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September 6, 2021 5:10 pm
In this episode, The Apostate Paul and Matthew the Nuclear Calvinist welcome Latter-day Saint, Jaxon Washburn, back to Outer Brightness. They discuss Episode 37 "The Humanity and Divinity of Jesus Christ" from Y Religion, the podcast of the BYU Religion Department. In that episode, Professor Jason Combs is interviewed about an article he wrote. Jaxon sent us the podcast episode and we thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss the differences and similarities between LDS and Christian views on this topic. We hope you enjoy this conversation!
Your right and him and fireflies look back out of this, I'm coming to you from the beautiful city of Pikeville in Eastern Kentucky, deep in the mountains of coal country. More interestingly, though this is the home of the Hatfield McCoy feud so we are happy to have a guest here with us, Jackson Washburn used his Latter Day Saints and hopefully we won't do any kind of reconstruction of the Hatfield McCoy feud here tonight. Jackson I understand you gotta you got a hurricane blowing where you are yeah yeah I think they they just oh, but what's the term I decreased it to a tropical storm. I don't know how significant that is that they both sound scary for someone from Arizona but it started raining right now things are looking good and I think gotta be just fine. Trying to deal so Jackson's joining us in our brightness for the second time he came on last summer to talk about an article of his that he had written and that we did not upset with him where he read through his article and discussed it and that was fun.
She recently reached out to me and sent a link to a podcast episode from the why religion podcast which is the podcast for the BYU religion department. They had had on Dr. Jason Combs to discuss an article that you wrote and Jackson propose that we listen to it and I propose that he come on to discuss it. So here we are, and to give a quick intro to Dr. Jason Combs is professor BYU so here's buyout Jason Robert Combs, an assistant professor of ancient Scripture Brigham Young University. She joined being the BYU faculty in 2016. After working as a lecturer at High Point University, Guilford College UNC Greensboro, North Carolina, Combs earned his bachelors degree in near Eastern studies from BYU. He holds a Masters degree. He wants to buy multiple Masters degrees in biblical studies from Yale Divinity school and in classics from Columbia University. He earned his PhD in religious studies with an emphasis on the history of early Christianity from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I understand that he studied under our ermine hero, an article that is discussed and again in this podcast episode.
It is the why religion podcast episode number 37 suburban be discussing that with Jackson tonight. Jackson welcome back to our brightness. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it right so Jackson the last time you joined us on our brightness. You were interning at the Joseph Smith papers Project and you're preparing for your final year Arizona State a lots happened in your life in the past year. Once you update our listeners on some of the recent happenings in Jackson land yeah so I am. I successfully completed my internship with the Joseph Smith papers. It was a wonderful experience. I felt like a girl a lot in terms of my own. I do know professional skills and whatnot did a lot of the documentary history work there, which is appropriate given the venue and yeah lot. Lots of learning and and growing. During that time, but I also as you mentioned, I've since had my final year at Arizona State so I graduated this last me with degrees in religious studies and history, and during that time I also applied to grad schools different graduate programs where I got accepted and am now looking forward to attend week from now actually my program at Harvard Divinity school, so I'm going to be getting a Masters of theological studies. There, with a focus in the history of Christianity, and I'm just really happy about that. Harvard was my number one pick as far as my schools and went so it was just great news. After kind of sake year and 1/2 of both the pandemic and also in December. It's important for me to mention late December. My father was actually diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. He sends been able to have multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant which was successful, and he's considered in full remission right now things are looking very very positive and so there's been a great turnaround there is. Well that I'm very grateful for. So yes I did. I've been pretty busy a lot going on.
I've been thrown a couple curveballs both in you know my life forward or my family's life that we've gotten through it and think things are looking pretty good so yeah I just recently moved to Boston. I've been able to settle down for the last couple weeks and my program officially starts on September 1 so I'm very much looking forward to it. That's awesome, congratulations on acceptance of the Harvard that's 11. No, no small feat, so really happy for you Aaron again also really happy for for your dad's remission. I know we and others were praying for that so yeah like likewise.
And yet there have been yeah but my my dad was a very blessed to have white number of people from a number of different religious backgrounds you praying for him and deftly means a lot to me that to you and and others with the outer brightness were included in that mix. I think you would like to back Matthew in the clear Calvinist is joining us as well. As usual, so for listeners. I pulled out several clips from the why religion podcast episode will go ahead and play those so that you can listen to them and we will listen to them and then got questions to put to Jackson and from bill from each one will kinda springboard off into kind of a roundtable discussion of the topic of the podcast episodes which is Christology so here comes the first clip on the title of your chapter in the one organ to be unpacking today is Christ after the apostles the humanity and divinity of the Savior in the second century so I want to actually start by tell you how much I enjoyed this chapter and want to begin by reading your old lady Sounds good.
So this is what it says. Late one evening in the middle of the second century A.D., a small group of Christian priests trained in the philosophy of Plato met in secret in the back room of church in Rome.
Their goal to complete the work of transforming the pure doctrine of Christ into a philosophically sound but morally deficient theology. They forged documents and altered Scripture to suit their needs.
In the end. Over the course of that evening.
They succeeded in forever altering the true doctrine of the nature of Christ into a fraud. That would be propagated throughout the centuries." Note that intro is captivating and I'm sure causes each of us who heard it to be filled with some righteous indignation, but in your mind. There's one really important fact about the story that you fill. At least ought to be considered is that the most important fact about that story is that it's not true. I made the whole thing off, but the reason the reason that I started with that story is because I think a lot of letters they things have that vision in their head.
I think we we create this image of early Christians is all being wicked priests or something like that word were trying to dismantle the back of the secret society is right. I think we sort of assumed that we have this time. Where Jesus and his apostles were active. Jesus dies. This is his resurrected comes back, speaks to his apostles. They form a church and then that's the end of the story and there's darkness and then years later, a few Christians come back on the scene and start writing. And by then, things have totally changed that. That's simply not the case. Once Christians start writing they never stop to Christian persons are are very prolific and so that the news to the New Testament texts spanned the whole first century and by the beginning of the second century we have other Christians writing many, many of whom were disciples of the early apostles, and they write that their experiences and then they write advice to other Christians that this is a group that sometimes called the apostolic fathers because they were so close to the time of of the apostles and sometimes were disciples of the right. So in the first clip, the host of this particular episode of the why religion podcast is is Prof. Ryan Sharp and he reads out the introduction to Prof. Jason Combs is article Christ after the apostles the humanity and divinity of the Savior in the second century Dr. Combs article which I read also presents it at first a false narrative of wicked priests corrupting the text of the New Testament. Jackson what you think of Dr. Combs's recasting of the LDS church's narrative of the great apostasy. While I really love how that segment or or that episode was was begun by playing out a narrative that too many Latter Day Saints is going to sound probably very familiar to ones that maybe they've heard and Sunday school settings or in talking with.
I don't know companions on their mission or in other kinds of settings and II really appreciate the fact that he very quickly points out that dad this is more of a I don't know an invented narrative than one that has a strong basis in history so adversely. Of course I think it's incredibly important to quit when it comes to various historical claims that we make to have those be you know solidly backed up by the historical record, or at least presented in such a way that they can be defended using the historical record. So in the case of Dr. Combs's work. I really appreciate how he seeking to point out to members of his own faith tradition ways in which perhaps they've misrepresented or misunderstood early Christian history and how they might go about approaching that in ways that are more accurate, historically defensible and II guess primarily historically grounded so I'm certainly all for it.
So do you see this similar shift in the interest in the LDS leadership or you know and and teaching materials. The general membership release, DC this is mostly changes starting in academia and maybe will filter down yeah so I can deftly say that on the popular level. My I don't see significant shifts in this area well, at least historically speaking, let me back up a little bit. There have been on multiple different, shall we say apostasy narratives within Latter Day Saints history and Dave, you know, perhaps, been inflected in different ways or or emphasized at different points early Christian history, you know, some might emphasize early Christianity's kind of philosophical intersection with Greco-Roman philosophy or or the various philosophies of the time and the ways in which that data potentially shaped or molded work. I don't know because Christianity that the Christian message to be presented in different ways there's others that deftly coming out of more of a a vein of of anti-Catholicism that was likely part.
I do know predominant Protestant narratives. So for instance, early 20th century late 19th century. You know sentiments that really emphasize that the Catholic Church's role in this apostasy right though those have existed others with which emphasize that perhaps just this kind of immediate scattering righteous disciples of men who aren't able to pass on their legitimate authority. So this emphasis on the D what what's argued is the disunity of early Christianity, emphasizing different groups. Some considered now, Orthodox others considered heterodox order or radical, you know, such as various diagnostic or or other groups like that so yeah these these narratives, you know that they take different emphases and some of perhaps been a bit more historical, historically defensible than others, but you know, as is the case with many topics in LDS history. It's often still going that the LDS leadership itself you know really comes from a background of of really comprehensive or or solid understanding of those kinds of things I think and it states in the last two decades or so.
Especially the last decade that LDS church leaders have really begun to try and become more accurate with the claim that historical claims they make with respect to early LDS history. You know they have resources such as the Joseph Smith papers and others of the church history department now that it's it's not uncommon for me and reading maybe different conference talks or or other remarks that are given that Ted tell some type of historical you know narrative that there their sources are from those places right and so it's a lot. It's a lot better grounded in history, but yeah, it's not super common that I hear LDS church leaders talk about really Christianity in much detail. And when they do, it tends to be very generalized very young, just broad in scope at the end and perhaps like touching on some of the points that I mentioned earlier, in a very generalized kind of wave so I II do appreciate that you mentioned also the kind of the this segment of LDS academia because I have I have seen LDS academics, whether it be by you or other places really try to become more conscientious and careful with the kinds of things that they make in this area and their publications are reflected reflecting that.
And so, in cases like this where you have BYU's religion department. You know this is there. You know podcast essentially it's it's through those scholars that do a lot of these, perhaps more accurate historical takes are going to be disseminated to LDS membership more broadly. You know, even then, the LDS church is big in terms of its membership with respect to, you know, having millions of members and I guarantee you that that the why religion podcast you know isn't necessarily getting millions of downloads per episode. So even then if you have good resources they're coming from good places that are publicly available. It's often the case that the number of Latter Day Saints themselves to receive those things are going to be partial at best. Anything further before dawn so Jackson as I was making my transition out of the LDS church in 2010 2011 timeframe, one of the first Latter Day Saints scholars that I remember interacting with on Facebook was Jared Anderson and she also studied like but listen Combs did under Bart Herman and I member commenting by 1.2 Jay Sekulow to Jared in a Facebook post that I haven't come out of the LDS church and kind of jettisoned the idea of a great apostasy in the way that the LDS church presents it that I felt like I had come to that, that all of Christian history was mine I think is the way I worded that my meant by that is that I have found spiritual ancestors among the early church fathers.
One of them in particular I was reading at the time was was Augustine's confessions and that's that's the main reason why felt that way but I was know I was chemist going off from from Augustine into no reading Philip Schaff's history of the church and in encountering a lot of the other early church fathers as well.
So what to do now is clear clip for you from the book of Mormon from first Nephi chapter 13 verses 20 to 29 and then ask you to comment and it came to pass that I Nephi we held that they did prosper in the land. And I beheld the book and it was carried forth among them and the angel said unto me Nellis down the meaning of the book and I said unto him, I know not. And he said, behold, it proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew and I Nephi beheld it and he said unto me the book down the hall just as a record of the Jews which contains the covenants of the Lord which he hath made unto the house of Israel, and it also contain.
If many of the prophecies of the holy prophets and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass say there are not so many. Nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord which he hath made unto the house of Israel. Wherefore they are of great worth unto the Gentiles and the angel of the Lord said unto me, that has to be handled that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew, and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew. It contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord from the 12 apostles bear record and stayed there record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews impurity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God and after they go forth by the hand of the 12 apostles of the Lamb from the Jews unto the Gentiles that ceased the formation of that great and abominable church which is most abominable. Above all other churches. For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb. Many parts which are plain and most precious and also many covenants of the Lord. Have they taken away.
And all this had they done that they might convert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore thou see if that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God, and after these plain and precious things were taken away. It goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles way even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles, which have gone forth out of captivity. Thou sayest because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book which were playing into the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the land and exceedingly great. Many do stumble EA, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them just one of the things that you are having listened to the why religion podcast episode with Dr. Combs and Ben, having read his articles. Article 1 of the things I appreciate I appreciate about what he's doing is he's attempting to situate the apostolic fathers, especially in a positive light for Latter Day Saints and I appreciate that about what he's doing but I'm curious what you think about this this passage from the book of Mormon. Do you think you think that it contributes to what Dr. Combs kinda says is a misunderstanding by Latter Day Saints of the early Christological debates and maybe of the apostolic fathers as well yeah I I'm sure that's been the case with respect to this passage in particular you know this is coming from first Nephi 13 were Nephi is experiencing a vision of not just that the tree of life, but the other kinds of.
I do know visionary phenomena. Let's say that are kinda mediated in and interpreted by an angelic guide and this is been referred to in different LDS bases is as Nephi's apocalypse sometimes meaning it out as similar to that stage on the regulator or or others that this is that this is an apocalyptic vision which is grandiose in scope. It not just it doesn't just deal with things and in Nephi's own time, but is also shown vision essentially of of you know, the last days, sort of the future and in the in light of that, I think it's definitely likely that Latter Day Saints historically speaking, have read this passage in and understood it in much the same way that perhaps a Dr. Combs in a described really on in his his article and I think that's what what what's interesting about that is, at least for me, there's there's ways that it least I read that where being visionary in nature. You know it. It I think there's a level of of interpretation that it's open to in terms of just like how specific you might want to read into some the passages by I do think it lends itself very easily to the kind of narrative about Christology that will be able to talk more about but also more directly.
II think it speaks to matters of data preservation preservation and transmission of Scripture, right, which is often a very key part of LDS narratives about apostasy, especially as far as the Bible is concerned right so yeah II think I think those are all related.
And if it's okay in all just kinda briefly summarize like what what that kinda looks like with the Bible as we got to as we described it with that passage. Many Latter Day Saints often understand biblical trend, transmission and translation to be. This process of I know that is the starting point is usually I would say the article of faith. What is it number number eight. I think he had that the we believe the Bible to be the word of God as long as it's translated correctly and many Latter Day Saints especially when they might be serving missions in other coming from not necessarily formal backgrounds of your pastoral training or or theological study. There's these narratives about the Bible that we have being a translation of a translation of the translation of a translation, you know, like a game of telephone, where often the what the end product that we have currently is often unreliable or in cases where it perhaps conflicts with LDS theology or or different works of Mormon scripture or things like that it's it's held to be, you know, inferior to them that you know perhaps something was corrupted and perhaps something was lost in translation and so that's often an uncritical approach to the to the Bible that many Latter Day Saints take that. I don't find particularly informed by you know that academic biblical studies or or its actual transmission history II think there's arguments be made. Of course, about various passages in the Bible and you know whether or not they represent original passages or you know it. In some cases we can see some perhaps intentional changes in in that the text over time, but by and large I considered the Bible to be pretty accurately preserved, especially as far as the New Testament is concerned why I think the New Testament is a remarkably well preserved collection of texts from the ancient world. So II think it's this just goes for me to say that for Latter Day Saints to perhaps might be inclined to play the oh it just must be corrected. You not to try and maybe get out of some some theological attention or contradiction. They might feel my eye. I believe that that's often too easy of a copout and and one that's unjustified now. Thanks thanks Jackson for that answer those reasons I think just had silver listeners, we read published today and a series of episodes we did with Steve.
James was another Latter Day Saints that we discuss things with on Facebook occasionally and the topic of that episode was biblical inerrancy and we got into some of the topics that Jackson was just talk about talking about with regards to transmission and translation of biblical texts. So if you're interested in kinda digging more deeply into those topics that most of those episodes, but now let's let's get to the topic of Dr. Combs article, which is Christology from the play. The next clip from the podcast. There lots of writings that that are patterned after the kinds of writings we have in in the New Testament today and then we have other writings we have sermons we have letters written from one Christian to another. We have writings.
Some of the writings that are addressed in this particular chapter that I wrote Christ. After the apostles the sum of the writings that I addressed most frequently here called Harris theological writings. They are there writings there trying to catalog groups of Christians that they believe are heretics that they believe are preaching false doctrine, and this this style of writing becomes quite popular as well. This the whole the entire book that this article is published and is is on Christology. Christology comes from two Greek words of the word that we get Christ from Kristof's and the word blog us, which can be translated as word or is thought Torres study or lots of things so just as theology is is study or talk about God, Christology of study or talk about Christ and Christology tends to focus on understanding the nature of Christ. How is Christ similar to and different from us as human beings. Okay, so this clip hi Dr. Combs, he defines Christology so I Jackson you agree that Christology is theological point of disagreement between eldest Christians a lot of tradition so Protestants Catholic season Eastern Orthodox and do you shared a Dr. Combs is view that the Christological debates that began in the second century are important for LDS today to understand yeah well certainly Christology is deftly going to vary between not just the large branches of Christianity that you mentioned but also with Latter Day Saints over or the Mormon restoration. This movement so much so that I think it's it's important to note, of course, that you know of the three that you listed Protestants and Catholics and Orthodox Christians at least historically and and often theologically speaking, there still a level of of common ground that that can be recognized between those three groups where yes you know you'll see plenty of infighting were or theological debates.
But the level of perceived contrast or dissonance between those three groups and their respective Christological views is often considered far less in scope or significance, at least internally, among them then it it in comparison to them versus Mormonism and I think that's significant of a course at Latter Day Saints or or even evangelicals listening will likely be familiar with that the claim that Latter Day Saints worship a different Jesus and I've encountered that many of times in interreligious conversations with Christians of different strengths but yeah I you know it's that the differences in Christology are are at least to me pretty significant. Those key differences include who is Jesus. How does Jesus relate to God. How does Jesus relate to humanity both ontologically or as a on the basis of his is being there is nature and salvific lead like out is that Jesus save us. Those points are often there is often some some key differences in a time some common ground as well, but Simpson differences that are focused on by by Christians in performing outreach Latter Day Saints and these go beyond just like atonement theories. For instance rate within Christianity broadly will have various historical atonement theories such as ransom theory Christus Victor penal substitutionary atonement and and some others that are perhaps more more recent, but you know that the differences between what we might call the Mormon Jesus and the traditional Christian Jesus are going to be significant to your second question, I do share the same views Dr. Combs that understanding those Christological debates in the second century and and later that were held within an end and among and between early Christians I think it's important for Latter Day Saints to have an awareness of them to be somewhat informed about them. You know, of course, I can ask that everyone's a religion nerd like me or or like the rest of us, but I I would at least like some some more basic historical awareness.
If not also an accurate understanding of the basic reasons for by those councils might've been held.
I often see misunderstandings among Latter Day Saints about those councils. Specifically, Nicaea is kind of the most prominent one.
You know, misunderstandings of of who organized them of what their purpose was of what their conclusions were there. Often, in my opinion especially Nicaea caricatured in such a way that you know feeds into some of the earlier apostasy narratives that I that I mentioned in an would take issue with.
So beyond just this podcast. I've encountered other podcasts and in different Latter Day Saints venues that cover the Council of Nicaea that cover some of these relevant relevant topics with other scholars who were Latter Day Saints themselves same like a we need to clarify our messaging here, you know, these are some common misconceptions you might have about Nicaea or for the creature. Some of these other councils so I just think it's important that Latter Day Saints generally have an awareness and like you know an accurate understanding of them because they help inform us about their communities and traditions that were among those closest to Jesus and the apostles. They help us understand that the mindset the motivation and that the intentions of early Christians and they can also clarify potential claims that we make within letter that the apostasy narratives of Latter Day Saints themselves. You know, so as to help us better understand and not unintentionally misrepresent other Christians or Christians of the past and a great think everything they I think in general just I think Christians also really tennis not let anything Christians struggle to understand their own history and a lot of times so I just finished will listening audiobook a book by Eric Sibley, Trinity and it's really great book and he really admits that Wednesday was a seminarian that most Christian seminaries are kind of the way we describe the Trinity the way we describe how Christians can understand. Trinity is kind of like a very modern view and they see it more as like looking at the Bible like a set of math equations like okay all you gotta do is show appearances is only one God is not a God. And then you shall also where the father's God's spirit is God. You know = Trinity thing yeah and he and he doesn't say that that's necessarily a wrong way to do it, but it's not a historical way to look at the Trinity and he goes into detail about some aspects of the Trinity of Nicene trinitarianism that we just kind of dog would focus on aspects of of the Trinity that we don't really talk a lot about like what is it mean for the sun to be gotten, and I think a lot of times modern Christianity. We think of that is a metaphorical begotten us for like the father-son relationship is one of love and respect relationship but we forgot but he really says that know the Nicene fathers, to them that it was a true begotten relationship of the father is unbegotten, but he begets the sun just as like a human father begets their stock, but the divine nature is different from human nature and so the divine beginning getting other one of the reviews, but the divine beginning of the sun is different than human father begets a son in several ways. So I did human Christians, we really struggle with connecting your tapping into that history and understanding. You know it's out of the Trinity. Like was invented Nicaea in the sense of like all these brand-new ideas were just on the outside support and I think that's what I struggle with physical is out Latter Day Saints.
You know like I was kind of lease that the Trinity was like to even exist. Until then, the ideas were there, but as I sees Paul teaches electorate DeLoach says you know, a lot of times Paris the oriole heresy and all controversies of within the church about but that way forced the church to look at a deeper and say how can we clarify this. How can we make this know how we make this reconcile these terms any of Christ, ye of Christ.
So yes, those are just thoughts I had on the section Damiana comments on yeah well in all just out as well that yeah it is. It is quite interesting with respect to Christian history, how these particular historical context or perhaps challenges that the early Christian church based the these controversies that arose.
You know, being removed from these context ourselves by several thousand years potentially you know it it it causes you to take for granted kind of where Christianity might be out today with respect to its its theological and intellectual and and you know historical developments in an enrichment rate and its once you step into these kinds of contacts again.
You can see how some of these issues that arise were threatening to you know cause massive you know internal disruptions to the Christian community. You know that the depth of some of these controversies and end at a historically speaking, you know, some of them did indeed lead to schisms or or you know historical splits between various branches or denominations, and so they are quite significant. I also want to point out to that. So I got I guess two more thoughtful share one it's it's interesting to see how some of these heresies are cortical heresies as they would be perceived by Orthodox Christians can't repeat themselves over time right that you know that the Aryan debates around the fourth century, that wasn't the only time that the the Christian church, broadly speaking, had to deal with Arianism you know around I would see the 14th century or so. There is a resurgence of Aryan thought or or in contemporary times during the second great awakening in all you know out of out of the 19th century Jehovah's Witnesses very much espouse theology that might be considered Aryan so it's interesting to see how some of these things continue to spring up in another context and and you know Mormonism will be included in in there in certain ways as well and and then finally I also wanted to add Jesus might've escaped the oh when it comes the themes of some of these these controversies in their respective disputes. It is interesting to me to see how thematically they might be centered right where you know some have to deal with Christology others ecclesiology or a you know the theology of the spirit. What what is that new mythology or or something like that and I think right now one of the most pressing questions for the Christian church at large is one of anthropology one of you know that that deals with the intersections of gender and sexuality and the kind of that the social roles of Christians as believers, that you know that that's work were seeing many Christian churches experience tension. You know around today. I mean that the Methodist Church right now right you know is is very close to formally dividing along the issue of human sexuality. So it's interesting to see. I guess my point with that is that like you said Matthew that you know sometimes it takes particular, you know, fire or particular you know of these things to heat up in some way for the Christian community itself to really try and zero in on what these issues are and hammer them out and refine them in a you know more. A more specific way, and I think if an objection. I also like your point being made about how this were so removed from these contexts of these controversies that we just don't quite understand we don't understand it or what others don't care. Yes, that's why we don't study history because the collides anatomy. I got it all figured out.
Yeah yeah the requirements I was going to this clip that that's really helpful and one of my favorite parts from your chapter, and I'm going to read it with the warning that it's it's a little bit longer of an excerpt but II think it's well worth it. So this is what you write and I'd love for you to maybe get ticket whichever direction one after this though this debate was not purely intellectual pursuit. This debate about Christology. While early Christian certainly brought all of their intellectual resources to bear on these questions. Their concern was far from academic. In fact for them.
The salvation of humanity is what was at stake were Jesus Christ not sufficiently human. How could he have the ability to rescue humanity were Jesus Christ not sufficiently divine.
How can you have the power to rescue humanity. The debates about the nature of Jesus Christ were debates about the relationship between humans and God as well as about how humans might be saved, and what they might be saved from the Christological debates of the second century represent an Latter Day Saints terminology, the work of the early Saints to understand the central role of Jesus Christ within the plan of salvation."
And I love this because it underscores that the stakes are high. We might even stay eternally high in the minds of these early Christians, just as their eternally high for for up our subjects and would you agree with Dr. Combs when he is talking about the divinity and humanity of Jesus that the stakes are as high as he suggests. Well, I mean it. Like he said it, it certainly might be contextualized with the group the Christian community that you're dealing with right I think it's safe to say, historically speaking, that these questions were of the field very crucial and high importance to the respective Christian communities that debated them, and that trying to reach some level of orthodoxy on when it comes to Latter Day Saints so I'm not at all trying to suggest that Christology or or some of these questions aren't important to Latter Day Saints. But the ways that Latter Day Saints approach them in my opinion are often different than what how early Christians fight of the approach them themselves so you know what one thing that I think is important to to say is that, at least with respect to early Christians who are trying to hammer out and reach some type of consensus or or common understanding our position of orthodoxy on these issues that that's very much your intended goal in ode to take a given dispute or controversy and come to a a a conclusion about you know which position is Orthodox which position is best supported by by Scripture by the apostolic tradition, etc. and which ones should be considered heretical or outside the scope of the Christian community and in comparison to that there are various areas of high importance to the LDS church or its leaders are its membership that are often also approached as perhaps I do know let's seal a deal breakers.
For instance, the, you know these these lines of orthodoxy that determine one's position with within a given community.
But you know then there's also other things that within LDS circles that too many Christians would be considered questions is of high importance, but to Latter Day Saints might not be given the same kind of weight or there might be more.
I don't know theological flexibility there internally within the community and those those things can change over time to eat also. For instance, I would say that.
Let's say during the administration of Brigham Young ones kind of attitude and acceptance of the practice of plural marriage was considered a much more important. You know personal belief, then it might be considered today.
Not just because Latter Day Saints today don't practice plural marriage in the same way, but because you know very much and Brigham Young's time. Where there is other competing restorations traditions that to formally reject Joseph Smith practicing polygamy or that polygamy is a divine origin were you know any kind of commandment or you know it's very much tied to Brigham Young's own claims to leadership rate and so if one does you know very vocally reject plural marriage within the context of Brigham Young's administration that often was perceived as setting them outside the bounds of that respective LDS community. Now of course there were still people that were uncomfortable with the practice. But you know, vocally preaching against it would position oneself probably closer to said Sydney Rigdon or or you know, perhaps some other competing yellow successors you know in in the mid-to-late 19th century and then today I I can personally say that opinions regarding plural marriage and whether or not it was ordained of God or or things like that I encounter a lot more diversity of belief. The context is changed a bit. I don't know if that makes sense to you know that that was more practice oriented one that I think will be able to dive into a bit more but you know along the lines of Christology.
I've encountered various forms of LDS Christology that I do know I I I would say there there's flexibility there in ways that there might not be flexibility for someone who's a Protestant, or someone who is a Catholic or or Orthodox Latter Day Saints haven't quite a note delineated what those boundaries and what those official you know can lines of orthodoxy are in certain spaces so you know it certainly depends you think you and I like the point made early on reset this.
It seems like you know historic Hill credo Christianity is kind of place a lot of importance on certain topics and less on other ones. Maybe, whereas in the LDS beliefs and culture they there's a lot of other things in his. I think one point is just Christology. Generally look at different as a star. Christianity didn't just want you to affirm that Jesus was God and man, that's not really good enough because he talks about the various scene early early cortical heresies are declared by the church, like on Arianism you know where Jesus didn't really have a human mind. He just had a divine mind in a human body basically and so that's one, as well as Nestorianism, where Jesus because he has that human nature in a divine nature.
He must also have a human well the divine will and a human person divine Chris so it's not just one person's two persons and I was declared heresy and so it's it was it was a simple enough to say that Jesus is God and man historically is is is okay what what are the implications of that what is actually terms of nature will and person and even even further, there is the model field is a first diode… The idea that did Jesus have two wills on a divine will, or did he have a single world and it ultimately you know the majority chose doubts… You did a will is tied to nature. Christ had both a divine and human nature to me. I find it fascinating and I think I think most of it makes a lot of sense. You know it if you just study you know that the reason why these conclusions can make sensible, how could Jesus be two persons because you know it's like there's 40 persons of the Trinity.
You know God the father, God the son, they know God, the incarnate God is spirit noted like the person so impolite of an expense but in LDS theology or LDS don't like us much emphasizing all of these logical did the doctor got what it means or to be God yeah yeah and and just tag can add strength in that point even more right for Latter Day Saints to be declared worthy to enter the temple writers the temple recommend interview process and that the theological questions that are asked there. You know there's there's questions that I would say pertained orthodoxy or right belief and there's far more questions that pertain to orca proxy or write practice writers maybe three or four questions that have to deal with one's beliefs versus you know how one is living and the one that has to deal with. Jesus is simply, you know, do you believe it is essentially like, you know, do you affirm Jesus as your Savior and you know accept his atonement and it's a yes/no questions right. There is no no fine print. Okay, so how many wills does he have or how many how many persons or yell at some of these details that were really emphasized at various times in Christian history. The these yes/no questions can potentially be pretty open-ended in my opinion, and I've encountered various Latter Day Saints to appreciate that flexibility. Given that there perhaps respective views on God or on Jesus might differ from other views in their own congregation from you. No other other members of the ward. So yeah, it's that it's kind of interesting to see how these things play out within LDS circles – so just canopy to back off of that you one of the things of in the podcast episode with Dr. Combs that the host kinda brings out and I think it's in towards the end weathered the kind of plugging a book. I think from or an upcoming book from the Maxwell Institute where they become a quote the quote. The title of the book is kind of a quote from D&C 93 you know what you worship. Right now, so I think the stakes are high, as does Dr. Combs and and the host kinda point out that I was reminded that I was recently talking with you noted the gentleman that I talk frequently with on Facebook is also Latter Day Saints. We were talking about the perfectibility and impact ability of Christ and for both of those were listeners who don't know what those theological terms mean we were discussing whether or not it was possible for Christ to sin in, and it is when he was out here on earth, and that that question know whether or not it was possible, goes directly to Christ's nature as fully divine right because if if if Christ is fully divine, fully God, then then he would not be able to sin right because God is incapable of sin, but in response this this this friend of mine that that I discuss often what he said. Anyway, I just am not highly concerned about it.
Seems like another philosophical debate with almost no practical consequence know but I would argue that that the question does have practical concepts for for what we worship right so I think even though there disagreements and been places of divergent without divergence within LDS theology and been Orthodox Christian theology. I think we can agree that the stakes are high.
Yeah yeah II would agree without at though of course it is important to point out that perhaps Christians in Latter Day Saints will will feel that the that the severity of those stakes differently though perceive them differently. II do think that that the LDS practice vicarious ordinances and the belief in the, the gospel being preached in the afterlife and the potential for salvation. You know coming to saving faith beyond just mortality. I think that changes the dynamic of how God you know that that sense of urgency might be perceived by Latter Day Saints. At times I think you're probably right about that death yeah I think that's correct.
I'm also reminded of John chapter 8 where Jesus says, were assessed so he said unto them, he Jesus quote I am going away and you will seek me and you will die in your sin, where I am going, you cannot come. So the Jews said, will he kill himself since he says where I'm going, you cannot come. He said to them you are from below. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world.
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am she, you will die in your sins.
So we can take from from Scripture that that you know from Jesus that the stakes are high right understanding who he who he was, what his work was and what he accomplished in the incarnation is vitally important to be eternally important. Most is the host of why religion podcast said yeah yeah Ed, I'm reminded of a statement that Joseph Smith made in the King Follett discourses well that you know this is a rough paraphrase that I don't have in front of me but you know just also emphasizing the importance of of people comprehending the that being in nature of God correctly write that which is still statements like that are worldwide.
Why emphasize the scenario where we can agree that the sites are hot listening to our online to walk with Jesus. Measurement born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in commonly referred to as all of us have left that religion have been drawn to faith in Jesus Christ. Podcast brightness six, John 19 calls Jesus, the true light which gives light to everyone you found life young woman is brighter than we were told in the light, we have is not our own comes to us from without. This is to share our journeys of God has done in joining us to his son, glad you found this histogram the faith that the members of the conference is an annual conference that provides encouragement and insight, leaving Mormonism to explore new faithfulness toward Christianity, speakers, workshops, exhibitors and individual interactions receive helpful resources and is on a similar journey this year, future guests are going to the folks from management ministry as a Christian ministry dedicated to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through song and testimony as members of Mormons into a saving relationship with Jesus, through the grace of God's church on September 10 11 in the South when church trip to these events was by them in to ensure that information. Let's go on to the next clip.
Yeah. So that's right what what sex steak is is the atonement of Jesus Christ how Jesus Christ saves us so early Christians as we do today acknowledge that there is a great goal between us and God and they would explain that in different ways. We of course would think immediately of our our sinfulness are sins separate us from God.
But even before we were sinful we were not exactly like God. God is more glorious the exalted and powerful then then we are and so how do we bridge that gap. Well, the answer is Jesus Christ. And so early Christian struggle to understand how exactly Jesus Christ accomplish this for us and one of the answers seems to be in his very nature in his nature of even though he was even though he is God.
Even though he is part of the Godhead. He condescended and took on humanity. He took on human flesh and with human flesh all that comes with that human weakness of the veil of forgetfulness, we would say is Latter Day Saints and and all the struggles and pains of of humanity with one exception that he was without sin. But of course doesn't mean that he wasn't tempted, in fact, in the Gospels who makes it quite clear that he wants tempted but he resisted those temptations, so he experience fully what it was to be human. At the same time, he retained his divinity, Jesus Christ was and is God and so Christians throughout time and and we even today sometimes struggle with how to describe that where where does the emphasis fall.
Sometimes we tend to emphasize more. His divinity, but but if we don't emphasize enough his humanity then then we can forget that he really knows us he really knows what it means to be human course. If we emphasize his humanity too much. We forget that he in fact is our God and Savior, and has the power to overcome all weakness and and trial and sin and death as it was explore this idea of the goal between God and humanity. Dr. Combs takes the typical Mormon view that the Gulf's. This is one of sinfulness and mortality. Not one of nature or ontology, do you agree Jackson is God the father eternally been God or did he progress to be God is God the son always been God or did he progress to be God, yeah, yeah those are great questions that I think ones that do Latter Day Saints themselves are still seeking to work out and before I comment on them. Further, just in terms of chronology, I think I like pointing out the fact that Mormonism is a religious tradition or the LDS church is as an institution. One.
It said current leader is half the age of the church itself down to basically the year and two in terms of the chronology of the. The LDS church. If put on some type of like line compared to the early Christian church that they haven't reached the Council of Nicaea yet and so where some of these areas that I often encounter various Christians who might say that this is this is a question that like Latter Day Saints should be able to answer confidently and unanimously, and you know with it with a level of of of confidence there is. There certainly I don't know if you want to call them. Perhaps it just undeveloped areas or or holes or or blind spots even but said this is one area about the nature of God in the eternities and and I would save likely with Jesus as well that there is a level of formal doctrine from the LDS church as as might be given to various other issues or subjects, so it can all be speaking personally here in terms of that might my own beliefs but I let's see. So with respect to Dr. Combs's candid positioning of Jesus. I would agree with him that the legal between humans and God within LDS theology is more question of of progression or you know I moral perfection or mortality as well. Moral corruption. Let's say and not necessarily one of strict and ontology in the same way that we may see see within traditional Christianity so yeah, I certainly believe that there are huge differences between humans and and God both in terms of of of knowledge and and power and authority and in all kinds of different areas but yes those differences exist more along the lines of the play spectrum a trajectory than a a strict binary or a dichotomy creature Creator binary that we might see another traditional Christianity. So yeah, I basically agree with Dr. Combs, I, I, I liked one of his earlier comments that he said you know that that God is more exalted than we are. He used a couple other statements but tell you I think the key difference there is one of of progression and not necessarily one strictly of of nature or ontology, although both of those things are impacted in some ways by the differences in our our our own. Let's say ontological progression compared to God within LDS thought. So the next question has God the father eternally been God or did he progress to be God, at least for me.
The reading that I find that that were understanding that I find most consistent with Joseph Smith's kind of King Follett theology and the majority of the LDS thought that's preceded since then has been a God that progresses to be God. So you know this question has God the father eternally been God or did he progress to be God. You know I certainly affirm that God the father eternally has been, you know, himself, has has possessed his is his same you know individual that lets a nature or or or personality, but I also lean towards affirming that in terms of eternally being God eternally existing in the same state of glorification and exultation perfection.
II think that Joseph Smith theology towards the end of his life leans itself towards a God that had to progress or advanced to that state and then for the next question has God the son always been God or did he progress to be God.
I also affirm that dead Jesus progressed to be God or you know to occupy the state of exultation that he currently is understood as as occupying LDS thought, although I I should point out I recently had a Facebook friend who is Catholic.
She pose the question in an LDS discussion group.
I was a part of it. She also does Mormon studies, but does she pose the question at what point did Jesus become divine order. Know what point did Jesus become God and she asked that Latter Day Saints and I mean I was even a little bit surprised by the diversity of of answers that were generated as a result of this question which I think underscores again that the lack of kind of formal unity or or theological orthodoxy created around some these questions, but without one in particular I saw people answering that that Jesus has always been God because it Latter Day Saints thought and and broadly speaking with in Christian thought as well.
Right Jesus is identified with with Yahweh or Jehovah of the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible and so various Latter Day Saints said that while Yahweh is God.
Therefore Jesus is always been God.
Others saying that Jesus didn't you know take on this.
This divine nature that we would recognize today.
Until perhaps the time of his baptism, where they know they seem to describe the kind of let's say adoptionist theology or or others saying that it wasn't until Jesus's ascension to heaven. Following his resurrection that he became fully exalted.
That's actually the position that I feel is best supported by LDS scripture, one in which a Jesus achieves his his full exultation following his his ascension, and resurrection, but you know I will completely admit that I and a lot of these areas as some of the questions that that you've posed to me today or or in a will will ask later I'm still trying to wrap my mind around myself. You know and and work them out in terms of how to how to best reconcile Scripture written and see you know which which answers are our best supported within my own tradition, so yeah Christology is something that I've probably been wrestling with the since my mission that that's when I first started trying to crack that night in a in a serious or or critical way and it's it's it's been an interesting experience since but yeah, at least those questions. Those are some of my thoughts ethic ejects appreciate that and I would I would title the US positives of Jesus's exaltation on how to espouse that as the matrix Christology elaborate on that just because Neo you know it wasn't until he died in Kauai. No resurrected them and all that that he kind of actually achieved is a low-power egg yeah yeah I like those that you would you like it. What's he is a Mormon is Latter Day Saints versus now you pick up on a lot of things. You know, a lot of ideas are sprinkled in the way I think you for sharing that. We can talk a lot about you and what it just needs to be God.
So when I can again.
It's everything Instagram despots. Hopefully we can we can talk a bit more you know about these clips so I let's put small move on towards.
I feel this view of human nature. So which definition of intelligence for intelligences you hold to intelligent beings called intelligences existed before and after their given spirit bodies moral existence or intelligent beings or organizes spirits out of eternal, intelligent matter that they did not exist as individuals before they were organized as spirit beings in the pre-mortal existence.
Yeah. So first I think it's just important to say that in some of Smith's early writings or or just throughout the course of his life he he certainly was not a systematic theologian and so sometimes he would use certain terms interchangeably, and to intelligences and spirits were among some of those terms that sometimes can get a little bit confusing for contemporary readers and trying to parse out you know which ones he might be late yeah what what was what. What kind of theological definition. He was holding for both. But it at least out of the, the, the paradigms that that you shared as examples. My I deftly lean towards one in which intelligences are that sale that the most database or or primitive form of like sentient being and that there is a level of individuality or even agency that's possible. Among those intelligences and then from that I would hold that there's there's two main schools of thought within LDS theology, historically speaking about the nature spirits. You know, one in which spirits are created in a kind of lets a process that mirrors biological or moral reproduction.
You know where it it very much is that it requires a let's let's say like a male and a female deity to produce spirit children in a way that's quite comparable to how children are produced mortality or there is there's a paradigm of more adoption than than spirit birth as it's called, but spiritual adoption where these intelligences enter into a kind of covenant relationship with with DAD and therefore able to undergo a change in in nature to become adopted as as spirit children and so that's the one that I would view that that that I would personally espouse myself, my, I find more more literal depictions of spirit birth to not just converge into a territory that most Christians or or or. Often modern. I do know readers or or yeah I seekers might be on not just perplexed upward potential. He scandalized by, but I think it was also very much entrenched with NAA view of DD that was impacted by plural marriage where plural marriage, the raising of seeds of righteous posterity. Those were understood in very literal terms that the Pratt brothers.
For instance, in LDS thought got quite inventive, even with some of these paradigms of of spirit birth where they might be opining on on the particular amount of time it takes to gestate a a spirit child right in and in a spirit rumor or whatnot and and so for Latter Day Saints. That might be. I know a bit scandalized themselves if approached by evangelicals and asked for instance like you know if you believe that God as you know, plural wives, you know that and they engage in it at another that the sensationalized term that that I've heard in some evangelical circles is like celestial stacks ale that that's not when I've ever heard in LDS circles myself but you know that that kind of reproduction. I don't III lean towards a spiritual adoption myself so anyways yeah to answer your question about like intelligences and oh, and I should also say to that W intelligences as eternally uncreated by God and having agency that precedes God, I at least for me. Stalls at various theological issues such as it helps to to solve them, such as the so-called problem of evil or suffering. Thanks for the Jackson so would you say that you hold the view similar to or or the same as like authors like eternal personal is on view. I have to revisit Blake's specific view to, you know, kind of affirmative write up of public is definitely impacted my my views in this area I will I will say though, that with respect to the earlier question about today has God the father eternally progress to be our eternally been God or progress to be God. This is an area where Blake Ostler himself, you know, kind of stands in a in a unique space relative to most historical LDS theologians or or thinkers on the subject, where I I'm pretty sure that Blake does a firm that God the father is. You know on eternally uncreated God in a in a more unique sense that might philosophically resemble classical theism more closely than other Christians.
You are Mormon theology is my soul in the next clip. Dr. Combs is asked to explain where he sees LDS theology fitting within the framework that they've been discussing on the podcasts to list listen to that clip you mention this in a proto-Orthodox position to help us situate where Latter Day Saints theology fits into this just so we absolutely regarding Jesus Christ, I think, except this this proto-Orthodox position that Christ is both fully human and fully divine. I think there are ways in which we would differ from early Christians I mentioned before that we see the primary distinction between us and God being one of our sinful nature, and to even before our sinful nature we would describe God as being more exalted and glorious and and perfect right.
Some Christians come to describe the gulf between us and God is even wider. They describe us humans as creation as creatures, and God as God the father as uncreated as is not a prude, as as the one who is always existed as eternal and therefore uncreated and therefore they see a a even wider gap. There and and for them for persons who emphasize the gap in that way is not seeing us being like God from birth but seeing us is is utterly different in our very natures from God for them that emphasizes even more strongly the importance of Jesus Christ coming down and taking on flesh because Jesus Christ in his incarnation, incarnation literally means him being and flashed taking on flesh that bridges the gulf that it's it's a way of thinking about the beginning of the atonement, the beginning of making us out one with God by Jesus Christ overcoming that gap and becoming one with us your nails who I also talked about here. Irenaeus is one of the first Christians that describes the necessity of Christ coming down to taking on flesh in this way. He says that that Christ became man so that men might become God. So Jackson what you think of Dr. Combs statement the Latter Day Saints accept the proposition that Christ is both fully human and fully divine at birth. Do you think is equivocating at all. Yeah, I mean one thing I will say is I think this is an area that probably could've used a bit more elaboration, I would've perk you know appreciated.
Perhaps a more careful definition of some of the terms, that is using because especially in comparing them to you know how those same terms might be understood and used within various Christian circles presently or historically, it's, it's, you know we we run into the classic issue within kind of these interreligious conversations amongst Latter Day Saints and other Christians using very similar vocabulary but often perhaps meaning different things, and using those same words so at least for my purposes here when he says that Latter Day Saints except that Christ is both fully human and fully divine yet I would've appreciated. Perhaps elaboration of what he means by divine and how that relates to perhaps the LDS view of of exultation.
The other thing, as well is with respect to being fully human. And in this is this too is an area where I deny I'm sure there's been perhaps similar points of confusion or concern amongst Christians, especially as these matters been worked out, but you know in even though like in terms of personal affirmation. I would certainly say that that Christ was fully human. When I try and reconcile that with the, the belief that the three of us here would share as well that Christ was there. Also without sin that that that's an area where I cannot relate to him on right that that might be you know to me what what more mortality or my human experience has been characterized by, in part, or is my sinful nature and by a note committing sinful actions. And that's that's something that Christ himself did not participate in right so IIII guess sometimes I even struggled a little bit in using terms like fully human and fully divine because it's hard for me to fully relate to his humanity and how he experienced it. There's plenty various word I can relate to that.
But in his his divinity as well, especially within LDS theology.
I think I would appreciate a bit more elaboration from Dr. Combs not area because I think it can potentially lend itself to misunderstanding that I do know that that Latter Day Saints view him as fully divine.
In the same terms that Christians themselves might consider Christ fully divine when they use those same phrases right or if they speak perhaps of like that of the hypostatic union specifically yeah yeah for sure.
I totally agree with you on him when he said that it's an area of the podcasts and in his article to that I was left wanting a further explication of how she views the idea that that Christ was fully divine at birth because I do sense that the perhaps it's different than the way that have been Orthodox Christian would review that statement and I do wish you would've expounded on that a bit more, so that's what were going to do here were going to move a little bit into a lightning round of about four questions for you, Jackson and will will will try to tease out some of these differences so as you understand LDS theology and end. Specifically, LDS ontology, or are we humans of the same nature as God the son yeah is certainly depends on and how how you view that right if were just speaking about the ontological kinds than it would be a point of LDS theology and in my understanding of it that humans and and DDR of the same ontological kind. We expect we exist on the same ontological spectrum, but certainly as I said earlier that humanity and deity or divinity. There is going to be differences, not just hidden in progression, but in how those in how that progression is manifested in their inner natures as well and so I would be inclined to see the nature of Christ is not just being more holy war or sanctified. Compared to us that more refined spiritually that that he possessed qualities that indeed set him apart from the rest of humanity, such as a a sinless state of being is you have me thinking on the spot now. Actually if I would refer to his nature itself is sinless or if he just chose not to sin right you may have mentioned this earlier and and that's another area that I've been doing some thinking in terms of Christology but I mean I mean generally if if I was to make the statement that humans are of the same nature as God the son that that's one that I wouldn't be uncomfortable saying. Perhaps in in church circles. I would just I deny what I will be compelled to elaborate on that and can break that down a bit to specify exactly how I am meeting it when I use the phrase, thanks for that you know is I as I think about food, the podcasts and Dr. Combs article I've mentioned a few things I appreciated bit, but again I wish you would've been a bit more clear on one of the things that the came to mind was doctrine and covenants section 93 and this is this is an section in particular that I did. I recall a Facebook discussion. I was having with with the Latter Day Saints years ago in which I was kind of admitting that the case that on on LDS teaching. Jesus was not always divine and were not full, not always fully divine and the LDS gentleman that I was discussing with you pointed out PNC 93 verse five. It is verses one to which they barely barely thus saith the Lord shall come to pass, that every soul who forsake his sins and come up under me and call on my name and obey my voice and keep my commandments just to my face know that I am and I am the true light that led with every man that cometh into the world and I am in the father and the father in me and the father and I are one father because he gave me of his fullness in the sun because I was in the world and made flesh, my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of man in the LDS gentleman that I was discussing with loose was focused particularly on verse four and then kind of was making the case that because the father gave the son of his fullness and he was making the argument that that happened eternally that therefore Jesus was always fully divine. But if you keep on reading D&C 93. It's an interesting section of the document covenants because Joe Smith kinda switches over into where he claims he doing the full record of John, the rev later writer third, the beloved disciple and then kind of rework some of the passages in John chapter 1 and in particular let's see, where is that so verses 12 and 13 and I John saw that she received not of the fullness of first received grace for grace. And he received not of the fullness at first, but continued from grace to grace until he received the fullness so that kinda goes along with the good that the more traditionally Mormon view of eternal progression that that that Christ could've worked out his own salvation and exaltation when he was here in mortality is as Bruce McConkie, you know, put it but if you look at know the way verses in John John's Gospel read that were reworked. It says you know and I John bare record that she received the fullness of the glory of the father no and and that from from from Christ fullness know we have received grace for grace.
Right. So, because back to this idea that the stakes are high.
Right if if Christ isn't fully divine. Then, as is Dr. Combs put it, how how would you have the power to save us right so what what your thought on that. I know you touched on a little bit before think you kinda firmed the idea that that the Jesus progress to be God, what, how would you understand the claim that that Latter Day Saints could affirm that Jesus was fully divine at birth. Yeah, this is one of those things that I've been as specifically wrestling with. Since my mission, I would say and II think there's other related questions that can be asked that kind of plans this right that if Latter Day Saints are asking themselves what what qualities or attributes or were you know think things like that characterize that the state of being divine of deity right yet there's there's kind of range there so like for instance I think I think many Latter Day Saints would affirm that having a a physical body right is is necessary to yell to obtain godhood to be exalted or be considered divine right. But that certainly you know it at by admission of the you know the Latter Day Saints own theology. If you have the Holy Spirit not considered a a separate being in an personage within the Godhead Latter Day Saints are are you pretty explicit in affirming that the Holy Spirit does not have a body right. It said it said personage of of spirit and yet you know it is this is this a state of godhood or divinity that doesn't require some type of physical body or a glorified body, akin to what Latter Day Saints would believe that the son and the. The father have or perhaps did the Holy Spirit have possessed that at some point and you know is kind of been some type of state of of not having it temporarily for our purposes in II think that's an area that could be asked as well yeah so one way that I've thought about this potentially as you know, if we set up within LDS thought this kind of like spectrum ray of light progression from intelligences to spirit to spirit children to you know humanity mortality to resurrected beings. You know or or or temporarily spirits and then eventually to godhood that you know perhaps there's a way that we can break down these kinds of sections along the this this this line of progression where you don't beings that exist within this kind of state of progression can be considered human. Whether there more sinful or more holy war. Morse more or less sanctified or you know being can be considered. You know, still divine, but not yet fully exalted in the way that the father is.
This is an area that I'm still trying to parse things out more clearly, but at least to me, and do it does seem to be the case that Latter Day Saints I do know, at least implicitly, affirm that our our definitions of deity and what what what kind of being can qualify as divine are perhaps a bit more broad than we often you know it admit to ourselves or all recognize… Particular point about the Holy Spirit. For instance, is one that I've I've posed various Latter Day Saints and the only begotten confused looks right so I don't know maybe that that's an area is certainly fundamentalist Mormons have dealt with some of these issues and more direct ways where they could at least give clear theological answers.
You know from from more confident doctrinal position but yeah it it at least for now. I'm still trying to think about. I also just want to point out my I really appreciate Paul that you noted that in D&C 93 that there is this kind of textual reworking of the gospel of John, and I just think it's important to point out right that to at least within this paradigm, and in D&C 93. Of course you have this commentary about Jesus progressing from grace to grace, and you know eventually obtaining a fullness. You know meaning at at one point he did not have that fullness. And if you compare that to John's Gospel and his theology of Jesus is as though the pre-incarnate, log us there certainly that strong assumption there within the gospel. John that day, at least in my opinion Jesus eternally existed as this creative you know for sure or entity identified as as the log us and also identified is as God right, so though those differences that should certainly be noted when comparing those two texts that so can play off of what what you were kinda same error about different gradations of divinity admitted in analogy to soak the first bird first candidate touch on some of the LDS theology there right LDS theology conceives of a multitiered heaven a celestial kingdom which, within which is is also the 3R's are also three levels from the highest level of which are is reserved for those humans who are exalted and then you have the terrestrial kingdom of the celestial kingdom and LDS scripture D&C 76 talks about, you know that the inheritors of each of those three kingdoms having differences difference in gradation in terms of the glorification of their bodies and also kind of teasing on the idea that the terrestrial body cannot withstand the glory of a slide of the celestial kingdom of the celestial body cannot withstand the glory of the terrestrial kingdom, and so on. The support is to be analogy like Ike I like to think of like note couple weeks ago I was in Myrtle Beach no swim in the in the ocean in some sense I could share a space with ocean ocean dwelling creatures right, but there is a portion of the ocean the deep ocean trenches, where I cannot go my body will not survive.
There right and likewise the creatures that can exist in the deep ocean trenches can't come up to the surface where I was splashing around and just and sharing space with small fish and perhaps some sharks and dolphins they would die up on the surface and an food for the fish that live closer to the shore and closer to the surface. Likewise, if they were to get out of the water like I can. They could not lift right so like it's kind of like a similar concept to the way Latter Day Saints you heaven, but I wouldn't say that that like an angler fish that lives in the trenches is the same nature as I am right so it's on one since Latter Day Saints theology kinda says well all of the same nature were all the same species, but then it when you get when you talk about having to talks out of these different gradations, and even that that the body terrestrial could not withstand the glory of the celestial kingdom. So how how is there not a difference in nature there is, I guess the question I'm left with when I think about LDS theology yeah II really I really like that metaphor, though, you got me thinking of that in all people from the celestial kingdom. And you know wearing diving suits and then going to temporarily visit to the lower kingdom straight.
You know, in which case may be that the white outer darkness would be like that the Marianna's trencher or whatever that big trenches called so sick I continuing our discussion of Christology on the log us the kind of explains earlier that your view is our understanding is that for all that humans are kind on the same spectrum of ontology and for those maybe we should define a beginning on affected others from allowing wizards are confused ontology, just as the study of being or you know what something is so if we have the same from the same spectrum of being or ontology as God does that imply or is it possible, at least hypothetically that URI or any other human being of the same nature as God could have theoretically carried out the atonement or is that something is completely unique to Jesus that only he could have done and why yeah well I think it's worth pointing out of course that Latter Day Saints and do perceive Jesus at least within their kind of common cosmology of occupying a different space than than they do. Jesus is is considered that the firstborn that the first of God's spirit children who, in the preexistence had the the capacity, the willingness the, the authority to be identified as the, the Savior ends already EE and I think it's safe to say Jesus does exist in a in a different category. This is one in which Lucifer also perhaps there is in different LDS narratives rate. Lucifer competed with him for that kind of position or or that that responsibility or authority, but was unsuccessful in and rebelled against God. As a result. So there's that, you know, of course, as I mentioned earlier, Latter Day Saints affirm that Jesus was without sin EL implying that to Jesus perfectly obeyed the commandments of God, something which do not know another. Humans are believed to be able to do within LDS theology. Yeah so I I think this combination of of a kind of prior authority granted in the preexistence and especially for Latter Day Saints. Scripture that identifies Jesus as as Jehovah or Yahweh of of the Old Testament. There's a level of of divine power thereto. That would certainly set Jesus, Jesus, apart from the rest of humanity. So I do think that there are things that make Jesus unique and LDS theology that make it so not just any one of us could have theoretically carried out the atonement 08, you know. And this is an area to where I think that the book of Mormon has some some pretty poignant atonement theology at play. Speaking of, you know, the need for for an infinite atonement is something that could only be at least within the text. The book of Mormon brought about by a perfect Sakic sacrificed yellow which is founded in the case of Jesus Christ. So I I should note that historically some Latter Day Saints though have viewed Jesus is kind of unique life almost exclusively through the lens of his obedience, his that his moral perfection and yet his his lived ability to obey God's law to such an extent that some LDS leaders or or Latter Day Saints, themselves, have affirmed that a similar kind of moral perfection is indeed possible for Latter Day Saints themselves or you know for disciples of Jesus.
I I'm I'm not sure in any way theologically or scripturally how how this is indeed the case, but some Latter Day Saints have have kind of gone into that kind of area it in a way which I think is is problematic in theologically ungrounded but yeah those are some of the unique qualities of these that I that I would see to Jesus and Jesus to clarify though you would say that those are qualities of a of authority rather than of ontology correct. I mean yeah I going going back to some my earlier statements like II don't think that Ted Jesus when he was born when he experienced. Mortality was at the same point of progression as as we are. My I don't think that that was the case I think that Jesus is already more pet was Artie further along in his personal progression than we work.
I think of that said that the key difference there, but it at least within the scope of of LDS theology, Jesus would still be perceived as as being of the same ontological kind as as humanity or as God yes it is a roof for a quick that I post on my wall on Facebook I posted a verse by verse. I think the second beer pretty much.
As protection of believers become partakers of the divine nature, and I IC personally that we do not partake of a nature that we are and so I you know II set so I said that I think it's clear that Scripture, the Bible teaches that the divine nature and not saying because otherwise we would be basically just be partaking of the same nature, but higher level or maybe like a more powerful level. Yeah, and when I had discussions with with Latter Day Saints about this. They agreed that we are of the same.
Now they believe that we are of the same nature's God and so then we got to discussions about why why is Christ doing this to you, and they give similar interests that you did so I did this idea that God is the firstborn and that's why he's unique or that God is specifically called and empowered you know Christ to do his work as Savior but but there is emphasis of calling and I think maybe that's a cultural thing because all district is looking up authority in calling presented mix. Maybe that's why resident with the yacht yet. It was interesting that they give similar interest right final question.
Jackson revealed the D&C 132 touched on a little bit know some ideas around plural marriage and how that touches upon some of these theological questions within Latter Day Saints and and also in the ways that fundamentalist Mormons would would perhaps give you know deeply theological answers that are consistent with Neil, maybe in a more systematic way with Latter Day Saints. Scripture them in some modern Latter Day Saints to the D&C 132 verse 20 kind of the crowning point of explaining how it on on a latter-day St. do humans attain to God right that it's tied with eternal marriage and that eternal marriage being sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and then in talks about the then they will receive their exultation and glory, and all things as has been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness in a continuation of the suits forever so it was on verse 20 to say then then shall they be God's because they have no and therefore they shall be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them, and shall be God's because they have all power, and the Angels are subject unto themselves and all those things asked disco described in verse 20 are things that are ascribed to Christ in the Bible already and so you had do you view verse 20 of D&C 132 does it pose a problem for for kind of viewing humans as of the same nature as God the son. If if no, those are things that that that Christ already attained to prior to his incarnation yeah yeah what yeah it certainly problematic if you see those two that the two that the category or the space that that humans occupy and then are perceived as progressing into, which is the state that you know Christ himself occupies those two places.
If you perceive them as to two distinct natures themselves or to different points along like that, you know, like I said like an ontological spectrum, but it at least in this case, my, I think this also underscores that we are not where Christ is, Christ is not where we are and yet there is this belief within the LDS theology that humans can certainly progress to that point, but it certainly can complicate some of these earlier questions or points that we touched on, especially if Latter Day Saints is just too you know without much clarification say that humans or or us have the same the same nature as Jesus Christ or the same nature that Jesus Christ experienced and I would just want to carefully qualify what we mean by the right Jackson that I think was teased out some key differences between Latter Day Saints theology and an Orthodox Christian theology you would appreciate you coming on and be willing to discuss the podcast episode that you you flip to us and will definitely check out that other source that you sent to us just before we started recording tonight so Jackson thank you for coming on any final words you want to share before yeah yeah just as I'm ungrateful as well and as far as that other source goes well just do a quick plug for it on the maximal Institute at BYU and has recently announced that they are going to be starting a new initiative called seek this Jesus, the maximal Institute Christology initiative which is going to start in 2026 so it's a couple years out for sure but I think it's important to mention that said, given our conversation today because, at least to my knowledge this is going to be the first very intensive study of this kind of level within LDS circles on the specific question of Christology from the perspectives of the different LDS scholars in a way that sat published and presented to larger LDS population so I think that speaks to some of that some of the theological maturing. Let's say or or the developments that I spoke to earlier when it comes to the. The LDS tradition and yell Christology is an area that I think we can expect to see increased attention towards from within the LDS circles in ways that are probably can be pretty different than than some of the ways that it's been approach that historically right thanks for Jackson, I push especially tonight are your comments on the kind of the shifting views of apostasy, at least within scholarly circles within the Latter Day Saints tradition and I I personally welcome you know any further forays into engagement with historic Christianity and an historic theology within within the Christian tradition by Latter Day Saints scholars because I think it's a good thing I did. I do. I do wonder how exactly how far that can go in terms of of reaching unity of the faith, so to speak, because of some of the issues we pointed out with with Latter Day Saints Scripture tonight but I push her to come in on having this conversation cemented my pleasure. Thank you, Paul, and I think you Matthews well you think Jackson really push it to your studies. Thank you, thank you for tuning into this episode of the outer brightness podcast. We'd love to hear from you. Please visit the out of brightness podcast page on Facebook. Feel free to send us a message there with comments or questions. Clicking send the message of the top of the page. We would appreciate it if you give the page a lightning.
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