Scriptural historicity: not taking it too literal

In Gospel Doctrine and Essentials classes, we are discussing Creation, Falk, etc.

Fundamentalist Christians, which includes some Mormons, insist on literal historicity of all scripture,, including the early chapters of Genesis. This causes clashes with science on various issues, including creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing), evolution, and the age of the earth.

I have no problem with people have personal beliefs regarding any of this. For me, the problem lies in picking and choosing what will be taken literally/historically and what isn’t.

For example, many Young Earth Creationists (YEC) demand we believe in a 6000 year old earth, with dinosaurs dying in the Great Flood or a deception placed in the soil by Satan. Most of the YEC are not consistent, however. Genesis 1 is based on a flat earth, domed above by an expanse of water, with the lights (Sun, moon and stars) planted into the revolving dome. Surrounding the land are the oceans. Below or underneath, one finds another expanse of water and Sheol. All of this was supported on great pillars connecting earth and sky.

If we are to reject a 14 billion year old earth, evolution and other science because of a literalistic view of Genesis 1, should we not also reject a round earth that revolves around a Sun that revolves around a galaxy of 200 billion stars (many of them billions of years old), etc.?

Shouldn’t we question the claims that men have walked in space and on the moon, and sent Voyager I outside our solar system, beyond the thin expanse of sky and into the great waters above, according to ancient belief?

Do we ignore the consistent dating given by science via various methods of measurement? What about living trees that exceed 6000 years of life (ring counts) by thousands and even tens of thousands of years? Did Satan plant those trees, as well as dinosaur bones in order to deceive us? Where exactly in scripture does it teach us about such deceptions? Or is it all speculation based on a poorly understood teaching God gave to ancient peoples, not to teach them history and science, but to give them a symbolic beginning.

The Creation describes God’s creation of a cosmic temple. Ancient temples, whether Solomon’s, Baal’s, Zeus’, or of any other god, represented the cosmos and Creation. Many ancient cultures had a sacred Year Rite, where the king (sometimes also including his people) would be enthroned in the temple as a divine son of God. Some enthronement psalms suggest the Israelites also practiced the Year Rite.

The focus was not on a literal history, but on important symbols that connected man with God.

I believe much of the Bible to be based on historical peoples, though the stories may be based on myth and symbols, rather than actual history. I believe the same of the Book of Mormon, knowing Mormon was writing on things that occurred centuries before, and seeking to make sense of things unknown to him personally (would Mormon’s Book of Lehi contain many Hebrew culture ideas and views, vs Mesoamerican cultural understandings)?

It is good the LDS Church has no official position on evolution, creation, dinosaurs, etc. It allows each of us to determine for ourselves what we choose to believe. The scriptures can hold greater spiritual power for us, as we focus on what is spiritually important. And we don’t have to pick and choose on the exactness of historicity of scripture – forcing us to believe in a flat earth simply because ancient traditions held them.



Thoughts on the new Presidency

With a 93 year old prophet, changes in the presidency make sense.

First, Elder Uchtdorf is younger and more capable of traveling. He especially can benefit the members in Europe and Russia with his experience.

Pres Oaks, as second most senior apostle, will benefit from the experience of being in the presidency. Being almost a decade younger than Pres Nelson, he likely could be our next prophet. His experience in law and education will be an asset over the next many years.

Of course, Pres Eyring will continue providing continuity. He is now 2nd counselor, probably for deference to seniority among the apostles.

These three have served together a long time. They know each other, respect one another and work well together. They will provide a unified direction for us. Elder Uchtdorf enhances this unity by humbly stepping back into the Quorum of 12, and sustaining the new presidency. That is the mark of a true disciple of Christ.

I look forward to the inspired direction they will lead us in?

Your thoughts?




Christmas traditions – what’s Yours?

Christmas traditions are a wonderful past time.

Being empty nesters, some of our traditions have changed, but we still enjoy many modified ones. We now go to our daughter’s home for Christmas dinner. But we still enjoy seeing Christmas lights, movies, and music.

What are some of your traditions?

Thoughts on NT Wright’s “When God Became King”

I’m currently reading N.T. Wright’s book, “How God Became King”.

In the first few chapters, he discusses the problems he finds with various approaches to the four gospels.

First, he critiques the overuse of the creeds in reading the Gospels. He explains that the creeds (Nicene, Apostles, etc) invariably discuss Christ’s miraculous birth, then immediately go to the cross and resurrection. It’s as if Matthew went from chapter two to chapter 26, with nothing in between. The creeds were heavily influenced by Paul’s writings, who never spoke of Jesus’ ministry, but only his resurrection. In doing so, we totally emphasize Christ’s godhood, but not his other important roles.

On the other extreme, liberal readers tend to only read the middle, ignoring the miraculous birth and resurrection. They consider Jesus a wise teacher, but not the Messiah nor a miracle worker

For Tom Wright, former bishop of Durham in the Anglican Church, and NT scholar, many Christians do not see the whole Christ, but only a part of him. For example, they may see him as teacher or God, but not in his divine role as King of Israel and of earth.

As I thought about Wright’s concerns, I considered how the Book of Mormon handles such issues. Would the creeds or scientism in Joseph Smith’s day affect the text?

Does the Book of Mormon contain the beginning, middle and end things of the Gospels? Yes. In the Vision of the Tree of Life, Nephi sees the birth of Christ and his mother, Mary. We learn of Jesus healing the sick and afflicted. And we see Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Later, the risen Savior would heal the Nephites, bless their children, and teach the Sermon at the Temple (compare to Sermon on the Mount). Again and again the Book of Mormon gives us the “fullness of the four gospels.”

Perhaps this is a key reason we are encouraged to study the Book of Mormon. It keeps us centered on Christ, all of Christ, and not get lost on just a portion of who he really is.

Kindle version only $1.99


Some great Kindle Bible commentaries on sale

Here are a couple very good books on sale right now ($1.99 each).

Commentary on the Torah by [Friedman, Richard Elliott]

Commentary on the Torah, by Richard Elliott Friedman

from Amazon description: In this groundbreaking and insightful new commentary, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars unveils the unity and continuity of the Torah for the modern reader. Richard Elliott Friedman, the bestselling author of Who Wrote the Bible?, integrates the most recent discoveries in biblical archaeology and research with the fruits of years of experience studying and teaching the Bible to illuminate the straightforward meaning of the text — “to shed new light on the Torah and, more important, to open windows through which it sheds its light on us.”

Friedman is a leading Jewish Scholar on the Torah. He wrote, “Who Wrote the Bible?”, one of the best works on the Documentary Hypothesis for laymen. He will help us reach back to the early Jewish understanding of scripture, allowing us to see it in a new light.


How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels by [Wright, N. T.]

How God Became King, by N.T. Wright

From the Amazon description:

“Despite centuries of intense and heavy industry expended on the study of all sorts of features of the gospels,” Wright writes, “we have often managed to miss the main thing that they, all four of them, are most eager to tell us. What we need is not just a bitof fine-tuning, an adjustment here and there. We need a fundamental rethink about what the gospels are trying to tell us.”

What Wright offers is an opportunity to confront these powerful texts afresh, as if we are encountering them for the first time. How God Became King reveals the surprising, unexpected, and shocking news of the gospels: this is the story of a new king, a new kind of king, a king who has changed everything, and a king who invites us to be part of his new world.

N.T, Wright is one of the leading scholars today on the New Testament. He is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. His writings are innovative, and do not toe the Anglican or standard Protestant line, but he discusses concepts as given by scripture and other evidence.