Sunday, September 07, 2008

James White on Issues Etc. discusses heaven and Mormonism

A few days ago, James White, one of the leading defenders of the Christian faith against Mormonism, was on Issues Etc. discussing the Mormon concept of heaven and exaltation. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of LDS doctrine that you are sure to hear about if you spend more than a few visits with Mormon missionaries. Among other things that were discussed on the program was the Book of Abraham. Take a listen!


Seth R. said...

There are a few errors in this broadcast.

First, Joseph Smith never said that "you would commit suicide to get to the Telestial Kingdom if you ever saw it." This is a Mormon urban legend that gets passed around, and White repeats it here.

Secondly, "Spirit Prison" is not a separate place from "Paradise." They are both in the same place - here on earth according to Brigham Young. Whether the period of waiting before resurrection is "Paradise" or "Prison" is mostly a state of mind in the person experiencing it.

Thirdly, the idea of progression between kingdoms - post resurrection - is not a "recent doctrine." Mormon apostles have been talking about the idea since before the turn of the 20th century.

Fourth, it was common practice for ancient Egyptians to use the exact same picture to depict DIFFERENT things. So, for example, the picture of the person reclining on a "lion couch" with a person standing over him with a knife could easily be used to depict BOTH the funeral rites of a pharaoh, and the sacrifice of Abraham. The same applies to Facsimile 2. It could easily have multiple meanings.

Also keep in mind, that historical sources describe the Egyptian papyrus as being a scroll about 15 feet long. Almost the entire thing burned in a fire while in non-Mormon possession. Only a few scraps have been recovered. From these scraps, Mormonism's opponents have made their case.

But I'd hardly say it's airtight or obvious. Nice how White simply declares that Mormon attempts at explanation are "wild" and "stand as their own refutation." That's easy to say, but less easy to back up. The fact is, Mormon apologetic scholarship has pretty much passed up and refuted standard counter-cult responses. But the counter-cultists are still stuck beggaring the same arguments they were using 100 years ago. Even though these arguments are hopelessly outdated and often completely discredited.

Mike-e said...

Hey Seth, thank you for your comment. I'm not here to defend everything James White says. Which is why it would be great if you bring up these things to him. Dr. White has a radio show twice a week and anyone can call in and confront him on whatever they want. If your accusations are true, then Dr. White will not be able to defend his position, or at best stumble over it.

If Mormon scholarship has really done what you say, then they have done a poor job of confronting counter-cult responses. Christian apologists are willing to debate these issues publicly. Are Mormon apologists so willing? I've seen a few attempt this, but they are utterly refuted. Martin Tanner is a glowing example of this when he attempted to debate James White on the so-called "deification" beliefs of the early fathers.

Please show me a debate featuring a distinguished Mormon apologist against a distinguished Christian apologist and we'll see who can defend their position. I would really like to see it.

Or better yet, just call into Dr. White's radio program :-)

Seth R. said...

Fair enough.

I don't know any particular such radio shows. But I would recommend the book "How Wide the Divide" by Craig Blomberg (Denver Theological Seminary) and Stephen Robinson (Brigham Young University). They keep the conversation respectful and try to debate mostly central topics of dispute. So if you're interested...

Best wishes.

Mike-e said...

Thanks Seth, i'll definitely check that out :-)

And I appreciate your kindness and candor. You seem like a really nice and respectful guy. The world needs more people like you.