Posts Tagged ‘Mormonism’

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Playing a Game – Part 3

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

So then, Not only do we find that the Calvinists/Reformed adherents believe that God intended for evil and sin to exist, but that He intentionally created a person who is highly intelligent, beautiful, powerful, very capable in music, with an unparalleled ability to persuade: for the express purpose of rebelling against God. Moreover, this was done so that the glory of God, His holiness, righteousness, mercy, longsuffering, lovingkindness and grace would be glorious in its contrast to the wickedness and evil of the creature(s) who rebelled.

So are we here to understand that God cannot be glorious without some wicked, evil thing to contrast His Righteousness and Holiness against?

Are we also to understand, as Jonathan Edwards tells us:

So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.

And as Joseph Smith confirmed, concerning man:

2 Nephi, Chapter 2 (Book of Mormon)
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

If we compare the thought pattern of Jonathan Edwards (and John Piper, for he agrees fully with Edwards) to that of Joseph Smith, the author of the Book of Mormon, we can plainly see that both men believe that it is not possible for knowledge of righteousness and holiness to exist and be understood, (and even going so far as stating righteousness and holiness cannot exist) without the existence of evil and wickedness. Both men plainly state that “evil is necessary” either by direct statement or by reasoning, like Smith’s “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” in which it is plain that we could never know, nor appreciate the righteousness and holiness of God, and the joy such knowledge imparts — except we become evil wicked creatures, upon which “God” could bestow “his” mercy. Indeed, both men also acknowledge that man was innocent, but without comprehension of the happiness and joy of the knowledge of “God’s mercy.”

However, the most egregious part comes from the statements of both men, in which they say all this was accomplished:

“in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”

And:

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed;”.

This John Piper agrees to totally by stating:

“Rather he “wills that evil come to pass . . . that good may come of it.””

Which is also no different that Baal Shem Tov’s:

“Nevertheless, evil that exists has an inner power giving it life. And this [inner power] is total goodness. So if you look at the inner aspect of evil, you will only see the good in it.”

This is really no more that the philosophy of Unity of Opposites and is expressed in various different ways, with artificial distinction, depending upon the perspective of the person. Under one philosophy it is called Taoism and is expressed thus:

Taoism
The Yin Yang symbol:
This is a well known Taoist symbol. “It represents the balance of opposites in the universe. When they are equally present, all is calm. When one is outweighed by the other, there is confusion and disarray.”1

And if the person’s point of view is materialistic, then it is expressed this way:

Dialectical Materialism (the root of Communism)
Fredrick Engels — Dialectics of Nature2
“Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, or motion without matter, nor can there be.”

Though the words may vary, and the focus different, all that has been done with Augustinian/Calvinist/Reformed/Sovereign Grace/Primitive Baptist doctrine is take the idea and thought processes of the ancient philosophy of “unity of opposites” and try to make the Scripture conform to it.

Should we be so surprised? After all, Augustine, though raised to be a “Christian” chose a heathen system of belief as his own (underlining and emphasis mine):

Unfortunately, his faith, as well as his morals, was to pass though a terrible crisis. In this same year, 373, Augustine and his friend Honoratus fell into the snares of the Manichæans. It seems strange that so great a mind should have been victimized by Oriental vapourings, synthesized by the Persian Mani (215-276) into coarse, material dualism, and introduced into Africa scarcely fifty years previously. Augustine himself tells us that he was enticed by the promises of a free philosophy unbridled by faith; by the boasts of the Manichæans, who claimed to have discovered contradictions in Holy Writ; and, above all, by the hope of finding in their doctrine a scientific explanation of nature and its most mysterious phenomena. Augustine’s inquiring mind was enthusiastic for the natural sciences, and the Manichæans declared that nature withheld no secrets from Faustus, their doctor. Moreover, being tortured by the problem of the origin of evil, Augustine, in default of solving it, acknowledged a conflict of two principles. And then, again, there was a very powerful charm in the moral irresponsibility resulting from a doctrine which denied liberty and attributed the commission of crime to a foreign principle.

Once won over to this sect, Augustine devoted himself to it with all the ardour of his character; he read all its books, adopted and defended all its opinions. His furious proselytism drew into error his friend Alypius and Romanianus, his Mæcenas of Tagaste, the friend of his father who was defraying the expenses of Augustine’s studies. It was during this Manichæan period that Augustine’s literary faculties reached their full development, and he was still a student at Carthage when he embraced error.

His studies ended, he should in due course have entered the forum litigiosum, but he preferred the career of letters, and Possidius tells us that he returned to Tagaste to “teach grammar.” The young professor captivated his pupils, one of whom, Alypius, hardly younger than his master, loath to leave him after following him into error, was afterwards baptized with him at Milan, eventually becoming Bishop of Tagaste, his native city. But Monica deeply deplored Augustine’s heresy and would not have received him into her home or at her table but for the advice of a saintly bishop, who declared that “the son of so many tears could not perish.” Soon afterwards Augustine went to Carthage, where he continued to teach rhetoric. His talents shone to even better advantage on this wider stage, and by an indefatigable pursuit of the liberal arts his intellect attained its full maturity. Having taken part in a poetic tournament, he carried off the prize, and the Proconsul Vindicianus publicly conferred upon him the corona agonistica.3

And of course, when converted, his “conversion” was to utterly corrupt Catholicism. But even the Catholics admit:

Augustine gradually became acquainted with Christian doctrine, and in his mind the fusion of Platonic philosophy with revealed dogmas was taking place.4

To be continued . . .

  1. Taoism
  2. Dialectical Materialism
  3. St. Augustine of Hippo, From his birth to his conversion (354-386)
  4. St. Augustine of Hippo, From his conversion to his episcopate (386-395)
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Playing a Game – Part 2

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Here then we have it plainly stated by the those holding to Calvinist doctrine: that absolutely nothing is done, no act ever committed, and no thought ever made that God does not directly, actively control by way of causing it to be, or giving permission and causing “agents of His will” to perform His exact will. For they, the Calvinist/Reformed scholars and adherents, said:

In Genesis 45:5 and 50:20, God plans the attempted murder and enslavement of Joseph so that God can eventually save millions of people from famine. Joseph tells his brothers that their paln(sic) was wicked, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.1

“Ok, Good. Every decision a person makes good or evil fulfills God’s will.”2

“WHO DECIDES? GOD DOES, AND HE DOESN’T CARE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT.”3

Due to the above quoted admissions of Calvinists, we can now apply the Calvinist/Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God to the fall of Lucifer and see what the ramifications of that doctrine are.

In beginning to examine this, the relevant portions of the passages from Scripture are excerpted to specifically show Satan and his fall from his position as covering cherub of the throne of God.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezekiel 28:15-17)

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:3-4)

As we can see in the particular excerpts, Lucifer was a covering cherub of the throne of God, and was made highly intelligent, very beautiful, very talented, and very powerful. Unfortunately, all this ability and beauty got to him and Lucifer became proud of who and what he was, forgetting who made him: he then set about to turn all Heaven against the LORD God. As a result, a full third of the angelic host believed Lucifer over the LORD God and chose to follow him. They were summarily cut off and cast down, eternally condemned awaiting the Lake of Fire. For the fallen angels, there is no hope of reconciliation with the LORD God, they are forever lost, bound for destruction.

If we are to believe the Calvinist/Reformed theologian and advocate, we must then believe that the LORD God “ordained” Lucifer’s rebellion to take place, and that Lucifer really had no choice in the matter. Before Lucifer was ever created, he was ordained to rebel and fall, introducing evil and sin into creation, and in the process, taking a full third of all the angels with him.

Thus, the LORD God ordained evil and sin to enter into His perfectly righteous and sin-free creation through the rebellion of Lucifer, where no sin existed before.

Surely there would have to be a purpose to this? After all, if the LORD God exercises sovereignty the way the Calvinist/Reformed adherent believes He does, then the LORD God intended for Lucifer to bring evil into a perfect heaven, which was the only creation that existed at the time, corrupting a perfectly righteous place, and committing a third of the LORD’s created angels to follow rebellion and destruction. After all, it was “ordained” of God, otherwise it could not happen.

So then, the Calvinist/Reformed advocate is asking you and I to believe that the LORD God intended to corrupt His perfect and righteous creation through the agent of Lucifer.

Can this be true?

To answer that, we need only go back to one of the more famous Calvinists: Jonathan Edwards. The following is an excerpt from an on-line article by John Piper in which he quotes Jonathan Edwards extensively and approvingly:

2.2 Why Does God Ordain that there Be Evil?

It is evident from what has been said that it is not because he delights in evil as evil. Rather he “wills that evil come to pass . . . that good may come of it.” What good? And how does the existence of evil serve this good end? Here is Edwards’ stunning answer:

It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all. . . .

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired. . . .

So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.

So the answer to the question in the title of this message, “Is God less glorious because he ordained that evil be?” is no, just the opposite. God is more glorious for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil. The effort to absolve him by denying his foreknowledge of sin (as we saw this afternoon) or by denying his control of sin (which we have seen this evening) is fatal, and a great dishonor to his word and his wisdom. Evangelicals who are seeking the glory of God, look well to the teaching of your churches and your schools. But most of all, look well to your souls.4

Now, if you read carefully, you should have noted that Edwards stated:

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from.

Meaning that the LORD God’s glorious righteousness and holiness cannot be really glorious unless there is some evil to contrast it against. Else, the glory is just not that glorious, and the righteousness isn’t really all that spectacular. After all Edwards did also state:

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested.

And this simply was not possible without some wickedness and evil to set it against:

But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; . . .

And Edwards justification for this follows:

So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.

Hence, righteousness is not really righteousness, and we could not perceive it so, unless evil exists.

To this, John Piper agrees:

So the answer to the question in the title of this message, “Is God less glorious because he ordained that evil be?” is no, just the opposite. God is more glorious for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil. The effort to absolve him by denying his foreknowledge of sin (as we saw this afternoon) or by denying his control of sin (which we have seen this evening) is fatal, and a great dishonor to his word and his wisdom.

So then, ultimately, evil becomes NECESSARY, and serves a good end as everyone ultimately does the will of God, to the glory of God.

So, now I ask:

Does the logic of Jonathan Edwards seem strangely familiar? Does it have a “ring” to it which seems just too familiar?

It should:

From the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 2:10-12
10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement–

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

And again from Baal Shem Tov:

Hasidic Judaism (Founded by Baal Shem Tov)
4. Having no [divine] source, evil does not come down from heaven. Nevertheless, evil that exists has an inner power giving it life. And this [inner power] is total goodness. So if you look at the inner aspect of evil, you will only see the good in it.5

Here we see a commonality of thought process – a logic borne of a way of thinking. That way of thinking states that righteousness and holiness cannot really exist, or be really perceived to exist without some oppositional process occurring. Hence, righteousness and holiness cannot really exist, except wickedness and sin exist. Otherwise, there is no real perception of just how glorious righteousness and holiness are.

After all, the language is plain, whether it is Jonathan Edwards “necessary” existence of evil, or Joseph Smith’s “must needs be an opposition”, or Hasidic Judaism’s “evil that exists has an inner power giving it life. And this [inner power] is total goodness.”, all speak plainly to the belief that God “ORDAINED” evil to exist and ultimately controls evil, causing it to be, or holding it back as He sees fit.

And, we are told by the Calvinist/Reformed theologian, God is doing all this to obtain glory by and through His creation and the triumph over the evil he ordained.

In short, it’s all a monstrous game, in which God will be glorified, and to hell with all the rest. After all, Aaron Curry’s statement is not out of line with Calvinist thinking:

“WHO DECIDES? GOD DOES, AND HE DOESN’T CARE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT.”6

To be continued . . .

  1. We’re Pagans I Tell You, Rev. John Samson, quoted by Aaron Curry, unattributed.
  2. E-mail from Aaron Curry, dated 26 November, 2008
  3. ibid
  4. Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be?, Jonathan Edwards on the Decrees of God, John Piper – Desiring God Ministries.
  5. The Ten Principles Of The Baal Shem Tov
  6. E-mail from Aaron Curry, dated 26 November, 2008
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