Thursday, May 19, 2011

Philip Greenspun's Weblog » Book of Mormon: South Park takes on theodicy

Philip Greenspun wrote a short review on a play that satires the Book of  Mormon by the creators of South Park. the thing that caught my interest was that the play deals heavy in Theodicy. The reason I'm calling attention to this is because of one of the comments, in which the reader affirms and defends Mormonism. He defends the most esoteric and Biblical contradicting views ascribed to Mormonism. Most young Mormons you talk to now haven't heard this stuff let-alone defend it.  I think it would be good to look at what the man says and hold it up against the Bible. My comments are in red.

Or better yet, the evening could be spent reading The Book of Mormon!
I haven’t seen the musical, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) theology brings several interesting things to the question of theodicy.

I've always wondered how Mormonism handled the issues Theodicy raises.

First it recognizes God’s omnipotence is limited, both by natural laws and his respecting our agency (freedom to choose actions, not consequences). For instance, on the natural law side, when God creates things, he does not do it ex-nihilo (see first law of thermodynamics) but through the process of organizing existing matter (or energy). Also, God will not force us to be good, he respects our freedom of choice, which is not to say there are no consequences for wrong choices or that he won’t help us to be good.

Limited omnipotence is not omnipotence. God cannot be bound  by natural laws because God created natural laws. Mormonism rejects the idea of God creating all reality out of nothing (ex-nihilo) and flies against what we know of from Physics. All of matter, time, space, natural laws like the laws of Thermodynamics, and energy came into being from the "Big Bang". God did more than just organize all of it, he created it. The Bible tells us that there is nothing that exists that God did not create. 

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 
- John 1:3

We don't have the ability to be good on our own. All of our goodness comes from God himself. 

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. - Romans 7:18

Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He wasn't just talking about himself but all of us too.

Second, many people suffer on earth, but when you understand The Plan of Salvation (described in The Book of Mormon) it is put into perspective, both that we all knew what we were getting into when coming to earth and that earth life (and the suffering here) is only a very small part of our existence, and that it helps us progress in two fundamental ways.

I once asked a Mormon missionary to show me where this is in the Bible - that we knew what about what life on earth was going to be like before we were born. He couldn't. The Bible clearly teaches that God knew of us..,planned us...but it's about God's sovereign will not ours. 

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
- Romans 8:18-25

It's not that we don't have wills of our own, but God's will supersedes ours. Given that we are not able to even desire God on our own. If God does not replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, there is no way we can be saved. God saves us despite ourselves. If He doesn't change us against our wills, we can't be saved.

 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.- Romans 8:5-8

We all existed before birth as spirits and lived with our Heavenly Father before coming to earth, in fact before earth even existed. We were different from him in several ways, two being that he had an exalted body and he was more righteous than us. He presented a plan to us where by we could become more like him, and it consisted of us leaving his presence for a while by being born into mortality here on earth where we’d receive a body and be tried and tested and (hopefully) learn to choose the right.

And this is in the Bible where?!? The question here is what do you do if your theology conflicts with what the Bible says? The Book of Mormon disagrees with the Bible. They both can't be right. This is a different "plan of salvation" than the Bible presents to us.

All of us would sometimes choose the wrong and eventually die, losing our bodies, so a central part of our Heavenly Father’s plan was Jesus Christ and his mission to live a perfect life and save us from sin and from death through his Atonement and his Resurrection. Anyway, after resurrection, where we receive a glorified immortal body, we continue to live and progress. Originally when this plan was presented we knew that there would be opposition and pain here on earth, both by nature (earthquakes, floods, famine, etc) and by the choices of other men (rape, etc). Despite these chances for suffering, we believed out Heavenly Father that benefits we would receive from mortal life were much greater, and chose to come to earth. 1/3 of the spirits followed Lucifer and rebelled against God, Jesus Christ, and his plan and were expelled from his presence, yielding devils and all that jazz. Anyway, some friends are waiting on me to go out to dinner so there’s tons more check
Mormons and Christians agree that Jesus is the way for salvation. We agree that Jesus lived a perfect life (free from sin) and He saves us from and death. However we mean very different things by "Atonement". We also mean very different things by what "eternal life" means. For a Christian it doesn't mean that a man becomes a god of his own planet over people living with his spirit lives, producing children. Considering the comment, it appears that the one who wrote it would agree, but that is not what orthodox Christianity teaches because it's not in the Bible. The Bible and the Book of Mormon can't both be true simultaneously. I've posted this video before but it appears that the commenter would have to agree with it as authentic Mormonism.

What Mormon Theology Is Really All About
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Philip Greenspun's Weblog » Book of Mormon: South Park takes on theodicy
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