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Monday, December 11, 2006

Total truth? Or is everything relative?

by Eric

A warning cry that some theologians and apologists have made for more than a decade involves what has been called "Postmodernism." Theologian Norman Geisler points to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 as the end of Modernism (which he says began with Nietzsche's "Death of God" movement at the turn of the 20th century) and the beginning of the "Death of Truth." For many, especially in America, there is no such thing as "absolute truth." Rather, there's "your" truth and "my" truth, and the two can both be "true" depending on one's perspective.

This week I saw Postmodernism in all its glory as I served on a U.S. District Court case that involved a U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot an illegal alien accused of throwing a water bottle-sized rock at the agent. After listening to four days of testimony, a group of 12 of us were ushered into a side room to begin deliberations. Nobody wanted to be the jury foreman, so I volunteered because I believed I could help keep the jury organized and on target.

It took us about two hours to make a decision on four of the five counts, which seemed to be pretty clear-cut for most of us. Now we were down to the last felony count, assault on a federal officer. According to the testimony, the defendant and three other aliens were caught in the heavily-polluted Tijuana River by five Border Patrol agents as they were attempting to make their way into the U.S.

At first vote, it was six for guilty, five for not guilty, and one undecided. We pored over the evidence, which included:
  • three officers saw the defendant pull a rock out of the thigh-deep water and lift it up to throw it at the officer, who then shot the alien in the arm with his service revolver;
  • four people--including one of the aliens--had testified that the defendant put his hands in the water, which he denied ever doing;
  • the integrity of the defendant was doubtful, as he lied many times before in previous arrests and contradicted himself more than once on the witness stand.

After a full day of deliberations, we voted again: eight for guilty, three for not guilty, and one undecided. But I knew we were in trouble in ever reaching a unanimous verdict when I had the following exchange with one of the "not guilty" female jurors (Juror 5):

Me: Why are you saying that the defendant is not guilty?

Juror 5: Because, from my perspective, he never had the rock.

Me: But three officers saw the rock. The defendant's hands were definitely in the water, which the alien behind him in the river even admitted. His testimony on the stand showed that he was lying about other facts, and his own lawyer testified in his closing statement that his client had a checkered history and was not a 'model citizen.'

Juror 5: From your perspective and the perspective of the officers, the defendant had a rock. But from his perspective as well as mine, he did not. The evidence differs depending on your perspective.

Me: Are you even suggesting that truth differs depending on perspective? Is it even possible for the defendant to have a rock and not have a rock at the same moment of time? Wouldn't this violate the 'law of non-contradiction'?

Juror 5: As far as I am concerned, your truth is your truth, and my truth is mine.

Immediately, I knew that this first count was history and would have to be thrown out of court (which it eventually was by the judge). There was just no changing this juror's mind about her perspective on truth, as she even admitted to us that all the evidence in the world wouldn't change her mind about her feelings.

This scenario reminds me a lot of Mormons who insist that their feelings can be trusted, even if they contradict the facts. More than once I have been in conversation with a Mormon who has admitted, in one way or another, that the information I presented showing Mormonism as contradictory to the Bible sounded true. However, the mantra more than once goes like this: "I've prayed about the Book of Mormon and know it's true." This is in total disregard of the information that was just presented.

When truth becomes relative in a jury deliberation, it appears that a defendant could both commit a crime and not commit a crime at the same time. In the world of religion, one's feelings can supersede the known facts. The evidence becomes secondary to the feelings and personal opinions that a person might have. What a scary world this has become!

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12 Comments:

  • At December 11, 2006 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe it's Just me, But I see Mormons lying about us and the evidence we provide, yet the lies we see them say are truth to them. Rick b

     
  • At December 11, 2006 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Eric claims The information I presented showing Mormonism as contradictory to the Bible sounded true to a mormon ... I would love to see what you provided. The court case has nothing to do with religious truth. The only witnesses you accept are the Bible, rgardless of any other facts that are presented. In court, all the facts are considered. In your court, only your facts are considered and no outside witnesses or facts are accepted. Just because you provide what you deem as biblical truth, does not make it Gods truth. Can you accept that you may have limited understanding? That your knowlegde may not be perfect or complete?

    Heresay is presented as evidence all the time. Yet it's presented as Truth. So Eric, what was it that you provided as truth that caused a mormon to doubt or showed mormonism as contradicting the Bible? Let's get the truth out on the table. Let's get YOUR facts and discuss it.

    I promise to stay on topic.

     
  • At December 13, 2006 7:13 PM, Blogger Eric Johnson said…

    Chuck, I'll fall for it. Here's one a Latter-day Saint couldn't answer at Christmastime:

    The Bible says it was the Holy Spirit who came upon Mary to produce the Christ child, in two places: Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:35. Yet Mormon leaders have taught differently, saying it was the Father, not the Spirit, who not only came upon Mary but did so in a "natural" way. If there was a physical union between the Spirit and Mary, as some leaders have taught, then how did this happen when the Spirit doesn't have a body of flesh and bone? And where in the Bible does it say that the Father is able to have relations with one of his creatures? Shouldn't this be considered incest, at the very least, because He would have had relations with someone He originally created in a previous existence?

     
  • At December 13, 2006 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You should read the debate going on in the article "Fair Above All Virgins." Your issue is easily explained. It was by the power of the Holy Ghost, but Jesus is the son of God the Father. There was no physical union of either, the Holy Ghost nor the Father. However, Jesus is the literal son and only begotten of the Father. Not to mention, knowing how Mary concieved Jesus is not relevant to anyones salvation. I doubt very much we will be quized when we arrive at the "pearly gates." There are greater issues to be concerned about. The doctrines of salvation, such as baptism, is more relevant.

    Your topic, although interesting, is not what I asked for. I am asking Eric to provide the very subject he referenced in his article when he said, More than once I have been in conversation with a Mormon who has admitted, in one way or another, that the information I presented showing Mormonism as contradictory to the Bible sounded true. What was the information? Let's stay on topic. Are you even going to respond Eric? Or was the comment you made an exageration to try to prove your point?

     
  • At December 13, 2006 11:05 PM, Blogger Eric Johnson said…

    Chuck writes: Your topic, although interesting, is not what I asked for. I am asking Eric to provide the very subject he referenced in his article when he said, More than once I have been in conversation with a Mormon who has admitted, in one way or another, that the information I presented showing Mormonism as contradictory to the Bible sounded true. What was the information? Let's stay on topic. Are you even going to respond Eric? Or was the comment you made an exageration to try to prove your point?

    Chuck, did you really read what I said? Or are you so intent on answering before fully understanding what I had to say? Read my first sentence again. I said that I have used this point before, and I have had Mormons agree that this teaching of their church--which you fully admitted to--was different than what the Bible said. But it didn't matter to them because they still had their testimonies. Again, Mormonism teaches that "the being we worship as God, our Eternal Father," was not "begotten by the Holy Ghost." (Ezra Taft Benson) Yet such an idea contradicts Matthew 1:18, which says Mary "was found with child of the Holy Ghost" and verse 20, the child "conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." How come you take this figuratively (inserting the words "power of") and not literally, but you take "Son of God" literally in other passages. Is there any rhyme or reason to your exegesis? Or should we say eisegesis?

    As far as the fundamental nature of this doctrine, this actually is crucial, because the LDS view of a physical union between the Father and Mary ("Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal father") makes Jesus a bastard child, if we are to believe that the Father was the literal Father in the "Preexistence" to Mary. Perhaps this is why your church doesn't emphasize this doctrine in the Latin American countries. This teaching really is considered so heinous by anyone with any sense of biblical knowledge. If you mess up your view on the Incarnation, you are destined to mess up all the way down the line, all the way to His deity and His rightful place as "God with us, Immanuel" according to Matthew 1:23. I'm sorry, Chuck, but your doctrine is quite a strange one and not believed by millions of Christians all over the world. Where could you have gotten such a strange idea except through the teaching of men, beginning in the 19th century?

     
  • At December 14, 2006 1:13 AM, Blogger Eric Hoffman said…

    Chuck,
    It's pretty straight forward...
    Do you agree or disagree with this statement:

    "the being we worship as God, our Eternal Father, was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." (Ezra Taft Benson)

    I think this deserves an explanation. You claimed that this teaching has little to do with salvation. But we must consider the source. Ezra Taft Benson claimed to be a prophetic mouthpiece for the Lord. If he does not even know the basic fundemental nature of Christ why would God choose him to speak in His name?

     
  • At December 14, 2006 6:40 PM, Blogger chuck said…

    I completely agree with the statment. Here is how the power of the Holy Ghost is implied. The scriptures speak clearly that the Holy Ghost was involved. We also know that God the Father is the father of Jesus Christ.

    You said How come you take this figuratively (inserting the words "power of") and not literally, but you take "Son of God" literally in other passages.

    Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over shadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

    Matthew 1:20 ... for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

    Note the use of the word OF and not BY. I am not inserting my words, I am quoting from the Bible. So how does your eisegesis not comprehend it to be OF or by the POWER OF?

    I guess when you use eisegesis, you can interpret them how ever you like. But the truth does not change.

    So, now that the scriptures have been clarified, let it be known that the basic fundemental nature of Christ WAS known by President Benson. It is known by all the prophets.

    You believe that Jesus Christ is the son of the Holy Ghost, and yet you say I'm sorry, Chuck, but your doctrine is quite a strange one and not believed by millions of Christians all over the world. SO that automatically makes it false? Because millions of Christians don't believe it? What about the 12 million plus all over the world that do? By the same argument, it is you and your Christian brothers that are wrong.

    The bible is clear Eric. And if you truly believe that Jesus is the son of the Holy Ghost and not the only begotten of God the Father, then you have a false belief.

    So if that is the information [you] presented showing Mormonism as contradictory to the Bible sounded true, I hope you now have a more clear understanding. It's makes sense to me that you were using that phrase not for the truth of the content, but for shock value. You have yet to show the mormon belief that is contradicting the bible that sounds true.

    I will look forward to the next, if you infact have more. Through eisegesis or otherwise.

     
  • At December 14, 2006 7:03 PM, Blogger rick b said…

    Chuck, Here is a problem? According to the Lectures of faith, I own an oringal Copy bound in with the D and C, before they removed it from the D and C due to the Nature of Mormon Doctrine changing, and now the Lectures do not agree with the Currant Doctrine.

    Anyway, on pg 35 of the lectures it says "in order for salvation we MUST have a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes."

    then on pgs 55 and 60 it says the HOLY SPIRIT is the mind of God. this would explain why the holy spirit has not progressed and does not have a body.

    Question, Is the Holy Spirit a person as you seem to imply or is the HS the mind of God? If the HS is the mind of God as JS taught, how can the HS overshadow anything or any one?

    If you say the Holy Spirit is a person or a God, how can you say that and disagree with the Oringal prophet who Taught he was only the Mind of God. Rick b

     
  • At December 14, 2006 7:39 PM, Blogger chuck said…

    You first must recognize that the 3 are one in purpose. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Ghost.

    To emphasize this, Jesus commanded that we be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. If they are not distinct, then why was the distinction emphasized by Jesus Christ.

    To understand the HOLY SPIRIT is the mind of God, you must inderstand that he was not speaking literally. I know when somone in the LDS Church speaks, you always want to take it leterally, if it so benefits you. Otherwise, with your limited understanding, you accuse of false interpretation. (Which is interesting. What authority do you have to interpret the scriptures?) Yet you freely interpret scripture in the non-literal sense all the time. This is one of those times.

    The doctrine of the LDS Church is clear that we believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. We believe them to be three separate and distinct beings, yet one in purpose. So when he says the HOLY GHOST is the mind of God, he is referring to the the fact that the Holy Ghost carries the same purpose or the will of God the Father.

    To understand more clearly, the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. He does not have a body of flesh and bone, as does God the Father and Jesus Christ (Luke 24:39). And they are all three distinct beings, not the same.

    If this were not true, why would Jesus pray to himself in the garden? Why would He say Father forgive them they know not what they do, while hanging on the cross? Why would He say over and over He was sent to do the will of His father? When He was baptized, did he throw his voice into heaven to say, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased?"

    When you say Anyway, on pg 35 of the lectures it says "in order for salvation we MUST have a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes." This statement is true. The gift of the Holy Ghost is clearly part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is essential for salvation. However, that does not ratify that knowing about how Mary concieved Jesus is part of that same doctrine.

    I know you want so badly to be the one to cause the church to stumble, but it will not happen. Jesus Christ is at the head of His church. He is perfect. You in your imperfect state, or any of us for that matter, cannot make Jesus stumble. His doctrines are true and from everlasting to everlasting.

     
  • At December 15, 2006 1:24 PM, Blogger rick b said…

    Chuck said To understand the HOLY SPIRIT is the mind of God, you must inderstand that he was not speaking literally. I know when somone in the LDS Church speaks, you always want to take it leterally, if it so benefits you.

    I am not one bit surprised you feel JS did not mean what he said. If you take him literally you have a serious problem, so to avoid a problem you choose to say JS really ment this as a figure of speech.

    Well I guess he should not have been teaching a so called class of prophets if he was not clear in his message. If you cannot trust him to mean what he says then how can we trust him on other issues? Rick b

     
  • At December 16, 2006 11:22 AM, Blogger Eric Johnson said…

    Chuck said: "Matthew 1:20 ... 'for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.' Note the use of the word OF and not BY. I am not inserting my words, I am quoting from the Bible. So how does your eisegesis not comprehend it to be OF or by the POWER OF?"

    Eric says: You know, I just don't have the time to play these games with you Chuck. But this is just a meaningless response that I need to put my two cents in. You quote from the KJV, an English translation. However, if we go to the Greek, we can see that the word used in verse 20 ("ek" or lit "out of") is the same as used in verse 18 ("ek pnenmatos" or lit: "out of the Holy Spirit"). The two passages say the exact same thing. You make quite a mountain out of a simple preposition that could, quite easily, be translated in verse 20 as "because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (New International Version). Be careful about making an argument from an English translation, as taking a look at the Hebrew and Greek manuscript evidence will provide a much more accurate picture. Your view, my friend, is eisegesis, not the historical Christian perspective.

    Chuck, you said: "The bible is clear Eric. And if you truly believe that Jesus is the son of the Holy Ghost and not the only begotten of God the Father, then you have a false belief."

    Eric says: This is called putting words into my mouth, something I never said. The Holy Spirit came upon Mary in a non-sexual way, and Jesus became God incarnate (see Phil. 2:5ff). You need to understand what Jesus and the NT writers meant when they said "son." He did not mean "son" in a literal way, just like He did not mean "I am the light...the vine...door...etc. If Jesus was literally created, then John 1:3 and Col. 1:15-17 makes no sense at all, because these verses proclaim that Jesus was in the beginning with the Father and created all things. Nothing (that's "no thing") was created except by Him.

    At this point, Chuck, I'm wondering what is your purpose in answering, willy-nilly, many of the blogs here. If you are trying to provide solid arguments against what's being brought here, I don't believe you're doing a very good job of it.

     
  • At December 16, 2006 7:20 PM, Blogger Eric Hoffman said…

    Mormons denying the trinity are left with Jesus=a god, Heavenly Father=a god, the Holy Ghost=a god

    Thats 3 gods! How can mormons be monotheistic and polytheistic and the same time? You cant....it's impossible.
    So Chuck, if you think that the godhead is made up of three completely seperate beings, in substance as well as in nature, but do all things in accordance with eachother, how are you not a polytheist? It is complete nonsense.

     

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