Miscellaneous Thoughts on Religion

The following are comments made by others that I thought were thought provoking.  In addition to these thoughts, no one is provoked enough without visiting the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research and the FARMS sites.  

<< Could you please again source quote what errors you are talking about? >>

No problem.

"The early manuscripts were all copied by hand, and in the copying changes and errors crept in. It has been calculated that in the Greek manuscripts of the NT, there are 150,000 places in which there are variant readings." (Introducing the Bible, William Barclay, pg. 133-134)

And that's just the start.

"Some of the textual problems involving additions are the result of what is called "harmonization". That is a tendency of scribes to make the text at one place in scripture harmonize with the text in another place. Sometimes it was consciously done by a well meaning copyist who, remembering the reading in another place, probably thought that the passage at hand was defective. At other times, it may have been done unconsciously when the memory of the scribe was more alert than his eyes." (Good News for Everyone, Eugene A. Nida, p. 90)

"That the original copies of the various books in our canon, as they came from the pen of their respective authors, were free of all errors and discrepancies is a pure postulate. The Bible nowhere claims that to be the case, and no autograph exists to allow the postulate to be tested. The text of scripture as we now possess it, even in the best critical editions, contains errors and discrepancies. (The Inspiration of Scripture, Paul J. Achtemeier, pg. 71)

"The scribes were not content to be mere copyists, nor were they antiquarians eager to pre-serve old documents simply because they were old. As they copied, they remodeled the old documents." (A Guidebook to the Bible, Alice Parmelee, pg. 107)

"Other divergencies in wording arose from deliberate attempts to smooth out grammatical or stylistic harshness, or to eliminate real or imagined obscurities of meaning in the text. Sometimes a copyist would substitute or would add what seemed to him to be a more appropriate word or form, perhaps derived from a parallel passage (called harmonization, or assimilation). Thus, during the years immediately following the composition of the several documents that eventually were collected to form the NT, hundreds, if not thousands, of variant teachings arose." (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament", Bruce M. Metzger, pg. 16)

"Odd though it may seem, scribes who thought were more dangerous than those who wished merely to be faithful in copying what lay before them. Many of the alterations which may be classified as intentional were no doubt introduced in good faith by copyists who believed that they were correcting an error or infelicity of language which had previously crept into the sacred text and needed to be rectified. A later scribe might even rein-troduce an erroneus reading that had been previously corrected." (The Text of the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger, pg. 195)

"The number of deliberate alterations made in the interests of doctrine is difficult to assess. Iraneus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Eusebius, and many other Church Fathers accused the heretics of corrupting the Scriptures in order to have support for their special views." (ibid, pg. 201)

There are dozens more examples. Would you like me to cite them all for you? :)

<< It is possible for men to make errors, but not God. I have yet to see anywhere God made a mistake. >>

So.. are you saying now that God did not inspire the translators of the Bible? I just want to make sure I understand your argument here...

According to the apostle Paul, along with the public Gospel there were certain secrets called the Mysteries of God, which dated back to the beginning of the world; "Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began." (Rom 16:25)

He also repeated his teaching that the mystery of God was established before the world began in his first epistle to the Corinthians; "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory." (1 Cor 4:1)

Paul acknowledged that Church leaders had access to the gospel mysteries, and that they were stewards of them; "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." (1 Cor 4:1)

And another epistle of Paul, written to the Saints at Colosse, contains these words; "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col 2:1-3)

Paul further alluded to these special mysteries in his first epistle to Timothy; "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." (1 Tim 3:8-9)

These references give clear indication that the early Christian Church had special teachings which were made available to the selected faithful, but which were not shared with those who were unworthy to receive them.

As far as Christ Himself goes, according to the Bible Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and appeared to and taught the disciples for forty days before ascending into heaven:

"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible Peter proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." (Acts 1:1-3)

Of what things did Christ speak? For the most part, the Bible is silent on this question. According to the ancient Christians, however, it was during His forty-day ministry that Jesus taught His disciples the Mysteries of God, giving them first to, James, and John.

The ancient Christian historian Eusebius wrote in his "Ecclesiastical History"; "The Lord imparted the gift of knowledge to James the Just, to John and Peter, after his resurrection; these delievered it to the rest of the apostles, and they to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one."

According to Christian historian Edwin Hatch, the ancient Christians "had mysteries which they disclosed to the initiated only after long preparation, and with an oath not to divulge them...." The Mysteries of God given in the early Christian temples were sacred, and not to be given to everyone. They were reserved onlyh for those who were prepared to make the covenants therein.

The fact that the ancient Christians had secret rites reserved only for those who were fully prepared is confirmed by other ancient Christian writers. For instance, Hippolytus wrote:

"We have delivered to you briefly these things concerning baptism and the oblation because you have already been instructed concerning the resurrection of the flesh and the rest according to the scriptures. But if there is any other matter which ought to be told, let the bishop impart it secretly to those who are communicated. He shall not tell this to any but the faithful, and only after they have first been communicated. This is the white stone of which John said that there is a new name written upon it which no man knows except him who receives."

Basil of Caesarea wrote that: "Secret doctrines and public teachings have been preserved in the church, and some of them we have from written teaching and others we have received handed down to us in a mystery from the tradition of the apostles."

And also, "In just the same way, the apostles and fathers who were ordering the institutions in connection with the churches wazzu in the beginning used to preserve that which was sacred in the mysteries by a secret and undivulged method. For that which is published for common and chance hearing is not properly a mystery. This is the reason for the tradition of unwritten things, to prevent the knowledge of secret doctrines becoming neglected and through familiarity becoming contemptible in the eyes of the majority. Secret doctrine is one thing, public teaching another. The former is preserved in silence, the latter is published."

Cyril of Jerusalem recorded his instructions that:

"If after the class a catechumen asks you what the instructors have said, tell outsiders nothing. For it is a divine secret that we deliver to you, even the hope of the life to come. Keep the secret for the Rewarder. If someone says, "what harm is done if I know about it too?" don't listen to him. so the sick man asks for wine, but given to him at the wrong time, it only produces brain-fever, and two evils ensue; the effect on the sick man is disastrous, and the doctor is maligned. So the catechumen, if he is told the Mysteries by one of the faithful: not understanding what he has been told, the catechumen raves, attacking the doctrine and ridiculing the statement, while the believer stands condemned as a traitor."

Athanasius instructed that; "One must not recite the mysteries to the uninitiated, lest outsiders who do not understand make fun of them while they perplex and scandalize investigators."

Tertullian recorded that; "We believe that the apostles were ignorant of nothing, but they did not transmit everything they knew, and were not willing to reveal everthing to everybody. They did not preach everywhere nor promiscuously... but taught one thing about the nature of Christ in public and another in secret."

Paul, in the NT spoke of secrets revealed to him by vision which he was unwilling to divulge:

"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heart unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for man to utter..." (2 Cor 12:2-4)

The fact that the ancient Christians had secret rites is known to Christian scholars and historians. The famous Christian scholar and historian, Dr. Johann J. Mosheim testifies; "That the more learned of the Christians, subsequently to the second century, cultivated, in secret, an obtuse discipline of a different nature from that which they taught publicly, is well-known to everyone. Concerning the argument, however, or matter of this secret or mysterious discipline, its origin, and the causes which discontinued it has caused many disputes among scholars."

Mosheim also wrote; "Why James, and John, and Peter, should have been, in particular, fixed upon as apostles whom Christ selected as the most worthy of having this recondite wisdom communicated to them by word of mouth, is very easy to be perceived. For these were the three disciples whom our blessed Saviour took apart with him up into the mountain when he was about to be transfigured. To represent them, therefore, as having in a particular manner been favored with an insight into all mysteries, appeared to be but consistent and proper."

Mosheim acknowledged that the ancient Christians reserved the initiation into their 'mysteries' for those who were established members of the Church; "The multitude professing Christianity were apostle therefore divided by them into the "profane", and the "initiated", or faithful and perfect... and as none were premitted to be present at these "mysteries", as they were termed, save those whose admission into the fellowship of the church was perfect and complete, so likewise was it expected that, as a matter of duty, the most sacred silence should be observed in regard to everything connected with the celebration of them, and nothing whatever relating thereto to be committed to the ears of the profane."

According to the ancient anti-Christians, the Nazarenes had special means established for identifying each other as Christians. It is recorded that they recognized each other by "secret marks and signs."

According to one ancient writer, Caecilius, the Christians also had "distinguishing marks on the body", meaning, no doubt, their special clothing.

What were those marked garments? According to the ancient Christian scholar and martyr Origen, a true Saint had to have and wear special garments in order to properly offer sacrifices of praise, prayers, pity, purity, and righteousness: "To offer these aright you have need of clean garments, or vestments kept apart from the common clothing of the rest of mankind."

These sacred mysteries were conducted in ancient Christian temples, and according to Dr. Mosheim, many temples were destroyed or defiled because of anti-Christian persecution... "This long and cruel persecution commenced in the month of February or April, AD 303... and it was introduced by the destruction of the spacious Christian temple at Nicodemia, and the burning of the books found in it."

The fact has been irrefutably established that the ancient Christians had secret rites. Christian scholar and historian Dr. Morton Smith wrote:

"The central problem, I had gradually come to see, was the element of secrecy in primitive Christian tradition.. the synoptic gospels are full of it. John swarms with contradictions that look like deliberate riddles; both John and Luke hint at secret teaching to be given by the resurrected Jesus or by the spirit, after Jesus' death."

The world-famous Bibical Scholar, professor Joachim Jeremias, wrote, "The environment of primitive Christianity knows the element of the esoteric."

Professor Jeremias also wrote of "cryptic sayings" recorded by Paul and of how those special insights had been withheld fromthe general church membership:

"When one turns to the early Christianity, he repeatedly comes across cryptic sayings and a concern to keep the most sacred things from being profaned. Paul, who calls himself and his fellow workers "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor 4:1), speaks in general terms in 1 Cor 2:6-3:2 of the divine "wisdom" which can only be imparted to the "mature", i.e. "thoe who possess the Spirit" (2.13); it is a secret and hidden wisdom of God (2.7). Paul had been able to offer the Corinthians only milk (elementary teachings.. 3.2) notyet the solid food of "wisdom" for the "mature" (3.2; 2.6). The concern of this "wisdom" is with the "depths of God" (2.10). That Paul had kept this from the Corinthians, although they had been Christians for many years, shows that he would never have spoken of these final secrets before non-Christians."

If the ancient Christians had secret rites, why is it that now the modern Christian churches don't have them? According to one historian;

"The number of faithful having greatly increased... the Christians from being persecuted having become persecutors, and that of the most grasping and barbarous kind.. the Church in the seventh century instituted the minor orders, among whom were the doorkeepiers, who took the place of the deacons. In whole 692 everyone was ordered thenceforth to be admitted to the public worship of the Christians, their esoteric teaching of the first ages was entirely suppressed, and what had been pure cosmology and astronomy turned into a pantheon of gods and saints. NOTHING REMAINED OF THE MYSTERIES but the custom of secretly reciting the canon of the Mass."

This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the NT.. Jesus and the apostles had predicted a falling away from the truth, and in this apostacy of the church many things were lost. Notable among the lost teachings were the sacred rites of the Christian temples.

Anti's sometimes ask why the LDS mysteries, or the Endowment, isn't found in the Bible... The answer is mind-numbingly simple... As we've already seen, there *are* numerous allusions to it in the Bible, but in small bits and pieces. It simply would not be logical for Jesus to institute a secret tradition just to have it published in the NT.

According to Christian scholar and historian Dr. Angus: "An awful obligation to perpetual secrecy as to what was said and transacted behind closed doors in the initiation proper was imposed.. an obligation so scrupulously observed through the centuries that not one account of the secrets of the Holy of Holies of the Mysteries has been published to gratify the curiousity of historians."

The prophets of the OT knew, and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, and about His message of salvation for all mankind. Paul taught this in Acts 4:12, 1 Cor 10:1-4, Heb 4:2, and Gal 3:8, but the OT prophets only revealed bits and pieces of it in the OT scriptures.

But there is evidence that they had considerably more knowledge than they passed on in the OT. According to modern scholars, there had been among believers in the true religion of God a SECRET tradition which asserted that the divine secrets were made known to people who then recorded them in secret of "hidden" books for the instruction of God's elect.

The secrets were usually made known to the prophet or seer in a dream or vision in which he was caught up to Heaven. Frequently it took the form of a bodily translation which allowed the prophet to go into Heaven, either in the spirit or in the body, where the seer was introduced to the eternal secrets of the divine purpose, or even into the very presence of God Himsself. Sometimes, too an angelic interpreter was introduced who guided the seer in his heavenly journeyings and explained to him the meaning of things in heaven and earth. The vision would consist of a review of the Creation and Fall of man, plus revelations of things yet future. These revelatory experiences took place not only in OT times, but in the NT era also.

The apocalyptic writers (many of them the ancient Christians) wrote that these divine secrets were written down on the "heavenly tablets" by the ancient seers. They wrote that these books related the purposes of God for the whole world from creation to the end-time. They had been hidden away for many generations and handed down in a long line of secret traditions, finally preserved until "the last days." The prophets knew the heavenly secrets, and the mystery of God about the Messiah became a reality in Jesus Christ.

LDSA 1 Peter 2:15

Though general authorities are authorities in the sense of having power to administer church affairs, they may or may not be authorities in the sense of doctrineal knowledge, the intracacies of church procedures, or the receipt of the promptings of the spirit. A call to an administrative position itself adds little knowledge or power of discernment to an individual .... "

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1958) s.v. "General Authorities" at page 284

In my browsing, I ran across the follwing website. I don't agree with the items in it but I reference it for you because it looks a lot like the anti Book of Mormon stuff.

If the rest of the christians only thought about what they were saying about the Book of Mormon, they would realize that the Bible can be critisized in the same manner. In fact, the BOM holds up very well in comparison to the Bible.

I also find it interesting that the LDS faith can "explain" much of the problems in the bible that this non believer sees. (Not that He would believe an LDS person....but at least it gives faith and comfort to us LDSers who believe in the Bible)



[Religion and Philosophy Links, Page Two]
[adrr.com (mediation)] [Ethesis] [Surviving Loss] [©1996-1998 Stephen R. Marsh All Rights Reserved] [e-mail]
Link to Books and Music
Link to Nauvoo Forum
Link to FAIR Roundtable