Incomprehensible vs Contradiction

I wrote this post way back at the time of Mormon Matters and never published it. I’m throwing it up for fun with only a little bit of tweaking. I probably would handle this different today. For example, I no longer consider the creedal Trinity to be a contradiction per se, but rather to be a set of undefined statements that are used in contradictory ways so as to claim all attempts to understand the Biblical Trinity doctrine are really just forms of polytheism or modalism. But the point I make here is still worthy of some discussion.

I’ve written a lot of posts directly or indirectly dealing with the traditional Creedal Trinity Doctrine. I’ve made the assertion several times that the Trinity Doctrine is a contradiction, not just an incomprehensible paradox.

I wish to give a primer on the difference between something being incomprehensible vs. a contradiction.

Now obviously a contradiction is also incomprehensible. Consider this list of statements:

  • Joe is      a man and
  • Joe is      a woman
  • A man      can never be a woman

These statements, collectively, are incomprehensible because they are a contradiction. Unless I am tricking you by equivocating (i.e. using different definitions for the same word) in some way, the above statements are a contradiction. Continue reading

On Three Almighties, One Moral Will, and Why This Post is a Complete Waste of Time

A reprint from Mormon Matters.

Prepare for the ultimate philosophical smack down between a David and a Goliath! In one corner we have our champ Craig L. Blomberg who I have been told is one of the foremost New Testament scholars in the world. Simply put, he’s brilliant.

Our contender is my former missionary companion who was never anything but a junior companion.

Craig Blomberg comes out of his corner swinging, in How Wide the Divide? His upper-cut is the logical impossibility of the Mormon concept of becoming divine and having more than one Omnipotent “being.” He says,

Even simple logic should suggest that it is contradictory to have more than one omnipotent being; otherwise, for example, not only would God be able to judge me but I would be able to judge God. Both of us could theoretically destroy each other, and then there would be no eternally existing God. (How Wide the Divide? p. 212) Continue reading

Isaiah’s Heavenly Ascent to See the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Insights from the Ascension of Isaiah[1]

The Ascension of Isaiah is an early Christian document that is thought to have been written some time in the second century A.D., and is considered a Christian re-working of an older Jewish tradition. It resembles, in some ways, Isaiah 6, but details a much more elaborate vision, in which Isaiah is taken, in spirit, through the various levels of Heaven until he reaches the highest heaven, where he is privileged to behold a vision of the Father, Beloved Son, and Holy Spirit.

For further background info on Ascension of Isaiah, and to read the text (translated from the Greek version), please see http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ascension.html.

Starting in Chapter 6 of the text, Isaiah recounts the vision that he saw in which a glorious angel comes to him, takes him by the hand, and leads him upwards into the heavens. The angel declares the purpose of this celestial journey:

When I have raised thee on high through the various degrees…You will see one who is greater than I…and his Father also who is greater you will see (vv. 7:4, 7-8).

Continue reading

Mosiah 15 and D&C 93: Divine Investiture or Swedenborgian?

In my post on Book of Mormon Doctrine of Deity, Divine Investiture, Representational Modalism, I mentioned the idea that some people hold up Mosiah 15:1-5 as proof that Joseph Smith (as supposed author of the Book of Mormon) originally wrote the Book of Mormon to support a Swedenborgian view of God (aka Serial Modalism) where The Father is a spirit that took on a body called Jesus.

In my opinion, this point of view ignores a lot of facts or at least force fits them. For example, the Book of Mormon also presents both the Spirit of the Lord as being a person as well as the premortal Jesus. It also presents the premortal Jesus as talking from Heaven as a personality separate from the Father.

But there is a bigger problem I have with the assumption that Mosiah 15:1–5 can only be historically read as Swedenborgian and thus (we are told) we must assume Joseph Smith meant it that way.

It’s D&C 93.

Do Joseph Smith’s own writings count as counter evidence if he explicitly tells us what he means? Continue reading

Mormons as Modalists

Divine Investiture and Modalism

In my last post, I discussed how Divine Investiture is the lynchpin of all Mormon Doctrine of Deity and probably of all Mormon Doctrines period.  Even non-Mormon theology, if it lacks Divine Investiture, is often logically inconsistent.

An interesting fact of Divine Investiture is that it makes Mormons “Modalists,” after a fashion.

Here I pause to the storm of disaffected Mormon and anti-Mormon protest. “No, Mormons aren’t Modalists! They are the opposite of Modalists! They are Freakin’ Tritheists!”

I also pause to let the Believing Mormons protest (assuming they’ve even heard of Modalism before). “No! I am not a Modalist! That’s… a heresy! It’s worse than… than… the Trinity Doctrine!Continue reading