which is a fascinating observation, since the feedback *I* received was that Mr. White was the one who repeatedly engaged in this type of behavior. I guess you're only willing to hear what you are listening for in the first place.
<< Such behavior is unbecoming, and quite revealing. >>
It certainly is. Which is why I try very hard to refrain from that type of behavior.
<< I am confident of our mission, so your name-calling doesn’t bother me. >>
I think I'm starting to understand at least ONE of the reasons why you are so confused. Making accurate observations about your behavior is not "name-calling." That would occur had I called you an "idiot," a "fool," or had said, "Hey, stupid!" Instead, I merely made accurate observations regarding your unChristlike behavior. Big difference.
<< What DOES bother me is your use of the word “persecution.” >>
Then may I suggest you stop engaging in it? That would most certainly rectify the problem. :)
<< It seems that in your view, exposing the false gospel of Mormonism via a website, books, speeches, or distributing tracts constitutes persecution. >>
Well, let's see if Webster's agrees with me:
Main Entry: per·se·cu·tion
Date: 14th century
1 : the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook
2 : the condition of being persecuted, harassed, or annoyed
By lying about and misrepresenting my faith, you are harassing us, and definitely annoying me. That constitutes persecution.
<< Mr. Barksdale, Christians around the world face real persecution for their faith. They are beaten, intimidated, threatened, imprisoned, and even killed for their faith. >>
If you seek more dramatic examples of our persecution, you might look at the Haun's Mill Massacre, and the Missouri Extermination Order. I'm sure either one could fit the bill quite nicely.
And all of this is above and beyond the fact that nowhere have you proven the LDS doctrine false.
And as far as I can ascertain, Christ never established website, wrote books, gave speeches, or distributed tracts condemning other faiths. One must seriously wonder why you are so insecure in your faith that you feel the need to do so.
<< Even LDS missionaries abroad face similar persecution. While I believe LDS missionaries are misled, and unwittingly misleading others, I will still decry their persecution. >>
How kind of you. I rather pictured you as one of the ones holding a rock.
<< The way you define persecution minimizes what these people face. >>
You're right. I'll tell all of those women and children who were raped and murdered at the hands of "good Christian folk" at Haun's Mill or under the infamous Missouri Extermination Order that they really weren't being persecuted. That should sufficiently soothe their aching soul.
<< You are not being persecuted simply because you read things you do not like. >>
No, we're being persecuted because small-minded religious bigots intentionally seek us out to harass and annoy us because of our beliefs.
<< You are not being persecuted simply because you read things you do not like. >>
Oh, yes. I forgot. When they scream filthy obscenities at us, symbolically wipe their bottom with our sacred vestments, and physically accost us because of our beliefs, they are really just "loving us."
<< In case you are not aware, this is the United States, and these Christians are exercising the first amendment rights to exercise their religious beliefs by attempting to reach decent Mormons with the truth. >>
I'm sorry, but hate speech is not constitutionally protected.
<< Nobody is hampering your ability to practice your faith, even if it is built upon the deception of a false prophet. >>
See? You are so insecure in your own faith that you are simply consumed with hatred, and are literally unable to have a discussion without being intentionally offensive. Which would be tragically funny enough, if it were not obvious that you have never proven your allegation... ever.
<< Stop belittling the sacrifice of Christians around the world because you read something you don’t like and you don’t have thick enough skin to deal with it constructively. >>
Oh, I see. In other words, we should just "shut up and take it." And when you vandalize our meetinghouses, terrorize, taunt and harass our children because they don't believe as you do, we should just lay down and let you. Got it.
<< You go tell Christians in China, who have to meet secretly or face imprisonment that you’re being persecuted. >>
We are. So are they. And yes, I'll put the abuse heaped upon our people by "good 'ole Christian boys" at Haun's Mill and the Missouri Extermination Order against what they endure any day of the week.
<< Tell Christians living under Islamic law who have to fear for their lives that you are being persecuted. >>
I actually had a "good Christian" on AOL try to look me up personally, and who threatened to kill me and my family "for Jesus" a couple of years' back. It was very revealing. Not ONE Evangelical Christian on that board condemned them for their behavior or threat.
<< You tell the families of missionaries who have been kidnapped and killed for evangelizing that you are being persecuted. >>
If you go back and reread my post, and if you reread this one.. you'll notice very quickly that in no way have I sought to minimize the suffering or the persecution of Evangelical Christians around the world.
Of course that exists, and it is horrible. But in a very consistent spirit of blatant hypocrisy, you turn around and do the very same thing you're decrying in other parts of the world... the only difference is in degree, and to hear you speak, that means all the difference. It doesn't. It is STILL persecution and harassment. Hatred and intolerance in ANY form is unChristian, and completely unjustifiable in Holy Writ. Period.
Christ did not give you a "Get-Out-Of-Hell-FREE" card for persecuting those who you disagree with. He thoroughly CONDEMNED your behavior, as I posted in my last e-mail, which you very conspicuously failed to address in your response. Here it is again, in case you missed it:
"But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." (1 Cor 11:16)
The meaning of this passage is unambiguous and very clear. You have built a "ministry" of hatred and religous bigotry... one which has no other purpose than to attack and persecute other Christians that you don't happen to agree with. Paul completely condemns you, and quite correctly identifies your actions as not being compatible with the Body of Christ.
<< As far as your accusations of us “hating” Mormons, you are way off base. >>
This, of course, is a straw man argument. I never accused you of hating Mormons. I accused you of hatred. While you may choose to split semantical hairs over WHO or WHAT is the object of your hatred, the FACT is that you are hateful, and your ministry reflects that hatred.
<< I grew up in a predominantly Mormon area of Southern Idaho. I have had close friendships and relationships with Mormon people. >>
Then perhaps you can regale us with examples of where the Big, Bad Mormons hurt you.. persecuted you.. created websites to specifically target YOUR sacred beliefs to belittle and trash.. wrote books specifically targeting YOUR sacred beliefs to lie and misrepresent them.. or who left hateful and vicious tracts in YOUR car windows at YOUR meetinghouses. Can you? I'm very interested to hear what those terrible Mormon neighbors did to deserve so much hatred from you.
<< My wife and I have this ministry because we love Mormons, and want to see them delivered from the deception of Joseph Smith. >>
Then here's a clue, since you don't seem to have one. Stop preaching AGAINST what you disagree with, and start preaching FOR what you DO. Christ never taught His disciples to attack another's faith. That is scriptural fact.
When Christ's disciples wanted to confront and condemn those who were casting out devils in Jesus' name, but who "followed not us," what did Christ say? "YEEEHAW!! Yes, SHOW those heathens that they are going straight to Hell! TWIST scripture to justify your hatred, and hey... let's put up some websites to attack them, lie about them, and spew hatred... and *I* know, let's write some BOOKS and lie about them, and while we're at it, Peter, why don't you take James and John and form a MINISTRY to make sure that everyone KNOWS they "follow not us." After all, they're deceived, and what we're doing isn't really THAT bad... after all, we're doing it for JESUS... I mean... for ME!!!!!"
The CHRISTIAN way is very different from the path YOU have chosen. Christ said, "Forbid them not, for whosoever is not against us, is FOR us." (Luke 9:50)
Now. What makes this even MORE poignant of an example is that we do not "Not follow Him." We not only follow Him, we embrace Him as the Son of Almighty God, and accept Him and TRUST in Him solely for our salvation as our Savior and Redeemer... in whose name salvation is and in no other... making your constant persecution of us even MORE unChristian, and specifically, unChristlike.
<< Because we believe condemnation awaits those who die in their deception, we do everything we can to shine the light on their faith, and direct them to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. >>
I'm glad you FINALLY got around to mentioning what you DO believe. Tell me... what DO you believe? Which of the conflicting doctrines that pervade modern Christianity is the TRUE one? Is it Calvinism? Is it Arminianism? Is it Lordship? Is it No-Lordship? Is it Trinitarianism? Or is it Oneness Theology or Unitarianism? Which? And which BIBLE is the complete and inerrant one? The one WITH the Apocrypha, which all Bibles had until the 16th century? Or the one without? And WHO, exactly, had the authority to REMOVE those 12 books?
I'm very eager to hear you "witness" of what the "true" Gospel of Jesus Christ is, and why we should accept YOUR version of it, when there are around 35,000 different Christian denominations that all claim the Bible as their authority, all of which differ in doctrine and practice.
<< What you probably consider a “live and let live” policy, we look at as a “live and let die” policy. >>
No, we actually consider it the policy that Christ taught. Apparently you don't believe in the Bible as the Word of God.
<< That is NOT loving. >>
So, where exactly does the Bible teach that hatred and persecution of others because you agree with them is "loving" them? And getting back to my original question, which you have conspicuously failed to address, where does the Bible name you BY NAME with the authority to do this? After all, you consider the Bible to be the ONLY source of spiritual truth, and the COMPLETE source for anything pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Therefore, if YOU are not mentioned BY NAME and are given this specific authority in the Bible, then you have no grounds for doing ANYTHING remotely similar to the unChristian, nefarious work you are engaged in. Can you show me where to find this reference?
<< If we did hate Mormons, we wouldn’t have a care in the world about their eternal destination, and wouldn’t have this ministry. >>
Actually, a more accurate statement is that if you knew CHRIST, you wouldn't have this ministry and would not be persecuting and harassing Mormons. You would be channeling your energies instead into what He taught us to concentrate on... namely feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and lifting up the weak knees. Not breaking them "for Jesus."
<< That would be so easy to do if we really did have hatred as you suggest. >>
But, as ANYONE can see... you DO.
<< We could save a lot of time and money, and be able to have more hobbies. >>
So, in OTHER words, you are SO ignorant of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the instructions He gave for us to follow that without HATING, you would honestly be clueless as to what to do? I honestly think that this is the most revealing thing you've said so far. REAL Christians know exactly what Christ would have them do... and it's not hating and persecuting others because of their beliefs. They know that there are many that are hungry, who are miserable and downtrodden, who are poor, who are naked and wanting. Apparently you do not care about these, and basically shove them to the "back of the bus" because hating and persecuting others is much more "fulfilling" to you.
Christ had something to say about this. "By their fruits, ye shall know them." (Matt 7:20)
<< But because of the Spirit within us, we can’t hate Mormons or anybody else. >>
Then you have clearly been deceived. Nothing in your behavior or your websites bespeaks the Holy Spirit. None of it. The only thing it indicates is that you are completely unaware of who He is, and how He works. Your site, and particularly the easily disproven lies and misrepresentations on it, show that you know nothing of the Holy Spirit... or that you think that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit inspireds dishonesty and deceit. It doesn't.
<< And because of that, we have to show them true love by trying to reach out to them and bring them into the eternal assurance that Christ Jesus purchased for them with His blood. >>
And maybe if you tap your heels together three times and say "I'm not REALLY being Satanic," "I'm not REALLY being Satanic," "I'm not REALLY being Satanic" all will be well. You are not showing "love." You are not preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. You have a ministry of hate. Pure and simple. If this pricks your soul, it should. It is diabolically opposed to everything Christ taught. But don't take MY word for it... read the Bible yourself and find me ONE passage that teaches you to target other faiths to persecute, harass, and lie about "in the name of Jesus."
<< You allege a total apostasy of Christianity, which I’m afraid is not borne out historically. >>
Then why aren't you Roman Catholic?
<< It is true that Roman Catholicism exercised wide control over Christendom for quite some time, and introduced a number of destructive heresies. >>
Didn't Christ say that good fruit cannot spring forth from a corrupt branch? And that you cannot put new wine into an old bottle?
<< However, there were those who did not buy into the heretical doctrines. Martin Luther spoke out about those heresies, and sparked a reformation. >>
And introduced a fair amount of his own in the process:
"My word is the word of Christ; my mouth is the mouth of Christ" (O'Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, 1916--1987 reprint ed., pp. 203-204). [Specifically, what Martin Luther wrote in German was ""Ich bin sehr gewiss, dass mein Wort nitt mein, sondern Christus Wort sei, so muss mein Mund auch des sein, des Wort er redet" (Luther, 682) - also translated as "I am confident that it is not my word, but Christ's word, so my mouth is His who utters the words" (God's words - the violence of representation, Universitatea din Bucuresti, 2002.)
Luther said that "Among Christians there ought not to be and there cannot be any authority."
Luther taught that Moses should be looked upon "with suspicion as the worst heretic, as a damned and excommunicated person; yea, worse than the pope or the devil." (Jena. 4, 98. 6)
"The book entitled 'Ecclesiastes' ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it. It has neither boots nor spurs; but rides only in socks, as I myself did when an inmate of the cloister.."
Of the Pentateuch, Martin Luther said, "We have no wish either to see or hear Moses."
"Job spoke not as it stands written in his book, but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book."
Luther completely rejected the NT books of Hebrews, James, the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation of John. Luther "ranked" the books of the NT in order of "credibility." He didn't especially like the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. "...that of St. John is the only sympathetic, the only true Gospel and should undoubtedly be preferred to the others." Luther claimed that the Epistles of Peter and Paul were superior to the first three gospels; "In like manner the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Paul are superior to the first three gospels." He didn't like Hebrews, either. "It need not surprise one to find here bits of wood, hay, and straw." Of course, Luther HATED the Book of James, since it contradicted the "other gospel" of salvation by faith alone which he bragged of inventing himself. As for James, Luther said, "I do not hold it to be his [James'] writing, and I cannot place it among the canonical books." He did this because it proclaimed the necessity of good works. Luther said of the Revelation of John, "There are many things objectionable in this book. To my mind it bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character... everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it." (Sammtliche Werke [Collected Works], 63, 169-170)
Other scholars, even Lutherans, complained about Luther's double-standard and hypocrisy; "He [Luther] declares time and time again that he looks upon the Bible as if God himself spoke therein. Yet, inconsistently with this statement, he freely charges the sacred writers with inaccurate statements, unsound reasonings, the use of imperfect materials, and even urges the authority of Christ against that of Holy Writ."
Another Protestant writers complained, "Luther has no fixed theory of inspiration: if all his works suppose the inspiration of the Sacred Writings, all his conduct shows that he makes himself the supreme judge of it."
A leading reformer in Luther's day said of his translation, "It is a corruption of the Word of God." (Amicable Discussion, Travern, 1,129-note)
Doctrinally, he wasn’t much more inspired:
Luther taught that "Without this doctrine of the enslaved will, the supernatural character of Christianity cannot be maintained; the work of redemption falls to the ground, because whoever sets up free will cheats Christ of all His merit; whoever advocates Free Will brings death and Satan into his soul."
"It is either God or the devil that rules; man has no freedom of choice and is absolutely devoid of responsibility for his acts. Having lost free will, man cannot observe the the precepts of the Decalogue; he cannot master his passions; he must sin as long as he lives."
Luther taught that "When the devil takes possession of some man or leaves him; it is only by that arbitrary will by which God wills that a certain number shall be damned and a certain number shall be saved."
But perhaps the most notable of Luther’s heresies involved doctrines of Salvation:
Luther said, "God's all-powerful grace does *NOT* cleanse from sin." (Walch XIII. 1480)
"Those who are to be saved are to be saved without any regard to their good works and that they will be saved; that there is nothing in Heaven or earth that can keep them from being saved. Why, then, should they undertake to do anything themselves? It matters not to them.; they will be saved anyway whatever they do. And, as for those unfortunate ones who are left behind and are to be damned, how idle for them to kick against the arbitrary decree! They must perish anyway, and as they must perish, they ought to say to themselves: "Let us eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.""
Incidentally, this was a direct fulfillment of prophecy in the Book of Mormon, which was written over 1000 years prior to Luther’s statement:
“Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Ne 28:8,9)
Luther went on to further blaspheme:
"No man on earth can properly distinguish between the Law and the Gospel. Even the man Jesus Christ, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffered from such ignorance. " (Tischr. I. C. 12. 19)
"[Some] contend that faith which is informed by charity, justifies. On this point we must contend and oppose with all our strength; here we must yield not a nail's breadth to any; neither to the angels of heaven, nor to St. Paul, nor to the whole world; and 'this be our watchword.'" (Audin's Luther, II, p. 112)
Luther clearly taught that the gospel of Christ had no commandments, even though Christ Himself taught that there were. "The Gospel," Luther wrote, "does not announce what we must do or omit."
Luther taught that the Law, given by God, led men to HATE God. "The Law incites not love, but hatred of God."
"Man must persuade himself that... no sins can condemn him; nay, let him, so to say, boast of his sinfulness..." (Wittenb. V. 281) B.)
Luther was so contradictory to the Bible that he actually taught the following: "When the conscience is terror-stricken on account of the Law and struggles with the thought of God's judgment, do not consult reason... act exactly as if you had never heard of the Law of God."
"Keep the Law, by all means; but if you do not, you need not be troubled in your conscience, for the transgression of the law cannot possibly condemn you." (Wittenb. V. 304)
"That shall serve you as a true rule, that whereever the Scriptures order and command to do good works, you must so understand it that the Scriptures forbid good works." (Wittenb. ed. 2, 171. 6)
"If you should not sin against the Gospel, be on your guard against good works; avoid them as one avoids a pest." (Jena. ed. 1. 318 b.)
"Thus let the Christian understand that... it matters not whether he keeps [the law of Christ] or not; yea, he may do what is forbidden and leave undone what is commanded, for neither is a sin." (Wittenb. XI. 447)
Luther wrote that "No greater insult can be offered to Christ than to suppose that He has come to give Commandments, to make a sort of Moses of Him. The Devil makes of Christ a mere Moses." (Tischr. S. 66; Walch, VIII: 58)
Is God the author of Evil? The Father of modern Protestantism/Evangelicalism thought so. Luther said, "God is the author of what is evil in us."
Luther taught that "Good works are useless," that "they are sin." In his Babylonian Captivity (chap. de Batp.) he says, "The way to heaven is narrow; if you wish to pass through it, throw away your good works."
Luther's pride and joy (and chief heresy) was his "other gospel" of salvation by faith alone. "Faith alone," said Luther, "is necessary for justification: nothing else is commanded or forbidden." "Believe, and henceforth you are as holy as St. Peter."
He was known to have cried out to the devil, "I have s... in the pants, and you can hang them around your neck and wipe your mouth with it." And he claimed he could drive away evil spirits with a single blast of flatulence.
Other tidbits include, "The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish foolishness." ('The Facts About Luther, O'Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p. 202.)
"If nonsense is spoken anywhere, this is the very place. I pass over the fact that many have maintained, with much probability, that this epistle was not written by the apostle James, and is not worthy of the spirit of the apostle." ('Pagan Servitude of the Church,' ed. Dillenberger, p. 352.)
"Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides... No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day." ('Let Your Sins Be Strong, from 'The Wittenberg Project;' 'The Wartburg Segment', translated by Erika Flores, from Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter No. 99, 1 Aug. 1521.)
"Those pious souls who do good to gain the Kingdom of Heaven not only will never succeed, but they must even be reckoned among the impious; and it is more important to guard them against good works than against sin." (Wittenberg, VI, 160, quoted by O'Hare, in 'The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, p. 122.)
"...every Christian is by faith so exalted above all things that, by virtue of a spiritual power, he is lord of all things without exception, so that nothing can do him any harm. As a matter of fact, all things are made subject to him and are compelled to serve him in obtaining salvation." (From the essay, 'Freedom of a Christian,' 'Martin Luther: Selections >From His Writings, ed. by Dillenberger, Anchor Books, 1962 p.63.)
"Like the mules who will not move unless you perpetually whip them with rods, so the civil powers must drive the common people, whip, choke, hang, burn, behead and torture them, that they may learn to fear the powers that be." (El. ed. 15, 276, quoted by O'Hare, in 'The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, p. 235.)
"A peasant is a hog, for when a hog is slaughtered it is dead, and in the same way the peasant does not think about the next life, for otherwise he would behave very differently." ('Schlaginhaufen,' 'Aufzeichnungen,' p. 118, )
"The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible." ('The Facts About Luther, O'Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p. 202.)
Indeed, Luther was not comfortable with simply committing blasphemy, he had to claim that He was actually the mouthpiece of God on earth. I guess the old traditions of Papal infallibility and deity didn't die easily.
He even invented a raft of doctrines that modern Christian now embraces, but which are demonstrably unBiblical... such as Sola Fidianism (Salvation by Faith Alone), the Priesthood of All Believers, and Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone). He joined these with the patently unBiblical Nicean Trinitarian dogma, Ex-Nihilo creation and Original Sin to form a completely different and "other gospel" than what Paul taught. And this is the man considered the "Father of Modern Evangelicalism." All of this was from a man whom Protestantism and Modern Evangelicalism looks to for their origin, and their very existence… a man who claimed that all of these statements were the very words of Christ Himself.
<< The doctrines we hold true and dear are not based on papal decrees. >>
Then are you saying that the Papal decrees were totally apostate?
<< They are not based on the writings of Luther, Calvin, Percot, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Athanasius, or Clement. >>
Then show us in the Bible where the "homoousion" Trinity is found, or Sola fidianism, or sola scriptura, or the Priesthood of all believers, or ex-nihilo creation, or original sin. I'd love to see chapter and verse for all of these, and where they are clearly and irrefutably taught in scripture.
<< The doctrines we hold dear are based solely on the writings of the prophets and apostles as contained in the canon of the Old and New Testament. >>
Then you must reject the Nicean "homoousios" Trinitarian heresy, Sola Fidianism, Sola Scriptura, the Priesthood of All Believers, Ex-Nihilo Creation, and Original Sin.
<< It is true that we do not have the autographs. >>
Thank you at LEAST being THAT honest.
<< But scholars smarter than you or me have been able to analyze all the extant manuscript evidence, including the biblical quotes contained in the writings of many of the ante-Nicene figures as well as the biblical texts, and can reliably conclude what was contained in the original manuscripts. >>
Bruce M. Metzger, Ph.D., the world-famous emeritus professor of theology from Princeton, notes that;
"A group of correctors working at Caesarea entered a large number of alterations into the text of both Old and New Testaments." (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, p. 46).
"The whole of Matthew's Gospel as far as xxv, 6 is lost, as well as the leaves which originally contained John 6:50-58, 52, and 2 Cor. 4:13-xii, 6." (ibid, p. 46).
"Unfortunately the beauty of the original writing has been spoiled by a later corrector..." (ibid., p. 47).
"All known witnesses of the New Testament are to a greater or less extent mixed texts, and even the earliest manuscripts are not free from egregious errors..." (ibid., p. 246)
Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee note that;
"There are places where the original text is not so certain..." (Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, p. 16).
“WITHOUT EXCEPTION, all of the oldest Greek MSS had been corrupted by interpolation..." (ibid. p. 149, emphasis added).
"The great fault of contemporary NT textual criticism is that IT CANNOT offer us TOTAL CERTAINTY as to the ORIGINAL NT text." (ibid., p. 189, emphasis added).
Even after scribal errors have been eliminated, "there remains a text of outstanding (though not absolute) purity." (ibid, p. 128).
Bart D. Ehrman states that;
"Scribes occassionally altered the words of their sacred texts to make them more patently orthodox and to prevent their misuse by Christians who espoused aberrant views." (Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, p. xi).
"Their scribes corrupted their texts for theological reasons..." (ibid., p. xii).
“Scripture was changed to refute antiDocetic tendencies in early Christian circles…” (ibid., p. 217).
Stanley R. Maveety states that;
"Tyndale was guilty of DELIBERATELY ***MISTRANSLATING*** the Bible in order to conform to Lutheran doctrine... (Stanley R. Maveety, The Glossary in the Rheims New Testament of 1582, in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 61, 1962, p. 566).
“The Protestants were guilty of adding words to the scriptures in order to condemn Catholic doctrines” (ibid., p. 572)
Emanuel Tov taught that;
“The Masoretes had preserved a text in the Hebrew Bible, which had already been corrupted! (Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, p. 9, 28ff).
“Samaritans added their own theological biases to the scriptures” (ibid., p. 19).
“Words were added that change the meaning of biblical passages…” (ibid. pp. 57, 63, 65, 60).
“Theological concepts of God were ADDED to the scriptures” (ibid., p. 127f).
“There is a LARGE SCALE differences between the manuscript witnesses, not minor mere variations…” (ibid., p. 177).
“Scribes took the liberty of changing the manuscripts as they felt suited to…” (ibid., p. 189)
“Scribes deliberately altered the contents of the manuscripts and scriptures…” (ibid., pp. 258, 262, 306, 269, 290)
“EVERY CHAPTER in the Bible has CHANGES!” (ibid., p. 293f)
James A. Sanders says that we ought to start acknowledging the differences in the Bible and quit pretending there are none, and that we ought to realize that there have been differences from the very start of the Bible! (James A. Sanders, "Understanding the Development of the Biblical Text" in The Dead Sea Scrolls After Forty Years, p. 71).
Emanuel Tov says there have been many different systems of scribal intervention and changing of the scripture! (Emanuel Tov, “The Corrections in the Biblical Texts", in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research, pp. 300ff).
P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. says that "parablepsis...frequently resulted in an EXTENSIVE loss of material..." (P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., Textual Criticism: Recovering the Text of the Hebrew Bible, p. 40ff).
Ronald S. Hendel shows how men have deliberately changed and tampered with the scripture text, altering its historical as well as theological ideas (Ronald S. Hendel, "When the Sons of God Cavorted With the Daughters of Men", in Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, pp. 170fff)
Frank Moore Cross notes how "the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible has been confused and obscured by an assumption, or rather a dogma, that the Hebrew text was unchanged and unchanging." (Frank Moore Cross, "The Text Behind the Text of the Hebrew Bible," p. 143).
Leon Vaganay/Christian Bernard-Amphoux says that "Corrections were made boldly, things were added and things omitted..." (Leon Vaganay/Christian Bernard-Amphoux, An Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, p. 57, 80, 81 – and adds the note that scribes felt free to modify texts to fit their own views of the scriptures!)
Gosh. It seems that a lot of smart men... admittedly much smarter than YOU... disagree with you.
<< The dates of copies and their widespread translation in the early years made it a virtual impossibility to corrupt the Scriptures, as such corruptions would be restricted to only a few, and would be revealed in comparison to other early copies and translations. >>
And yet, interestingly, again the scholars disagree with you:
"No reputable Evangelical scholar or theologian believes in divine dictation for more than a tiny fraction of Scripture (e.g. the 10 Commandments). In other words, despite periodic confusion among laypeople in our churches, we do not claim that the Biblical authors typically heard voices, saw visions, or were overtaken by some uncontrollable force as they wrote... Neither do Evangelicals affirm that God providentially protected the entire process of copying and translating the Biblical manuscripts over the centuries so that every copy after the original was inerrant." (Craig L. Blomberg, Ph.D., How Wide The Divide? A Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1997), pg. 37)
"Not all Evangelicals are comfortable with the term 'inerrancy' because it can suggest a degree of precision that cannot be squared with various details of the Scriptures themselves. " (ibid., pg. 34)
"Given our current state of knowledge, we cannot prove the Bible to be without error, and various critics are more or less inclined to speak of contradictions in a variety of places." (ibid., pg. 35)
"We recognize that the Scriptures have not been preserved flawlessly as they were copied through the centuries, because the manuscripts that exist vary from each other in numerous ways." (ibid.)
Blomberg received his Ph.D. from Aberdeen, is a professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary and is the author of The Historical Reliability of the Gospels and Interpreting the Parables.
A final question concerns the means, or process, of inspiration. What means did God's causality employ to produce scriptural authority without interfering with the personality, freedom, and individuality of the prophetic agents? Or, how did God produce an infallible book through fallible men? A frank and forthright answer, yet one often very reluctantly given by biblical scholars, is "We don't know.".... Several solutions have been suggested for this problem, all of which have their own inherent difficulties.... In the whole question of the modus operandi (mode of operation) of inspiration, a balance must be sought between the two extremes of divine dictation and human fallibility. (Geisler and Nix, pp. 45-47)
The problem gets murkier when one considers the ancient practice of "harmonization." If you want to read about the extent of damage THIS practice caused, I'll be happy to provide a plethora of quotes for you to consider.
<< I encourage you to read The Text of the New Testament, by Bruce Metzger, for a good history lesson in this regard. >>
I have it.
<< It would help for you to brush up on New Testament Greek before reading this book, but it’s still educational even if you lack a knowledge of Greek. >>
It certainly is. For one, Metzger definitely shoots down your proposition that the Bible has survived unchanged.
<< With that said, there is a myriad of evidence that supports the Bibles on my shelf as accurate renditions of the writings of the original authors. >>
So, are you saying that every translation is in perfect harmony with all others in factual matters?
<< The amount of textual variants are minute, and don’t affect key doctrines.>>
You're kidding, right?
"Other divergencies in wording arose from deliberate attempts to smooth out grammatical or stylistic harshness, or to eliminate real or imagined obscurities of meaning in the text. Sometimes a copyist would substitute or would add what seemed to him to be a more appropriate word or form, perhaps derived from a parallel passage (called harmonization, or assimilation). Thus, during the years immediately following the composition of the several documents that eventually were collected to form the NT, hundreds, if not thousands, of variant teachings arose." (Bruce M. Metzger, Ph.D., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, pg. 16)
"Odd though it may seem, scribes who thought were more dangerous than those who wished merely to be faithful in copying what lay before them. Many of the alterations which may be classified as intentional were no doubt introduced in good faith by copyists who believed that they were correcting an error or infelicity of language which had previously crept into the sacred text and needed to be rectified. A later scribe might even rein-troduce an erroneus reading that had been previously corrected." (Bruce M. Metzger, Ph.D., The Text of the New Testament, pg. 195)
"The number of deliberate alterations made in the interests of doctrine is difficult to assess. Iraneus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Eusebius, and many other Church Fathers accused the heretics of corrupting the Scriptures in order to have support for their special views." (ibid, pg. 201)
"Some of the textual problems involving additions are the result of what is called "harmonization". That is a tendency of scribes to make the text at one place in scripture harmonize with the text in another place. Sometimes it was consciously done by a well meaning copyist who, remembering the reading in another place, probably thought that the passage at hand was defective. At other times, it may have been done unconsciously when the memory of the scribe was more alert than his eyes." (Eugene A. Nida, Ph.D., Good News for Everyone, p. 90)
"The early manuscripts were all copied by hand, and in the copying changes and errors crept in. It has been calculated that in the Greek manuscripts of the NT, there are 150,000 places in which there are variant readings." (William Barclay, Ph.D., Introducing the Bible, pg. 133-134)
"That the original copies of the various books in our canon, as they came from the pen of their respective authors, were free of all errors and discrepancies is a pure postulate. The Bible nowhere claims that to be the case, and no autograph exists to allow the postulate to be tested. The text of scripture as we now possess it, even in the best critical editions, contains errors and discrepancies.” (Paul J. Achtemeier, Ph.D., The Inspiration of Scripture, pg. 71)
"The scribes were not content to be mere copyists, nor were they antiquarians eager to pre-serve old documents simply because they were old. As they copied, they remodeled the old documents." (Alice Parmlee, A Guidebook to the Bible, pg. 107)
<< The KJV has some minor errors given the manuscript basis available at that time for translation, but it is still a decent translation.
Ah, but being a “decent translation” isn’t really the issue, is it? The real question is whether it is completely inerrant and infallible… is it not?
<< Also, you claimed that the Epistles were written prior to the writing of the gospels. For one thing, most scholars currently place an early date on the writing of most of the gospels (early AD 50’s to early AD 60’s, with some opinions to a late 40’s writing). This is concurrent to slightly before the writing of most of the Epistles, so you are in error on that point. >>
Actually, according to most scholars, including the venerable Raymond Brown, you are incorrect. The writing of the Pauline epistles is placed at between 30-60AD, with the bulk of the NT being written after that time… most certainly the Gospels were written after 65AD, at least one, and probably more decades after Paul penned his epistles.
“According to tradition, the earliest of the books were the letters of Paul, and the last books to be written are those attributed to John, who is traditionally said to have lived to a very old age, perhaps dying as late as 100. Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 185, stated that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were written while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome, which would be in the 60s, and Luke was written some time later. Evangelical and traditionalist scholars continue to support this dating.” (WordIQ, http://www.wordiq.com/definition/New_Testament)
"When Paul happened to write a letter to his converts in Galatia (c. 49/50), he had no idea that he was writing the earliest Christian text which would survive for us, some fifteen years, perhaps, before any of our Gospels existed. ” (Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version)
“The actual authorship and date of composition of many of these letters is seriously disputed, but it is generally agreed that Paul wrote some of them in the 50s a.d., making them the oldest existing Christian texts.”
“The Gospels were probably written between 65 and 110 a.d., with Mark written first and John last.” (SparkNotes, The New Testament, http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/newtestament/context.html)
<< Aside from that, your argument is irrelevant. Paul refers to the gospel they had “preached” (past tense, verbal communication). It wouldn’t matter if the gospels were actually written down later. >>
It surely does, if one is to accept your interpretation of Paul’s statement to the effect that everything had already been preached. In fact, at the time Paul penned his epistles, very LITTLE of the gospel existed in written form, compared to what is in the Gospels. So yes, it is not only germane to the discussion at hand, but to the entire validity of your argument WHEN these books were written… that is, if we are to accept your interpretation, which is in and of itself inherently flawed logically and linguistically. In context, Paul is reminding his audience of truths that he previously taught them, and is in no way indicating that all that would ever been taught has already been. Such an interpretation is not only not true to the text itself, it is not true to the principles of proper hermeneutics.
<< It is clear that the gospels were written and distributed during Paul’s ministry, at the latest. If they were in error, I’m sure there would have been mention of that. >>
You are begging the question here, however, and the preponderance of evidence is against you. John’s gospel, for instance, is widely accepted to have been written between 80-105AD, with most scholars placing it AFTER the writing of the Revelation of John.
<< Paul mentioned him taking Peter to task, so if the gospel authors were in error, I have no doubt he would have said so. >>
Again, you are begging the question. The FACT is that there is no evidence of this in the Bible. This completely fails to show how the gospels were not written AFTER Peter and Paul were preaching.
<< With that said, you referred to the doctrine of the Trinity as a heretical doctrine. I’m sure to many Mormons it seems that way, just as it seems that way to the Muslims, and to the Arians of old. >>
The homoousion Trinitarian dogma is heretical to anyone who cherishes the Bible. It is an unBiblical doctrine, as both Catholic and Protestant scholars (again, who are much smarter than you) attest:
"Trinitarian discussion, Roman Catholic as well as others, presents a somewhat unsteady silhouette. Two things have happened. There is the recognition on the part of exegetes and Biblical theologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholics, that one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification. There is also the closely parallel recognition on the part of historians of dogma and systematic theologians that when one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century." (R.L.Richard, "Trinity, Holy", in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 15 vols.)
"The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the 4th and 5th centuries is not to be found in the New Testament". (Harper's Bible Dictionary)
"There is no formal doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament writers, if this means an explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But the three are there, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and a triadic ground plan is there, and triadic formulas are there... The Biblical witness to God, as we have seen, did not contain any formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, any explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons." (Jesuit Scholar Edmund J. Fortman, "Triune God", pp. 32,35)
"These passages give no doctrine of the Trinity... Paul has no formal Trinitarian doctrine and no clear-cut realization of a Trinitarian problem......there is no Trinitarian doctrine in the Synoptics or Acts... nowhere do we find any Trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead" (Fortman, "Triune God", pp. 22-23)
"Of a doctrine of the Trinity in the strict sense there is OF COURSE no sign..."
(J.N.D.Kelly, "Early Christian Doctrines")
“The God whom we experience as triune is, in fact, triune. But we cannot read back into the New Testament, much less the Old Testament, the more sophisticated trinitarian theology and doctrine which slowly and often unevenly developed over the course of some fifteen centuries.” (Richard P. McBrian, “Catholicism”, Minneapolis: Winston Press, 1980, pg. 347)
“Thus the New Testament itself is far from any doctrine of the Trinity or of a triune God who is three co-equal Persons of One Nature.” (William J. Hill, “The Three-Personed God”, Washington DC, The Catholic University of America Press, 1982, p. 27)
“The New Testament does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity.” (“New Testament Theology”, Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1967, Vol 1, p. 84)
"When we turn to the problem of the doctrine of the Trinity, we are confronted by a peculiarly contradictory situation. On the one hand, the history of Christian theology and of dogma teaches us to regard the dogma of the Trinity as the distinctive element in the Christian idea of God, that which distinguishes it from the idea of God in Judaism and in Islam, and indeed, in all forms of rational Theism. Judaism, Islam, and rational Theism are Unitarian. On the other hand, we must honestly admit that the doctrine of the Trinity did NOT form part of the early Christian-New Testament-message. Certainly, it cannot be denied that not only the word "Trinity", but even the EXPLICIT IDEA of the Trinity is absent from the apostolic witness of the faith.. The doctrine of the Trinity itself, however, is not a Biblical Doctrine..." (Emil Brunner, "The Christian Doctrine of God", Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1949, pp. 205 & 236)
"In order to argue successfully for the unconditionality and permanence of the ancient Trinitarian Creeds, it is necessary to make a distinction between doctrines, on the one hand, and on the terminology and conceptuality in which they were formulated on the other... Some of the crucial concepts employed by these creeds, such as "substance", "person", and "in two natures" are post-Biblical novelties. If these particular notions are essential, the doctrines of these creeds are clearly conditional, dependent on the late Hellenistic milieu. (George A. Lindbeck, Professon of Historical Theology, Yale University, "The Nature of Doctrine", Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984, p. 92)
"Let us return to the second century, when it was first sensed that the formulations of the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers were not sufficient to describe the nature of the divinity. A new way of doing this was attempted. Thus the so-called Monarchian controversy occurred... In addition to the Modalists (such as Sabellius), for whom Christ and the Holy Spirit were modes in which one Godhead appeared, there the Dynamists or Adoptionists, who conceived of Christ either as a man who was raised up by being adopted by God, or as a man filled with God's power." (Kurt Aland, "A History of Christianity", Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1985, Volume 1, p. 190)
"It would be up to the work of later theologians to take this gospel material pertaining to the mission of the Son AD EXTRA and draw from it a theology of the inner life of the Trinity". (Raymond E. Brown, "The Gospel According to John I-XII", Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co. Inc., pp. 403 & 407).
"The exact theological definition of the doctrine of the Trinity was the result of a long process of development, which was not complete until the 5th century, or even later." (J.R.Dummelow)
<< Many LDS leaders and apologists are adept at picking a verse from here or there, totally ignoring its context. >>
I certainly would like to see a concrete example of this, especially from MY writings. I notice that you fail to provide even a single example… and you also fail to inform our dear readers that Evangelicals have LONG been accused of what you are accusing us of… “proof-texting” or “cherry-picking” in attempting to draw Biblical support for patently unbiblical doctrines, and by Evangelical scholars, no less. An excellent example can be found in the writings of scholar Mark Noll, whose book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” is a must-read for any REAL Christian.
<< Since the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, and since no single verse is totally clear on the Trinity, then you believe it to be a heresy. >>
No, we believe it is a heresy BECAUSE it is patently unbiblical, is contrary to what the Bible teaches about the nature of God, and because of who the author of this odious doctrine was… a pagan sun-worshipper whose interest in Christianity was limited to the utility of a power-grab over the feuding Christian factions, and who managed to alienate almost the entire church by imposing the unbiblical term “homoousios” on the council therein convened. Don’t believe me? Read Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. He was there.
<< This is where I encourage you to practice reading the Bible in its entirety. When the Bible is taken as a whole, there is no logical alternative than the existence of One Triune God, eternally existent in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. >>
Of course, this is a logical fallacy of exclusion. You are insisting that only your alternatives are possible, when in fact, others exist.
When the Bible is taken as a whole, and the context is carefully reviewed, the homoousios Trinity is nowhere to be found. It simply doesn’t exist. The “logical alternative” is what the Bible actually teaches… “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one..” (1 John 3:5) Of course, John himself explained EXACTLY what he meant by “one” in his gospel, in his record of the Master’s Great Intercessory Prayer: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21) John’s “oneness” was not homoousios, and interestingly, even though it COULD have been used here, it was not. John’s “oneness” was one of unity, purpose, and intent. Not of ontological oneness of substance and being.
<< I have clearly defended the Trinity elsewhere on our website, and see no need to reproduce that for you, but if you want a full explanation, I can certainly email you the links to those explanations. >>
I would be happy to refute those as well from the Bible. I already have refuted them from modern Protestant and Catholic scholarship.
<< Even the Book of Mormon speaks of Jesus being the same as the Father, and other verses lead toward a Trinitarian conclusion (2 Nephi 19:6, 31:21, Mosiah 15:1-5, Alma 11:38-44, 3 Nephi 11:27-36, Ether 3:14). >>
Trinitarian? Not at all. Here are the passages in question:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (2 Ne 19:6)
There is no mention of the Trinity here whatsoever.
“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2 Ne 31:21)
Again, far from being an affirmation of a doctrine invented almost 1000 later by a pagan, this passage is affirming EXACTLY what John taught in the Johaninne Comma and John 17:21… that there are three that bear record, who are ONE in unity, purpose and intent.
Let’s see if your other “examples” do much better:
“AND now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—
The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—
And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.” (Mosiah 5:1-5)
Nope. No indication of the homoousios “one-in-actual-substance Trinity HERE. Nothing but the same “oneness” we’ve already reviewed from John.
In reality, Abinadai was referring to the very Biblical fact that Jesus Christ was Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. At the time this was written, the Father had not been revealed. That would not happen until the ministry of Christ, who would proclaim the Father, and who would then discontinue the practice of paying to Himself, and instead would teach His followers to pray to the Father from that point on, in His name.
Let’s look at your example in Alma:
“Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?
”And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;
”And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.
”Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death; for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
”Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
”The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
”Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.” (Alma 11:38-44)
Again, with marvelous and amazing consistency, this passage echoes the truth as taught by John… that there are THREE that bear record in heaven, and that these three are ONE. One in unity, purpose, and intent. No homoousios Trinitarian dogma here either.
Let’s look now at 3 Nephi, which involves the account of the Savior’s visit to the ancient Americas:
“And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.
”And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
”For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
”Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
”Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
”And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
”And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
”And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
”Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
”And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.” (3 Ne 11:27-36)
Again, with amazing consistency, and with almost the exact language John used, this passage teaches the same truth… that Jesus is “one” with the Father in the same way that He desires His disciples to be “one” with him… one in unity, purpose, and intent.
You’re striking out badly here. Let’s look at your last example:
Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.” (Ether 3:14)
The reference to “I am the Father,” of course, is not referring to God the Father… but to the role of Christ as the Father of Christianity, the “Father” of mankind, which He created WITH the Father (Gen 1:26,27), the “Father” of this world, which He created under the direction of His Father, and His God: “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17)
If you truly believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are one ontological being, which you seem to be inferring, then you have completely abandoned the Biblical teaching on the nature of God, and have instead embraced the heresy of modalism, dressed in the cloak of Trinitarianism.
<< Even the conclusion to the Testimony of the Three Witnesses is Trinitarian. While I don’t consider the Book of Mormon to be Scripture, I do admit that some of these verses are incredibly and clearly Trinitarian! 2 Nephi 31:21 for example, “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” If you dismiss the doctrine of the Trinity as heresy, then you must condemn the Book of Mormon of heresy as well. If you don’t, then your position lacks intellectual honesty. >>
The only thing that is intellectually “dishonest” here is your insistence that if these passages do not prove YOUR assertion that they must be rejected, and that no other explanation is possible. I have clearly shown from John’s writings ALONE that not only is a different interpretation possible, but is also probable.
<< But many LDS apologists and leaders must resort to plucking verses out of context. As such a method does not reveal clear, concise teachings of the Trinity in the Bible, you reject it off-hand. >>
Again, you provide no examples of this, particularly from my writings or those from any OTHER LDS apologist or leader. Why? Is there substance to your claim, or not?
<< Context is very important, whether it is in the context of the Bible as a whole, or simply including the surrounding verses. For instance, you plucked 1 Corinthians 11:16 completely out of context to support your view that being “contentious” is condemned. >>
Really? How so?
<< If you include that verse in context, it wraps up a section on “propriety in worship”, wherein it states that a man’s hair should remain short, but a woman’s hair should remain long as a covering. >>
How does an individual’s hair covering have anything to do with contentiousness? In other words, I challenge you to show me from the context where the plain, clear meaning of this passage is changed, or where my interpretation is in error, of where the attitude of contentiousness within the Church is not foreign to the Gospel of Christ. Regardless of the cause of the contention, Paul makes it clear that it is unacceptable. Period.
Here is the context of verses 13-19, for all to see:
“Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
”Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
”But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
”But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
”Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
”For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
”For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Cor 11:13-19)
Regarding v. 16-21, Darby notes:
“Their assemblies manifested a spirit of division. This division concerned the distinction between the rich and the poor, but, as it seems, gave rise to others: at least others were necessary to make manifest those who were really approved of God. Now these divisions had the character of sects; that is to say, particular opinions divided Christians of the same assembly, of the assembly of God, into schools; they were hostile to each other, although they took the Lord's supper together-if indeed it could be said that they took it together.” (John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament)
In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, he comments on this passage, and says,
“…a man that is always contending for contention sake, and is continually cavilling and carping at everything that is said and done in churches, and is always quarrelling with one person or another, or on account of one thing or another, and is constantly giving uneasiness, is not fit to be a church member; nor ought he to be suffered to continue in the communion of the church, to the disturbance of the peace of it. This puts me in mind of a passage in the Talmud.”
Even Matthew Henry weighed in on this passage. Speaking of v. 16, he said,
“[Paul] sums up all by referring those who were contentious to the usages and customs of the churches, v. 16”
<< In verse 16, the NIV and NASB provide a better translation, relying on a majority of older manuscripts: “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God.” So what does verse 16 mean in context? It means that if anyone wishes to argue about the length of hair appropriate for a man or a woman, they should realize that there is no other accepted custom within the church. Yet you take verse 16 OUT of context to support your view that we are condemned for being “contentious.” >>
Absolutely not. As I just described, which especially can be seen in John Gill’s exposition, even though addressing a specific problem in the Church, Paul condemns contentiousness in ANY case or situation. The very fact that you would argue for the right to be contentious in itself reveals that you are a stranger to the gospel of peace and love that Christ taught:
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:27,35)
<< There are verses in the Bible (AND in the Book of Mormon) that instruct people to contend for the faith, or for true doctrine. That is what Jesus did with the Pharisees. That is what Paul did, even to the point of calling the Galatians “foolish” (Galatians 3:1). >>
This is a pathetic rationalization for hatred and persecution of those who you do not personally agree with. I notice that you did not include any passages from the Book of Mormon to support your view… I would be very curious what they are. As for the Bible, let’s look at the passage you allude to:
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
Talk about leaving out context! You have intentionally omitted the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey put it, that places this passage clearly in perspective.
When examined in the context of this chapter, the fascinating part of this passage is that it is an explicit condemnation of what Bonhoeffer termed the “cheap grace” and “easy believism” of Evangelical soteriology, and the abject heresies of Martin Luther, who you will remember, taught:
“We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides... No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day."”
Note John Darby’s rather extensive commentary on this passage:
“He had purposed writing to them of the salvation common to all Christians; but he found it needful to exhort them to stand fast, to contend for the faith once given to the saints. For already was that faith being corrupted by the denial of the rights of Christ to be Lord and Master; and thus also, by giving the reins to self-will, they abused grace, and turned it into a principle of dissoluteness. These are the two elements of the evil which the instruments of Satan introduced, the rejection of the authority of Christ (not His name): and the abuse of grace, in order to indulge their own lusts. In both cases it was the will of man, which they set free from everything that bridled it. The expression "Lord God" points our this character of God. "Lord" here is not the word generally used; it is "despotes", that is "master".”
Note what Darby points out from the context… that it is the authority of Christ AND those who abused “grace” by intentionally being immoral, claiming that they would be saved regardless of their acts, who were to be contended AGAINST!!!
Modern Evangelicals deny the authority of Christ to speak to mankind today through living prophets, as He has done in ages past. They deny Him the authority to reveal more of His Word to mankind than the smattering that we already have in the form of the Bible. And they deny Him the authority to declare whatsoever He will, if it is not found in the various records that men kept of His ministry, even though those records themselves declare loudly that they are, in fact, incomplete and that much is missing.
In this passage, modern Evangelicalism is condemned. And when applied to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, NEITHER applies… we do not deny the authority of Christ, we proclaim it. We do not “abuse grace” by engaging in lusts of the flesh and attempt to rationalize it with the heretical notion of positionalism and predestination… we embrace the gospel taught by the Biblical authors that:
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” (1 John 2:3-5)
“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:24)
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3)
<< That is what we are doing. That is what FAIR feels it is doing. And that is what you obviously feel you are doing. Condemn one, condemn us all. If we edited the New Testament to remove all things contentious by your definition, it would be a shell of what it currently contains. >>
What is truly amazing is that you are so ignorant of God’s Word that you feel that this is the sum total of the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. One has to wonder how you have the gall to pretend to proclaim His gospel, or contend against that which you THINK is in error, when in fact, you are completely ignorant of the truth of what Christ taught. I commend to you the Beatitudes for contemplation.
<< We do not engage in hate. If you wish to accuse us of hatred, then point out specific examples. Support your position with facts. >>
When you specifically target another group to attack on the basis of their religious beliefs, when you create websites for the sole purpose of tearing apart the sacred beliefs of others, when you write books that have the intent of ripping apart another’s faith, when you pass out tracts that do *NOT* teach the Good News of Jesus Christ, but which instead are intended to attack, then yes, that is hate. And yes, you engage in hate. If that offends you, stop doing it. There is a more Christlike way to minister… show a good EXAMPLE in Christ. Be about what Christ commanded. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless.
<< You specifically state that we claim to speak for all of Christianity. That is patently false. Nowhere do we make such a claim. >>
Then explain to me the generic references to “Christianity” on your site, instead of your particular flavor of Christianity or your specific denomination? By not narrowing it down to what you, yourself embrace, you ARE pretending to speak for all of Christianity by implication.
<< You do not support your integrity with lies and spurious claims. >>
Neither do you support yours by lying about my beliefs.
<< I never said FAIR claims to speak with the imprimatur of the LDS Church. >>
And yet, that is exactly what your question implied, which you are in denial of.
<< I asked that question because FAIR has the same type of ministry that we do. >>
Nothing could be more false. FAIR has never created a website with the intent to attack the faith of others. It does not publish books intended to destroy the sacred beliefs of a particular faith. It is not a ministry of hate, as yours is. It does not condemn others to Hell for disagreeing with our beliefs. It does not picket Evangelical meetinghouses, nor does it pass out hate tracts at Evangelical gathers. It does not encourage its members not to associate with those not of our faith… we do exactly the opposite, as the Savior did.
<< I must say, your reputation for misrepresenting people’s statements precedes you, as I read your exchanges on James White’s website where you did the same thing. >>
And I must say, your reputation for rationalization and obfuscation precedes you as well, and for good reason. In this entire diatribe, you have not managed to raise even ONE salient point.
<< Yet it is not honest. You accuse us of lying. If you are going to make scurrilous accusations, then point out specifically where we lied, and prove that it is a lie. In other words, show us the quote from our website, show that it is provably false, and show that we knew it to be false. That is the burden of proof for showing a lie. I submit to you, Mr. Barksdale, that you will find NO lies on our website. >>
If I do with the proper documentation, will you change it on your site?
<< You challenged me to present an argument that Mormons worship a “different Jesus.” I addressed this fully in my response to chapters 1 and 2 of Mormonism 201, a “FAIR” response to Mormonism 101 (http://www.contenderministries.org/mormonism/fairldsresponse.php). >>
I will review this and respond when time permits.
<< You also maintain that you’ll only accept quotes from the four standard works of the LDS Church. I maintain this to be an intellectually dishonest approach, and I’ll tell you why. In Mormonism, as opposed to Christianity, there exists a strong hierarchy of leadership. This hierarchy maintains tight control over LDS doctrine. There is no variance of doctrinal beliefs from ward to ward, as there exists within Christianity. That being so, the quotes of your “prophets” and “apostles” should reliably reflect official LDS doctrine, whether they be in the four standard works or not. >>
In other words, even though the authors themselves declared that their speeches were not to be considered official doctrine, and even though in most cases they didn’t even have an opportunity to proof-read and correct their transcripts, that their words should be taken as official doctrine even though their writings completely CONTRADICT that idea? How in the world is this “intellectually honest”? That you be able to take their statements, out of context, from non-canonical, non-official doctrinal sources, and simply DECLARE them to be binding, because YOU want them to be? Please explain the intellectual honesty in that for me. I’m dying to know.
I will ONLY accept evidence that the LDS Church itself considers authoritative… and so should ANY seeker of truth… unless, of course, you want to grant US the same latitude in using the rather interesting quotes of the Father of Modern Evangelicalism, Martin Luther, as the de facto official doctrine of the Evangelical movement… after all, he claimed to speak with the very mouth of Christ.
You simply cannot have it both ways. Either you maintain the same standard, or you do not. You are a hypocrite, or you are fair. You have a double-standard, or you are equitable in your application of logic and reason.
Which is it?
<< The sermons of Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses should be a reliable account of Mormon beliefs if, as you believe, Brigham Young was an anointed prophet of God. >>
No, they should not.
The reason is very simple… not even Mormons accept these writings as canonical or official. They were never even originally published by the Church, nor were the speakers given the opportunity to review their contents before publication. In fact, the publisher of the JOD was later excommunicated for financial fraud.
Your zeal in demanding to include them is obvious. You simple cannot deal with what *IS* the official doctrine of the Church. You can’t. You are impotent in that respect. You cannot show where ANY of our official doctrines are contrary to Biblical truth. THAT is why you seek so desperately to include the JOD in your resources to bash the LDS Church with.
<< The published works of Elder McConkie, an Apostle of the LDS Church, that have been distributed in official LDS bookstores, should be an acceptable reference for LDS beliefs. >>
No, they should not.
McConkie himself, and I knew the man personally, proclaimed in the introduction to his work “Mormon Doctrine” that the thoughts and ideas presented were his alone… and were not official doctrinal declarations of the Church. Period. To attempt to use his, and any OTHER LDS leaders’ words as representative of our official doctrine, which the SOURCE of such official doctrine is as plainly and clearly stated as it is, is the epitome of intellectual dishonesty.
<< After all, I’m sure the LDS Church would not distribute the works of one of their apostles if anything within the works were not true or fair. >>
The LDS Church, through Deseret Book, distributes many, many works which don’t perfectly jive with our official doctrine… such as the “Left Behind” series, which is patently unbiblical fiction. That is not a true statement.
<< If you truly believe in continual modern revelation, then you can’t legitimately restrict references to the Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP. >>
As official statements of our doctrine? You bet I can. Nothing else but these works are accepted by us as official doctrinal statements. Why should YOU be able to declare what is, and what isn’t, official LDS doctrine when our own standards do not match what you are using? Again, such is patently intellectually dishonest.
<< Yet many LDS apologists raise the same objections. “Don’t quote from those,” they cry. If you’re embarrassed about the statements of your prophets and apostles, perhaps you should consider if they have true authority to be God’s spokesmen on earth. >>
Fallacy of distraction. The issue is not about “embarrassment.” It is about what does, and does not constitute the official doctrine of the LDS Church. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Evangelicals claim the Bible to be their sole authority. It would be just as dishonest for us to DEMAND that we use the words of the Father of Modern Evangelicalism, Martin Luther, to define what Evangelicals themselves accept as authoritative, as it would be for YOU to demand that only YOU can decide what we do, and don’t accept as authoritative sources of doctrine.
<< If you claim the LDS Church holds to henotheism as opposed to polytheism, then you are either a misinformed/misled apologist, or a deceptive one. >>
Fallacy of the Ad-Hominem and Appeal to Authority. Sorry, won’t fly. If you wish to stay intellectually honest, simply state your case without the invective and insults. It’s only Christian.
<< You believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be three separate and distinct Gods, do you not? If you hold to LDS doctrine you do. They are three distinctly separate Gods, according to Mormonism, united only in purpose (in contradiction to clear verses in the Book of Mormon). >>
Actually, as I’ve shown quite exhaustively, this is not the case with the Book of Mormon.
<< Yet at least two of these are worshipped by Mormons. I’ve spoken with many Mormons who say they worship Jesus AND they worship the Father. >>
Oh, yeah. The mysterious “anonymous Mormons” who now speak for the entire faith. I notice they remain unnamed. Care to name them so that I can verify your statement with them?
<< 3 Nephi 11:17 and 4 Nephi 1:37 state that Jesus must be worshipped in addition to the Father. Mormons worship both Jesus and the Father. Mormons believe them to be two separate Gods. Therefore, Mormonism is polytheistic. >>
Oh, my. What twisted logic! LOL!!!!! Jesus Christ commanded us in the Bible to ONLY worship the Father in His name. And yet, He allowed Himself to be worshipped by those who were in His immediate presence… just as the Book of Mormon reflects in 3 Nephi, which is the account of the Savior’s personal visit to the ancient Americas. Again, in perfect harmony with each other. And yet. Even though the Bible teaches this same truth, strangely you do not consider yourself, or the Bible, to be polytheistic. What a double-standard you hold!
<< You also claim doctrines such as ex-nihilo creation, original sin, sola fide and sola scriptura to be heretical and unbiblical doctrines, along with the doctrine of the Trinity. We can explore each of these later, if you wish, and I can prove your position wrong through the Bible and ante-Nicene history. >>
Go for it. J
Be aware, however, that even Evangelical scholars who ARE experts on the Early Church disagree with you, such as David W. Bercot, author of “Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up? A Look At Evangelicalism In Light of Early Christianity.”
<< You allege I “added” to the Word of God by suggesting that the heresy in some of the first century churches was introduced through “revelation.” You deceptively suggest that I claim that to be the truth. You conveniently neglect that my words were, “through ‘revelation’, perhaps?”. >>
Were you then positing this as a lie or a falsehood?
<< It is obviously written as questioning a possibility, not concluding its truth. >>
If you did not intend to suggest that it had at least a POSSIBILITY of being true, why proffer it in the first place?
<< You claim that we are hateful and contentious. That is your right. I think those who read this exchange will be able to decide for themselves if your accusation is correct. >>
Yes, I hope they read it carefully. J If they do, they will not be able to avoid seeing the falsehood of your arguments.
<< Finally, Mr. Barksdale, while I do believe you have been deceived by Satan, I will not accuse you of being Satanic. >>
Unfortunately, I AM bound by intellectual honesty to identify the source of your lies and misrepresentations of my faith. Satan *IS* the father of lies. And you have lied extensively on your site about the official beliefs of my faith. And I am MORE than eager to point those out to you from official LDS doctrinal sources.
<< I sincerely hope and pray that you will join so many of your brethren who are waking up every day to the truth. You seem to have a lot of anger in your heart, but I assure you that the love of Jesus Christ can assuage that anger if you’ll invite Him into your heart. >>
Sorry to disappoint you, but no anger here. J As for my relationship with the Savior? It is very good, thank you. J Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. He is my Lord. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, who is full of grace and truth. It is ONLY in and through His holy name that I can be saved, and that of no work of my own.
D. L. Barksdale
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi Darryl. For a while, I was angry at the continued calumny and immature tone of your email. I was also amazed with your phenomenal capacity for taking things out of context, using distraction and straw men to avoid the issues, and how you seemingly failed to read or understand things I clearly stated. Then, after some prayer, I realized that your vitriol and brashness is simply the last bastion of a desperate man with nothing substantive left to hold on to. A weak argument has been hidden in loud anger and bitterness. It brought to mind Romans 1:22 (Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools), and I began to pity you. With that said, let’s move on to address the issues you raised, as well as the ones you attempted to avoid.
It’s clear you’re going to continue to accuse us of hating and persecuting Mormons, no matter what we say. I’m not going to waste time trying to change your mind, as I know my heart and so does the Lord. You asked me why we can’t just spread our faith without “attacking” other religions. We “attack” other religions because they are Satan’s deceptive devices, wooing good people away from the truth. But we do so without attacking the adherents of those religions. Yet you do not see the double standard. The same could be asked of you. Why do you not simply defend Mormonism, rather than drawing satirical cartoons that attack Christianity?
We recently received an email from a woman who is in the process of leaving the LDS Church after a lifetime spent within. She has seen the truth that you attempt to obscure. She expressed a different view: “I know how well you research and publish only the real stuff - believe me it's easy to spot someone trying to bash. I really appreciate being able to trust you. Showing me this emails just more proof you really are out to help not just crush someone's faith. I believe the way you and Jen help people is not only honest but faith building - I know you helped me to seek another church and not just throw it all out. ” This woman is a picture of courage, and her words to us mean much more than anything you can say.
You spoke of people who scream “filthy obscenities at us, symbolically wipe their bottom with our sacred vestments, and physically accost us because of our beliefs…” Somehow I doubt the veracity of that, but if any of that did happen, it was not Christians who did so. You also spoke repeatedly about Haun’s Mill and the Missouri Extermination Order. I had no idea you were there, or I would have been more deferential toward you. Are you seriously trying to compare books and websites to Haun’s Mill? I’ll admit that was a terrible time for the Mormons, but even your own historians recognize the story just isn’t that simple. LDS historian D. Michael Quinn wrote, “A generally unacknowledged dimension of both the extermination order and the Haun's Mill massacre, however, is that they resulted from Mormon actions in the Battle of Crooked River. Knowingly or not, Mormons had attacked state troops, and this had a cascade effect…”(Origins of Power, p.100). Historian Stephen C. LeSueur stated, "Although Mormon military action was generally initiated in response to reports of violence, the Mormons tended to overreact and in some instances retaliated against innocent citizens. Their perception of themselves as the chosen people, their absolute confidence in their leaders, and their determination not to be driven out led Mormon soldiers to commit numerous crimes. The Mormons had many friends among the Missourians, but their military operations undercut their support in the non-Mormon community" (The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, p.4). The conflict in Missouri had been heightened by a "Fourth of July Oration" given by First Counselor Sidney Rigdon that threatened the state of Missouri with what he called a "war of extermination." Joseph Smith was so impressed with the speech, that he made it into a pamphlet. Moreover, Smith’s action in having the Nauvoo Expositor press destroyed in response to negative press was not a sign of a tolerant man. The Mountain Meadows Massacre is another example of the fact that the LDS Church is not without blame. Nevertheless, you seem to have a martyr complex that will always make you the victim in your own mind. You defended your actions by saying, “In other words, we should just ‘shut up and take it.’ And when you vandalize our meetinghouses, terrorize, taunt, and harass our children because they don’t believe as you do, we should just lay down and let you. Got it.” Once again, I doubt the validity of your claims, but since you claim to be Christian, you might want to read Matthew 5:44, Romans 12:14, and 1 Corinthians 4:12. Of course, it takes the Holy Spirit within to respond to persecution in the Scriptural way, so I don’t expect it from you. You will always accuse us of hate (something far from the truth), but fail to see the hate in your own actions. That won’t change, so I’m just going to press on with answering the substantive portions of your email.
You challenged me to present examples of where you take things out of context. I did so in my last email, regarding your misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:16. Yet in your reply, you said I “conspicuously failed to address” this. Either you did not read my email, or you are putting up a false argument for the purpose of distraction. Therefore, I’ll cover it again, and hope against hope that you’ll pay attention to it this time. In context, verse 16 actually ends a section that begins in verse 2, discussing propriety in worship. You tried to lump it into the middle of verses 13 through 19, even though verse 17 starts a new subject. The verses leading up to verse 16 are talking about the appropriate length for hair. You made an astute observation in your email when you asked, “How does an individual’s hair covering have anything to do with contentiousness?” You get a gold star for that one, because you made my argument. You interpret verse 16 as a blanket condemnation against all forms of contentiousness. When placed in context, that interpretation makes no sense. That’s because your interpretation is incorrect. Here the reading in the NIV and NASB translations help place a verse in context that otherwise looks totally out of place: “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God” (NIV – emphasis added). In other words, verse 16 is essentially saying, “If you want to argue about what I just said, bear in mind there are no other practices regarding hair length in the church.” This makes perfect sense, but you had your preconceived notion as to what that verse said out of context, and when you tried to put it in context, you couldn’t while still holding on to your interpretation. Good scholarship means reading Scripture IN CONTEXT before making a judgment as to the interpretation or application, but you reversed those steps.
Once again, you accuse us of being unbiblical in confronting heresy. We are simply doing as we have been commanded to do in the book of Jude – CONTEND for the faith (not to mention Philippians 1:27). We are doing as Jesus did with the Pharisees. We are doing as Paul did when he found false teachings creeping into the church. He went so far as to call the Galatians “foolish.” Yet you do not condemn Jesus or Paul. The Bible does teach us to not to engage in “foolish arguments” (2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9), but it is clear from a full read of the New Testament that not all arguments are foolish. We must engage in some to contend for the faith and to “demolish arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5). By the way, Titus 3:9 also tells us to avoid genealogies. You might want to check that out.
You asked me the same question you asked in a follow-up email: “Which of the conflicting doctrines that pervade modern Christianity is the TRUE one?” You also number 35,000 Christian denominations. Again, I will say this is a fallacious argument. That fallacy is that only one of the denominations could hold the truth. Yes, I believe in absolute truth, and I always counsel those leaving Mormonism to find a Bible-believing church that holds to certain key doctrines, as outlined in our Statement of Faith. Many denominational differences are in regards to doctrines and practices that are not key doctrines of salvation (i.e. some exercise gifts of the Spirit, where others do not; some have contemporary worship music, where others prefer traditional hymns). Some denominations that you no doubt consider Christian, I would not. Yet some denominations can adhere to different views on ancillary doctrines and practices, and still be united in Christ. The divisions you decry are not all "deal breakers." You portray Christianity as hopelessly schismatic, but many of these differences reveal diversity, rather that schism. I attend a non-denominational Christian church, but know many Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals, and others whom I consider to be brothers and sisters in Christ. Their salvation is not based on the sign on the church they attend, but rather on their hearts. It’s their beliefs and faith that are important, not a membership card.
You spent a great deal of time talking about Martin Luther, and presenting some quotes of Luther’s. I’m not going to waste time addressing those, and I’ll tell you why. While there are many beliefs of Luther’s I agree with, there are other issues where I would disagree with him. He is not the arbiter or authority of my faith. He was neither prophet nor apostle. My faith is based on the teachings of the prophets and apostles as presented in the Bible, not on Luther’s sometimes-erroneous interpretations. With that said, you asked who gave him the authority to remove the Apocrypha from the Bible, and stated that all Bibles had the Apocrypha until the 16th century. First of all, Luther did not remove the Apocrypha from his Bible. He rejected their canonicity, but he placed them between the Old and New Testament as respected writings. I disagree with his view on removing the book of James, but history tells us that there was heated debate in the early centuries over whether Hebrews, James, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation were truly canonical. I believe they are. However, I side with Luther in declaring the Apocrypha non-canonical. In doing so, I also side with the Israeli/Palestinian Jews and with Jerome. You might recall, it was Jerome who initially called these writings “Apocrypha”, and he rejected their canonicity. They did not make his catalogue of canonical works. He only translated them when pressured to do so, and they were included in the canon literally over his dead body. The list goes on. Philo (20 B.C. – A.D. 40) quoted extensively from the Old Testament, but never quoted from the Apocrypha. Josephus (A.D. 30 – 100) numbered the books of the Old Testament at 22, explicitly excluding the Apocrypha. Jesus and the New Testament writers quoted the Old Testament prolifically, but never quoted the Apocrypha. The Jewish scholars at Jamnia (A.D. 90) did not recognize the Apocrypha. Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius spoke out against the Apocrypha. No church council for the first four centuries recognized the Apocrypha as inspired. Even many Roman Catholic scholars through the reformation period rejected the Apocrypha. There is good reason for all this rejection of the Apocrypha. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, the Apocryphal books “abound in historical and geographical inaccuracies and anachronisms”, “They teach doctrines which are false and foster practices which are at variance with inspired Scripture” ,
and other assorted reasons. I know as a Mormon, historical and geographical inaccuracies within the Book of Mormon don’t bother you, but they belie any claim to divine inspiration.
With regards to the Trinity, it may not be explicitly taught in the New Testament, but it is implicitly taught when you read the Bible as a whole. This is a concept that Mormons and Muslims reject, because you cannot believe in a God that our finite minds have difficulty comprehending. You have to make God small enough to fit in a box. In doing so, you reject the biblical teachings of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and his transcendent nature. You reject the biblical teaching of ex-nihilo creation, because only an omnipotent God could do such a thing. Your god is a small god indeed. Gregory of Neo-Caesarea (A.D. 213-270) explained this phenomenon when he wrote, “How, indeed, could it be possible for man, who is limited on six sides – by east, west, south, north, deep, and sky – understand a matter which is above the skies, which is beneath the deeps, which stretches beyond the north and south, and which is present in every place, and fills all vacuity? But if, indeed, we are able to scrutinize spiritual substance, its excellence truly would be undone”
(Gregory of Neo-Caesarea, On the Trinity, Discourse 1). I won’t spend a lot of time on this, as I’ll be writing an article providing a simple yet comprehensive biblical support for the Trinity. I encourage you to check back for it. I’m sure you’ll find it educational. In short though, the Bible teaches that there is:
1. Only one God
2. Only one true God
3. There are no other gods
4. God knows of no other gods
5. Jesus is God
6. The Holy Spirit is God
7. The Father is God
8. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons.
Similarly, Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura are biblical beliefs, and are held by early church fathers. I will also be doing articles on these, as you present the same tired and thread-bare arguments as Roman Catholics on these issues, so I won’t spend much time expounding on them here. Let me just say that James’ epistle does not contradict the clear teachings of Jesus and Paul that salvation comes by faith alone. The faith spoken of by Jesus and Paul is a true faith that begets the fruits of the Spirit and a loving obedience in our works. Those works do nothing to make us righteous though, as they are filthy rags. The faith James condemned as being insufficient for justification is not a true faith. It is simply an intellectual acknowledgment that bears no fruits. This is something even the demons have. A full reading of James’ epistle makes this abundantly clear. With regards to Sola Scriptura, there is a biblical foundation I’ll point out in my coming article. I’ll also point to early church fathers who would only accept oral/written tradition if it had its basis in the Scripture, including the writings of the Apostles. Any tradition that deviated from Scripture, or did not have its basis in apostolic teaching as given in the epistles and gospels was disregarded. To that end, much of the tradition of Roman Catholicism, as well as the writings and “revelation” of Mormonism must be discarded and disregarded. I encourage you to check back for those articles, as I’m sure you’ll find them educational as well.
You don’t believe the doctrine of original sin to be biblical? Let me allow Paul to answer that one:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ”
– Romans 5:12-21.
If you still don’t consider this a clear proof of the doctrine of original sin, then I encourage you to go back and read the entire section. For that matter, read the entire book of Romans. The teaching is crystal clear.
With regards to ex-nihilo creation, you disbelieve it simply because you cannot believe in a transcendent and omnipotent God. As you know,
ex-nihilo creation means that God created the universe out of nothing. Mormons don’t believe that God was capable of such an act, so you believe he could only “organize” matter, rather than create it. LDS Apostle John Widtsoe said,
“God, the supreme Power, cannot conceivably originate matter; he can only organize matter. Neither can he destroy matter; he can only disorganize it… The doctrine that God made the earth or man from nothing becomes, therefore, and absurdity.”
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ” According to Mormonism, that should be appended with, “…out of uncaused matter that was lying around.”
Speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
According to this passage, God the Son created ALL things. Therefore, anything that was used to “organize” the world must have also been created by God. Mormons follow the view popularized by Aristotle, that God simply imbues order into the universe. However, you are at odds with the Bible when you hold this view. Even secular scientists today concede that the universe had a starting point. It is scientifically and mathematically impossible for the universe to have an eternal past. Secular scientists will “play the tape backwards” on what they see in the cosmos, and conclude that the universe had a starting point. When they get there, they have no explanation for a “first cause.” The Bible does, but you reject that. I praise God that He is bigger than you describe Him to be. I know that while His creation does not have an eternal past, He does, for time itself is one of His creations.
Perhaps I wasn’t clear on this, but you misconstrue what I’ve said about the infallibility of the Bible. I never claimed that there haven’t been changes to biblical manuscripts throughout time, only that the Bible I have is a reliable witness to the Bible as it was written. The textual variants are minute, and affect no key doctrines. You present a list of quotes to buttress your position, and I was surprised to see your first quotes being that of Dr. Metzger, as his position differs significantly from yours. Then I realized your quotes have been plucked entirely out of context to the extent that it changes their intent. You asked for examples of how you take things out of context. For the first example I’ve already covered your out-of-context interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:16. Now we can provide further examples. The first quote you provide is as follows:
"A group of correctors working at Caesarea entered a large number of alterations into the text of both Old and New Testaments."
(Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, p. 46).
Let’s put this in context. Speaking of Codex Sinaiticus (and only Sinaiticus), Metzger writes:
"Before the manuscript left the scriptorium it was gone over by several scribes who did the work of a διορθωτής (corrector). Readings for which they are responsible for introducing are designated in a critical apparatus by the siglum אa. At a later date (probably some time in about the sixth or seventh century) a group of correctors working at Caesarea entered a large number of alterations into the text of both Old and New Testaments. These readings, designated by the siglum אca or אcb, represent a thoroughgoing effort to correct the text to a different standard, which according to a colophon at the end of the books of Esdras and Esther is stated to have been ‘a very ancient manuscript that had been corrected by the hand of the holy martyr Pamphilus.’ " (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration,
So you take a section that refers to corrections made to one codex – one manuscript among thousands of extant manuscripts – and take a line out of context to make it appear that sweeping alterations have been made to the Bible. In context, we see he’s referring only to Codex Sinaiticus, and we also see that the corrections are identifiable and categorized in a separate critical apparatus. Let’s look at the next Metzger quote you make:
"The whole of Matthew's Gospel as far as xxv, 6 is lost, as well as the leaves which originally contained John 6:50-58, 52, and 2 Cor. 4:13-xii, 6."
(ibid, p. 46).
My word! If I were to trust this quotation, I would believe that so much of my New Testament has been lost, and what I have has popped up from who-knows-where. Well of course, that changes when we put Dr. Metzger’s quote in context where he is speaking STRICTLY of Codex Alexandrinus:
"This handsome codex, dating from about the fifth century, contains the Old Testament, except for several mutilations, and most of the New Testament (the whole of Matthew's Gospel as far as xxv, 6 is lost, as well as the leaves which originally contained John 6:50-58, 52, and 2 Cor. 4:13-xii, 6). It was presented in 1627 by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, to King Charles I of England. Today, it rests along with codex Sinaiticus in one of the prominent show-cases in the Department of Manuscripts of the British Museum."
(ibid, p. 46).
Dr. Metzger is referring to one of the thousands of extant biblical manuscripts, and the damage to parts of it, and you take a parenthetical statement out of context to deceive the reader into believing that much of the New Testament has been lost. Shame on you, Mr. Barksdale. Let’s move to your third Metzger quote:
"Unfortunately the beauty of the original writing has been spoiled by a later corrector...”
(ibid., p. 47).
Again, your reader might make the assumption that Metzger is speaking of the Bible as a whole here. Once again though, Dr. Metzger is simply talking about one manuscript (out of thousands), and the beauty he speaks of is the physical beauty. Speaking of Codex Vaticanus, Dr. Metzger writes:
"The writing is in small and delicate uncials, perfectly simple and unadorned. Unfortunately the beauty of the original writing has been spoiled by a later corrector, who traced over every letter afresh, omitting only those letters and words which he believed to be incorrect."
(ibid., p. 47).
Context changed the meaning you intended Mr. Barksdale. For your last quote from Metzger’s book, you skip to the last page before the appendices and quote:
"All known witnesses of the New Testament are to a greater or less extent mixed texts, and even the earliest manuscripts are not free from egregious errors..."
(ibid., p. 246)
"By way of conclusion, let it be emphasized again that no single manuscript and no one group of manuscripts exists which the textual critic may follow mechanically. All known witnesses of the New Testament are to a greater or less extent mixed texts, and even the earliest manuscripts are not free from egregious errors. Although in very many cases the textual critic is able to ascertain without residual doubt which reading must have stood in the original, there are not a few other cases where he can come only to a tentative decision based on an equivocal balancing of probabilities."
(ibid., p. 246)
This is a true statement, and it’s a sad fact about dealing with papyrus and vellum that is many centuries old. Yet if you had read Dr. Metzger’s book in its entirety (it looks like you read to page 47, got bored, and skipped to the end), you’d see that he is confident that textual critics have worked together to arrive at a reading that is close to, if not identical to, the originals. That is why the subtitle of this book is “Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration”
(emphasis added). You seem content to skip the part about restoration. I haven’t read the other books from which you quote, so I can’t speak to the integrity or veracity of those authors’ conclusions. And given your amply demonstrated penchant for stripping quotes out of context to change their meaning and mislead your reader, I won’t attempt to dignify those. Instead, let me include some quotes of my own. I encourage you to check the sources to satisfy yourself that I’m not pulling things out of context to change their meaning.
“The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.” – Sir Frederic Kenyon,
The Bible and Archaeology (New York: Harper & Row Publishers), 1940, p. 288.
“Only 40 lines (or 400 words) of the New Testament are in doubt whereas 764 lines of the Iliad are questioned. This five percent textual corruption [of the Iliad] compares with one-half of one percent of similar emendations in the New Testament.” – Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix,
A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press), 1968, p. 367.
“One word of warning already referred to must be emphasized in conclusion. No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading.” – Sir Frederic Kenyon,
Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper & Brothers) 1941, p. 23.
I did decide to research one of the authors you quoted, and lo and behold, I owe you an apology. I accused you of reading to page 47 of Metzger’s book and skipping to the end, but now I’m convinced that you haven’t even read Metzger’s books. The misquotes from his book, along with every other quote you listed, appear to have been copied and pasted directly from an article by Kerry Shirts. The rest of the misquotations have been addressed on The Watchman Expositor website: http://www.watchman.org/lds/reliabilitybiblelds.htm.
Contrary to your assertions, “most scholars” do not place the writing of the gospels (as a whole) after A.D. 65. Some argue that Matthew, based on its Jewish characteristics, was written as early as A.D. 50. Most place it in the 50’s to early 60’s. Very few place it after A.D. 65. Likewise, most scholars believe Mark was written in the 50’s or early 60’s. The most common dating for Luke (though there are a few detractors) is A.D. 59-63. While traditionally a later date has been assigned to John’s gospel, lately some scholars are suggesting an earlier date of A.D. 50’s, and no later than A.D. 70. Part of the reason for the earlier dating is that John 5:2 says there “is” a pool near the Sheep Gate, suggesting it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Here are the likely dates scholars hold for the other books:
Acts: A.D. 63-70
Romans: A.D. 57
1 Corinthians: A.D. 55
2 Corinthians: A.D. 55
Galatians: A.D. 49-57
Ephesians: A.D. 60
Philippians: A.D. 53-61
Colossians: A.D. 60
1 Thessalonians: A.D. 51
2 Thessalonians: A.D. 51-52
1 Timothy: A.D. 63-65
2 Timothy: A.D. 66-67
Titus: A.D. 63-65
Philemon: A.D. 60
Hebrews: prior to A.D. 70
James: A.D. 50 – 60
1 Peter: early 60’s
2 Peter: A.D. 65-68
1 John: A.D. 85-95
2 John: A.D. 85-95
3 John: A.D. 85-95
Jude: A.D. 65-80
Revelation: A.D. 95.
Regardless, the gospel “preached” by Paul and the apostles (Galatians 1:6-9) did not have to have been reduced to writing before Paul wrote Galatians. There’s a possibility they were, and even had they not been they were certainly written during Paul’s lifetime. Yet no extant manuscript exists from the first century of the church refuting what was in the gospels. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that Paul found them to be consistent with the gospel he had preached. Your assertion that John’s gospel was written after his Revelation is not supported by ANY scholar that I’ve seen, and is simply laughable. I did find one of your quotes interesting though, as it refers to John dying in A.D. 100. That’s certainly the most logical conclusion based on the historical record, but I have LDS acquaintances that deny that John ever died. Such a belief, rooted in LDS history, is obviously erroneous.
As for the Book of Mormon verses, I did not say they were all Trinitarian. I said, “Even the Book of Mormon speaks of Jesus being the same as the Father, and other verses lead toward a Trinitarian conclusion. Some simply state that Jesus IS the Father, which is modalistic at best. 2 Nephi 19:6 states that Jesus is “The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father…” I included this verse to demonstrate that this draws an equivalence that goes beyond a unity of purpose, and is in contradiction with LDS doctrine. 2 Nephi 31:21 IS Trinitarian, in that it says, “…And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which
is one God, without end.” If LDS doctrine is henotheistic as you claimed earlier, then the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate gods. Even if they were united in purpose, they would not be the same God, which is understood here by the singular use of “…is one God.” By LDS doctrine, it should say that the three ARE one God, if united only in purpose. Saying the three IS one God is Trinitarian. When you fall back on the “unity of purpose” argument in the Johannine Comma, you are adding words and a private interpretation that isn’t supported by looking at the Bible’s implicit teachings as a whole. Applying the unity of purpose argument to 2 Nephi 31:21 is contradicted by the wording of the verse. I just looked at the rest of your responses regarding the Book of Mormon passages, and found repetition of the same arguments, so I don’t need to address them individually. If three separate gods were united in purpose, then the plural “are” would be used rather than the singular “is.” And to answer your modalism objection, I am not a modalist. You can verify that when you check back to learn the biblical basis for the Trinity.
With regards to quoting your prophets and apostles outside of the four standard works, you made a false statement. You said, “In other words, even though the authors themselves declared that their speeches were not to be considered official doctrine…” Brigham Young said quite the opposite, Mr. Barksdale. In 1870, Young stated that he had “never yet preached a sermon and sent out to the children of men that they may not call Scripture”(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 95). That seems to open up Brigham Young’s sermons in the JoD as Scripture, and therefore LDS doctrine. Also, if Elder McConkie erred in presenting true LDS doctrine in Mormon Doctrine, on which points was he wrong?
You seem to doubt that I know Mormons who worship both the Father and Jesus, and ask that I name them for you. Mr. Barksdale, I wouldn’t subject my worst enemy to your ignorance and hate, much less those I care about. I assure you, they exist. You use that same argument every time somebody mentions a Mormon but refuses to violate their privacy for you. They are much more real than the “mysterious” un-named Christians who vandalized your building and threatened your life. Jesus accepted worship because He was (and is) God. He would not have accepted worship otherwise. I notice that while I listed two verses from the Book of Mormon referencing the worship of Jesus, you only answered the first one, dismissing it as an account of when Jesus accepted worship. If you believe worship of Jesus is wrong, then you must conclude Jesus sinned by accepting worship. But I noticed you failed to address 4 Nephi 1:37. Let me quote verses 36 and 37: “And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them were those who were called by the Lamanites – Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites; Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites. ” (emphasis added) After this it addresses those who rejected the gospel, in contrast to those who “worshiped” Christ. This event allegedly occurred a couple of centuries after Christ, according to the text. It’s odd that the text equates the true believers in Christ with the true worshipers of Christ, and they were the good guys. But if Jesus is a separate God than Elohim, and you also worship Elohim, then the Book of Mormon teaches polytheism, rather than henotheism. You’re avoiding the issue. You can run from the truth, but you can’t hide forever.
Many Mormons are seeing the truth. You stated in your previous email that the LDS Church sees 300,000 new members baptized every year, and asked if I wanted to play the numbers game. Well, the LDS Church does claim 265,000 converts for last year, but they don’t mention that 75% of converts leave the LDS Church within the first three months. Very few actually have had their names removed from the membership list at the LDS Church though. I know of six couples attending a non-denominational Christian church in a small town in Utah that have left Mormonism for all practical purposes, but their names are still on the LDS roles. The LDS Church knows there’s a problem, as they put out a desperate plea during the recent general conference for Mormons who have left the Church to return to the fold. It appears that the LDS church has sprung a leak that nobody can plug with further deception, Mr. Barksdale.
Mr. Barksdale, I truly hope and pray that your heart has not been hardened. I hope that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the fact that you have bought into a lie. I will continue to pray for you. However, it is clear that this will not happen soon, and your angry and hateful tone will only breed contempt. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Titus 3:10 tells us to warn a divisive person twice, and then have nothing further to do with him. Unfortunately, as you are not a sincere seeker of the truth, it is apparent that must be done here. I will not engage in further discussion with you. I look at your bitterness and think that only a miracle could cause you to see the truth through your blinding hatred. However, I know God to be a God of miracles, so I will pray for your salvation.
Ben and Jennifer Rast